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|Catalog No.||6382||Similar Items|
|Brief Description||Josef Blinder: his testimony on the fate of Kobylnik Jewry||Similar Items|
|Registry No.||20786ר"מ||Similar Items|
|Donor||Eilati Shalom||Similar Items|
|File name||בלינדר יוסף: עדות על גורל יהודי קובילניק, ליטא||Similar Items|
|Collection||Kaplan Israel||Similar Items|
|Interviewer||טיטלמן יוסף||Similar Items|
|Period||During World War II||Similar Items|
|From Date||02/07/1941||Similar Items|
|To Date||02/05/1945||Similar Items|
|Author||בלינדר יוסף||Similar Items|
|databank||Collections Section||Similar Items|
From the Israel Kaplan collection:
Josef Blinder: his testimony about the events and fate of the Jews of his town, Kobylnik (now Naroch), in the Vilnius (Vilna) district. The testimony was taken by Josef Titelman in the Benshein DP camp. Undated; 14 pages, handwritten, in Yiddish.
In 1939 there were some 350 Jewish families in the town. Upon the German invasion (July 2, 1941), an antisemitic Polish militia was set up there. Its first victims were Jehoshua Veksler of Donilovichi; the teacher Salomon, originally from Warsaw (Warszawa); Chaja - Riva Gordon from Kobylnik; and Shimon Cofnas, originally from Vilnius (Vilna). Blinder took part in their burial. On July 4, 1941, the militiamen, led by Wladyslaw Zykowski, a Pole, broke into the synagogue and beat up the Jews at prayer, Blinder among them. Two days later, Jew[ish men] between the ages of 16 and 55 were ordered to report to the police; they were imprisoned but later released. On the following Sabbath (Saturday), the Jews were required by order of the Polish militia to burn Torah scrolls in the marketplace square. Rabbi Cvi Makovski refused; he was dragged to police headquarters and severely beaten. On the eve of the Sukkoth holiday (Oct. 5), 65 Jewish men, women, and children were abducted in the town, among them Rabbi Makovski. Before his death, Szlomo Jawnowicz called for vengeance. Digging and covering up the pits was done by 15 Jews, Blinder among them. One of the diggers, Jakov - Beinisz Grinberg, found it difficult to keep pace with the others due to feeling anxious, and was shot to death. The murderer of additional groups of Jews was repeated afterwards.
In light of the extermination of the Jewish communities in the area, the Jews in Kobylnik and Miadziol Nowy) organized a plan to escape to the forest (Sept. 20, 1942, the eve of Yom Kippur). Blinder was not among the first 100 to escape because he was a family man (married with two children ages seven and five). The reaction was not long in coming: on Yom Kippur [the following day] all the Jews were herded into the marketplace square and locked in a cellar. In the evening the gendarmes commander Keil released those whose occupations were on his list, and with this Blinder and his family. All the rest, some 200 people, were shot to death at midnight. The only survivor was the brother of the teacher Salomon. The 55 practitioners of approved occupations were put in the Miadziol Nowy ghetto. Three weeks later some 30 people were sent to Vileyka and murdered there. Now there were some 70 Jews remaining in the ghetto, some from the vicinity. On Sept. 5, 1942, Partisans from the “Narodniye Mstiteli” (National Avenger) unit attacked the gendarmerie in order to free the Jews. The attack was led by the [Jewish] partisan Jakov Segalczik of Dolhinuv (Dolginovo). Their contact man in the ghetto was Kusewicki, a dental technician. During the attack the ghetto was set ablaze and two Germans, three Poles, and a Lithuanian were killed. 69 Jews (Blinder among them) fled under fire; some of them were wounded.
The struggle for survival in the forest in the cold winter was very difficult and conducted on a family basis. On Feb. 2, 1943, the Germans attacked the forest and many of the Jews were killed. Blinder and his family succeeded in surviving and remained until Passover (mid - April) 1943, when his wife and children contracted typhus. Due to her weakness, his wife fell into a bonfire and severely burned her leg. One day Blinder was awakened by his son screaming, “Daddy, they’re shooting.” He hoisted his sick wife on his shoulders and ran with his sick children until they sank up to their knees in a swamp. His friends abandoned the place because of the danger, but Blinder remained there another two weeks until his family recovered. This forest was strewn with the corpses of Jews; some he himself buried. Blinder and his family stayed in the forest and barely survived by eating mushrooms. The German attack of Aug. 25, 1943 and the subsequent siege they imposed on the forest brought about the deaths of the remainder of those who were hiding there.
Blinder and his family spent the winter of 1943/44 in a dugout (“Ziemlanka”). Until May 1944 they lived in a group framework (some 160 partisan workers). Their struggle for survival in the forest was hardest in the months of May through July because of the increased searches. After the liberation, they came to Kurenets, Blinder’s birthplace, and found it in ruins. Blinder decided to take vengeance on the murderers and volunteered for the Red Army. At first he was sent to Vyazma near Moscow, and after artillery training he was sent to the Warsaw (Warszawa) front. Despite the dangers he was content with the possibility of vengeance. On Jan. 14, 1945 he took part in the great attack on Warsaw, and after that participated in the conquest of Poznan. By the Oder River he again took part in heavy fighting until April 14, 1945. His unit continued to fight and reached Berlin, where he took part in street battles until the liberation (May 2, 1945). He was awarded four decorations for distinction in battle. Close