For three years, Shalom Yoran survived the German occupation of Poland even as he saw his fellow Jews slaughtered by the Nazis. When he and his family inevitably became targets themselves, his mother knew she would not escape.
"Go, my beloved children," she told Yoran and his brother, Musio, as they fled into a field to escape German gunfire. "Try to save yourselves and take vengeance for us."
That was in September 1942. The brothers disappeared into the woods and went on to spend the rest of World War II fighting the elements, injury, illness and the Nazis.
After enduring the winter in an underground shelter that they had built, they shifted from trying to survive to striking back. They became Jewish partisans, joining many others in fighting an insurgent war against the occupying Germans in Poland and elsewhere.
By the spring of 1943, they had conducted their first mission: burning a factory that made rifle butts for German weapons. Yoran began to feel that he was fulfilling his mother's wish.
"For me, this was the turning point in the war," he wrote in a 1996 memoir, "The Defiant: A True Story of Jewish Vengeance and Survival."
He continued: "Instead of constantly being on the run, or hiding underground trying to survive, I had actually participated in an attack on the German war machine. This was the beginning of my revenge."
Mr. Yoran, who died Sept. 9 in New York at 88, was 14 when German forces invaded his hometown, Raciaz, and 17 the last time he saw his parents. His mother, Hannah, and his father, Shmuel, were killed within days of his escape into the woods with his brother, who was four years older. The Nazis eventually killed 1,040 Jews in Raciaz, virtually its entire Jewish population.
Mr. Yoran and his brother became full-time fighters, killing German soldiers on patrols or at their camps, planting mines, destroying roads and bridges -- all while scrounging and stealing food and clothing. They soon made their way through northeast Poland, to the forests near Lake Naroch in what is now Belarus, to join a group of Jewish partisans who were coordinating their missions with Soviet forces.
Yet even there, fighting alongside non-Jewish Russians and Poles, they encountered anti-Semitism. "So here we were, fighting against a common enemy -- the Germans, whose aim it was to totally annihilate the Jewish people and to take over the Soviet Union -- side by side with fellow fighters whose own hatred of Jews was notorious," Mr. Yoran wrote.
"In this demoralizing situation I told myself again and again that I was fighting as a Jew -- with them, but not as one of them. I dreamed of having my own country, of fighting for it, and even dying for it. That was what kept up my morale."
He and his brother joined the Polish army, advancing into Germany in 1945 as Allied forces closed in on Berlin.
Mr. Yoran was born Selim Sznycer on June 29, 1925, in Warsaw, the son of a lumberyard owner. He had only limited schooling before his family fled the Nazis.
After the war he worked for a group that helped smuggle Jewish refugees into British-controlled Palestine, resisting British efforts to stop them. He assumed many identities on his own journey there, including that of a British soldier. Finally, to convince the authorities that he was not a refugee but a lifelong resident of Palestine, he assumed the name of a dead cousin, Shalom Yoran, in 1946.
"When I finally became a 'legal' citizen of Palestine," Mr. Yoran wrote, "I bore my mother's maiden name and my cousin's date of birth."
With the founding of Israel, and after receiving his high school equivalency diploma, Mr. Yoran joined the Israeli air force, learning aircraft maintenance. While in the air force he met Varda Granevsky. They married in 1954.
He later became an executive with Israel Aircraft Industries, which helped supply the Israeli government. It is now called Israel Aerospace Industries. He moved to the U.S. in the late 1970s to run a U.S. office of an aircraft trading and manufacturing company.