The Russian Front
As they approached the Russian front in late 1942, Aaron and his fellow Jews experienced deadly airstrikes from Russian bombers, where both captors and slaves were decimated. Far to the southeast, Russian forces surrounded the German Army in Stalingrad. With this blow to their strength, the Germans were attempting a defensive line from Voronezh south to the Black Sea, while trying to rescue their doomed Stalingrad garrison. Aaron and his fellow slaves, having reached the front just south of Voronezh, were forced by their masters to buttress the axis front lines, as Hitler had ordered, “No retreat! Not one step backward!” This was in the event of a Russian attack, but rumors at the front lines indicated that Hitler actually intended to launch an offensive with his forces at Voronezh to rescue his Stalingrad garrison.
The Russian Attack
During the Russian breakthrough at Voronezh on January 13, 1943, Aaron and a few slaves hunkered down in a trench as bullets tore at the snow and bombs fell from the sky. It was the Russians attacking with their most destructive firepower. During this brutal assault, the Axis commanders were silent. Aaron, in a moment of spontaneous ingenuity, lifted his head above his trench, turned to face the axis soldiers, and impersonated their commanding generals by bellowing the order: “Retreat!” both in German and Hungarian. A panicked rout of the Axis forces ensued along the entire Don River front, as Aaron exhorted countless Jewish slaves to follow their fleeing masters to safety in the woods, saving the lives of all.