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October 30: Escaping to the Partisans

October 29, 2015

bielski_brothers5bDr. Zelik Levinbok escaped with his wife and 8-year-old son from the Koldichevo concentration camp in Belorussia on this date in 1943. The camp was used for imprisoning Polish and Belorussian members of anti-Nazi resistance, and Jews from several towns and precincts. Between 1942 and ’44, 22,000 people, mostly Jews, were murdered there. Levinbok had been supplying medicines to local partisans; now he joined them. The camp had a Jewish underground that possessed two guns and four hand grenades. On March 17, 1944, a stormy night, nearly 100 prisoners broke out while setting off an explosion that killed 10 SS guards. Twenty-four of the escapees were recaptured, and 75 escaped to the partisans, mostly to the unit of the Bielski brothers (some of the Bielski camp are shown in the photo at right). Lucy Dawidowicz estimated that 65 percent of some 350,000 Belorussian Jews were killed in the Holocaust, along with 25 percent of the general population, in many cases at the hands of Belorussian fascists.

“Despite the recent outpouring of popular and scholarly books on Hitler, no work has yet been produced that satisfactorily explains Hitler’s obsessive ideas about the Jews, the readiness of the German people to accept these ideas, and Hitler’s ability to harness an enormous apparatus of men, institutions, and facilities just in order to murder the Jews.” —Lucy Dawidowicz