There were legends about the exploits of DOCTOR ATLAS in Belarus. In November 1941, the Nazis shot his family, and he turned from a doctor to an elusive avenger, one of the first Jewish partisans. His detachment derailed German trains, blew up bridges, set fire to planes and destroyed German garrisons in Belarusian townships. The Nazis were able to cope with Dr. Atlas and his fighters only by the end of 1942. Yehezkel Atlas died heroically from an enemy bullet at the age of 29.
Yehezkel Atlas was born in Poland in 1913. Adam Atlas, his father, was a merchant. The son, however, was not attracted by trade, and he decided to take up medicine. There was a strict quota for the education of Jews in medical institutions in Poland, so the young man went to study abroad. He studied in France and Italy, and in 1939 he received a medical degree in the University of Bologna.
The return home was not fun. Europe froze in anticipation of the war. Just a few months later, in September 1939, the secret Molotov-Ribbentrop pact came into force: the troops of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union entered the territory of Poland. Atlas’ hometown ended up on German territory: the family, despite its bourgeois origin, urgently fled to Western Belarus, which was occupied by Soviet troops. They settled in the village of Kozlovshchina, and Atlas began working as a doctor. Two years passed relatively calmly, and on June 21, 1941, the Great Patriotic War began. Soviet Belarus was captured by Nazi Germany in a matter of days.
The Nazis immediately issued several orders against the Jews. They were required to wear a yellow star on their clothes, were not allowed to walk on the sidewalk or use public transport, and were not allowed to enter theaters and libraries or go out at night. They had to give all their money and other valuables to the Germans and work for them. After a while, all residents of the Kozlovshchina and surrounding villages were forced to move to the Kozlovshchina ghetto.
On November 21, the Gestapo took away Yehezkel's younger sister Selina and their parents to be shot - in total, two and a half thousand Jews were killed in the Kozlov region that day. Yehezkel himself was sent to work in the neighboring town of Derechin in the Jewish ghetto - the Nazis needed doctors.
In May 1942, he and several of his comrades managed to escape from the ghetto. They took refuge in Lipichanskaya Pushcha. There the fugitives met soldiers of the Workers 'and Peasants' Red Army. Among them there were many wounded, who urgently needed medical attention. The doctors welcomed Atlas with open arms and immediately offered to join the partisan detachment as a doctor. But now, when a weapon appeared in his hands, he was eager to fight.
A few months later, on July 24, 1942, the Derechin ghetto was also liquidated. Only a few families managed to escape during the general massacre. The survivors joined the detachment of Dr. Atlas - now it numbered about 120 people. Among the refugees was a Jewish girl, Bella Hishhorn. She survived the war and left memories of that meeting. Bella described the doctor as “a thin but handsome young man with blue eyes and curly brown hair, wearing a peasant shirt and high Russian boots, with a revolver at his belt”.
The first target of the Atlas was the German garrison of Derechin. Atlas decided to destroy them and execute the Nazis and their assistants. Thanks to the courage of the Jewish fighters, they managed to drive out the Germans and capture the village. At the mass grave of the Derechin Jews, they executed 44 Gestapo men. Weapons and ammunition of the Germans fell into the hands of the partisans.
The Atlasites (as they have been called since then) even acquired a peculiar form: high boots, leather satchels and Russian shirts. Dr. Atlas has managed to rally them into a disciplined organization that is very different from the original group of desperate refugees in rags. There was also a family partisan camp under the combat unit: women and children lived here, whom the Atlas fighters protected and supplied with everything they needed. The glory of the Atlas spread through the forests. His detachment, having proved its combat effectiveness, became part of the emerging partisan movement - a detachment led by the future hero of the Soviet Union Boris Bulat.
Already two weeks after the first victory, Atlas’ group set out on a campaign again. On August 24, his squad derailed a German train at Rozhanka station. On September 2, his group blew up a bridge on the Lida-Mosty stretch, which was carefully guarded by the Nazis. The bridge was not large - only 10 meters, but the Germans transported military equipment to the East along it. As a result, traffic was stopped here for 45 hours. A few days later, Atlas and his comrades burned a bridge across the Neman on the Dyatlovo-Lida section. A large German corps, which was supposed to cross the bridge and move towards military operations, was stuck here for a long time – the bridge was 225 meters long. On September 15, 1942, Atlas, leading his fighters, captured and burned a German plane that made an emergency landing. Encouraged by their victories, the Atlasites tried to attack the Kozlov region. Their attack was repulsed, but the Nazis who rushed after them in pursuit suffered heavy losses and were forced to retreat.
Partisan units were becoming a serious problem for the Germans. The Nazis were forced to strengthen the village garrisons, regularly comb the forest, send an additional contingent to the village of Ruda Yavorskaya, which stood in the very center of the partisan forest. Dr. Atlas decided that offense was the best defense, and unexpectedly attacked Ruda Yavorskaya in October 1942. Not expecting this, the Nazis surrendered the village to the partisans. A significant amount of weapons, ammunition and equipment were seized, which were vital in the coming cold weather.
In November 1942, the Nazis decided to end the guerrilla war. In the area of the forests, where the partisans were hiding, troops were pulled together. For almost a month, the Nazis combed the forest in search of resistance fighters. The Atlas squad was attacked by superior enemy forces. In the battle under Velikaya Volya in December 1942, Dr. Atlas was heroically killed by an enemy bullet. In 1948, Yehezkel Atlas was posthumously awarded the Order of the Patriotic War, II degree.
Dr. Yehezkel Atlas was buried by his comrades in the forest thicket of the Lipichansk forest near the village of Malaya Volya. Together with him, they put a clip with cartridges and an apparatus for measuring pressure into the grave. 66 years after the death of Dr. Atlas, his remains were transferred to the city of Dyatlovo and buried in the Jewish cemetery in the presence of the rabbi and veterans of the Second World War.
1913 – 1942