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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:                       BORIS ULMAN

INTERVIEWERS:               SANDRA BERMAN

DATE:                                 DECEMBER 15, 1995

LOCATION:                        ATLANTA, GEORGIA

Transcript (PDF)

BIOGRAPHY

Boris Ulman was born in Braslaw, Poland (now Belarus). His father was a business owner in the town. Boris had one sibling—a sister two years younger than him. Boris was a teenager when the Germans occupied his hometown.

Boris’ parents and sister were killed when a local peasant denounced the family. Boris was not at home at the time. When the ghetto that had been established in Breslaw was later liquidated, Boris escaped and was hidden by a local farmer. After a few months, he returned to a newly established ghetto for Jews from the surrounding areas that had been brought into Breslaw. When that ghetto was also liquidated, Boris was sent on a train toward Ponary to be executed. When the train stopped in Vilna, he jumped off.

Boris spent the next few months in the Vilna ghetto, smuggling guns into the ghetto for the resistance. Shortly before the Vilna ghetto was liquidated, Boris fled to the nearby forest and joined Russian partisans. He actively participated in partisan operations until the end of the war. After the war, he joined the Soviet army and served until 1949. 

Boris married another survivor from Braslaw, Taiana (Tonia). The couple had two children. In the late 1960’s, the family immigrated to Atlanta, Georgia to join Boris’ extended family. Boris died in 2006 and Tonia died in 2017.

Scope of Interview:

Boris explains how he escaped the liquidation of the Breslaw ghetto by hiding in friend’s home. He recalls returning to the ghetto when it became too dangerous and then escaped a transport to Ponary, ending up in the Vilna ghetto. He describes joining the resistance and escaping the ghetto to join the partisans in the forest. He recounts his time with various partisan groups. Boris talks about his family and the choices others made to either resist or submit to the Germans. He shares his motivation for fighting with the partisans and later the Russian army. He describes encounters with the Jewish police in the Vilna ghetto and the dangers of smuggling weapons. Boris explains how he reunited with family and came to the United States. He shares how some towns collaborated with the Germans for fear of reprisals.

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