Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Jewish Survivors Beginning to Return from Hiding Places to Towns in Vilna District

August 2, 1944
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Although virtually no Jews were found in Vilna and the surrounding townships when the Red Army first entered the region, hundreds of Jews who formerly dwelt there are beginning to return from the forests in which they hid to escape destruction by the Germans. These are mainly young able-bodied persons who fled to the woods and joined partisan bands.

More than 1,000 persons have already returned to the town of Glubokoye in the Vilna district and reports reaching here express the hope that there may be others still in the forests. Most of the Jews of Glubkoye were massacred in 1941 and the others were crowded into a ghetto which was burned down by Elite Guard troops in August of last year. The Jews who are returning now are those who through the aid of non-Jewish friends were able to flee the holocaust.

In Vilna proper, the new head of the municipal economy department is a Jewish youth named Simonovich who led a band of 300 Jewish partisans named ” The Avengers.” The ranks of the ” Avengers” were filled with Jews who had escaped from the ghetto, some who had fled while being led to execution and a few who had been left for dead by the Nazis after a mass execution. In addition to the ” Avengers” there were two other Jewish guerrilla bands operating around Vilna.

Many young girls fought with the partisans. Typical are Sonya Burstein, Fanya Varshavchik and a young woman who gave her name as “Betty.” Betty told a correspondent that she had killed six Germans and that other members of the band had each killed dozens.

Recommended from JTA