Truth – Legends / Shmuel Chananovitch
Anatoli went to look for the comrade who had gone astray. To remain in the forest of Ibenai was impossible: provisions were at an end. The escapees from the fort decided to go further eastward and move nearer the front line. At night, when crossing the Kovno-Vandzhiogala road, they were fired on from every side. The escapees dispersed in every direction. Vladimir Sankin ran into a log and fell. When the firing ceased, Sankin stood up and looked around and ran off into the night.
Vladimir Sankin encountered one of the escapees from the same group – Shmuel Chananovitch. They decided to go eastward together. Sankin suggested that they say that they are Russian prisoners of war and proposed that they work for farmers. Thus they would have an opportunity to get some food and a place to sleep, without staying in one place more than a day or two, and to continue to look for the partisans. But it seems that Chananovitch was not fluent in Russian. There was a solution to this too: Shmuel should pretend to be deaf and dumb, as a result of being wounded by a bomb at the front. On their way, they avoided large villages, stopped with different farmers whose homes were isolated, far from the village and near the forest, so that they could flee quickly if a difficult moment arose.
On the fourth day after the escape from the hunt, after leaving a good farmer’s house, they were stopped by some Lithuanian police not far from the townlet of Ukmerge. Sankin replied to their questions as to who they were and where they came from. The police informed them that there was an official order that all prisoners, workers at village farms, were to be returned to the camps and therefore the two were arrested and brought to Ukmerge. The two prisoners walked ahead and the policemen followed. From time to time, the policemen, who were engaged in a conversation, would walk ahead of the prisoners who had difficulty dragging their feet along. The policemen would then stop and wait until Chananovitch and Sankin could catch up with them and then they would continue to walk. The two escapees agreed that when passing the next wood and the police were in front of them, they would use this opportunity to make a dash for the woods and escape.
The road leading to Ukmerge crossed the small woods at some points. When they came to one of these crossings, the two used this moment when the police were in front of them and started to race in the opposite direction. Then the police began to fire at them. Sankin ran into the woods and heard Chananovitch’s shouts from afar.
The police seized Chananovitch. He was wounded in the arm. They brought him to Ukmerge and from there he was passed on to the Gestapo in Vilna, where he met Masha Endlin who had been caught by the Lithuanian police in the vicinity of Kalitantz.
On December 30, 1943, a group of partisans from the “Death to the Occupiers” battalion, went off on a mission to get food supplies. The group was led by Lieutenant Misha Trushin, a former prisoner of war. On their way back to their base with a wagon full of provisions, they met with strong fire from the west. Gordon-Shtein was killed in this incident. The partisans lost their nerve, left the wagons with the provisions and dispersed. Neither Itzchak Segal nor Masha Endlin made their way back from this mission. They were caught by the police, to whom Masha said that she had got lost in the neighborhood while looking for a place to stay during the war. The Lithuanian police handed her over to the Gestapo. Itzchak Segal’s fate is not known.
Masha Endlin managed to send a letter via a Jew from a working-crew employed by the Gestapo in Vilna who was going to Kovno. Nehemia Endlin received the letter and approached Chaim about it. Chaim succeeded with Benni Liptzer’s help in having Masha transferred from the Gestapo in Vilna to the Gestapo in Kovno, and from there she came to the ghetto and was taken by Nehemia to the forest. From Masha, I learned about Shmuel Chananovitch. She would change his bandages on his wounded forearm when they were both with the Gestapo in Vilna. However, Masha could not tell me anything about his subsequent fate.