Naliboki, Belarus


28 May 2018

Hi Eli

The following excerpt is from my report entitled, Jakóbowicz (Jakobowicz, Jakubowicz) Surname Variants in Holocaust Records (ghettos, trains, camps, survivors, profiles) and Surname History, Emigrations, Descendants.  So you know, my report is listed with JewishGen's Yizkor books in the Miscellaneous section (published online, and by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.).  The excerpt:

Along with partisans, Jewish women, children and the elderly lived in “family camps.”  The largest camps, in the Naliboki Forest, contained hundreds of Jewish people.  Camps were led by Shalom Zorin (he saved 800 people)... and led by Tuvia Bielski and his brothers (they saved 1,200 people).

The Bielski story, Defiance, is available as a book (by Nechama Tec; Oxford University Press, 1994)… and as a movie/DVD starring Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber (2009).  Another book, A Tower from the Enemy (by A. Nirenstein; 1959) includes a personal account of Tuvia Bielski: “In the Forests” (pp. 352-72).

Read the complete story in author Allan Levine's book, Fugitives of the Forest… The Heroic Story of Jewish Resistance and Survival During the Second World War (published 1998 and 2009 – by Lyons

Press).  On page 226 there is a glimpse of partisan sabotage, including the use of explosives and anti-tank guns:  “According to historian and former partisan Dov Levin, about 850 Jews participated in 22 of the 92 detachments that made up the Soviet-Lithuanian [partisan] movement….  Fighters in these 22 detachments were responsible for derailing 461 trains… destroying 288 locomotives… and injuring or killing 6,633 enemy soldiers (of a total of approximately 14,000).”  In 39 operations from October, 1943 to July, 1944, three Jewish units “destroyed 315 telephone and telegraph poles, collapsed five bridges, derailed 33 train cars, and destroyed more than 300 kilometers of railway track.”

The advancing, Soviet Red Army pushed the Germans out of Russia and out of the forests in the summer of 1944.

Nazi Germany's leader, Adolf Hitler, was closer to the action than many realize – in East Prussia (today's northeastern Poland) near the borders of Lithuania and Belarus.  He used his “Wolf's Lair” for more than 800 days during 3.5 years of the war (until November, 1944).  During that time, Poland's perishing Jews hoped for his demise.  But a mere 200,000 to 335,000 Polish Jews lived long enough to learn of Hitler's death on April 30th, 1945. Underground in his Berlin bunker, knowing that the Russians would arrive soon and capture him, the man who killed millions killed himself.

By the end of the war and the Holocaust, about 25,000 surviving Jews walked out of the forests and swamps.  As for the 1,200 Bielski survivors who lived to see the end of the war, “There are probably more than 13,000 descendants,” writes Allan Levine, “and the numbers grow each year.”

Eli, feel free to use this excerpt in your website(s),

Mike Jackoboice (Jakóbowicz)


24 May 2018


I highly recommend the memoir written by my wife's [second] cousin David Farfel, entitled "In The Nesvizh Ghetto and the Naliboki Woods."

It has an extensive section on his time in the forest with the Zorin unit, as well as episodes with Bielski. The book is in Hebrew but I have

read it in its entirety and may be able to help with translation of the parts of it relevant to you. Not information on the town of Naliboki but of the forest. It is in various libraries that can be identified on Worldcat.

You may also want to see Shalom Cholawski's book, "The Jews of Bielorussia During World War 2." I believe that the Nesvizh Yizkor book, Sefer Nesvizh, also has some information on time that some of the survivors spent in the forest.

David's wife Elka Farfel has an extensive oral history interview in Hebrew which can be viewed online.

Steve Stein

Nyasvizh (Nesvizh) research facilitator / KehilaLinks contact


23 May 2018

Dear Eli Rabinowitz, 

I read with interest of your trip to the Naliboki Forest. A number of my father's relatives served in the underground units there. 

Alas, I don't have precise information but perhaps further digging may unearth interesting and revealing facts.

 Apropos of escape and stranger-than-fiction survival, I wanted to bring to your attention a wartime odyssey entitled, "On Burning Ground:  A Son's   Memoir" (St. Martin's Press, New York), a psychological portrait of extreme masquerade encompassing all three Abrahamic faiths in an act of   stunning, far-sighted strategic deception. It has been published in French under the title "Vivre et c'est tout" (Edition Robert Laffont) with a blurb by   Elie Wiesel, and is being currently translated into Russian and Belarussian. Editions in Polish, Japanese, Romanian and the  language of the   Crimean Tatars have already been issued. 


 A stranger-than-fiction tale, it explores how a fair-haired Polish rabbinical student born in Nowogrodek, not far from Nalikboki, trained in the rigors of Talmud and a rather austere version of Jewish religious ethics, adopted the identities of a Christian and a Muslim to survive a war of annihilation. Indeed,the Muslim identity proved indispensable in passing, providing the essential cover and pretext for circumcision.


