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[Page 131]

Chapter 2

Personalities From Our Town

Chaim Zamiri

(Excerpts from the story of his life)

Translated by Irene Emodi

Chaim was born in the little town of Dokshitz in the province of Vilna, in 1908. His parents, Tzipi and Arie Solovey, dealt in trade and were well off. They were very popular among the townspeople and the farmers in the region because of their honesty and reliability.

He received his first education at the "heder", with a "mitkadem" (progressive)

melamed (scholar). Chaim was very fond of the Rabbi and he always spoke well of him. At the same time, he also went to a Russian and Polish school. This was the period when the regime changed in the area. Chaim did not like the secular schools and when the "Tarbut" school was established, he moved there.

This was the time when "Hehalutz Hatzair" was founded in Dokshitz. Chaim and his friends were among the first to join the movement, he immediately stood out because of his qualities: reliability, honesty, enthusiasm, power to convince and above all his ambition to realize his plans. These qualities made him into the leader of the group and many youngsters, both younger and older than he, were attracted to him and influenced by him.

At the age of 17 he went on pioneer training and prepared himself to go on aliyah. However, it was impossible to implement this for there was a shortage of certificates. Chaim returns home and establishes the "Hashomer Hatzair" branch in the town and its vicinity. However, he does not leave Hehalutz", continues his activity there and is one of its leaders as a graduate of "Hashomer Hatzair".

Chaim undertakes many tasks, among them looking after the "Tarbut" school which lacks funds; activity at the Zionist and Eretz Jisraeli funds and above all attracting youngsters and children to the youth movements. Chaim was at the center of all these activities. "Bleemel Tag" (flower day) activities were organized for obtaining money, parties, amateur drama performances ("The sale of Joseph", "Tuvia the Milkman". The "Dibbuk" and others) and Chaim played the main role in them. They also undertook seasonal work with the estate owners in the area, delving pits mewing the meadows etc. This served for the maintenance of the "Tarbut" school; the money in the funds was regularly sent to Israel. "Davar" – the newspaper of the workers in Eretz Jisrael was regularly received at the branch.

"Hehalutz" had to compete with the other movements in town, which was close to the Russian border where the communist influence was deeply felt; the Revisionists also attracted the youngsters of the wealthier classes. A battle was fought for each soul and the rivals soon found out that it was impossible to resist Chaim and his friends.

Chaim himself was not fully satisfied with his activities – he wanted to go to Eretz Jisrael. In 1931 he went on permanent training and took the firm decision not to return to his little town until he would be able to go on aliyah to Israel. He joined the "Mesilah" organization, presently kibbutz "Mesilot." Chaim was active here for six months and moved on to "Hehalutz" training – kibbutz Tel Hai which set up a branch at Bialistock. This branch was in its early stages and had but a few members. There was not enough work, hunger and a deteriorating social situation. Chaim started to organize the place. He runs around for days and knocks on the doors of the factory owners in Bialistock and with his power of conviction he manages to explain to them that the pioneers are good workers. In order to prove this he appears at each difficult place of work; with his willpower and good sense he overcomes the physical problems and the employers invite a few other pioneers on condition that they work like him.

Chaim does not neglect social life either. He sticks to his principles, tries to keep the group together. He manages to establish ties with broad Zionist circles in Bialistock and thereby removes the branch from its social and economic isolation.

It was the aim of the "Hehalutz" center to expand pioneer training and infiltrate the large cities. Chaim was sent to Grodna and established a new training place there. Conditions in Grodna were similar to those in Bialistock and after many difficulties a branch was established and pioneers from all over Poland started to come here to be trained for aliyah to Eretz Jisrael.

Due to "Hehalutz" center considerations the Grodna training was transferred to "Hashomer Hatzair", and therefore the members of the branch belonging to Tel Hai were forced to disperse to other training points. Chaim accepted this and went to Lida to continue his training.

When the gates of Eretz Jisrael were opened and the first certificates were received, Chaim and I received permission to go on aliyah in February 1933, and after brief preparations at home – we left.

We arrived in Israel and were immediately sent to Ein Harod. In the first year Chaim, restless and full of energy, did not find a suitable field of activity at the established kibbutz. He was offered various opportunities for activity at the Noar Haoved (working youth) movement, but did not find this attractive. He was attracted to the mountains and the valley with which he fell in love the moment he set foot on the land.

