Novogrudsky, Novogrodsky, Nowogrodzki, etc. during the Holocaust

Last Updated April 15, 1999

This web page is about the Nowogrodzkis that chose to remain in eastern Europe. There were a number of publications, Books, and Articles that talked about the plight of Novogrodskys during the Holocaust in Poland. They were for the most part living in eastern Poland and Belorussia. They had gained influence in the professions as well as politics. This did not really help them during the climit of antisemitism. A number of books discussed the life of Judith Nowogrodzka who was a veteran Communist and an active supporter and organizer of the the Polish Partisan warfare movement in the area of Bialystok during the early 1940s. Her husband Moses Nowogrodzki was also a well know Communist who was killed in one of the massacres at Pietrasza during 1941. In addition, I found a lone publication (The Jews of Warsaw, 1939-1943, by Yisrael Gutman, published by Indiana University Press) that mentions a prominent Bund Activist named Sonya Nowogrodzki. She was on the Bund's central committee which held extended discussions during the early 1940s. Sadly both of these Nowogrodzkis lost their lives during the Holocaust in the year of 1943.

Here are these two tragic stories about their activities and their lives during this tragic period of history.

This First Story is taken from the book "Jewish Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Eastern Europe, by Reuben Ainsztein, and published by Paul Elek in London

The most remarkable and effective champion of the partisan alternative was thirty-five-year-old Judith Nowogrodzka, a veteran Communist. Born in Warsaw into a professional family and married to Moses Nowogrodzki, a well known Communist who was among the victims of the 1941 massacres at Pietrasza, Judith argued right from the beginning of the ghetto that only partisan warfare offered Jews a chance of fighting back and dying with honor. Deeply affected by the death of her husband, afflicted by an incurable heart disease and struggling to feed and protect her aged mother, Nowogrodzka was fully aware that she was unlikely to experience the fulfillment of partisan life, but this made her all the more determined to persuade as many young Jews as possible to leave the ghetto. A woman of passionate convictions and master of ruthless intellectual arguments, she refused to make any concessions to the official line of her party leaders and formed her own organization, which became known as Judith's Group. Her group, comprised some Communists, but the majority were members of the non-Marxist Hanoar Hatzioni and young people without party affiliations, including individuals with a criminal record. Writing a quarter of a century after the events, Datner describes in the following words the reasons that made him join Judith's Group: '. . . in order to destroy 30,000 people (that was more or less the population of the ghetto after the Aktion of February 1943) the Germans would need a little, time and 300 men, because the thousands of unarmed Jews were in fact inside a prison and as strictly controlled as prisoners. Assuming that the ghetto possessed a few dozen revolvers and even a few rifles, our struggle was doomed to end in total defeat ' all of us would die and the German losses would be minimal. On the other hand, even 30,000 Germans could not exterminate 300 partisans operating in open country covered by forests. I summed it all up: If the Germans had to accept the existence of Jewish armed resistance directed against them, they would be happy to have it confined inside the ghetto. "The only place for fighting was the forest." The other members of Judith's, group felt like Datner. It is another of the ironies of history that like Szejnbojrn, in Vilno, Nowogrodzka was to die in the ghetto leading the men of her group in the final revolt, while many of her opponents were to survive as partisans.

The majority of the leaders of the United Anti-Fascist Bloc believed, however, in a third alternative, which they did not see as a compromise but as something that combined the best points of the 'Partisans' and 'We fight in the ghetto' factions. In this, it appears, they had the support of the majority of the rank-and-file. Among the Communists, the chief defenders of the third alternative were Joseph Kawe and Rebecca Wojskowska, who later became the political commissar of the Forois Detachment, and their arguments were strengthened by instructions received from the leadership of the Polish Workers' Party, which said that the duty of Jews was to fight the Germans both inside the ghettoes and as partisans.

I will be adding more material related to these stories as time permits.

For additional information regarding Judith Nowogrodzka, see the following books.

1-) The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe during the Second World War.
    By Martin Gilbert and Published By Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
2-) The Black Book: The Ruthless Murder of Jews by German-Fascist Invaders
    Throughout the Temporarily-Occupied Regions of the Soviet Union and in the
    Death Camps of Poland During the War of 1941-1945.
    Edited By Ilya Ehrenburg & Vasily Grossman and Published By Holocaust Library.
3-) The Jewish Resistance: The History of the Jewish Partisans in Lithuania
    and white Russia during the Nazi Occuption 1940-1945.
    By Lester Eckman and Chaim Lazar and Published By Shengold Publishers, Inc.

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