Oral History

Alisa (Lisa) Nussbaum Derman describes partisan activities

Lisa was one of three children born to a religious Jewish family. Following the German occupation of her hometown in 1939, Lisa and her family moved first to Augustow and then to Slonim (in Soviet-occupied eastern Poland). German troops captured Slonim in June 1941, during the invasion of the Soviet Union. In Slonim, the Germans established a ghetto which existed from 1941 to 1942. Lisa eventually escaped from Slonim, and went first to Grodno and then to Vilna, where she joined the resistance movement. She joined a partisan group, fighting the Germans from bases in the Naroch Forest. Soviet forces liberated the area in 1944. As part of the Brihah ("flight," "escape") movement of 250,000 Jewish Holocaust survivors from eastern Europe, Lisa and her husband Aron sought to leave Europe. Unable to enter Palestine, they eventually settled in the United States.


What do the partisans do? They really made it impossible for the German army to move. We cut down trees, and blockaded the roads. We put, we mined the entrances to where, where the, where the resisters lived, and this was called an otriad, the units where, where they lived. They, uh, cut down telephone wires and, uh, they made ambushes at times, dynamiting the roads, the, dynamiting also trains that went to the front. And, uh, in the very same token we helped Jews that were hiding in the woods, because there were Jewish young children, and also elderly people, women, that escaped, one in a family, that ran out of a probably ghetto that was either burning or everybody was being killed, and quite a few children. I mean, not, not in large numbers, no. And, uh, we saw they lived at first almost like wild, running from place to place and hiding and not never having enough food, some of them even died. But when we came in into the forests we made sure that the, uh, the farmers keep them and they watch over them for their safety, because we threatened the farmers, if something will happen to their safety that you will be punished and punished severely. And, uh, you'd be surprised, they'd listen, because they knew that we were, we had power.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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