In 1934 our daughter Nurith was born. Chaim was very happy and devoted all his free moments to her. He looked for a new venture and wanted to set up a sheep section at the kibbutz. The kibbutz management did not like this idea so much for everyone remembered the initial failure of the sheep growing section at Ein Harod. However, with his willpower and with the assistance of a small number of friends, the late Itzhak Rafaeli and Motke among them, they convinced those who were against the idea. Chaim left for a brief training period at Ayelet Hashachar, and in 1936 the sheep were acquired, and working with sheep became his chief interest in life. He found a source of joy in each professional achievement – increase in the output of milk, the birth of each little lamb; he was particularly happy when he started to work with the late Dr. Pintzi. He discovered a whole new world, spent every free minute perusing professional literature and studied genetics.

He would sit with the late Dr. Pintzi and with Motke till the wee hours of night in order to establish a logbook of the herd. Yet, however busy he was, he never forgot his family, for he loved us very much and shared all his achievements and failures with us – we were indispensable to him. All the sheep business was conducted in our modest little room.

In 1944 our daughter Aviva was born and two years later – Tzipi.

A year before the War of Liberation Chaim was called upon to be in charge of purchasing at the kibbutz, and when he finished this task the sheep breeder's organization asked him to provide training. Chaim hesitated for he did not want to leave his job with the sheep, however, his health had deteriorated and after a while he accepted the organization's request.

He would go to work in the morning and return late at night, and would devote all his free time to the herd, he had very close ties with the shepherds. He continued to conduct the logbook of sheep and would work on this on Saturdays and in his free time.

When the State was established Chaim was sent to other countries in the Middle East by the Ministry of Agriculture in order to buy sheep.

In 1951, when there was a division at Ein Harod, our daughter Zohar was born. Chaim passed through a difficult crisis with the division. As he was not a political person he was unable to accept the idea that the kibbutz and society could be destroyed because of political strife.

From the start of the division he took the stand that a peaceful and friendly agreement should be reached. He adhered to this stand, in spite of all the tragic events at the kibbutz. The majority of the members of the two groups did not agree with him and Chaim abandoned his activity and devoted himself to the problems of sheep. At that time he went to Turkey to buy sheep and bring them to Israel, however, his heart was with what went on at the kibbutz. His letters are full of sorrow and pain. He was not in good health at the time and while he was still in Turkey it appeared that he had a heart problem.

When the rift at Ein Harod deepened, many members of the kibbutz realized there was no solution or compromise. Chaim, together with a few friends who shared his views, set out to rehabilitate Ein Harod by dividing the productive branches and rehabilitating them. His time is spent trying to find the means to do so and this is the peak of his activity and tension.

In 1956, during the Sinai Campaign, Chaim is recruited with a kibbutz vehicle and gets as far as Ismalia. He was proud of this campaign and happy to be able to take part in it.

Once the kibbutz is rehabilitated on the hill, Chaim leaves his position and returns to his sheep activity. A while later he is appointed trainer at the sheep section management.

When the rest of my family arrives in Israel, my sister and her son from Russia and the 2 children of my sister from South Africa, Chaim sets out to help them get settled, takes care of all their problems and is a pillar of support to them.

In February 1962 when he returns from a visit to the Negev, he suffers a massive heart attack. His life is at risk. When he recovers, the doctors ask him to take care because his life is in danger. But, all the rules of being careful that apply in such cases were not made for Chaim. He continues his travels, even adds tasks and occupations. The period and his work oblige him to advance and he studies and teaches others. Deep in his heart he is aware of his situation, he withdraws and only those closest to him know what goes on, and suffer together with him.

We lived with the bitter verdict for three years. Every time he went on his way we worried, and when he came back late we were out of our minds. His love knew no bounds and he would give us all his attention. His death was not sudden but reality is far different from what is expected. He left us broken hearted.

By Nessia

*

Chapters of Life

We were cousins, Chaim and I . . .

Our grandmother was a central figure in our family, she was full of energy. When she became a widow she had to take care of a large family (twelve sons). She was a very diligent woman and conducted wide-ranging business affairs. She would tell us, her grandchildren, that she even had good connections with the Czarist regime and managed to obtain rights from them which other Jews were unable to get (there were regions at the time which Jews were not allowed to enter, trade restrictions etc.). She was proud of the fact that she conducted her business by memory, for she was analphabetic.

There is no doubt that Chaim inherited her energy as well as her organizational talent.

