Video Transcript: Simon Trakinksi




SimonÕs life saved by a pair of boots


So we came at night to a uh, roaring brook this was a full. And we werenÕt sure that itÕs safe to cross so we waited till morning. And in the morning we crossed the water. And the other side on the right there was a village. And they observed us from that village. Now we were going from there, we started to march into, into the woods and the first brush we encountered we decided to lie down and rest because during the day time you couldnÕt, uh, walk, you would be discovered. And sure enough people from the village reported us to the police. And while we were a sleep we had guards posted. The guard came running, all of a sudden uh, there are people coming and started shooting. Now some of us were so, uh, so tired that we lie down as is and fell asleep. Others took off their shoes or boots, you know, because they were all uh, wet. So they started to pull them back on and they didnÕt respond right away to run. So there were what? Five or six of us killed. And I happened to run away because I had my boots on cause a friend of mine put his head on my legs he was so tired he fell asleep. I didnÕt want to wake him so I didnÕt take my boots off. So that saved me, okay.



Working in reconnaissance


You know an army like this has chores to do, or assignments to do, I uh my brother and I were into the reconnaissance, so we used to ride through the night to get to uh, ourselves into the villages and getting in contact with uh, our agents. And to gather intelligence about the, the police, the German army, uh, you know, the traffic on the railroads, and traffic on the highways, this kind of work. So we were mostly busy with this kind of work. The main body used to do other work, like uh, putting mines under the railroad tracks, like uh, setting up ambushes, uh where the police or the Germans were traveling, this was uh, this is a daily routine.



Mining railroad tracks


We were ordered to move out and move toward the area next to the railroad tracks. And we got there, we assembled there at night and they gave us egg shape uh, explosives where you put a uh, a detonator into the explosive and then you got to light the, the line and that explodes it. So mostly the joint of the rails we did put those detonators, that uh explosives and you know everybody was trying to doing it as fast as possible and get uh, back. And then the explosive started and it was like fireworks.



Partisan tactics


There were a few individual join us then they send us some so called officers from Moscow Partisan School. Which long on [tear] and short on experience. [laugh] So they, they were learning from us instead of teaching us. But they had maps and compasses and I went on a uh, once with them on a uh, mission and they were using their maps and compasses, and we were lost all night until we, we took it, took over. I mean, did it our way, and our way was to knock on the door of a farm house and get a farmer out, tell him to come with us and not tell anybody where we are going but to tell him lead us to such and such a place.



A Jew is unable to shoot a captured German soldier


in 44 when the German army was in retreat, we captured ah several German soldiers, you know ah who were in retreat and they were taken into custody and interrogated and after two days our commanders decided to take them out and shoot them, so they appointed 3 guys from our outfit to do the shooting. One of them was a friend of ours from Vilna which we came out with he was a, ah, at home his father was a butcher. He was himself a strong guy and he refused to execute the order to shoot him. He did a- the Russians couldnÕt understand, but they killed your whole family, why canÕt, says I canÕt the man in the face basically.



Antisemitic jokes in the partisans


There was a member of my group was a fellow from Belarussia who was from Polish extraction and he like very much to tell anti-Jewish jokes especially about Jews who were afraid to fight and so on. But at heart he was a coward. So we were marching he was very disturbed at who knows what will happen to him and I was laughing at him. Says why you laughing, you know, you can get killed. So I says Walkof, was his name, I says Wlakof, I am only a Jew I have nothing to worry about, you worry. He was very, you know, when the show down came he showed what a coward he was. ThatÕs why he used to tell a lot of jokes about cowardly Jews.



Fighting to prevent annihilation


It the same to Jewish as is to Americans to study the revolutionary war and its heroes right? People put their chest in front of English muskets to build a country, we put our chest in front of German Muskets to defend ourselves from annihilation and maybe to prevent the deaths of other Jews.