Extract from Jack Kagan's Story


"We were pleased that the nightmare was over, but each one of us felt terribly sad. We all knew what we would find in Novogrudek - a destroyed town without Jews and the people we had known before the war. It was decided that we would return to Novogrudek. Bielski requested that everybody should march out from the forest in an organised body, and so it was. I walked without difficulty the 100-120 kilometres to the town. Thanks to the Bielski brothers, 1,230 Jews arrived in the suburbs on July 16 1944. Although we were free, nobody talked or laughed or sang. We were all sad."

"Long columns of German prisoners of war were led through the streets of Novogrudek. They were a scruffy lot, no longer the victorious army. I saw a high-ranking officer marching with the men, in a nice pair of boots. I called the Russian guard and asked his permission to remove the boots. The soldier smiled with full approval, "Please help yourself!" I caught up with the officer and spoke to him in Yiddish which is similar to German. I wanted him to know that I was a Jew. I told him to stop and remove his boots, saying they were too good for him, then the Russian soldier approached and gave him a push with his rifle, whereupon he sat down and pulled off his boots. I wore them for a long time after that. In fact, I was still wearing those boots when I eventually arrived in England in 1947!"

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