His father Laibe (Arie) and his mother Tzipa (Tzipora) came from Dokshitz, they conducted a large trading house for building materials, paint, various farming equipment, lighting, foodstuffs etc. They set it up by themselves, were extremely successful and were considered the richest grocers in town. Customers were the farmers of the vicinity who trusted the Solovey house and were sure of its honesty.

There were three children in the family: Chaim, Shmuel and their sister Lea. The father passed away and the mother and her two sons, who had married in the meantime and begotten children, remained in the Diaspora. All of them perished in the Holocaust and except for the late Chaim and myself noone is left of the Solovey family.

Lea, Chaim's sister, studied at the gymnasium outside Dokshitz and Shmuel at the local gymnasium. It must be mentioned that Dokshitz was a town abounding with Jewish and general culture, and the Jews were enthusiastic Habad Hassidim.

When Chaim's older brother and sister finished their studies, they joined their parents' business. Chaim himself moved from one school to another in town – at first he studied at the "heder" and at the age of 10 he moved to the Russian gymnasium. When the town was conquered by the Poles in 1920, a Polish gymnasium was also established and Chaim moved there.

There was an awakening of Zionist activity in town and a "Tarbut" school was established. Chaim left the secular gymnasium and started to study at the "Tarbut" school. This is quite astonishing, for his parents were not Zionist and only his brother Shmuel absorbed the spirits roaming through the Jewish world and was active on behalf of Keren Hakayemet leJisrael. Chaim drew his love for Zion from him. The majority of the youngsters in Dokshitz went to the "Tarbut" school. One of the teachers called Tamarkin, a fervent Zionist, inspired his students with a national spirit.

While he was still at school Chaim already organized youth meetings in town, invited lecturers to speak about Eretz Jisrael and Zionism. The teachers were usually Zionists, but there were others who were inclined towards the labor movement. Chaim looked for a way to the labor movement of Eretz Jisrael through one of the teachers. He despised business and saw his way of life among the working people. That is how he arrived at "Hashomer Hatzair", and he invited Shimon Polotnikov (presently member of Gan Shmuel) to our town in order to tell us about this movement.

I remember there was a great deal of commotion towards the visit and most of the youngsters participated in the meeting. Chaim announced the establishment of a "Hashomer Hatzair" cell and he headed it. He brought all the educational systems of "Hashomer Hatzair" to our little town – scouts, organization into divisions etc. He determined who would be at the head of the divisions and he even attracted those youngsters who were far from Zionism in general and working Eretz Jisrael in particular. Even idle youngsters off the street were drawn to this movement.

The Hehalutz Histadrut (union) in our town included all the movements of working youth of Eretz Jisrael (except for Hashomer Hatzair there was also "Gordonia" and "Hehalutz"). At these youth meetings Chaim met his future girlfriend, Nessia, who was a member of "Hashomer Hatzair". Many of the members in those days are presently in Israel, dispersed over various kibbutzim. Some at Ein Shemer, Manit, Hatzor, Dan and Beth Zera.

Chaim was the center of attention when he appeared at "Hehalutz", he was an excellent speaker with great power of conviction.

His students at the kibbutzim remember him fondly for he influenced them to leave their town and find their roots in the fatherland.

In 1930 Chaim arrived at the training camp, together with the "Mesila" group – presently kibbutz Mesilot. He left this training camp for social reasons, and perhaps also political doubts. He joined the Tel Hai training camp of "Hehalutz" where he found his friends from the Dokshitz "Hehalutz".

In mid 1933 Chaim went to Israel in spite of his parents' opposition, they wanted him to stay with them and help them in the business.

When Chaim came to Israel he not only realized his personal and pioneering dream, but he also served as an example to all the youngsters who hesitated to leave the Diaspora. He did so although he recognized that his presence abroad as leader of "Hehalutz"was essential.

I went on aliyah to Israel about a year after Chaim and he was my only relative there. My first Sabbath I spent with Chaim at Ein Harod. He wanted to make my visit pleasant and took me on a horse-drawn tour of the area, he never ceased praising the beauty of nature and explained to me how to settle down in Israel. When I was at Ein Shemer, my meetings with Chaim were rare – each of us was busy with his own affairs, but our children made us visit each other. We felt that Chaim was very fond of our children, noone could imagine that this bond would suddenly be severed.