On Burning Ground, A Son's Memoir by Michael Skakun

home; The Story; Reviews; Resources; Author

    A story of a desperate chameleon, which the Washington Post termed, "The Tale of a Holocaust Houdini,"

"On Burning Ground" culminates with Joseph Skakun's desperate gamble at life--his harrowing volunteer

entry into Hitler's Waffen-SS--posing both as a Muslim and Christian, an improbable but, in the end,

successful cover. His post-war return to Judaism, affords this narrative a stranger-than-fiction air. Indeed, 

the protagonist's prewar discovery and personal knowledge of Islam gained through local custom, commerce 

and insatiable curiosity, served as a golden thread enabling his survival. Blurbs by Elie Wiesel and Arthur Miller among

others underscore how this true story often beggars the imagination. Kindly find below a press release

concerning "On Burning Ground." 

  Elie Wiesel, in his republished Oprah edition of his classic memoir Night, chose On Burning Ground as one of 

his five choices for advanced reading about the Holocaust, on a list that includes Wladyslaw Szpilman's The Pianist and William Shirer's

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.  

  Would be most interested in learning more about your current creative endeavors. 

   Best regards, 


   Michael Skakun


22 May 2018

Dear Eli.  Welcome back from your trip.  We have crossed paths before.  I have seen your website with all the Kehilia links, but I cannot recall how I came to find it.


Yes, you may certainly use my email however you wish.  Like all your hard work, a mitzvah is no good if others cannot benefit.


I have heard of Tamara Vershitskaya from another traveler who went to Nowogrudek.  My grandmother’s family was from Nowogrudek, Korelitz, Negnewicze.  My grandfather was from Nesvizh.  I concentrate on the history of this small part of Belarus and am in contact with JewishGen researchers who descend from these shtetls.  I have also interviewed several survivors and intend on posting my research when it is ready.


You mentioned Mir.  I am searching for descendants of Damesek who are buried in the Mirer Young Mens plots in Mt. Hebron cemetery in New York.  The Mir Dameseks have a connection to a rabbinical family of Damesek from Nesvizh.  I may be related. 


I noticed that your Mir site has a reference to Andrei Burdenkov.  I communicate with Andrei periodically and hired him almost two years ago to video record the memories of a gentile who was a girl during the Nazi invasion and subsequent revolt of the ghetto in Nesvizh.  I plan to post this video on the Nesvizh Kehila site, but some of her memories are possibly good enough that I might alert Yad Vashem.  The witness, Elena Byl, born circa 1930, remembered about 40 Jewish families and had short stories about many of them.


I do not have any photos of Naliboki or of Naliboki people.  Unfortunately, my family has too few photos in general.  But I am grateful for the treasured photos that I do have.  In my searches, if I uncover items that might be useful, now I know how to reach you.


Best regards…Ken Domeshek


22 May 2018

Greetings Eli.


These things might help you.  Although your email specified the shtetl of Naliboki, the Bielski partisans had connections to all the nearby towns.  Lida, Nowogrudek, Nesvizh, Korelitz, Mir, Haradzey are some of these towns, all near the southern outskirts of the Naliboki forest. 


Below is a reference to the Bielskis from the Nowogrudek town museum.


Nowogrudek ghetto Jews dug a tunnel, about 100 meters long, from inside the ghetto to the edge of the forest.  About 300 escaped through the tunnel one night.  About 200 made it safely to the Bielskis.  The eyewitness account of this escape and various references to the Bielskis can be found in the Yizkor book for Nowogrudek and in a book about Nowogrudek written by Jack Kagan, a survivor.  The total number of Jews in the Bielski unit was 1,100-1,200, so the 200 Nowogrudek tunnel escapees were a significant part of this partisan group.


Sefer Lida has content written by Eliahu Damesek.  Also, he wrote a memoir, available in Israel.  I have the memoir but have not yet translated it.  Eliahu was from Lida.  He ran a printing press and published resistance literature in the Naliboki forest for the Bielski partisans.  Because of this, the Nazi’s had a 100,000 Reichsmark bounty on his head.  They never caught Eliahu or found the location of the printing press.


Defiance is a movie about the Bielski’s.  It is historically accurate.


The History Channel has an excellent Bielski documentary.  It includes interviews of partisans and descendants of the Bielskis, some of whom came to New York.


Shalom Cholawski was from my shtetl of Nesvizh.  He was a survivor and a partisan in the Naliboki forest, but he was part of a different partisan group.  He is probably the best historian for the Jewish ghettos and resistance in this part of Belarus.  I cannot recall the names of all of his books, but the most comprehensive one that I use as a reference  titled “In the Eye of the Hurricane:  The Jews of Bielorussia during World War II”.  It is bound to have multiple references to Naliboki town and forest, and the Bielskis.


There are two organizations and museum in Israel dedicated to partisans and underground fighters. and


Happy Hunting.  Shalom.


Ken Domeshek

Houston Texas

descended from Nesvizh, Korelitz, Nowogrudek, Negnewicze


21 May 2018

Hi Eli

I have two books with references to Naliboki:

Defiance:  The Bielski Partisans, by Nechama Tec, Oxford University Press, 1993

Un Juif de Bielorussie de Lida a Karaganda, by Juseph Kuszelewicz, L"Harmattan, 2002


Fred L. Millner



25 May 2018

Dear Eli,

The link is to the Table of Contents. From there you can adopt the specific article page links into your project.

