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2011 Observance Holocaust Remembrance Day

Screening of the film "Daring to Resist"
25 January 2011

Remarks by Mr. Frank Blaichman, former partisan

Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen - I am honoured to be here tonight. I survived the holocaust as a Jewish Partisan Fighter, Lieutenant and Platoon Commander of a Jewish Partisan Group.

We who survived bear witness to the unspeakable persecution and destruction of the Jewish people and their communities in Europe. It is time to set the record straight. Yes, the Jewish people suffered and were brutally murdered, but they also resisted.

This resistance took shape in ways both large and small,  loud and quiet, open and covert. But, armed resistors, like the men and women of my unit, actively sought to acquire both the weapons and training necessary to protect their fellow Jews and fight back. Those of us who were able to escape the ghettos became fugitives on the run. We began to organize ourselves and   acquired weapons through perseverance and luck  – this was the first turning point in our struggle -  acquiring  firearms  meant  power.

We  then captured and punished many local collaborators who were hunting and killing Jews, and spying on the civilian Polish population. This was another turning point for us. We were now able to operate in our area with confidence and the support of many Polish peasants. Rescuing and protecting Jews unable to fight was our highest priority.

We soon acted with, but always independent of, Polish and Russian Partisan groups. They provided us with sophisticated firearms,  huge quantities of ammunition and explosives as well as intelligence information needed for acts of sabotage: to blow up trains and ambush convoys carrying military supplies to the German forces on the Eastern Front;  striking crucial blows against the German war machine.

I was but one of tens of thousands of Jews fighting across Europe in this way. Jewish armed resistance took place in the small villages surrounding Lublin where I am from, in the deep forests of Belarus, the ghettos of Eastern Europe, and even in the death camps themselves.

For every partisan like I, determined and lucky enough to have made it through that harrowing experience, there were scores of our comrades cut down on the field of battle well before their time. I tell my story because my story is their story and I am lucky enough to have voice left to tell it.

Thank you for having me here.