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Chapter 08 – Minsk – Parting from Father

Minsk – Parting from Father

“Take me under your wing and be unto me mother and sister.”

H.N. Bialik

None of us knew that the attack on June 22, 1941 was the result of a plan meticulously prepared by the Germans in utmost secrecy and the start of the Nazis’ Operation Barbarossa. The German attack took the Red Army and the Soviet authorities by surprise, almost totally obliterating the Russian air force in a lightning strike. Many planes were destroyed on the ground. Entire corps of the Red Army were surrounded and wiped out, and hundreds of thousands of soldiers fell into German captivity. Many Jews who had managed to escape eastward at the beginning of the war, and had found haven under the protection of the Red Army, were trapped in the line of German tanks rolling toward the east. As a result, they found themselves under German occupation again.

About three million Wehrmacht (German armed forces from 1935-1945) soldiers and their allies took part in this battle. They were grouped into 190 divisions and opened attack along a 2,900 kilometer (1,800 mile) border. Among them were SS forces whose fanatical devotion to Nazi ideology was manifested in the mass slaughter of captives and civilians, particularly Jews.

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