Faye Schulman’s death fought the Nazis with a rifle and a camera


On August 14, 1942, just seven weeks after German forces invaded Soviet-occupied Poland, they massacred 1,850 Jews from a Stitel named Lenin near the Slush River. Only 27 were rescued, and the invaders deemed their skills essential.

Among the survivors were shoemakers, tailors, carpenters, blacksmiths, barber and young apprentice photographer Vigel Lazibnick, later known as Faye Schulman.

The Germans enlisted her to take souvenir photos of themselves and, in some cases, their newly acquired mistresses. (“You’d better be good, otherwise you’d be scared,” she recalled that the Gestapo commander had warned her before, shuddering, and told him to smile.) And so they took her back from the firing squad due to their arrogance and bureaucratic record-keeping obsession – two weaknesses that she would eventually use against them.

At one point, the Germans inadvertently provided her film to develop that which contains pictures they took from the three trenches in which they, their Lithuanian aides and the Polish police shot Lenin’s remaining Jews, including her parents, sisters, and younger brother.

She kept a copy of the photos as evidence of the atrocity, and later joined a gang of Russian resistance fighters. As one of the well-known Jewish party photographers, Ms. Schulman, thanks to her keeping of photo records, debunks the popular narrative that most Eastern European Jews died quietly.

She was quoted as saying, “I want people to know that there is resistance.” The partisan Jewish educational institution. The Jews did not go to slaughter like sheep. I was a photographer. I have pictures. I have evidence. “

Ms. Shulman, who immigrated to Canada in 1948, continued to present this evidence, in her photo galleries, in her 1995 autobiography Partisan Memoirs: The Holocaust Woman, and in a 1999 PBS documentary, Audacity for Resistance: Three Women Face the Holocaust. “

She told her life in Eastern Europe before World War II, and how she escaped a gang of homeless people from the Red Army, prisoners of war, and Jewish and non-Jewish resistance fighters. Including some women He harassed Germans behind the front lines of the German army in the forests and swamps of what is now Belarus.

“We faced hunger and cold. We faced the constant threat of death and torture. In addition, we faced anti-Semitism in our ranks,” she wrote in her diary. “Despite all the difficulties we faced.”

Her daughter, Dr. Susan Shulman, said she passed away on April 24 in Toronto. It is believed that Mrs. Schulman was 101.

Dr. Shulman said her mother had not been in contact with her party colleagues for years. She said, “She was the youngest.”

According to the Jewish Party Education Institute, up to 30,000 Jews joined resistance groups on the Eastern Front during World War II; Only hundreds still live.

Vigel Lazbnik was the fifth of seven children born to Jacob and Razel (Migdalovi)) Lazibnik. Her mother was a caterer, and her father was a textile merchant. Records list her date of birth as November 28, 1919, which made her age 22 in August 1942. In her diary, however, she writes that she was 19 at the time, which would make her 1922 if born in November.

The Lazipins, who are Orthodox Jews, lived in Lenin (named after Lena, daughter of a local aristocrat, not a Bolshevik revolutionary) in what was then Poland. Fei had trained with her brother Moish, the city photographer, since she was 10 and took over his studio when she was 16.

In September 1939, after signing a non-aggression pact with Hitler, Soviet forces crossed the Stolch River and occupied eastern Poland, including Lenin, just 16 days after the Germans invaded the country from the west. By August 1942, Nazi Germany had broken the treaty, declared war on the Soviet Union, and pushed east, pushing Moscow to the side of the Allies.

Ms. Schulman realized that among the pictures she was processing of Germans in August were pictures of the corpses of her family. She said, “I was just crying.” Memory Project, Which is a Canadian history preservation program. “And I – I lost my family. I am alone. I am a young girl. What should I do now? Where should I go? What should I do?”

The Germans ordered her to train a young Ukrainian as an assistant, but she stopped, knowing what would happen when she was no longer considered necessary. After Soviet rebels attacked the town in September, I fled with them.

She said, “From now on, my bed will be the grass, and my roof will be the sky and the tree walls.” She became her gun and her masters.

Since her son-in-law was a doctor, the revolutionaries welcomed her, even if she was a woman and a Jew, into the Molotov Brigade and made here a nurse, providing her with elementary equipment and private lessons by their full-time doctor, a veterinarian.

“The main part of being a party was not killing but keeping the wounded alive,” she said, “bringing the wounded back to life so they can continue fighting and end the war.”

When the rebels raided Lenin, they recovered the camera and darkroom equipment and began to chronicle the resistance. Developed by Night or Undercover, she captured intimate views of the underground party, including the touching endowment of anti-Semitism during a joint funeral of Jewish and Russian advocates. The reunion recorded the joy among the revolutionaries, who were surprised to discover that their friends and neighbors were still alive.

Ms. Schulman remained with the Major General until July 1944, when the Red Army liberated Belarus. She got together with two of her siblings, who reintroduced her to her partymate, Maurice Schulman, an accountant she knew before the war.

They married later that year and lived in Pinsk, in Belarus, as decorated Soviet heroes. But they left after the war for a camp for internally displaced people in West Germany, where they smuggled people and weapons to support the movement for an independent Israel and planned to immigrate themselves to British-controlled Palestine.

When Mrs. Schulman became pregnant with Susan, the couple instead decided to settle in Canada. After arriving there in 1948, Mrs. Schulman worked in a garment factory, after which she was hand-tinted and painted with oils. Her husband worked as a laborer, then worked in a garment factory as parts before the couple opened a hardware store. He passed away in 1992.

In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Shulman has survived her son Sydney. Brother, Rabbi Grinum Lazwink; Six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Dr Shulman said the 100 or so photos she took during the war and kept while moving to Canada will remain her legacy. Among the few other possessions Ms. Schulman was able to bring from Europe was her Compur camera, a foldable bellows model she used in August 1942. Her daughter said she cherished it, but apparently did not use it to take another. Image again.

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