The seeds of the underground movement sprouted in occupied Europe in the years 1940-1941, after Hitler invaded Poland and countries in the West and South of Europe. Anti-Nazi organizations like the "Red Orchestra” in France and Belgium, under the leadership of Lev Treper, a Jew, and in Yugoslavia under Marshal Tito and his Generals, among them Jews like the Todorovits, Moshe Fiado and Dr. Rosa Papo, began to resist the Germans. The occupation of huge territories of the Soviet Union in summer of 1941 enlarged the circle of underground movements, rebellions and partisan activity in the forests.
The Organization was born following the victory over Nazi Germany (on May 8, 1945), when the fighters surfaced from their bunkers and forests. Among its main and immediate objectives in Eastern Europe was to establish an illegal route for the Holocaust survivors enabling them to leave the graveyards in Poland and Russia, which were soaked with the blood of their relatives and friends, and escape westwards, nearer to Eretz Israel. The "Breicha” (Escape) of 1945-1947 required a huge organizing effort, illegal border crossing, and the supply of food and means of transportation, all this under conditions of the utmost secrecy. This was managed without any outside help from abroad. The Organization had other urgent tasks as well. Some of our members were ill, wounded or war invalids, and help was urgently needed. We assisted in establishing an invalid union and took care of their needs.
The "Partisan Organization” went through several changes before consolidating into the present framework. The first idea was to unify all the survivors into an apolitical body known as the "Coordination”. The idea had its beginning in the forests of Eastern Europe while fighting went on against the Germans. The "Coordination” members left the Soviet Union, crossed Poland and established its bases in Rumania, hoping to find a route to Israel. Upon meeting with the emissaries (Shlichim) from Israel in Rumania, it became clear that Israel rejects the apolitical approach and the "Coordination” slowly disintegrated.
Following came the "P.a.ch” (Partisans pioneers - Chalutzim) Organization, which later became the "P.a.ch.a.ch” (Partisans. Soldiers. Pioneers - Chalutzim). At this stage a separate "Invalid group” was created, supported by the "P.a.ch.a.ch”. The "Invalid group” was at first quite small, for the simple reason that few wounded partisans survived in the forests, and stayed alive in the difficult conditions. They received our utmost assistance and care. In the following years, many wounded soldiers joined, and the group became a separate organization.
Most of the efforts of "P.a.ch.a.ch” and later the "Partisan organization” now turned towards the illegal immigration to Eretz Israel. Guides for border crossings and manning en-route points, as well as group leaders on board the ships were chosen from our ranks.
A small group of partisans decided to remain in Europe in order to carry out a campaign of vengeance for the blood of the Holocaust victims. This was the "Avenger” group. Upon their eventual arrival to Israel, they joined the thousands of their comrades-in-arms, who had arrived earlier. The "Partisan organization” grew steadily into one of the biggest Holocaust victims` organizations in Israel and abroad, and a home to the Anti-Nazi fighters.
The Organization story in Israel
At the very start, a decision was taken that the organization should be apolitical. True to this concept, the members belong to all political movements. The organization numbered more than 2000 members of both sexes in the years 1950-1970.
The underground-fighting legacy encountered years of "Ups and Downs”. The years of "Ups” were years of euphoria and glory to the fighters, to the partisans, and the ghetto and concentration camps resisters. The newly born nation loved and praised their bravery of "not going as sheep to the slaughter”. Many organizations proudly added to their name the word "partisan”. Political parties adopted them as "theirs”.
But than came the years of "Downs” when the word partisan and the concept of anti-Nazi resistance became unpopular. Those are the years of "resistance denial”. Some newspaper even published articles full of lies and hatred towards the uprising and its leaders. The words "Heroism” and "Rebellion” were dropped and forgotten.
The organization continues its sacred task of transmitting the legacy of heroism and resistance and to immortalizing our comrades-in-arms, who gave their lives in the wars as well as those survived and are still alive. Our membership stands today at 700 women and men, including widows and second-generation activists, young man and women, who dedicate their time and knowledge to the achievement of the goals set by their parents many years ago. In the year 2002, we commemorate the passing of 60 years since the Jewish struggle against the Nazis took shape, and the underground, uprisings and partisan wars became a reality.
To summarize 58 years of activity (1944-2002)
We are the biggest and the only non-profit organization, entirely based on volunteers, that proudly represents the underground fighters, their problems and needs. Our people take an active part in the directorate of "Yad Vashem”, the "Center of Holocaust Organizations” the "Israel Parliamentary Committee for Survivors” etc. The project of commemorating the fighters (in collaboration with "Lochamej HaGetaot” Museum) is well under way. About 2500 comrades-in-arms, (with biographies and photos, where available) have so far been memorialized. We established a small members club (The Partisan House) with assistance of the "Claims Conference”. Our archive is growing and the Web-Site (The partisans) is now online. We are represented in Britain, Germany and the U.S.A. The Partisan Organization maintains close contacts with similar organizations and underground museums abroad.
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