Survivor STORY

Boris Ulman autobiography

When my family was murdered, the Germans started a search for me, but I was hiding at Leib Sherman's. Many were afraid to take fugitives because the Police had proclaimed and warned, that anyone found hiding others would be murdered along with his entire family.

When the slaughter of the Jews of Braslaw commenced, I was in my own home. In the early hours of the morning Hirsch Friedman burst into our house, shouting that we must run for our lives, as the Germans were busy killing everyone they could find. I again ran away and hid in the cellar that Leib Sherman had prepared for his family.

After awhile, Nechamka Sherman and I went out to see what was happening in the street. We saw wagons loaded with the dead bodies of girls who had been sent the previous day to Slobodka, ostensibly to clean military barracks. We also saw Moshe Baruch being led away by the policeman Kieslo.

We went back to our hideout. The next day we hared Ribsz(?), a Jew from Druya calling all the Jews. He ran between the houses, and on German orders, was calling all to come out of hiding, saying that the killings had stopped.

We went outside. I met Leib Seif with his two children, the Friedman family and others. The Germans ordered us to run, to assemble and register at the "Folkshul." Nechamka and I, instead, made a dash for the cemetery, where we lay hidden for some time. We then made our way towards Opsa. The peasants were afraid to give us shelter, but did give us a little food, and told us that there were Jews in Opsa. We stayed in Opsa for awhile, then went on to Widz, and from there, together with a number of Jews from Swiencian and elsewhere, managed to board some railway coaches. The train was taking us, so we soon learned, to Ponary. Therefore, when we reached Vilna, we slipped away, and made for the Vilna ghetto.

We began to arm ourselves and to acquire weapons ... At one stage when we had no money with which to buy arms, the brothers Fogel and I decided to barter on this most precious commodity. At an appointed time and place we agreed to meet a certain Jew to whom we were to hand over a revolver. However, when we arrived there, the Jewish Police attacked us. I managed to escape, but the two Fogel brothers were caught and sent to prison.

A few days later our group left the ghetto for the forest. We used to obtain food from the peasants by threatening them with our revolvers, but they denounced us, and we were forced to split up into two groups and run away. Our unit met up with some partisans who, however, took away our arms and sent us to a camp in which some Jews were living.

Some time afterwards, partisan officers came to the camp and allowed Motke Wishkin and me to join them. At first we numbered a mere seven men, but very soon our numbers swelled to 120 fighting men. We avenged the death of our dearest ones. We would blow up trains and carry out many acts of revenge. We distinguished ourselves and received decorations for courage, as well as medals. At the same time we helped Jewish families living in the forest and in camps...

As soon as our district was liberated by the Red Army, Motke and I went back to Braslaw... I was appointed guard of German war prisoners in the townlet of Postav, but after two I volunteered to join the Red Army, where I served until 1949.

From the book "Emesh Sho'ah" pp. 143-45. Translated from the Yiddish by Rachelle Mann-Rachman.

Boris later joined the Russian army, where he served until 1949. He was awarded numerous medals for honor, bravery and service. They are on display with a video as a memorial at the William Breman Jewish Heritage & Holocaust Museum.

After World War II, Mr. Ulman lived in Vilnius, Lithuania, where he found his future wife’s family, who had been friends with his parents in Breslau. The Ulmans married in 1951.

Mr. Ulman attended a special technical school for textile engineering in Vilnius and Moscow. After he graduated, he moved with his family to Poland, where he served as director of a textile plant. While it would have been convenient and better for his career to join the Communist Party and hide his Jewish roots, “he was always proud of who he was,” said his daughter, Liza. “He was proud, too, of his Judaism.”

More than 15 years after the war, Mr. Ulman’s uncle, Julius, who lived in America, tracked Mr. Ulman down in Poland and helped bring the family to Atlanta in 1968.

Despite the many moves, Mr. Ulman always managed to be successful, his daughter said. “Thanks to him, we have everything we have.”

Boris Ulman died in 2006 at age 81.

From an article for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution written by Josh Kram.

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