A Partisan Heroine for the Ages


Legendary, selfless, with a spirit inextinguishable, Vitka Kempner-Kovner is a Jewish hero for the history books.

Claiming that she would “not be humiliated” after witnessing the brutality of the SS in her home country of Poland, Kempner-Kovner escaped to Vilna where, in 1942, she joined the United Partisan Organization.

Once the liquidation of the Vilna Ghetto at Ponary commenced, Kempner-Kovner was seldom still. She oversaw the first act of sabotage against the Germans: the bombing of a Nazi train.

Kempner-Kovner regularly moved between the ghetto and the outside, leading underground groups to the secret Jewish partisans’ camp. She commanded a patrol group that collected intelligence, maintained contact with cells in the city, and led units on combat missions.

In 1944, she had the honor of being the first to reach the newly-liberated Vilna, where she met Jewish Soviet soldiers for the first time. She was awarded the highest badge of courage in the USSR.

And in the midst of all of this, Kempner-Kovner began a relationship with famous Jewish partisan and poet Abba Kovner. The two moved to Palestine in 1946 and lived on kibbutz Ein HaHoresh, where they started a family and spent the rest of their days.


» Read a Kempner-Kovner bio
» Buy the documentary Partisans of Vilna
» Learn more about the Vilna uprising
» Check out some of Abba Kovner’s poetry


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