In our family Chaim was the older, more experienced brother, often a substitute for my parents. My sons were very attached to Chaim, loved and respected him. We all loved him. That is why we are so deeply saddened at his early death.

By Shmuel Zamir (Ein Shemer)

*

To his memory

Chaim is no longer. Hard to believe! – The heart refuses to accept this bitter reality. Shall we never see him again?

With a heart full of sorrow I shall try to write a fraction of what one could write about my dear friend Chaim who was so loved and devoted. It is hard to write about him for it seems as if he is still among us.

Chaim was very close to me, like a brother. With his honest wish to become involved in the problem bothering you he rekindled your belief in good. I had deep feelings of respect for him and was extremely fond of him. Although we grew up in the same little town I did not know him, until we met at "Hehalutz". We came from a different educational background – I studied at the Russian school and he received a Hebrew education and was fluent in the language from an early age. When we met at "Hehalutz" this was already his home. He had no problem in throwing away all the customs of the young of that period, and devoted himself entirely to the new way which was so positive and contrary to the lack of purpose of the other youngsters in town.

He inspired everyone with his simplicity, his boundless devotion. He set up a branch of "Hashomer Hatzair", where he concentrated the crème de la crème of the young. He devoted day and night to propaganda, education, activities. He managed to kindle a beam of hope in all of us – we felt we had something to fight for, for Jewish youngsters would no longer sit with their parents in a dark corner in the Diaspora and spend their time at a shop or buying produce from the gentiles at the market – there was a loftier purpose to life.

Chaim was the first to go on "hahshara"(training) at Tel Hai and many others, in spite of the parents' opposition, followed him.

I went to Israel before him and did not follow up his activity in the Diaspora, but the fact that so many of his students are dispersed over all the kibbutzim and the various movements shows how blessed his activity was.

I welcomed Chaim when he arrived in Israel, at the Jaffo port in 1933. At that time my links with Chaim were not only social, but we were relatives as well, and I was very happy that my sister Nessia linked her life to his. I was a little concerned at their joining Ein Harod – would the energetic Chaim find his place and be content at Ein Harod, which was already very established at a time when there were many groups all over the country battling to find work in the orchards and all other fields of labor?

However, I soon re-discovered Chaim. Even at Ein Harod he was not satisfied with the existing situation; here too he found a challenge – he chose a new branch at the kibbutz. No need to describe his activity at the sheep section, for this is well known, and for generations to come the story will be told.

We shared part of our life with Chaim, and not every period was glamorous, but he almost always had the upper hand and found a solution for the problems that arose. He had a rich and energetic personality.

Chaim devoted much time to rehabilitating Ein Harod Ihud, he accompanied each plan with pride and devotion, each house and each building at the kibbutz. During the days of strife he knew to distinguish between what was important and what wasn't, and to him the most important thing was to build the new kibbutz.

The gracious and good heart has fallen silent. I am shocked and pained. How can I write about my dear brother Chaim, while I am still unable to accept the fact that he is no longer. He was taken away suddenly while he was still at the center of activity, taking care of his family and of all of us, and ready to contribute to finding a solution to the problems of our life.

His personality will serve as a candle to us and will brighten our path. Blessed be his memory!

By Bila (Yifat)

*

Fellow townsmen and students commemorate Chaim

A small town on the Russian border. Little streets, densely populated alleys; a market at the center of town and little shops, which barely provide a living for the families. This is where Chaim was born. The young who organized into pioneer movements were the only bright star in the somber daily life. Chaim was among them and grew together with the movement. It was to him we, the young and others as well, turned. I remember him: broad shouldered, dressed in a short leather coat, a cigarette dangling from his mouth, broad forehead and kind but stern eyes. He was alert, active and capable of making others act. He was extremely upright and steadfast. Not ashamed to say what he had on his mind if he thought this was the right thing to do. These qualities did not make life easy for Chaim, but they gained him respect with his opponents (indeed he had some) and admiration from his many friends.

Indeed, his life was not easy, but that is what he wanted. He was so dynamic that it sometimes seemed as if he was looking for trouble. We would tell him: "Chaim, turn down the volume" but he did not want to listen. He would fight, overcome, and be happy. He merely wanted to live a rich, full and intensive life. He was a simple man, with a good sense of humor, liked to listen, faithful to his job, movement and a friend to everyone.

