Vitka Kempner
photogallery
Vitka Kempner activity map
Partisan activity marked in yellow as indicated by Vitka Kempner
Vitka Kempner was born in Kalish, Poland on the Polish-German border, in 1922. When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Kalish fell and Vitka escaped to Vilna, Lithuania. When Operation Barbarossa, Germanyís attack on the Soviet Union, was launched in 1941, Vilna was occupied and the Jews forced into a ghetto. Hearing the rumors about the death camps, Vitka decided to take her destiny into her own hands.

Vitka joined the Vilna chapter of Ha-Shomer Ha-Tsa'ir, a Zionist youth group. The group decided to transform itself into a resistance cell, led by Abba Kovner. Vitka became a founding member of the ĎAvengersí, which would go on to become one of the most famous and most successful all-Jewish partisan units during the war.
 
Vitka Kempner    Photo 1
Vitka Kempner
Vitka was responsible for the FPO's first act of sabotage, smuggling a homemade bomb out of the ghetto and blowing up a Nazi train line. The group began to arm themselves, smuggling weapons through the sewer system, and helped successfully organize the larger Vilna resistance movement, known as the United Partisans Organization, (FPO). Eventually, Vitka became one of Kovnerís chief lieutenants; they would marry after the war.

After a failed uprising, Vitka helped the FPO to evacuate much of the population through the sewer system to the surrounding forests. Several of the escapees became soldiers in their unit.
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