Women of Valor: Partisans and Resistance Fighters
Gisi Fleischmann : 1897-1944 | Haika Grossman : 1919- | Rozka Korczak-Marle : 1921-1988 Zivia Lubetkin : 1914-1976 | Franceska Mann : ?-1944 | Haviva Reik : 1914-1944
Zofia Yamaika : 1925-1943 | Mala Zimetbaum : 1922-1944

Biographical Sketches - (the late)Haika Grossman: 1919-?

Haika was born in Bialystok, Poland, and became active in the Ha-Shomer ha-Tsair Zionist movement. After the German occupation she became one of the organizers of the Underground in Bialystok, and with five other young Jewish women who posed as Poles, assisted resistance forces in Bialystok.

The general staff and executive committee of the ghetto resistance forces at first decided that Haika Grossman should leave the ghetto while escape was still a possibility. She categorically refused, and continued the fight. The resistance in Bialystok were a minority, however. They did not have the support of the masses of Jews, who chose to report for the fatal "evacuation" transports. The resisters devised a last, desperate plan to break through the ghetto fence, to facilitate escape by some of the more than 20,000 Jews who had assembled for deportation. They distributed their one hundred pieces of ammunition and assigned the machine gun to one fighter. A fire that was deliberately set was the signal for fighting to begin. The resisters fought until they died or ran out of ammunition. Haika and a few surviving fighters escaped to the forests and continued the fight against the Nazis as Partisans.

Haika Grossman described the heroism of the resistance fighters:

... our movement was large and strong and it was beautiful, even in its defeat ... You must know how to live, and more than that, how to die. We knew that by our death everything would not have ended, that our death would become a symbol upon which a generation would be educated ...

And I want to tell you this, although it is difficult to bring such words to my lips: the heroes of the people are not necessarily its recognized political leaders. The true heroes of a nation are small people, silent, unknown ...

With trembling lips I recall the memory of the daughters of Israel who fell heroically on the battlefield - Lonka, Tosya, Frumka, and many others like them - who will for evermore hold a glorious place in the annals of our movement.

Silence was their most characteristic beauty. The daughters of Israel who fell in battle excelled in that. They were the nerve centre of the movement. Tosya and Lonka for the first time brought us tidings of Warsaw and Vilna and news from our movement here, and you will never be able to understand what this meant to us. We will never forget them and their images shall be before our eyes as an eternal example for future generations.

After the war Haika Grossman immigrated to Israel, joining Kibbutz Evron, and continuing to be politically alive. She is a representative of the Mapam party in the Israeli Knesset.  (Editor's note in 2001. Haika Grossman died a few years ago, in Israel.)

© Copyright Judy Cohen, 2001.
All rights reserved.