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September 2: Resistance in Lachwa, Poland

September 2, 2014
08996Dr. Dov Lopatin, head of the Jewish Council (Judenrat) in Lachwa, a Polish town that had been annexed to Byelorussia after the Soviet takeover in 1939 and then abandoned to the Nazis in 1941, set fire to his own headquarters on this date in 1941. The arson was a signal for an uprising, marked by fires elsewhere in the ghetto, to deter a Nazi liquidation campaign (assisted by pro-Nazi Byelorussian and Ukrainian paramiltaries) and to enable the escape of some 1,000 Jews. At least 400 of them were mowed down by machine-gun fire, but some 600 managed to reach the Pripyet River and the forests beyond. “In the first few days after the escape, many were hunted down by the Germans and killed or handed over by local farmers,” write Stephen Pallavicini and Avinoam Patt in The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933-1945. “Some did succeed in joining the partisans. In the ghetto, the shooting was over by early afternoon.... Another 1,500 Jews were killed during the uprising. At the end of the war, only ninety of the escapees from the Lachwa ghetto were still alive.” Lopatin himself survived until 1944. “Lopatin was summoned... just prior to the ghetto liquidation... and informed him that the ghetto was to be liquidated.” He was“proposed a deal whereby the doctor, the members of the Jewish council, and 30 artisans (whom Lopatin could choose), would be spared. Lopatin declined the offer and refused to cooperate with the Germans, choosing instead to initiate the uprising...” —Stephen Pallavicini and Avinoam Patt