Sara Rozov (Ein Shemer)

*

The late Chaim's activity in Dokshitz

Everything that happened in Dokshitz in those days should be seen in the background of the economic situation that followed the Polish occupation in 1920. The Russian border was at a short distance from Dokshitz. The majority of its inhabitants were craftsmen or grocers and made a living off the farmers in the vicinity. The change of regime brought an end to the sources of living for many people. Daily life deteriorated from day to day and poverty was rampant in town. Many of us were hungry and torn. The young were in distress and looked for ways to extricate themselves from the dire situation. Many youngsters joined the communists (who operated underground) and some joined the "Bund". We saw the Yiddishists as one body, it was impossible to distinguish between them and they had their own solutions for the troubles of the Jews.

Against this bloc the pioneer youth stood up, they wanted to go to Zion. New voices were heard in our little town. When a cell of "Hashomer Hatzair" was set up Chaim was among the leaders of this movement. Thanks to his activity our branch did credit to the movement, as proven by the fact that so many of the members of Hashomer Hatzair in Dokshitz are in Israel at the kibbutzim. The Hashomer Hatzair cell brought new life to our town. The sounds of the Hebrew language were heard on its streets. Hebrew songs, enthusiastic dances, lively conversations, culture evenings – many youngsters were drawn to this.

At that time the "Tarbut" school existed in our town, but it did not have a solid foundation. Because of the poverty many students did not pay tuition. In order to solve the problem of the school the "Hehalutz" people in town, together with "Hashomer "Hatzair" undertook many different campaigns, such as cutting trees in the forests in order to sell the wood, baking matzos on Pessach eve for a small fee and street collections etc.

Among the most lucrative activities were the performances for the general public. I particularly remember one performance – the Lanski"Dibbuk". Chaim played the role of the Rabbi with great success, he would usually play the main part in most plays.

In addition to all the activities we organized on behalf of the "Tarbut" school we would go to the rich homeowners in our town and ask them to donate money for this institution, and we would approach the parents not to send their children to the Polish schools and transfer them to "Tarbut".

We did not only care for the "Tarbut" school which would close down when there was no money for its maintenance, but also for the children – many of them were hungry and did not have proper clothing, shoes etc. We tried to take care of all their needs as far as this was possible. A free hot meal was organized at school. We even managed to obtain sums for this from the authorities, and this was very difficult.

We tried to bring teachers from Vilna ("Tarbut" center). They had a pioneer spirit and we educated the youth in our town in this spirit.

The "Bund" and the communists gathered around the Yiddishist school. There was fierce competition between them and the Eretz Jisrael Haovedet movement centered at Tarbut".

The late Chaim came from a well to do home, yet he mingled with common people and was among the most active to help the needy. In this respect he served as an example to all his friends in the little town. There was much work and many efforts had to be made – one had to go from one to the other and convince them. Chaim was very good at this. As the poorest part was concentrated at "Hehalutz" everyone needed personal attention, it was necessary to obtain money for going on hahshara (training), finance aliyah to Israel and even buy the stamp for sending a letter to the "Hehalutz" center.

Chaim stood out with his energy, was a good and devoted friend, demanded much but also served as an example to others, he did himself what he asked of others.

I was not as close to Chaim in Israel as I was in our little town, for we went our separate ways. Each of us settled at another kibbutz, but even from a distance he was like a brother to me.

Israel Levitan (Yagur)


[Page 140]

Outline in Memory of Arie Fogelman R.I.P.

Who gave his life in the War of Independence

Born: Jan. 12, 1923. Died: May 31, 1948 Near Latrun.

Beginning to tell about our Arie, I halt and wonder: Which is the Arie that should be told about? Arie the weak kid in the Diaspora? Arie the growing teenager in the homeland? Arie the realizer of Zionism? Maybe Arie which is gone? Alas, many a face did our Arie posses - faces never fully matured.

In childhood he was a weak and sickly child. He became orphaned from father at a young age and never heard neither kind and encouraging words nor moral teachings. He was a "son of old age", "a child of entertainment " for his mother, sisters and brothers. Despite the lacking materialistic conditions he was bestowed love from his entire family.

His childhood year passed similarly to other kids in the Diaspora, studying in the "Tarbut" school, and in hostile surroundings and atmosphere which gave birth to a longing of days to come. The compensation for the Diaspora life and the rest of the burdens of the soul was to be found in the "Hashomer Hatzair" youth movement, which he joined at an early age. He found there a kind and loving instructor, Zvi Markman, who was a friend and father to him. Arie was loyal to the movement and attached to it wholly. From it he gained the strength to strive towards the future and the Aliya to Israel.

