Jewish Poet Returning from Soviet Front, Reports on Bravery of Jews
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Jewish Poet Returning from Soviet Front, Reports on Bravery of Jews

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Tales of Jewish heroism on land and in the air were told here today to this correspondent by Itzik Fefer, famous Jewish poet, who just returned from the front lines after a lengthy stay there.

“The Jews,” Fefer said, “are fighting on all sectors of the front. You will find them everywhere, in the trenches, in the air fleet, in the guerrilla units. Even children are active. In one section of the front, two Jewish boys asked me to take them along to the furthermost front lines, claiming that they had already performed services for the army. Later I was told that these boys had done important reconnaissance work which resulted in the defeat of enemy units.

“One of the most popular heroes I met at the front is the Jewish girl, Reizel Tettelbaum. She is known as “Manager of the Bryansk Forests’ because of the special heroism which she displayed leading a guerrilla unit in the woods of the Bryansk section of the front. In one town, where the Nazis drove all the Jews into the local synagogue preparatory to setting the synagogue on fire and burning the victims alive, the girl suddenly appeared with her guerrilla unit and attacked the Nazis with hand grenades, dispersing them and liberating the Jews.

“Another popular figure is the Jewish flier Lev Kahan son of a Jewish writer. Kahan made more than 60 flights fighting the enemy in the air. He became a real luftmensh” but not the kind that were known among Jews in the times of Czarist Russia. Solomon Gorelik, leader of a Soviet tank unit, who received a high military decoration for dispersing and destroying a Nazi tank column, is another hero. He was a student at the Moscow conservatory of music, and was killed in a recent battle when an enemy shell hit his tank.


“One finds in the ranks of the army, at the front lines, quite a number of Jewish intellectuals,” Fefer continued. “There are about thirty well-known Jewish writers fighting there. The oldest of them is David Bergelson who several years ago visited the United States. There are also many Jewish actors fighting at the front as ordinary soldiers and entertaining their units with Jewish performances during the ‘leisure hours.’

“I myself, while at the front, attended a performance of the Jewish play “Bar Kochba,” translated into Russian. The audience enthusiastically applauded the monologue in which Bar Kochba calls upon the Jews to fight against Rome. The analogy between events of that time and the events of today was quite clear to all. The Red Army soldiers are also very much entertained by public readings of Sholem Aleichem’s works given by Jewish actor-warriors. Nazi efforts to stimulate anti-Semitic feelings at the front leave the Russian soldier completely cold. Jewish bravery is so obvious on all fronts that the Nazi leaflets which assert that the Jews are cowards produce an opposite effect from that intended by the Germans.”

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