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Zofia Yamaika


Zofia was raised in a well-to-do, prominent Hasidic Jewish family in Warsaw. Uneasy with the constant tension between the Polish people and the Jewish minority, Zofia joined the communist student club Spartacus when she was a teenager. Spartacus actively campaigned against the growing fascist movement in Europe.

1933-39: When Warsaw surrendered to the Germans on September 28, 1939, Zofia was 14 years old. She stopped going to school. Though the Nazis banned Spartacus, she secretly helped to revive the club, which printed antifascist posters and leaflets and distributed them throughout Warsaw. The work was dangerous--German troops were all over the city.

1940-43: A year later, Zofia and her parents were among nearly half a million Jews “resettled” in a small section of Warsaw. The Warsaw Ghetto was sealed in November 1940. Through Spartacus, Zofia trained with a pistol smuggled in by communist partisans. Zofia wanted to join them, but escaping meant endangering her parents’ lives. When they were deported in July 1942, Zofia escaped and joined the Lion partisans near Radom. Some 300 Nazis attacked her group of 50 on February 9, 1943. Zofia and two Poles offered to cover their unit’s retreat.

Zofia, 18, armed with a machine gun, let the Germans come within eight feet before she fired. Her position was overtaken, and she was killed. Her unit managed to retreat.

Sources: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum