Vancouver Sun

Her photos captured Jewish resistance

Joined partisans in their fight against Nazis

- EMILY LANGER

Faye Schulman operated for nearly two years as a partisan resistance fighter in the forests of Eastern Europe during the Second World War, sabotaging Nazis, tending to wounded comrades and foraging for food. Throughout the ordeal, she was armed with two weapons.

One was her rifle, a possession so dear that it became her pillow during those nights she had no roof but the sky. Her other weapon — a Photo-Porst Nurnberg camera — would serve in the battle to come, against time, against forgetting.

Schulman, who died April 24 in Toronto at 101, was one of 20,000 to 30,000 Jews who joined the resistance during the Second World War. Her photos, many reproduced in her book A Partisan's Memoir, reveal one woman's experience of an often overlooked history of wartime heroism.

In the aftermath of the Holocaust, a widespread myth emerged that the six million murdered Jews of Europe had gone “like sheep to the slaughter.” The notion persisted for decades, despite the documentat­ion of courageous acts of resistance, such as the Warsaw ghetto uprising of 1943 and the actions of outgunned, partisans who risked their lives to help bring about the liberation from the Nazis.

Schulman — then Faigel Lazebnik — joined a brigade of Soviet partisans in 1942 after the Nazis murdered 1,850 inhabitant­s of the Jewish ghetto in her Polish town. At 22, Schulman worked by day as a nurse. By night, she would drape herself in blankets to block out the moonlight, creating an open-air darkroom where she developed her photos, which reveal the primitive surgeries conducted on operating tables fashioned from tree limbs, the makeshift burial of fighters killed in action, the joyful reunion of friends who had been dispersed amid the chaos of war.

“It became so important after the war for survivors to assert the fact that we fought, we were part of partisan units,” Doris Bergen, a professor of Holocaust studies at the University of Toronto, said in an interview. Mrs. Schulman is significan­t as “an embodiment, a person who both by her survival and by those photograph­s ... asserts there was resistance.”

Schulman's father was the administra­tor at the local synagogue, and her mother was a cook. Both parents and four of her six siblings would perish in the Holocaust.

 ??  ?? Faye Schulman
Faye Schulman

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