Arie Fogelman

At home a turning point is reached, an agitation is felt. The eldest sister has begun training towards Aliya. The mood has changed in the house and all conversations are about Israel, making Aliya and around these subjects. A regeneration has taken place in the homely atmosphere and it cut through the Jewish Diaspora atmosphere.

A long time passed since the sister made Aliya until they began to believe her letters and until it was decided to agree to wishes of joining her and her family in Israel. When the fateful decision was made, the preparations began, all accompanied by a tens feeling about the future.

The Aliya to Israel was marred by the separation from Simcha, the older brother, who was then in the Polish army. A year after his service, when he planned to make Aliya, the second world war broke out and he found himself fighting in Polish uniform. With the enterance of Germany into Russian-occupied territory, he joined the partisans and went through many a dire time until he came to Israel after the war of independence.

With the Aliya of the family (mother, sisters and Arie) to Israel a startling change took over Arie. No more was he Leibale of the Diaspora. He became an Israeli, a growing boy, turning into a young man, studying in an Israeli school -"Pika" school in Petach-Tikva and living in the homeland.

His stature was erect, his face shone with pride and heroism. A all-Israeli kid, returning to the homeland and grasping it with all his binding love.

Immediately coming to Israel he joined the "Shomer Hatzair" where he found his happiness and integrity of his life. This is where he found his best friends with whom he went through life, and on his last road.

Here his personality blossomed; his love of Israel strengthened. Every inch of blue skies in the homeland, every chirp of a bird and the smell of earth made his heart flutter, overtook him, made him their private and personal possession.

The financial difficulties at home did not allow him to peacefully continue his studies. Despite his acknowledgement of the importance of education, he would not continue to sit and study, while his sisters support the family and take care of his every need.

With the decisiveness of an adult, in spite of his tender age, he deserted school and began to help the family financially. He started out at the packing house (of citrus fruit). First, as a fruit picker, and later, due to his success and accomplishment, attained the position of a packer and moved to work in the "Yachin" factory, thrilled at being able to help the family.

The youth movement took the place of school. He gave more and more of his time to the "Shomer Hatzair" both as a student and an instructor. The movement became his second home, and later - his first as well.

He inhaled into his soul the air of the homeland, its beauty and majesty. He was deeply affected by his surroundings and molded this love into his pupils who worshiped him and saw a perfect role model in him.

At this point in his life he began to conquer the land with his feet. There was not a trail nor road which he did not tread feeling the country's earth beneath his feet. It was a time when the people began forming methods for defence against the evils to come. Weapon training had begun. Comportment under fire, fighting strategies and all other practices needed by a people out to defend its land and freedom.

Arie was out of the house for many days due to these marches and training, and even when he arrived, he would not spend much time with his family. In those days the commune of "Hashomer Hatzair" was founded in town. He was of the first to join and it became his home.

However, his time with the commune did not last long. At the time a call came to join the watchmen. As always, he followed the call and served as a watchman in Vilhelma.

The youth became a man, leaving the familial framework and choosing his own way, linking his life with that of his country and his people. From there, not long was the way to the kibbutz and the realization.

As the movement turned to the settlement, he moved to kibbutz Sarid which became his one and only home. In the farmstead and in his life he found fulfillment and it seemed that he reached a state of rest and security.

He was a herdsman, and in the wide expanses of nature he saw his life realized. A devoted and loyal herdsman since devotion and loyalty were a part of his personality. He would worry about his mother which was left alone, about his sisters who should walk in his footsteps and give of themselves and of their strength to the workers movement and the building of the country, and about his brother who stayed still abroad. He planned in his mind to take a break from the farmstead when his brother makes Aliya, in order to work and gain money to help his brother get settled in Israel.

He used his time in the farmstead to study different subjects. He felt his lack of education and tried to compensate for it on his own. Among other things, he studied Arabic in the hope of forming a link and conversation with our neighbors in better times to come.

He fitted in well socially and his loyal friends carry his memory in their hearts forever, as he was kind, friendly and loved.

With the outbreak of the independence war, he was made military instructor on the farmstead. He was to train the people to protect the farmstead and their lives. However, he was not a long time in this duty. He requested vehemently to be sent with the warriors. After many a request, his wish was granted and he joined the fighters.

