Born 1938 Minsk, Belarus
Interviewed In: Calgary, Alberta
Medals Awarded: Victory over Germany In The Great Patriotic War
Minsk Ghetto Child Survivor, Brother Was A Belarusian Partisan
“People in the ghetto knew that my brother was involved with the partisans. However even the polizei were afraid to touch us. They knew that he would simply kill them if they had touched us. That was the reason we survived.”.
Ghetto life was especially difficult for a young child like Abram. Unable to fully grasp what was going on around him, Abram was nearly suffocated by one of his brother when the family was hiding in a shed during a pogrom.
“The Germans entered our shed. One of the Germans kicked the logs and one of the log hit me on the forehead. Here’s the mark on my forehead. My brothers puckered up my mouth,
nearly making me suffocate. There had been accidents where children had been suffocated in similar circumstances. One of the Germans heard me uttering a scream. Apparently he was a human German. He was asked “Anybody there?” He said “No” and went away. Some of the Germans were human. I was 5 or 6 at the time. ”.
Bonya Gamer is credited with helping over 200 people escape the Nazis. His connections eventually enabled Abram and the rest of his family to escape the ghetto and live in a partisan camp.
“He got in touch with the partisans through our Belarusian friends and acquaints. The partisans started giving him assignments – taking former party workers from Minsk into the woods. He used to take high-rank military officers out of the encirclement. He also used to take out medical doctors, specialists, weapons. Over the entire period he saved more than 200 men and women”.
Bonya was killed on a partisan mission when he was only 15.
“They hid in the basement. My brother kept everyone inside not letting them get out – he knew the Germans were around. They got out of the basement. The Germans were sitting around the campfire. They caught them. One of the partisans was thrown a pot with boiling water at. He showed them where the rest of the partisans were hiding. One of the partisans managed to run away and hide. He saw what happened. My brother started running away. The Germans surrounded him. He started shooting at them. He had seen what they had done to the other guy. And so he killed himself. At that time we were with the partisans. Suddenly 3 or 4 riders came galloping to our camp. They were partisan commanders. They lined up the detachment and called my mother. They said “Don’t cry mother, your son was killed, he acted like a real hero”. They threw down 2 sacs of flour and galloped away”.
The Gamers spent the rest of the war with Bonya’s partisan detachment. 2 of his sisters were killed blowing up trains during the rails war. The family eventually learned Abram’s father was killed during The Battle of Moscow.