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The Jews in the Soviet Partisan Movement
The Soviet authorities have not opened their archives to the West. Accordingly, the main source of material is from written memoirs and spoken testimonies. The Soviet partisan movement acted as a “second front,” fighting the Nazis behind enemy lines in coordination with the regular army. Supreme control of partisan units was in the hands of Communist Party leaders. Good relations with the local population were the rule. Many of the men who joined the partisans were not combat ready and had no previous military experience. However, Jewish doctors and nurses far outnumbered their Russian counterparts and performed heroically. Jews displayed complete loyalty and never considered betrayal. Jews possessed good organizational abilities and some were founder members of the partisan movement. Blatant antisemitism was not uncommon in Lithuanian and Ukrainian units, and even in some Russian groups. Yet, many Jews earned citations for bravery. Certain units were composed wholly of Jews who often had fled to the woods with their families. Further examination of documents and testimonies needs to be carried out before significant conclusions may be reached.
Kurt Jacob Ball-Kaduri