Partisan activity marked in yellow as indicated by Sonia Orbuch
In 1941, the small Polish town of Luboml fell under German occupation following Germany’s attack on the Soviet Union. Among the 8,000 Jews in Luboml was 16-year old Sonia Orbuch, born Sarah Shainwald. Sarah would change her name later to conceal her Jewish identity so she could join a non-Jewish partisan unit.
News spread quickly when the Germans began killing the Jews in the ghetto. Sonia's brother and several male friends escaped to join a partisan group, but his group only accepted young men – so the forest was the only hope for Sonia and her parents. They hid among the trees where they survived in freezing temperatures for months.
Sonia and her family made contact with a nearby battalion of Russian partisans through the help of
Sonia Orbuch after the war
a sympathetic local peasant. Fortunately, Sonia’s uncle Tzvi was a trained scout. The Russians needed his life-long knowledge of the surrounding terrain, and accepted the entire family into their group.
Sonia began her new life in the forest encampment that served as a base for missions of sabotage and resistance. Early on, Sonia was assigned to guard duty and providing first-aid on missions to mine enemy train tracks. With little training, Sonia learned the skills of a field-hospital aide, treating the wounds of injured partisans, using whatever makeshift supplies were available.