Anna Khalyavskaya

Anna Khalyavskaya

Born March 20th 1924 Minsk, Belarus.

Interviewed In: Toronto, Ontario

Medals Awarded: Medal for Partisan of the Patriotic War (1st and 2nd Class),  Order of the Patriotic War (1st and 2nd Class) and Victory over Germany In The Great Patriotic War

Belarusian Partisan

 

“I saw the train passing by with men singing, playing harmonica, having a good
time and suddenly bang! That is all”


Anna escaped The Minsk Ghetto amidst deportations to Maly-Trotstenents Death Camp in November 1941:

“We cut and lifted the barbwire and crawled out. The Germans didn’t differentiate between the Jews and the Russians. You could walk by them. If you didn’t have the yellow patch on.”

Anna wandered into the forest with 15 other people and eventually found their way to a partisan detachment.

“We were rank and file partisans, I got assignments to go to the ghetto to pick people up and guide them out, shooting down a car or a motorcyclist on the highway, rounding up the Germans, surrounding, combing the forest and exterminating the Germans”

Anna’s unit was surrounded in by Nazis in June 1942:

The fight lasted the whole day. In the evening of the next day they decided to break through. A shock group was organized, armed with everything available. We went through swamps with water up to the waist, we had to hold on thin branches not to get sucked down in the bog. We roamed about the forests for a week unable to find a place for a refuge – a shelter of branches. We had injured persons.

The Germans were so close that I could see them putting their handkerchiefs on their heads and foreheads to protect themselves against the mosquitoes. We arrived there in the evening, and first thing in the morning the fight started. We, the women, were filling the cartridge belts and making sandwiches . We brought them water. That’s how it was – all day, till the evening, the fight lasted from dawn till sunset.

Despite heavy losses, Anna’s detachment escaped the Nazi encirclement.

Anna met her future husband in the resistance. He was a commander in a demolitions group, active in The Rails War:

“It was very dangerous. They needed to install a shell and to get away from the railroad quickly. They derailed 13 trains!”.

Anna accompanied her husband on one of these demolition runs. She also went on reconnaissance missions and helped sabotage train tracks:

“Every detachment was ordered by the brigade staff to destroy a definite kilometer of the railway to disrupt railway communication the Germans used as supplies lines with armament, troops, food supplies that’s what was called the Rails War”.

After the war, Anna’s husband was arrested for profiteering and spent 6 years in prison. The couple lived in Minsk before immigrating to Canada.