Vitka Kempner Kovner, Vilna Partisan, Dies

Credited With First Act of Sabotage Against Nazis in Ghetto

Faces of Resistance: Vitka Kempner Kovner, right, was credited with the first act of resistance against the Nazis in the Vilna ghetto. She is shown with fellow partisans Rozka  Korczak, left, and Abba Kovner, center.
Faces of Resistance: Vitka Kempner Kovner, right, was credited with the first act of resistance against the Nazis in the Vilna ghetto. She is shown with fellow partisans Rozka Korczak, left, and Abba Kovner, center.

By Itzik Gottesman

Published February 16, 2012, issue of February 24, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The legendary Vilna partisan Vitka Kempner Kovner died on February 15.

Widow of the poet and partisan leader Abba Kovner, she was born in the Polish town of Kalisz in 1920 and escaped from there to Vilna when the Germans invaded Poland.

Vitka Kovner was among the founding members of Abba Kovner‘s partisan organization, the FPO (United Partisan Organization) when it was organized in the Vilna ghetto in January 1942.

Her act of sabotage act, blowing up a Nazi train, was the first carried out by the FPO organization and possibly the first act of resistance by any woman against the Nazis in Eastern Europe.

Hirsh Glik‘s Yiddish song Shtil di nakht iz oysgeshternt(The silent night is full of stars) described her act of resistance. In 1946 she and Abba Kovner came to Palestine and settled in the kibbutz Ein Hakhoresh where they raised two children.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Sigal Samuel's family amulet isn't just rumored to have magical powers. It's also a symbol of how Jewish and Indian rituals became intertwined over the centuries. http://jd.fo/a3BvD Only three days left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • British Jews are having their 'Open Hillel' moment. Do you think Israel advocacy on campus runs the risk of excluding some Jewish students?
  • "What I didn’t realize before my trip was that I would leave Uganda with a powerful mandate on my shoulders — almost as if I had personally left Egypt."
  • Is it better to have a young, fresh rabbi, or a rabbi who stays with the same congregation for a long time? What do you think?
  • Why does the leader of Israel's social protest movement now work in a beauty parlor instead of the Knesset?
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.