Abstract | Background | The Couriers | The Fate of Jewish Women in Occupied Poland | Living a Double Identity in Perilous Times | Courier Profiles: Lonka Kozibrodska, and Why Women Were the Couriers | Havka Folman | Frumka Plotnicka…"Die Mameh" | Sima | Gusta Davidson Draenger | Mala Zimetbaum | The Destruction of Crematorium Number Four | What Sustained Them? | Conclusion | Endnotes | Bibliography


The Fritzes will not take me alive.

Three children were notable couriers or "runners" from the ghetto in Minsk, the capital of Byelorussia. They specialized in leading Jews out of the ghetto and to partisan units in the surrounding forest. One of these children was twelve-year-old Sima, an orphan whose parents had been murdered in the first Aktion in Minsk. She became the primary contact between the resistance in Minsk and the forest partisans on its outer reaches. Sima, like many couriers, had Aryan features: blonde hair, blue eyes, and, "dimples that showed when she talked."59 Three times a week she led groups of Jews in their escape from Minsk to the Staroje-Sielo forests, a distance of twenty-five kilometers. She would leave the ghetto through an opening underneath the barbed wire fence, or through the cemetery. Nights when she couldn't re-enter the ghetto she spent without food in a bombed out building on the city's edge. In the morning, she would join a column of Jews returning to the ghetto from a day of forced labor.

Jacob Greenstein, a surviving member of the Minsk underground remembered her:

No assignment was too difficult for Sima. Before going out on a mission she listened carefully to the given instructions, then repeat what she was told, trying hard not to miss a single word. Her small pistol was always in the special pocket sewn into her coat. Before starting out, she would always point to it and say, 'Don't worry, the Fritzes will not take me alive.'60

Unlike over one million Jewish children, Sima survived the Holocaust. When the Minsk ghetto was liquidated, she joined the combat operations of a forest partisan unit. After the Red Army drove the Germans out, Sima marched in a parade through Minsk with other decorated partisans.

© Copyright Judy Cohen, 2002.
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