world war ii: partisans

Partisans of Vilna: Zog Nit Keyn'mol
Lyrics - Hirsh Glick (1922 Vilna, Lithuania – 1944 Estonia)
Partisans of Vilna: Zog Nit Keyn'mol

World War II Jewish Resistance Song (1986)

English Translation:

Never say that this is the end, the final road.
Wherever a drop of our blood fell, there our courage will
grow anew.
This song, written in blood, was sung by a people fighting
for life and freedom.
Our triumph will come and our resounding footsteps will
proclaim “We are here!”

From land of palm-trees to the far-off lands of snow.
We shall be coming with our torment and our woe;
And everywhere our blood has sunk into the earth
Shall our bravery, our vigor blossom forth.

We’ll have the morning sun to set our days aglow;
And all our yesterdays shall vanish with the foe.
But if the time is long before the sun appears,
Then let this song go like a signal through the years.

This song was written with our blood, and not with lead;
It’s not a song that summer birds sing overhead;
It was a people, amidst the toppling barricades,
That sang this song of ours with pistols and grenades.

So never say you now go on your last way,
Through darkened skies may now conceal the blue of day,
Because the hour for which we’ve hungered for is near,
Beneath our feet the earth shall tremble, “We are here!”


Women Who Fought “Like Men”

1: Guerda Taro, a Republican fighter and journalist in the Spanish Civil War.
2: Harriet Quimby was the first woman to gain a pilot’s license in the United         States in 1911.
3: Roza Shanina (1924-1945) Soviet sniper during WWII
4: Juana Galán was known for beating Napoleon’s troops out of her village during the Battle of Valdepeñas in June, 1808. 
5: A female member of South Vietnam’s village militia companies goes on patrol with her M-16 at the ready, c.1971.
6:  Verna Erikson, 1918, one of the few women students at the University of Technology, was in the “Whites” party (versus the communist “Reds”) in the country’s brief but bloody civil war. She smuggled arms for the Whites. Here, she posed with a gun and 1,350 rounds of ammunition, about to smuggle them across the city under her fashionable coat. 
7: A Yugoslav partisan fighter in World War II. She fought against the Nazis under Tito.

“A group of young Jewish resistance fighters are being held under arrest by German SS soldiers in April/May 1943, during the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto by German troops after an uprising in the Jewish quarter.”



The Jewish Avengers

During World War II a large group of former Jewish partisans and Holocaust survivors formed a post war underground organization called the “Nokmim”, also known as the “Jewish Avengers”.  The goal of the Jewish Avengers was simple, to avenge the deaths of the Holocaust, mostly by hunting down former Nazi war criminals.  They worked in small cells of 4 or 5 people, with cells located all across Germany and Europe.  It was not uncommon for cells to even travel to South America to hunt down Ex Nazi’s who had made their home in Argentina or Brazil.  Typically the Nokmim would perform assassination missions, killing a target on the spot. In one incident a Nokmim agent injected a former Gestapo leader with kerosene while he was being hospitalized for an illness. They would also abduct targets, sometimes while disguised a Allied soldiers making an arrest, then take the prisoner into a secluded area, hold a mock trial in which summary judgment was passed, then execute him.  At first Nokmim members would simply shoot a condemned Nazi, but later they adopted strangling as their favored execution method. In the post war 1940’s and 50’s, they were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of ex Nazis.

Most Nokmim groups only targeted those who had direct involvement in war crimes or crimes against humanity.  However, one group, called the Nakam, was much more radical in their beliefs.  Founded by the Lithuanian Jew and partisan fighter Abba Kovner, the name “Nakam” was based on the Hebrew phrase “Dam Yahudi Nakam” (Jewish Blood Will Be Avenged).  This reflected Kovner’s intentions accurately as he believed that justice would only be served if eye-for-an-eye vengeance was exacted upon the German people.  Kovner believed that the Germans needed to pay with the deaths of 6 million people in order to make up for the 6 million Jews who were killed during the Holocaust.  In 1946 Kovner formulated a plan to bring about his revenge.  Obtaining poison from the Haganah in Palestine, Kovner and his agents planned to infiltrate water plants in Germany and poison the water supplies of Munich, Berlin, Weimar, Nuremberg, and Hamburg.  Supposedly the mission was given the go ahead by future Israeli President Chaim Weizmann, although this is disputed today.  However many other high ranking Jewish leaders in the Haganah knew of the plan and thought it was too extreme.  They tipped off Allied authorities, and Kovner and his gang were arrested in France with forged papers.

Kovner’s plan of poisoning 6 million Germans had failed, however he decided to try again, this time poisoning 3,000 loaves of bread destined to be fed to 12,000 German POW’s at the Langwasser Internment Camp in Nuremburg.  Around 1,900 POWs were sickened with arsenic poisoning.  According to Nakam members, around 300-400 died, although Allied reports make no mention of deaths.

In 1947 Abba Kovner left the Nakam in 1947 in order to fight in the Israeli War of Independence. He later became a poet, and testified in the famous trial of Adolf Eichmann.  He died in 1987.  The Nokmim continued hunting war criminals across Europe and South America until it gradually its members parted ways in the 1950’s.

Greek partisans who fought German invaders during the battle of Crete (May 1941).

Έλληνες αντάρτες που πολέμησαν τους Γερμανούς κατακτητές κατά τη διάρκεια της μάχης της Κρήτης (Μάιος 1941).

Armia Krajowa (Polish Home Army); Warsaw

There was no uniformity of clothing among the AK. Basically civilian dress was supplemented by old 1939 military items where available, and by captured German uniform. Early in the fighting a large German warehouse was captured and thousands of German Army and Waffen-SS camouflage garments of all kinds were distributed; these very popular items were known as ’panterki’ among the insurgents. White/ red brassards were required wear, sometimes with additional improvised unit insignia, the Polish eagle, the letters ‘WP’- Wojsko Polskie, 'Polish Army’ - or the initials of various underground militias. Helmets sometimes bore a large white eagle instead of the white/ red band shown with the right hand figure; he otherwise wears civilian dress, and carries one of the flamethrowers home-made by the insurgents. The center soldier is a member of one of the Boy Scout (Grey Ranks) companies; he wears a black German field service cap with an eagle badge, and a ’panterka’- here, the reversible winter camouflage over-suit of the Wehrmacht in 'water pattern’. His weapon is the Polish-made Blyskawica, a derivative of the Sten gun and even less reliable than its model. On the left is a girl courier; she wears an earlier-pattern German Army smock in 'splinter’ pattern camouflage, a German Army field service cap with added eagle badge, and goggles to protect her eyes from toxic fumes when traveling through the sewers. Most couriers were unarmed, but some were given small-calibre pistols of little use for serious fighting.

(Richard Hook and Steven Zaloga)