Jack Kagan who “inspired generations” with his story of resisting the Nazis has passed away aged 87.
Kagan, was the only known living member of Bielski partisans in the UK, who took on Nazis occupiers from eastern European forests during the war.
The ex-resistance member was born in 1929 and lived in the eastern Polish town of Novogródek until he was 10, at which point his village was occupied by the Nazis. After being put into a ghetto and forced Labour, in 1943 Kagan escaped from his barracks and joined the partisan group.
Along with over 1,200 men, women and children, the Bielski partisans lived and survived in the Naliboki forest as a community and managed to create synagogues, bakeries, a hospital and even an airstrip.
Their story of resistance later became the central focus of the film Defiance, starring Daniel Craig.
After the war, Jack came to the UK, where he married his wife Barbara with whom he had three children. In 2016 Jack was named in Her Majesty the Queen’s New Year Honours List. He received the British Empire Medal (BEM).
Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust Karen Pollock said: “As the only surviving member of Bielski partisans in the UK, Jack was an incredible man who inspired generations. We’ve lost a dear friend and he will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his family.”
The UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation said on Twitter it is “deeply sad that Jack Kagan has passed away. He led an extraordinary life & made an invaluable contribution on the PM’s Holocaust Commission”