On This Day in Jewish History: December 28, 1918


On this day in 1918, Jewish partisan fighter Eta Wrobel was born in Lokov, Poland. Described as a rebel from the early days of her youth, Wrobel was the only child in her ten-person family to survive the Holocaust. Eta was the daughter of a resistance fighter, her father, a member of the Polish underground who instilled in her the values of providing help to those that needed it most.

In 1940, Eta began working as a clerk for a Polish employment agency. Following Germany’s invasion of Poland, Eta soon began falsifying the identity papers of Jews. She was enclosed in a Polish ghetto alongside her father until it was liquidated in October 1942 at which point they were able to separate themselves from the rest of the Jews sent to concentration camps and escape into the woods. It was in the woods that Eta took the lead in forming a Jewish partisan unit of around 80 people. The unit was successful in stealing supplies where fighters practically slept on top one another with no available medicine to speak of. Life in the woods was dangerous, with everyone constantly on guard for both their fellow partisans and one another. This danger often led to violence. Eta suffered a bullet to the leg which she managed to excavate with a knife. The partisan unit was also responsible for the establishment of mines meant to subvert German transport, destroying supply routes in the process. Eta was 1 of 7 women in the unit and refused to have herself delegated to housekeeping chores such as cooking and cleaning. Her refusal was honored by the unit due to her tactical military skills and expansive personality. Eta worked best alongside her fellow male comrades, aiding in various military decisions and challenges that came their way.

It is unclear when her father died, how much of the unit survived or how long they lingered in the woods. At a certain point Eta entered hiding where she remained until 1944 following Germany’s exit from Lokov. Upon returning to public life her presence was requested as Lokov’s mayor, a position she accepted. She would go on to marry Henry, whom she met shortly after accepting the mayorship. The two of them emigrated to the United States in 1947 where they resided in New Jersey. She died on May 26, 2008. Later in life Eta described her time with the partisans by saying “The biggest resistance that we could have done to the Germans was to survive.”