Lachwa Ghetto Uprising Takes Places, 1942
On This Day in Jewish History: September 3, 1942
When the Nazis moved to liquidate the Lachwa ghetto they responded by rebelling and staging an uprising. When Germany and Russia invaded Poland, Lachwa was annexed by the USSR. On July 7, 1941, German troops reached Lachwa. A Jundenrat (Jewish leadership set up by Nazis) was estּablished with Dov Lopatin as the head.
All Jews had to wear an armband with the Star of David and forced to participate in forced labor. On April 4, 1941, the ghetto was established. It consisted of 45 one story houses and 2,350 Jews were forced into this space. The ghetto had a fence and was surrounded by the local police force, made up of Ukrainian and Belorussian residents. They were given almost no food and if they left the ghetto they would be killed.
In January 1942, in response to hearing about the massacres in the surrounding towns, the Jewish youth organized underground resistance under the leadership of Isaac Roszcyn. They formed 6 groups of 5 including Asher Hafets, Hersz Migdalowicz, Icie Slucki, the brothers Fajnberg, Lejzor Romanowski, and Lopatkin. They got funding from the Judenrat and worked with the local partisans to get weapons. They were unable to get guns but they were able to acquire axes, knives and iron bars as well as a few grenades. They hid all of the weapons around the village of Liubka Lachowska. Many of the members of the youth were members of the Jewish police as well so they worked with the Judenrat and the underground.
In August 1942, the Jews of Lachwa heard what happened to the Jews of the Mikaszewice ghetto and saw the pits which had already been dug near the Lachwa Ghetto; they knew that their time was coming to an end. They prepared for armed resistance. Lopatin tried to learn the plan from the Germans. They told him that the ghetto was going to be liquidated but if he would cooperate then the doctor, the members of the Judenrat, and 30 artisans whom Lopatin could choose would be saved. Lopatin said he would not cooperate with the Germans and told Roszcyn to proceed with the plans for the uprising.
When the Germans began rounding up the Jews, Lopatin set the Judenrat building on fire and told the rest of the Jews to begin fighting. Lopatin communicated to the Jews what their fate was going to be and, therefore, everyone in the ghetto participated in the uprising. They set buildings on fire and attacked the German forces with axes and stones. But the Germans had guns and just kept shooting. The Jews killed six German and eight Belorussain police. About 1000 Jews fled from the ghetto but 600 managed to reach the Pripjet River. Many Jews died in the fire and anyone who did not escape was brought to the pits and shot. The Jews who escaped into the forest tried to join the local partisans but many were caught by the Germans in the days after the uprising. By the end of the Holocaust, only 90 of those who escaped Lachwa were still alive.