Introduction

Alex (Alter) Faitelson was born on April 15, 1923 in Kovna (Kaunas), Lithuania. From August 1941 he was a prisoner in Ghetto Kovna, and was a member of the AKA (the anti-fascist combat organization) and cell secretary. He worked in the German weapons store, smuggling out weapons to the AKA: grenades, guns and ammunition, and organized and managed a workshop manufacturing small arms. On October 28, 1943 he led a group of fighters to establish a partisan base in the Augustow Forest. On the way, he was captured by the Lithuanian police and handed over to the Gestapo. On November 18 he was sent to the fort of death – the Ninth Fort. He organized an escape of prisoners from the Ninth Fort on December 25, 1943, leading a group to the Ghetto and making contact with the AKA, which sent the escapees on January 6, 1944 to the partisans in Rudnick Forest near Vilna. After the war, he completed university in Vilna, studying economics, in which he has a master's degree.

In April 1971 he immigrated to Israel with his family, and worked as internal auditor in a bank. On retirement he devoted his life to researching the Holocaust and Jewish heroism during the Holocaust. He has written 12 books published in seven languages, and a large number of articles on the subject. His book "In Storm and Struggle", published in 1994, was awarded the I. Zandman Prize by the World Organization of Fighters, Partisans and Camp Prisoners. Alex Faitelson is a member of the Israel Writers Union.

Although the book garnered considerable praise and has been translated into many languages, some people cast doubts on its veracity and reliability because of the lack of evidence supporting the author's claims. To back up what he had written, Faitelson therefore decided to set out on a journey to search the archives for any documentation confirming what he had written in his first version. This journey took several years and covered many different archives in Israel, Europe, Lithuania and Russia, and succeeded in providing black and white proof of his version of events. All the additional information was included in his more recently published books: “The Unconquerable, a Chronicle of the Jewish Resistance" (Tel-Aviv 2001. 608 pp. Foreword:  Dimitry Gelpernas and  Shteingrud-Aksionova (Russian));  "60 years after Hell" (Israel 2003, 272 pp. (Hebrew)); and "The truth and nothing but the truth, Jewish Resistance in Lithuania (1941-1944)" (Israel 2005.    (English)).

At the heart of the story of "In Storm and Struggle" are the corpse burners, their preparations for the escape from hell, the escape itself and the fate of the escapees. "The chapter 'Eliminating the traces of the mass murder' is one of the most fascinating in the book. The author provides a remarkably accurate, rational, objective and unemotional survey of the fate of the 64 prisoners of the Ninth Fort who were given the task of eliminating the traces of the murder of Jews by exhuming and burning the corpses, the planning and the daring escape on December 25, 1943, and their passage through the ghetto to join the partisans. The writer plays down his own role as planner and commander of the escape campaign, as a young man – only 21 – with charisma and great leadership skills." (From the reasons given for their selection by the Zandman Prize committee).