Friday, February 2, 2007

The Warriors by Harold Zissman

Too often have I read memoirs from Jewish partisans who served either with the Poles, Ukrainians or in this case Russians and Byelorussia and the sad fact that they had to face anti-semitism within these partisan groups and detachments. Again and again they would prove themselves to be resilient fighters, brave soldiers, and heroic warriors when the time came in the heat of battle. Some lived through it all but many more would die and their stories need to be heard, understood and remembered.

Not only suffering from the Germans and their local collaborators but also at the hands of the same people whom they sought out for help and protecting and more so to simply join to seek vengeance. This book is a small glimpse into that world, a world where the enemy might be a man you called a friend not too long ago and someone whom you entrusted your life to in a split second decision when had yet to lose faith in humanity and the generous spirit you know people must have deep down inside. Yet the end result more often than not was betrayal, death, starvation, torture, and torment.

Stories abound of the dozens of actions undertaken by these partisans and the huge amount of damage they were able to do to the Germans and locals who were helping them. At the same time we are also told about the German responses to these actions, local people who might have had nothing to do with it were robbed, beaten, and killed for simply being at the wrong place and at the wrong time.

War is war, I only wish that the author had included everything in this book, sadly he himself says that he left out stories of 'cruelty, inhumanity, and atrocity.' I think that was a mistake on his part, the more we know the better informed we'll be and hopefully we might avert something like this from ever happening again.

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