Faye Schulman Dies; Fought Nazis With a Rifle and a Camera

On Aug. 14, 1942, barely seven weeks after German troops invaded Soviet-occupied Poland, they massacred 1,850 Jews from a shtetl named Lenin close to the Sluch River. Only 27 had been spared, their expertise deemed important by the invaders.

The survivors included shoemakers, tailors, carpenters, blacksmiths, a barber and a younger novice photographer named Faigel Lazebnik, who later in marriage would change into generally known as Faye Schulman.

The Germans enlisted her to take commemorative pictures of them and, in some circumstances, their newly acquired mistresses. (“It better be good, or else you’ll be kaput,” she recalled a Gestapo commander warning her earlier than, trembling, she requested him to smile.) They thus spared her from the firing squad due to their vainness and their obsession with bureaucratic record-keeping — two weaknesses that she would finally wield in opposition to them.

At one level the Germans witlessly gave her movie to develop that contained photos that they had taken of the three trenches into which they, their Lithuanian collaborators and the native Polish police had machine-gunned Lenin’s remaining Jews, together with her mother and father, sisters and youthful brother.

She saved a copy of the pictures as proof of the atrocity, then later joined a band of Russian guerrilla Resistance fighters. As one of many solely recognized Jewish partisan photographers, Mrs. Schulman, because of her personal graphic record-keeping, debunked the widespread narrative that the majority Eastern European Jews had gone quietly to their deaths.

Mrs. Schulman, standing third from proper, with fellow partisans through the struggle. Credit…Faye Schulman, through Second Story Press

“I want people to know that there was resistance,” she was quoted as saying by the Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation. “Jews did not go like sheep to the slaughter. I was a photographer. I have pictures. I have proof.”

Mrs. Schulman, who emigrated to Canada in 1948, continued providing up that proof, in exhibitions of her pictures, in a 1995 autobiography titled “A Partisan’s Memoir: Woman of the Holocaust,” and in a 1999 PBS documentary, “Daring to Resist: Three Women Face the Holocaust.”

She recounted her life in pre-World War II Eastern Europe and how a ragtag band of Red Army stragglers, escaped prisoners of struggle and Jewish and gentile Resistance fighters — together with some ladies — harassed the Germans behind the Wehrmacht’s entrance traces within the forests and swamps of what’s now Belarus.

“We faced hunger and cold; we faced the constant threat of death and torture; added to this we faced anti-Semitism in our own ranks,” she wrote in her memoir. “Against all odds we struggled.”

She died on April 24 in Toronto, her daughter, Dr. Susan Schulman, mentioned. Mrs. Schulman was believed to be 101.

Dr. Schulman mentioned that her mom had not been in touch along with her fellow partisans for years. “She was the youngest,” she mentioned.

Mrs. Schulman’s brother Kopel Lazebnik, third from left, had introduced meals to a Jewish civilian camp. Credit…Faye Schulman, through Second Story Press

According to the Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation, as many as 30,000 Jews joined Resistance teams on the Eastern Front throughout World War II; solely lots of are nonetheless dwelling.

Faigel Lazebnik was the fifth of seven kids born to Yakov and Rayzel (Migdalovich) Lazebnik. Her mom was a caterer, her father a material service provider. Records listing her delivery date as Nov. 28, 1919, which might have made her 22 in August 1942. But in her memoir she wrote that she was 19 on the time, which might have made her delivery yr 1922 if she was born in November.

The Lazebniks, who had been Orthodox Jews, lived in Lenin (named for Lena, the daughter of a native aristocrat, not the Bolshevik revolutionary) in what was then Poland. Faye had apprenticed to her brother Moishe, the city photographer, since she was 10 and had taken over his studio when she was 16.

Jewish and Russian members of the Resistance had been buried in a single grave in 1943. Credit…Faye Schulman, through Second Story Press

In September 1939, after signing a nonaggression pact with Hitler, Soviet troops crossed the Stulch River and occupied Eastern Poland, together with Lenin, simply 16 days after the Germans had invaded the nation from the west. By August 1942, Nazi Germany had damaged the treaty, declared struggle on the Soviet Union and pushed additional east, drawing Moscow to the Allied facet.

Mrs. Schulman realized that among the many pictures she was processing for the Germans that August had been photos of the our bodies of her circle of relatives members. “I just was crying,” she informed the Memory Project, a Canadian historic preservation program. “And I — I lost my family. I’m alone. I’m a young girl. What shall I do now? Where shall I go? What shall I do?”

The Germans ordered her to coach a younger Ukrainian girl as an assistant, however she stalled, figuring out what would occur when she was now not thought of important. After Soviet partisans attacked the city that September, she fled with them.

“From now on my bed would be the grass, my roof the sky and my walls the trees,” she mentioned. Her rifle turned her pillow.

Because her brother-in-law had been a physician, the partisans welcomed her, whilst a girl and a Jew, into the Molotov Brigade and made right here a nurse, offering her with rudimentary tools and tutoring by their full-time medic, a veterinarian.

Mrs. Schulman reunited along with her brothers Kopel, left, and Moishe, proper, after the Red Army liberated Belarus in July 1944. With them was a fellow partisan, Morris Schulman, her future husband.Credit…Faye Schulman, through Second Story Press

“The main part of being a partisan was not the killing but keeping the wounded alive,” she mentioned, “bringing the wounded back to life so they could continue fighting and bring the war to an end.”

When the guerrillas raided Lenin, she recovered her digital camera and darkroom tools and started chronicling the Resistance. Developing movie at evening or underneath a blanket, she captured intimate views of the partisan underground, together with a poignant moratorium on anti-Semitism throughout a joint funeral of Jewish and Russian partisans. She recorded joyous reunions of partisans who had been stunned to find that their pals and neighbors had been nonetheless alive.

Mrs. Schulman remained with the brigade till July 1944, when the Red Army liberated Belarus. She reunited with two of her brothers, who reintroduced her to a fellow partisan, Morris Schulman, an accountant whom she had recognized earlier than the struggle.

They married later that yr and lived in Pinsk, in Belarus, as adorned Soviet heroes. But after the struggle they left for a displaced-persons camp in West Germany, the place they smuggled individuals and weapons to assist the motion for an impartial Israel and made plans to to migrate to British-controlled Palestine themselves.

Mrs. Schulman in an undated photograph with the Compur digital camera she used through the struggle. She later emigrated along with her household to Canada. Credit…Faye Shulman, through Second Story Press

When Mrs. Schulman turned pregnant with Susan, although, the couple determined as a substitute to settle in Canada. After arriving there in 1948, Mrs. Schulman labored in a costume manufacturing facility and later hand-tinted pictures and painted in oils. Her husband was employed as a laborer, then labored within the costume manufacturing facility as a cutter earlier than the couple opened a ironmongery store. He died in 1992.

In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Schulman is survived by a son, Sidney; a brother, Rabbi Grainom Lazewnik; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

The 100 or so pictures that she took through the struggle and preserved in her transfer to Canada will stay her legacy, Dr. Schulman mentioned. And among the many few different belongings that Mrs. Schulman was in a position to convey from Europe was her Compur digital camera, the folding bellows mannequin that she had utilized in August 1942. She treasured it, her daughter mentioned, however she apparently by no means used it to take one other photograph once more.