Wednesday, September 26, 2007

No Time To Mourn by Leon Kahn

In truth this is quite an obscure topic. Partisans in general do not get the recognition they deserve and even less so do Jewish partisans, who as it will become apparent for those reading this book, did not only have to fight against the Germans but also other partisan and 'bandit' groups around them. In this instance it was the Polish AK that gave the author such trouble and would eventually kill quite a few of his friends and family members. Aside from the Poles, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, and others also participated in various ways in working against Jews and helping the Germans in tracking them down.

The author was the only one of his immediate family to escape the Holocaust, his accounts are moving and more than once did I find myself having to reread a paragraph or two to realize that what I'm reading is actually written there. Details of life under German occupation and in a German ghetto, running away from a ghetto and stumbling into the forests in seek of rumored Partisans. Finding them and other groups of entire families as they try to make the best of the situation as they struggle to survive in the forests and wilderness of Eastern Europe while the Germans and their collaborators keep an ever watchful eye out for them. Joining a Partisan group and giving battle to the Germans and those who are helping them by betraying their former friends and neighbors, all of this is recounted with the utmost feeling and, in my opinion, honesty.

What I found extremely interesting were the activities of the author after he had left the Partisans and joined the police force in some local towns around where he had operated as a Partisan. How they hunted down collaborators, what they did with them, what they could and couldn't due according to Soviet rules and regulations, how the NKVD acted toward them, etc. All of this was quite interesting, not surprising on the other hand was the fact that after the war had come to a close Jews were still dying in Poland.

An emotional read to say the least. Highly recommended, the author lead an amazing life and this tragic period of history understandably haunted him for the majority of it. I'm glad he put these words on paper and was strong enough to share his stories and experiences with his children and the world.

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