Vitka Kovner, a Jewish partisan fighter during the Second World War, passed away
on Wednesday at her home on Kibbutz Ein Hahoresh. She was 92 years
Kovner, who grew up in Kalisz, Poland, was the widow of poet and
partisan Abba Kovner, and participated in operations against German military
targets with the United Partisan Organization (FPO – Fareynigte Partizaner
Organizatsye in Yiddish), which was formed in January 1942.
Kovner’s story is one of struggle, courage and determination, not only to
survive but to triumph, not only to save her own life, but to be with the Jewish
people during its most difficult hours, even when that meant that her own life
would continue to be threatened by the Nazis,” Yad Vashem chairman Avner Shalev
said in a statement issued by the Holocaust Museum following her
Following the German invasion of Poland in 1939, Kovner fled to
Vilna, then part of Soviet- occupied Poland and still a free city. After the
German occupation of Vilna in June 1941, Kovner and other partisans from the FPO
smuggled weapons through the sewer system and participated in sabotage
operations against German forces.
“I joined the team that was responsible
for attacks outside the [Vilna] ghetto, and my first and important mission,
together with Yoske Maskovitz, was to detonate a bomb on the railway in order to
damage the train that transported equipment to the front,” Kovner told the Yad
Vashem quarterly magazine in 2001.
Vitka was awarded a Soviet medal of
valor for her participation in the bombing of the German train.
the liquidation of the Vilna ghetto in September 1943 and a failed uprising,
Kovner and other partisans escaped to the Rodniki Forest 40 kilometers south of
Vilna where they conducted raids and ambushes against German forces, commanded
by Abba Kovner. FPO partisans also participated in the liberation of Vilna by
the Soviet army and the Armia Krajowain Polish resistance movement in July
Between 20,000- 30,000 Jews formed or joined organized resistance
groups, according to the Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation in San
Vitka arrived in mandatory Palestine in 1946, and settled on
Kibbutz Ein Hahoresh where she married Abba Kovner. She was buried on the
Kibbutz on Thursday and is survived by children and grandchildren.