Oral History: Resistance

Sarah Ginaite Rubinson
Partisan/Resistance Fighter

Sarah was born in 1924 in Kaunas (Kovno), Lithuania.  During the German occupation, she was imprisoned in the Kovno ghetto where she lost most of her family.  She would eventually come into contact with members of the underground movement and begin working with them.  Here she talks about the activities of the partisan unti that operated in the Kovno area:

Transcript

Interviewer: … what a partisan is different from what you were doing already as a resistor?

Sarah Rubinson: The partisan, we lived in the forest in a camp, detachment. It was a pro-Soviet, and we went like guerillas, like the guerillas are doing to fight them in any possible way.

I: So you were assisted by a Soviet?

S: Yes, by a Soviet. Not assisted but it was directed by the Soviet, by the Soviet, yes. 

I: Were they, were the Soviets former prisoners of war? Or were they just from the area?

S: The leadership was from, were from airborne. They were sent from Moscow. Lithuanians, regionally Lithuanians, communists, devoted communists, mostly, mostly. Some were local Russians, very little. And some were Jews escaped from the Vilna ghetto. 

I: Was partisan activity widespread in the area? Were there many partisans?

S: In our… it was called Rudnicki Forest. It was over 2,000 around in many detachments, not only our detachment. In our detachment was approximately 200. Most of them were inmates from, escapee from the ghetto, Russian former prisoners of war, a few local Poles, a few local Russians. Fifteen percent of us were women. 

I: I was just going to ask you that. Were there, were there any children out there?

S: No, no, no. 

I: With 200 partisans out there were you in individual, small groups? How did you live and survive out there?

S: I don’t know what it is called, you know, special like a tent but inside it was built a tent, about 30 people lived in one tent, 30 people, so yes. I don’t remember exactly, 30 or 20, maybe 30. 

I: And what was your main task when you became part of the partisans?

S: Again?

I: What was your main duty, what did you do?

S: Everything in the partisans, everything, from peeling potatoes to going to, going to a battle, to surround the local police, to… everything we did and everyone personally had a special, like some kind of division. It was intelligence, my husband was in the intelligence group, so he had to go to talk to the local people to find out a lot of things, he was. I was sent back to ghetto with four more people, so five days, no four days, four nights, we went hundred miles from Rudnicki to the ghetto. And was very cold; it was the first days of January. It was very cold, like today in Toronto or Montreal. Snowing, and we went and we smuggled into the ghetto. We had to meet our leadership and to pass him some kind information and to restore the connection. And I stayed in ghetto for three weeks with my mother and with my sister and my mother was very nervous, she saw that they got my letters, they were so happy, through this person [unintelligible], that I was safe and now why I came. So I said don’t worry, everything is okay. I started to, I tried to help them, but unfortunately nothing worked and during the liquidation of the ghetto, in the beginning of July, 1944, end of June and beginning of July, 1944, the Kaunas ghetto was liquidated and my family was, rest of my family, was deported to Germany and survived only my sister and my sister’s husband, and perished my husband’s family, his father, his sister, Liper Rubinson father, sister Sonya Rubinson, my mother Reveka Gin, the mother of the child, the child survived, the mother of the child, most perished in the ghetto. So that’s it.

I: What were some of the, some of the acts of sabotage that was done by the partisans?

S: In the ghetto was sabotage, in partisan you don’t do sabotage, you kill, you struggle, you murder, what kind of sabotage can you do in… in ghetto you can, or when you were working for the Germans you can sabotage, but in, it is like a military union, unit.