Women of Valor: Partisans and Resistance Fighters
Evelyn Kahn - Part IV
Everyone knew that the time was getting close for liberation because we had news via the partisans that liberation was near. Everyone wanted so badly to stay alive, to survive, to tell the story. We did our best but, of course, everyone's life was a matter of destiny. In the summer you could gather some berries and some mushrooms, there was more to live on. Many of us had a lot of frostbite. One of the deadlier illnesses was caused by malnutrition. We all developed boils. Huge, huge boils the size of a quarter, all over your body. I was covered with these boils and the partisans were trying to get different babsky remedies from the farmer lto combat it. After we were liberated, I was examined by a Russian doctor and he told us to eat lots of butter. Sure enough, the boils disappeared completely. I have only two tiny marks left, but a lot of people, to this day, have big blue marks left from those boils.
One day, a young man and I were chosen to go and bring water. As we were about to put our pails into the river, I heard familiar sounds. I heard Russian singing. I said to this fellow, "Joe, that sounds like Russian to me. These are not Germans. I think this is the Red Army." He said, "No, you can never tell." He was smart. There could be tricks. So we started to crawl closer to the area where the voices were coming from and sure enough, I saw they were Russian men in uniforms with their field kitchens. They took one look at us and we looked at them and they burst out crying. They started to embrace me because I was just a little girl. They kept asking a million questions, about where we came from and how we survived. They were very, very kind and they were trying to give us everything, but we were so excited; we kept pulling them over to our area where we were hidden, so that everyone could see that it's not a mirage, that it's really happening. We did bring them back with us to the forest and there, lo and behold, everyone saw for themselves that these were not German officers, but the Red Army.
After they were liberated Evelyn's mother searched for other survivors of the family, but in vain. The three women and two child survivors made their way to Lodz, Poland, where they lived with other Jewish survivors, and where they again suffered anti-Semitism, this time from the Poles. Evelyn's mother arranged for them to cross the border into Germany. Evelyn's Jewish education, which began in Lods, resumed, and she fondly remembers her activities in the Betar Zionist group and the Zionist ideals with which she was imbued. They finally emigrated and joined distant relatives in the United States. Evelyn married Leon Kahn, a fellow Partisan from Ejszyszki, and they now live in Vancouver, Canada.
Interviewed by: Yaffa Eliach 1/4/82