Oral History

Aron (Dereczynski) Derman describes partisan activities near Vilna

Aron was born to a middle-class Jewish family in Slonim, a part of Poland between the two world wars. His parents owned a clothing store. After studying in a technical school, Aron worked as a motion-picture projectionist in a small town near Slonim. The Soviet army took over Slonim in September 1939. War broke out between Germany and the Soviet Union in June 1941. Aron returned to Slonim. The Germans soon occupied Slonim, and later forced the Jews into a ghetto. Aron was forced to work in an armaments factory, and was able to smuggle arms into the ghetto. After helping his family escape when the Germans destroyed the ghetto, Aron worked in Grodno until he was arrested. While being deported from Grodno, Aron jumped off the cattle car. He eventually managed to escape from Grodno and join the underground outside Vilna. After the war, he and his wife (whom he had met in the Slonim ghetto) immigrated to the United States and settled in Chicago.


Our mission was, the first thing is to blockade the roads coming to our base. That's for our own security. So we blocked all the roads coming to us. Uh, we cut down the, uh, the trees--because we were in the woods--we cut down the trees on the roads and we dynamited them, so they could not come in to our base. Now, the underground was already developing pretty strong. It was numbers, bigger numbers--now I'm talking the whole underground, not only the Jewish underground, as in general, I'll come back to the Jewish underground. So the area became already, uh, quite a few partisans were in the whole area. And we cut down the telephone lines, we cut down the bridges, we cut down the, the, whatever we could do, is blow up the railroads. And in very many instances we blew up trains. Now, if I took part in it, I took part in them--directly, indirectly--but, uh, some of, I wasn't, I wasn't a hero, but I was part of the, I was part of the, of the underground. I was active as anybody could be.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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