In the desire to commemorate the “endeavors” of her husband, Meishe Rubinson, in the Anti-Fascist Combat Organization (AKO), Professor Sara Ginaite-Rubinson published her memoirs “On Partisan Assignments” in the book Not Like Lambs to the Slaughter – a book commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the AKO (Yiddish, I. L. Peretz, Tel Aviv, 2001).
On page 94 the author describes how her husband Meishe organized an operation to get weapons out of the military hospital. This was an act of heroism carried out by three young fighters, members of the AKO, an operation in which Meishe Rubinson played no part.
Meir Yellin and Dima Gelpern, authors of the book The Partisans of Kovno Ghetto (Der Emes State Press, Moscow, 1948), write on pages 107 and 108 about the same operation to get out weapons – without even a single word or mention of the name Rubinson Michaelis, or Meishe, Moishe, Meishka der Langer (the Long), Mikolas, Langman.
“Weapons! Weapons! This became the main slogan of the ghetto fighters. The more weapons, the more fighters who would be able to leave the ghetto and go to the forest. Everyone who left had to be armed, this was a stringent requirement, but also an obvious necessity. Burdening the units with unarmed fighters could not be permitted. In order to hasten the evacuation of the fighting elements from the ghetto to join the partisans, the AKO initiated a few large-scale operations to obtain weapons.
"One such action took place in the middle of January 1944, in the weapons store of the German military hospital in Kovno, 28 Vytauto-Prospekt Street. Jews from the ghetto were brought there to carry out various kinds of dirty work. The organization took advantage of this opportunity to send its members there, to prepare an exact plan of the place and study the situation. AKO member Sonia Rubinson adapted a key to fit the lock of the weapons store.
"To carry out the task, on a suitable night three people crawled through the ghetto fence: Itzchak Miklishanski, Mendl Moscovitz and Meishe Geguzhinski. They lay in the cemetery alongside the hospital until the small hours of the night, sinking into the deep snow while all around was slumbering silence. And then, in the dark, without the guard noticing them, they crawled, wrapped in white robes, towards their target. With the key they opened the door, and removed from the weapons store three sacks full of guns and bullets. At dawn, a car came to the prearranged spot, whose driver was also involved in underground activity, and took the weapons to a collection point in the town.
"When the Germans woke up in the morning and discovered that their weapons were missing, the police were mobilized to catch the 'burglars.' The Gestapo was in shock: what a disgrace! The military hospital was just opposite them, across the road…”
When you read the “work of fiction” of Professor Sara Ginaite-Rubinson, you ask yourself the simplest of questions: why did Meir Lurje receive the Red Flag award and Aba Diskant receive the first class Great Homeland War award from the Supreme Council of the Soviet Union, while Meishe Rubinson received – nothing?
Yellin and Gelpern write, on page 107, that the campaign took place in mid-January 1944. Professor Sara Ginaite-Rubinson writes on page 96: “This took place on the night between January 3–4, 1944, when Meishe and I had already joined the partisans in Rudniki Forest.”
The description of this fact prompts outraged fury. Israel Veselnitzki writes in his story “The Escape," published in the newspaper Soviet Lithuania in Vilna on December 25, 1988 to mark forty-five years since the escape from the Ninth Fort: “In the ghetto, we were equipped with a primitive map of Lithuania and a home-made compass. On the evening of January 6 1944 we left the ghetto as a group of laborers, accompanied by people who knew safe ways of getting out of the forest. We left almost unarmed. We had only six revolvers, and only two were capable of shooting.” I should like to ask the author, Professor Sara Ginaite-Rubinson, who frequently quotes in her article from the memoirs of I. Veselnitzki, why the twenty fighters – eleven escapees from the Ninth Fort and nine of the ghetto fighters – were sent out to the forest unarmed when there were twenty rifles available, taken from the German hospital?
In the book Not Like Lambs to the Slaughter, after the description of the above weapons operation, on p. 105 there is a description, “Weapons," by Meishe Geguzhinski, one of the participants in the capture of the arms. His story gives the impression that the action took place in two different places. At Geguzhinski’s request, I researched the story of the operation and published it in the press, and included it in my latest book, which appeared in Russian under the title The Unconquered.
On September 23, 1996 Geguzhinski wrote me a letter:
“I have read with great interest the full item about the events of the operation to take weapons from the military hospital at 28 Vytauto-Prospekt Street. As I already wrote to earlier, your description 'Weapons' is very exact and authentic. I would not have been capable of describing it and dramatizing it with such precision. Your description is based on very exact information from direct sources, giving it historic value.
I read it a number of times and again reconstructed my recollection of the events of that time, that night which remains seared unforgettably in my memory.
I am very grateful to you for constructing everything in your meticulous literary work and setting it out in an interesting manner. I believe that it will be described also in the Yiddish edition of your book, since as you understand, most of the readers are people who were in the ghettos and camps, and themselves experienced the dreadful days of Nazi occupation.
I wish you good health and happiness,
Yours, Meishe Geguzhinski"
December 20, 2001
My dearest Sima and Alex Faitelson!
Thank you very much for the book. I read it again with great interest, although it seems to me that in Russian it reads slightly differently. But this does not detract from the value of the book. The historical photographs that have been added are also of great and unique value.
Unfortunately today very few witnesses remain who have survived intact from the cruel years of the war and who saw for themselves the dreadful acts carried out against innocent Jewish men, women and children, the sin, on Lithuanian soil, perpetrated by the Nazi hangmen and their Lithuanian helpers.
The documentary evidence in your book is also very valuable as one in the eye for those who call themselves “historians” and attempt to deny at any price the fact that there were tens of thousands of victims among the Jewish people.
Now I believe you will probably take a break, which you well deserve, after all the work and efforts you have invested.
That is all for now. Warmest regards from my Liuba and myself, we wish you the best of health and happiness in your home for the new 2002 year!