Leah Johnson
photogallery
Leah Johnson activity map
Partisan activity marked in yellow
Leah Bedzowski was on the eve of her 18th birthday when the Nazis invaded the town of Lida in the eastern half of Poland. At the time, her family was already mourning the death of her father and, with the arrival of the Nazis and the anti-Semitic policies they would impose, many more challenges lay ahead of them.

Leah, together with her mother and her three younger siblings, tried to escape from their oppressors early. They were taken in by sympathetic Gentile farmers in the outskirts of town where they hid out for a short period of time. The state soon decreed that all Jews would be confined in ghettos. The farmers could no longer safely harbor the family, so the Bedzowskis had to return to Lida, where they were confined to a ghetto.
 
Leah Johnson    Photo 1
Courtesy of the Johnson family
Their passport to freedom arrived in a letter from Tuvia Bielski, a friend of the family. Tuvia and his brothers were hiding out in the forest and accepting all Jews into their group. In the letter, Tuvia encouraged the family to join them.

Accepting Tuvia’s help, the Bedzowskis escaped from the ghetto by night, past guard dogs, under barbed wire, often on their hands and knees. When they reached the forest, their guide told them, “You are going to live.” Leah and her family joined the Bielski Brigade that night.

Leah took on the duties of the encampment, including food-finding missions and guard duty. Never safe until war’s end, Leah and her
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