BTW I just edited another one which is not online yet but will be soon on page 136.

Here are some articles where the Bielski brothers are mentioned: 136, 325, and 334.

I hope this helps.



20 May 2018

Dear Mr. Rabinowitz,

Having recently (nearly) completed the Divenishok Yizkor Book

Translation, I can refer you to three articles in which the Naliboki

Puszcza (Forest) is mentioned: p.175, p186, and p240. These references

will provide glimpses of the events that took place in and around the

forest during that war.

The translated volume is available online:

Best Wishes,

Adam Cherson

Project Manager

Divenishok Yizkor Book Translation


26 May 2018

Dear Eli!

Have a look and you can use it

1.     The Holocaust in Belorussia, 1941-1944, Tel Aviv 2000, 432 pp.

    ISBN 965-7094-24-0



20 May 2018

Dear Eli!


I wrote about Nalibiki forest Jewish partisans in my book Holocaust in Belorussia, 1941-1944 (Tel Aviv, 2000).

But volume is in Russian, do you familiar with it?

All the best,


Dr. Leonid Smilovitsky, senior researcher,

The Goldstein-Goren Diaspora Research Center,

Carter Bldg., Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel


26 May 2018

Dear Ken and Eli,

Thank you Ken for thinking of me!

Yes, I know Eli - heard him him speak at the International Jewish Genealogical Sovieties conference here in Israel a few years ago and see his Facebook entries from time to time. He was also referred to me by coincidence a few days ago concerning the Jewish Museum in Novogrudek, run by Tamara...☺

Eli probably doesn't know me, I am not  Facebook person. However when I saw that he was asking about Nalibok on the Belarus Forum I did drop him a line. I saw that the Nalibok Yizkor book was online in the JewishGen Yizkor books database, but only had a list of the Martyrs. So I wrote and said that I would be at Tel Aviv University, and would look at the original book. It is not for circulation at the library there. Anyway, I looked at it and made a photocopy of the Contents and of the one chapter written in English. I am translating the Contents and transcribing the English chapter, and they will be put on The Yizkor Book database soon.  I do not have time to do the translation of the parts of the  book written in Hebrew, especially since I cannot take out the book but would have to go there and work there, or else make photocopies of the pages. The original  book does not appear in the New York Public Library Yizkor Books files. I will let you know when the Contents translation is ready.

Eli,  as I wrote to you separately, I have just helped translate and publish the Korelitz Yizkor book, and added in Appendices from descendants and survivors there. You can read about the partisans in the Nalibok forest and with the Bielskis in the Yizkor book:

Here is the link to the book in hard cover:

One Appendix is about the partisan Yaacov Abramovich, and I sat a long time with his daughters who gave me a lot of material and photos about him. Another appendix is about Fruma Gulkowich-Berger

And I imagine that Alan Levitt gave you the information about the Lyubcha book, I may be able to add some information for the Kehila Links website that you are kindly setting up. Maybe you will also set one up for Korelitz?

Shabbat Shalom


On Fri, May 25, 2018 at 8:32 PM, Ken Domeshek <> wrote:

Hello Eli.  Do you know Ann Belinsky, Yizkor project coordinator, in Israel?  She may have information that would be useful to your efforts on Naliboki, the surrounding area, and the Bielskis.  I can gladly make an introduction if you do not know her.


Shabbat Shalom, Ken

20 May 2018

Dear Eli,

It is unclear what you actually request. Stories of partisans? The Bielski camp? 

I cannot directly help you, but would like to let you know that the 2 Yizkor books Lyubcha and Korelitz, which I have translated and coordinated publishing as Yizkor Books in Print, both have chapters in the Holocaust Section which include stories by partisans in the Naliboki forest. In the Korelitz book, one of the 15 Appendices which I collated, includes the story of a partisan Yaacov Abramovich, with many photos taken there. Another appendix is about Fruma Gulkowich Berger who was one of the first woman partisans there. Her children have published a book which includes her memories of the Holocaust.

re the Naliboki town Yizkor book. I see that it exists but there is only a list of the martyrs. I will be at Tel Aviv University on Tuesday and will make a photocopy of the Table of Contents, to translate and send to you.

I also saw on the internet that:

 The area of Naliboki Forest, where semi-natural terrain prevails considerably, is about 1,71 thousands km2, whereas this semi-natural area together with the forest-rural mosaic at its edge, which still well associated with Naliboki Forest, comprise area of about 2,75  2,75 thousand km2.

Best wishes and Hag Sameach

Ann Belinsky


20 May 2018

Eli Shalom,

We have some detailed lists of partisans from the "Biographical Dictionary

of Jewish Resistance" book at:

There is information there relating to partisans in Naliboki.

In addition, we have a list of martyrs from the "Our town Nalibok, its

existence and destruction" book at:

Hope they help you.

All the best,

Lance Ackerfeld

JewishGen Yizkor Book Project


elirab KehilaLinks