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The official website of Until Our Last Breath: A Holocaust Story of Love & Partisan Resistance published by St. Martin's Press and maintained by author Michael Bart.
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UNTIL OUR LAST BREATH
A Holocaust Story of Love and Partisan Resistance

St. Martin's Press

Non-Fiction/Biography, Hardcover, 336 pgs, includes 106 photos & 2 maps, 20,000 first printing, May 13, 2008

Nominated by the American Library Association for a Sophie Brody Medal
Winner of the 60th Annual Christopher Award!
Available in Hardcover & Ebook

Michael Bart
Click to Enlarge:
Until Our Last Breath

Until Our Last Breath: A Holocaust Story of Love and Partisan Resistance is a true story about my parents' lives that tells the destruction of Vilna, the "Jerusalem of Lithuania." Until Our Last Breath is written using my parents' narrative as a thread that weaves the reader through both a collective story of the Vilna ghetto, the Partisans of Vilna, and within the wider theme of world history. The title of the book comes from part of a speech given by Abba Kovner in the Vilna ghetto's Soup Kitchen where he said, "we shall not go like sheep to slaughter, we shall fight until our last breath."

My mother Zenia Lewinson Bart was born and raised in Vilna, Poland--now Vilnius, Lithuania. My father, Leizer Bart, fled to Vilna in 1939 to escape the Nazi invasion of his hometown of Hrubieszow in Poland. On June 22, 1941 Hitler broke the Non-Aggression Pact with Stalin and invaded the Soviet Union. Two days later the Nazis arrived in Vilna, and all normal life changed forever. On September 6, 1941 the Jews of Vilna were forced into two sealed ghettos. My father was friends with Zionist leader Abba Kovner, and both became members of the Vilna ghetto underground. My parents met in the ghetto, fell in love, and were married by one of the last remaining rabbis ninety days before the liquidation of the ghetto. Shortly before the total liquidation of the ghetto about 120 members of the underground were able to escape, over half by crawling 4-6 hours through the sewers. When my parents escaped from the ghetto's side gate, they did not expect to live and vowed that they would fight for the honor and the dignity of their families. The underground members were able to get to the Rudnicki forest about 24 miles from Vilna and became the Jewish partisan fighting group led by Abba Kovner--who were known as the Avengers. As members of the Partisans of Vilna, they fought back against the Nazis and the local collaborators. My father, a mainline fighter, actively engaged in the sabotage of trains and communication lines. My mother was a camp cook and was also a courier of needed supplies between the partisan camps.

I have taken personal information shared with me by my parents, Holocaust survivors, relatives, and compiled letters written by my mother along with other family documents, and photos that bear witness to not only the demise of both my parents' immediate families, but an entire community. Spending over ten years researching my parents' experiences in the Vilna ghetto, and as members of the Partisans of Vilna with Abba Kovner's Avengers group, my goal was to write a lasting memorial to the Jews of Vilna, to the partisans and resistance fighters, and to my family. Only through writing books, can one preserve the lessons of history beyond a lifetime--I hope my work can contribute to the memory of the lost city of Vilna.

Please share this story so we "Never Forget."

Michael Bart

"Learn from yesterday, Live for today, Hope for tomorrow." --Albert Einstein

UNTIL OUR LAST BREATH
Book Reviews

"A narrative of great but controlled power. Until Our Last Breath is a son's homage to his mother and father, to the cause for which they offered their life, to their enormous courage and their singular love. Very well done indeed."
Dr. Michael Berenbaum
Former Project Director
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Washington, D. C.


Until Our Last Breath - represented by Barbara Braun & Associates


Until Our Last Breath - published by St. Martin's Press


Music by Orange County Klezmers - Echoes of Vilna. Click to hear: Partisan Song.

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