Abba Kovner (1918-1988), a Zionist youth leader from Hashomer Hatzair, played a key role in the founding of the United Partisan Organization, FPO (Fareynegte Partizaner Organizatsye), in wartime Vilna. It was Kovner who coined the phrase, "Let us not go like sheep to the slaughter," In his manifesto of December 1941, calling for Jewish armed resistance against the Nazis. As the commander of the FPO during the liquidation of the Vilna ghetto (September 1943), Kovner directed the escape of the Vilna underground into the forests. For the next ten months he commanded a Jewish partisan unit in the Rudninkai Forest. After liberation Kovner returned briefly to Vilna before turning his efforts to organizing the Bricha (the movement of Jewish survivors from Eastern Europe to the West). Kovner, like many former partisans, was possessed by the idea of revenge. To this end he helped found the Nekama [Revenge] organization in postwar Lublin. Nekama members set as their primary goal the poisoning of millions of German nationals by contaminating their water supply. But as a fall back, they adopted a plan to poison several thousand former SS members incarcerated in American POW camps. Nekama's plans were foiled when Kovner, who went to Palestine to secure the poison, was arrested on his return trip to Europe in December 1945. After spending four months in a military prison in Cairo, Kovner returned to Palestine and settled on Kibbutz Ein Hahoresh with his wife and fellow Vilna partisan, Vitka Kempner.
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