Oral History

Rachel Mutterperl Goldfarb describes how partisans obtained weapons from German soldiers

The Germans established a ghetto in Dokszyce in late 1941. Rachel hid during the liquidation of the ghetto in 1942, and she and her mother escaped to another ghetto. When the second ghetto was about to be liquidated, they escaped again. Rachel and her mother joined a band of partisans in the forest. She helped her mother to cook, and also cleaned weapons. Rachel and her mother tried to leave Europe when the war ended. They eventually arrived in the United States, in 1947.


Uh the first partisans, and my mother was very much in touch with them. They were a few of the young men who escaped to the forest and the way they accumulated a few weapons was by staking out some roads and finding a lonely, or lone I should say, German soldier who would pass by that they could, uh, kill and take his weapons because that was the only way to take the, the weapons from a soldier. Um, I don't know whether...at that point I think was a matter of kill or be killed. They accumulated a few weapons. Some of the Russians, Russian prisoners of war also had escaped. You know when, when people are treated like this it doesn't matter, life or death...the line between life and death becomes very very narrow. And it's a matter, well, do I get killed and end my suffering or do I escape and have a chance to live? And, uh, then, then it's much easier to escape. But when you are the cause of the rest of your family's death, I mean, it...it's very difficult. Also there was no place really to run. You lived in a...amongst a population that was ready and willing to hand you over to the Germans again. It was only under the threat of fear that those people provided the food to the partisans. Once the partisans were able to get some weapons and once they had made contact with the, uh, Russians behind the lines, then it became much easier because at that point the Russians had already sent...when the front was organized, the Russians had sent leadership, ammunitions, and some supplies. Other than that, whatever supplies, whatever fighting supplies there were, were only very primitive or what was taken from the Germans.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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