Photo Credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, The Jeff and Toby Herr Oral History Archive
Jewish partisan Litman (Mor) Moravchik

It’s the passing of an era.

One of the last Jewish partisans to fight the Nazis, Litman (Mor) Moravchik, passed away at the age of 104 this past Friday evening in his own home, in his own bed and surrounded by his family.

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Born Litman Moravchik, he told interviewers in 1995 during his Oral History that he changed his name to Mor in the 1960s, when he was tasked with traveling to foreign countries from Israel.

Born in 1917 in David-Gorodok, Belarus, Litman Mor learned in Hebrew school, participated in the Zionist youth movement and subsequently traveled to Vilna, Poland (Vilnius, Lithuania) in 1931 to further his education.

To watch the Oral History video of Litman Mor Moravchik, click here.

During his Oral History, he spoke about the rising antisemitism in 1933, the presumed and assorted escape options from Vilna during the late 1939 to early 1940 period and interestingly, how at that time he was more afraid of the Russians who then deported Jews to Siberia than he feared the Germans.

Mor remained in Vilna, obtaining assorted jobs in order to be spared the forced labor deportation. He spoke of life in the Vilna ghetto and the crowded conditions, his membership in a five person underground cell working for the Judenrat and how they printed underground leaflets.

He told the story of his escape from the ghetto and going into the woods, where he joined the partisans; his assignments involving intelligence, getting food, collecting ammunition, and sabotaging airports and trains behind enemy lines.

He also spoke about leaving the partisans at the end of the war, and the attitudes of those partisans towards Jews; how he spent time as a POW interpreter, assisting refugees to emigrate.

Mor also described returning to his home and discovering the fate of his family, his feelings toward Germans, and Germany, and the emotional effects of the Holocaust.

On Friday evening, Mor closed his eyes for the last time, exactly 80 years after he witnessed the Vilna Ghetto rally where Abba Kovner famously declared, “We shall not go like sheep to the slaughter.”

He was the last living witness to that event, where Jewish partisans called for an uprising against the Holocaust and its Nazi murderers.

One of the organizers and pioneers of the underground two weeks before the liquidation of the Vilna Ghetto, Mor joined the Soviet partisans after the rally.

In an interview with Israeli newspaper Yediot Achronot last March, Mor recalled the time he had received four explosives with which to blow up four railway tracks, and how the bullets of the German soldiers whistled around him while carrying out his mission.

“But we were imbued with a fighting spirit against the Nazi enemy,” he told the news outlet. “We fought not only to survive, but also to take revenge on the Germans.”

Once contact was made with the partisans, the local underground headquarters decided to move its combat bases from the ghetto to the forest, Mor related. “For the first time, we thought there was a chance not to fall in battle in the ghetto, but to survive in the forests – although fighting in the forest did not guarantee survival either.

“I belonged to the Markov Brigade,” he said. “Our battalion numbered about 100, including three Jewish men and women. In my company I was the only Jew, along with a Jew impersonating a Russian.”

The partisans were not aiming for direct combat with the Nazis, he explained, but rather for sabotage: blowing up railway tracks, attacking and eliminating police stations in small towns and villages, and most importantly to ambush the transport and supply routes of the Germans on the main arteries and secondary roads. “In most cases we achieved our goals at night, when transportation and supply lines were completely silent,” he told the news outlet.

“I often ask myself how long the hatred for the Germans will last. Each of us has a general, and a private account with Germany,” he commented. “I personally cannot forgive the Germans.”

“He died healthy,” Mor’s daughter, Edith Pe’er, told Yediot Achronot this weekend.

“The day he died was actually the only day he did not get out of bed; a man who all his life never took any medication, and had no dentures, like a young man.

“Like a partisan.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.