Aron Dereczynski

Aron Dereczynski

Born: May 5, 1922

Slonim, Poland

Aron and his three sisters were raised in a traditional Jewish family in the town of Slonim. Most of Slonim's inhabitants were Jewish, and the town had a long tradition of Hasidic scholarship. Aron's father, Chaim, owned a yard-goods and clothing store.

1933-39: Aron attended a Hebrew-language middle school and was active in the Zionist youth movement, Ha-Shomer ha-Tsa'ir. He had been accepted to study in an agricultural school in Palestine when war broke out in September 1939 and Slonim fell under Soviet rule. Unable to leave for Palestine, Aron attended a Soviet technical school.

1940-45: By 1941, I was in the Slonim ghetto. When it was being destroyed in 1942, my girlfriend, Lisa, and I escaped to the Grodno ghetto. We were about to be deported from Grodno when a Pole named Tadek helped smuggle Lisa and me to the train station. We planned to ride on the top of a train to Vilna. I jumped onto a moving car, climbed to the roof and found Tadek—but not Lisa! Tadek ran the full length of the train and found her, hanging on the side of a car. I held Tadek's legs and lowered him down. He grabbed Lisa's hand and pulled her onto the roof.

Aron and Lisa reached Vilna and fought with the partisans in the Naroch Forest until Soviet troops reached the area in 1944. After the war, the couple married and emigrated to the United States.