When they trained us for these missions as junior secret service we went to training over three months. And the test was the partisan soldiers, the partisans themselves used to dress up in German uniforms and hidden in certain areas that you donÕt know, and they send out those kids like myself to go to this and this area and go bring me information what you know, what you see there and who did you see, what did you see, what does they have, what kind of things and so forth. And as you walk, and all of a sudden, you been caught by one of these German soldiers, itÕs the partisan dressed in it, and as you been caught of course, they punish you very rough. The punishment was first off they start questioning you, Ôwhere are you going, who you areÕ. Of course, we always had excuses, ÔI got lost/I, I went out with the, with my cows up in the field, and I got lost, I donÕt know where I going, I went in the forest, and I canÕt find my way home.Ó So make the story short, they start bothering and then they start scaring, like, for instance, they loaded up their pistol and put the barrel into your mouth. If you not going to say the truth, you going to be shot. So if you are a softy, you spill the beans. If you spill the beans you got two choices either you going to be killed by the Germans, or if you spilled the beans, you come back to the partisans you going to be killed because you spilled the beans. So you caught between the hammer (he claps) and the nail.
And toward the evenings used to be a grown up man riding a horse dressed as a farmer from a village. And we had codes, and he used to leave, letÕs say, you want to report to him what you saw, so we had spoken up to him ahead of time when we took these jobs. That in this particular village, this is where you going to be stationed. This is the barn or the stack of hay where you are going to leave the messages. In the same token, if they had to leave you a message, they left you a piece of paper. For instance, if it was a yellow piece of paper, you can remain in the village and continue your job. If it was a red piece and it was written in it that the village was going to be attacked and you were given a special code. So the attacking troop only knew that code, and you. So if the attacking troop came, you came across the attacking troop, you said the code, they let you through and they take you along with them.
The German army normally was very skeptical and frightened to come into the forest to fight us for many reasons. One of the reasons was for instance, if we let them in to come into the forest, our soldiers, our guys were sitting on top of trees, among the branches with machine guns and grenades, and dispose of them right there so they couldnÕt do nothing. Then, they decided to come, get rid of all the partisans by bombarding the forest. I do not know if you are familiar with military situations, but when you bomb a forest and the bomb comes off the plane, soon as she hits the branches of the wood of the trees, the branches were sheared off from the explosion, the bomb explodes in pieceÑsmall pieces. We are sitting in the zemlyanka which is ten feet, or eight feet, or six feet deep underground, covered, protected so nothing will happen. So again they couldnÕt accomplish nothing.
But we had a very difficult time in the partisans among our own soldiers. What happen is we had Ukrainians, we had people from Pole, pole, Polish soldiers that they escaped from the prisons of Juaros and came to the partisans, and we had Russians. None of them really liked the Jews. And we had situations when we went out for a minute for instance to mine up a bridgeÉ but on the way back on the job, the same Ukrainians, or Polacks, or the Russians even would kill the Jewish partisans and come back and tell the commanding officer, ÒOh those guys were killed on action.Ó It, it, eh, it was like two or three times it repeated, the same repetition, until we caught into it. And, my commander, which was the commander of the junior secret service was a Jewish man and we came back and reported to him whatÕs happening, he went in return and reported to the chief of the unit, to the chief of the, uh, brigade. And, eh, the chief, eh, immediately didnÕt take any action. He ignored it. Eventually it pierced through his head, because, we were giving him conditions that either we will get off this unit and we will report it to Moscow, or he will take action and sure enough he took out, he researched it and he took out eighteen partisans, non-Jewish, those that were shooting the Jewish partisans. And there was a court marshal, and they were court marshaled to be hung on the trees in the forest. And at this time, that situation stopped after that hanging because they saw that they can not get away with it.
My hearing is impaired because they were bombarding the forests and a bomb fell from me, itÕs like from here to the wall, and my whole body was covered, half of my body on the right side was covered with ground. So, I was completely deaf, and right here (points) under my left eye if you look youÕll see a mark, which now is already grey there it was my whole face was crooked like this and this was because a piece, of the size maybe a tenth of an inch came in there, poked my teeth down and opened up, my eye was swelled upÑfor six months I never thought that I am going to see in that eye anymore. I was like blind.
The order was given that if anybody ever was caught and has no way out of it, he got to kill himself. He also was contemplated to put in a pill, in your cheek, just in case that you can swallow the pill and you die because thatÕs poison, but the commander, the chief of the, this was against it for this simple reason, the age of us. He did not trust enough the young kids and their age, and by playing around, eh, he think something will fe, being not careful enough will swallow it and die anyhow.
Yeah, sometimes at night I wake-up and IÕm upset because you remind yourself of the hardships that you went through and then after I escaped and I ran in with a Russian army that came to occupy Czechoslovakia, Poland and they came to the ff, foreh, front lines of Auschwitz, and we were a couple of kilometers away from the camps, and they were afraid to go on because they thought that the camps are very strongly fortified, the German military men and the equipment. So, they sent us in again to find out whatÕs going on, and when I came in front of that camp 200 feet, 300 feet away from the main gate and saw those piles of corpse laying one on top of the other, naked, and skin, only you see is skin and bones by the hundreds, maybe by the thousandsÑyeah, I shouldnÕt/sure donÕt exaggerate this, and that stays with you and that will stay with me for the rest of my life. This is a scenery that I donÕt wish upon nobody, ever to see it in even in a movie. ItÕs very hard to talk about it.