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Michael Yizhaki (Gelbtrunk), Lithuania

Michael Yitzhaki (Gelbtrunk) was a member of the Hashomer Hadati youth movement, who served as the head of the Warsaw ken, and member of the hachshara [preparation] group before he immigrated to Palestine. When the war broke out in 1939 he escaped to Kovno in Lithuania, and joined a Yiddish theater in the city. With the Nazi occupation of Kovno in 1941, he joined the Brit Zion Organization, and was one of the founding members of the fighting underground in the Kovno ghetto. He was chosen as member of the first group of fighters, seeking a way of communicating between the ghetto and the partisans in the forests. His group was caught and imprisoned in the Ninth Fort - the site of the mass murder near Kovno. Michael was one of the Jewish prisoners forced to burn the bodies at the mass murder site. He participated in an audacious escape during which all 64 prisoners managed to flee from the Ninth Fort. He was one of the few who chose to return to the ghetto in order to tell the story of the mass murder which they had witnessed, and from there went out again and joined the partisans in the Rudniki forest. (6:41)