ABBA KOVNER – THE AVENGER
Ehud Uval Levi
Our series “CENTURY SOLDIERS” will explore the second generation of Jewish Russians, many of whom had fled Russia during the Bolshevik revolution and were now dispersed throughout Eastern Europe. With the advent of World War II, many of the borders of Eastern European countries, for example Poland, were realigned as part of negotiations with Hitler and his Nazi regime. This unfortunate circumstance left many of the former Russian Jews now trapped within German borders, and were quickly gathered up and either killed or brought to labor camps; and as we are aware, soon after, Nazi death camps. Russia formed a new citizens group called the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD), domestically, as well as in its surrounding countries. The Jewish youth united within this organization, but the older Jews rebuffed the group, again resulting in wide scale oppression, extradition to Siberia, and often, execution. The Jewish people now found themselves surrounded by hostile forces, and rendered helpless, most succumbed to their enemies, who were now comprised of many different groups.
Amidst this pan Euro oppression, persecution, and execution, arose rebellious Jewish freedom fighters. This documentary will focus on one such group, led by Abba Kovner, in the country of Lithuania. Kovner formed a group of strong, desperate Jewish youth. He named the detachment “Nikam” (revenge), with the battle cry ”… Jews, take up arms! Jews, we have nothing to lose. Death is inevitable. Brothers, it is better to die with lethal force, than to go to carnage as sheep. Wake up and take up arms…” Kovner’s vigilante would organize attacks on the Lithuanian guards, maintaining constant attacks in the attempt to prevent them from boarding Jews on a train that would eventually take them outside town to place called the Ponary. The pottery was a secret place where all the Jews that were collected by the guards were brought to be executed by machine-gun blasts.
When the Nazis finally surrendered, Lithuania as well as the rest of Eastern Europe focused all their energies on rebuilding their towns and cities preceding the war. The results, many of the Nazi war criminals were left unharmed, permitted to go about their lives without restitution. Abba Kovner refused to allow this, and again rallied his Nikam to find these criminals, and bring them to justice, his justice. Kovner remembered the horrors committed upon his Jewish brothers and sisters before and during the war, and devoted his life to restitution, and prevention of such future inhumanities.
The producers of ABBA KOVNER – “THE AVENGER” remain firm in the same commitments made by Abba Kovner. The world will must know and understand the plight of the Russian Jews, beginning with the eight-year-old “Cantonists”, the persecution during the Bolshevik regime, the horrors and insidious acts during Nazi times, and the same acts of persecution committed this very day throughout the Russian Federation. We have assumed the task of producing the stories differ two centuries have remained untold. So many have given their lives to ensure the freedoms we now enjoy, yet the task remains incomplete. The producers of this trilogy wish to dignify and honor these men and women, and floor all those who see our production to remember, and then challenge every man and woman to affect change.