Protecting the Girls from the Men | Facing History & Ourselves

Protecting the Girls from the Men

Sara Fortis recounts feeling responsible for the well-being of the women in her all-female partisan unit.
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At a Glance

reading copy


English — US


  • History
  • The Holocaust
  • Resistance

Sara Fortis was born in Chalkis, a small town near Athens, Greece. When the Nazis invaded in 1941, Sara fled. While on the run, she agreed to join the resistance. In her new position,  Sara recruited other women and formed an all-female partisan unit.

In the following excerpt from an interview with the Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation, Sara explains that she felt responsible for protecting the women in her unit.

I want to say that it isn't easy being a partisan, a partisan with 13 girls behind her. The girls didn't have problems with a man speaking rudely or doing something to them, because we would talk and I told them, “Listen to me, you're among men and they are by themselves, without a woman, no child, no children and no wife. Take care, you and your pride, consider your actions before you do them.” Why am I saying this? Because it often happened that we slept together. I remember one time it happened, at night: We were dead tired. We lay close to each other, girl, boy, we paid no attention. But I was uneasy because I knew there were many girls, and where were they sleeping? The came from families where a girl never saw a man until she was married, and now everyone is sleeping next to each other! They were exhausted, slept, but I couldn't. I looked to my left. The squad captain was lying next to me. What would my mother say about what I was doing? But no, I was fine. I asked and answered myself: But I'm fine, I [will] sleep and wake up safely. The girls will be fine. The men were sleeping like the dead, never stirred. I did the same that night, I fell asleep, but it gave me food for thought for a long time. It couldn't happen over and over again; I had to be responsible for the girls, and the moment we arrived somewhere I had to put the girls up separately. 1

  • 1© Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation. All Rights Reserved.

How to Cite This Reading

Facing History & Ourselves, "Protecting the Girls from the Men," last updated May 12, 2020.

This reading contains text not authored by Facing History & Ourselves. See footnotes for source information.

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