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 - Rozka Korczak-Marle: 1921-1988

Rozka was born in Bielsko, Poland and lived in Plock. At the outbreak of World War II she went to Vilna, where she became an active Zionist leader, together with Abba Kovner and Vitka Kemper. She was part of the nucleus of young Zionist activists who called for armed resistance to the Nazis and formed the United Partisan Organization. When it became obvious that armed resistance was not feasible, she joined other fighters who left the ghetto and formed partisan groups in the Rudninkai forest.

When asked how the partisans tolerated the winters in the forest, ill-clad, hungry, and without adequate shelter, Rozka replied that it was only the partisans' ingenuity and endurance that prevailed. The knowledge that warmth could be found in the crematoriums prevented their preoccupation with the discomfort of the subzero temperatures in the forest. Rozka was particularly aware of the need felt by the girls and women partisans to prove their competence and trustworthiness. They often volunteered for the most dangerous tasks, and were chosen not only because women coud more easily hide their Jewish origins, but for their fearlessness:

It was they who maintained the contact between the ghetto and the city; it was they who travelled from one city to another with false papers, though the penalty was instant death; it was they who brought the idea of resistance from city to city. It was they who carried on the technical work in the ghetto, and it was they who later took their place among the partisans. I can think of no part of the work with which the name of some girl comrade is not associated ...

They were not extraordinary women. They were not women with special training or qualifications. They were young girls who had grown up in the work and had risen to the demands ... And that was the hardest, the fact that the work had to be done every day, from day to day. That requires greater courage than a heroic exploit which lasts a few minutes. Those girls had to have daily heroism - and they had it ...

Shortly after Vilna was liberated in July 1944, Rozka Korczak immigrated to Palestine, forming Kibbutz Eilon and the Kibbutz Ein haHoresh along with other former partisans. She was active in establishing educational memorial projects and Holocaust study centres in Israel.

© Copyright Judy Cohen, 2001.
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