He took part in the battle of "Mishmar Ha'emek" and his reactions were full of hope and glory. He believed that justice will prevail, he mourned the death of his friends and promised to avenge their deaths.

He was sent to an officer's course, after being found suited to lead due to his good traits. Alas, the course did not last long. The war became more difficult and a need arose in more warriors. The course was terminated, the people received new soldiers who had just made Aliya, and with them, they went out to battle. A battle which was to be his last - the battle of Latrun.

This battle also came only after his insistence, since he had just come back from an operation a few hours earlier and was ordered to rest. He refused, saying he could not peacefully rest knowing his men are out to battle and he is not at their side.

It was a rash and bitter battle. The soldiers were inexperienced, not knowing how to contain their fear, the language and weapons unfamiliar to them. The weather was stifling hot and the strong enemy covered the hill with heavy fire.

There, on his last road, he succeeded in showing once again, his heroism and love of man. He was wounded and kept going in order not to cause chaos in the lines. Just then, while trying to encourage two of the soldiers, who, for fear stayed in the front in spite of the order to retreat, came another wound.

With the last of his forces he convinced the two to retreat and stayed alone forever... No one ever saw him again. For a long time it was unsure if his bones would be buried in Israel - but he was granted at least this honour.

The blow was hard and perpetual. His image will forever be inscribe in the hearts of his family and friends, all weeping and mourning the sorrow of the loss.

Ofira (his niece)


[Page 147]

''I am Chaya Bloch…''

by Zvi Markman / Kibbutz Hatzor

Although twenty-five years have passed, still, I see her in her supreme heroism, her blue eyes looking with mocking scorn at the hangman. He is vested in a brown uniform, adorned with medals and decorations of valor with swastikas noting his being an S.S. officer. He sits comfortably in an upholstered armchair behind the green desk. With a leveled hand movement he waves at the blue smoke rising from his cigarette. The servant meekly takes the remnants of food from his desk and hastily leaves the room.

Hana Bloch - of a simple Jewish family, her father having made a living trading in horses. She was the youngest of the family, having an older brother and a married sister by the name of Haika. Haika, voted a member to the city council with the rise of the Soviets to power, whose doom was sealed by the S.S. entering the town.

For the last few days she's been wandering from village to village with her infant in her arms. No one notices, no one will help her, no one will give her shelter. Broken and exhausted she returns to the house of her parents. She can suffer no more and makes her mind up to present herself at the police station of her own free will. The young Hana is lost in deep reflections. Suddenly, she rises, takes her sister's identity card forcefully, kisses the baby and with quick steps walks to the police station. There, she hands over her sister's reporting order to the policeman on duty and says: "I am Haika Bloch..."

Chaya and Chana Bloch

Now she stands in front of the S.S. officer. She does not feel the nearing end. Only one thought enters her mind: Succeeding in tricking this Uberstumpführer that she really was a member of the city council and that she should pay for this. The heart beats strongly, the eyes fixed on the interrogator, following his every movement. He is still quiet, polite. There is pleasure which can be read from his features. He beckons her to approach. She is slightly pale, her blond tress made golden by the rays of the sun falling through the window. Her knees slightly quivering, but her spirit strong. Trying to stay quiet, something not too difficult for her as it is her nature.

Only three years ago she terminated her studies at the public school. After the arrival of the Red-Army she finished an accountancy course, and lately worked in one of the city offices as an accountant. How happy she was being independent and making a living honorably. She is always smiling, always neat, nice and her voice sweetly sings poetry and the song of life. However, the end is here - and she has seen no more than eighteen springs.

The officer turns to her with a satanic smirk on his face: "A pretty girl like you surely wouldn't want to die, and so I advise you to tell me everything you know about the Soviet action men: Who are they? Where are they? What is their plan of action against us? You yourself must understand that there is no point in resisting. The communists will never return, and you have no need to risk your life. If you cooperate we'll find work for you, maybe even in my office". She stood still, not a word. Slowly, the smile left his face, he lowered his eyes to the desk. All of a sudden, his fist exploded on the desk. Fire and brimstone flowed from his mouth. He came to her, grabbed her tress and began pulling and yanking to and fro. A shiver went down her spine, she almost broke down weeping, but she got hold of herself and her tears dried and did not run. She decided to confront this "filthy beast" in shape of a human being. He landed a heavy blow upon her face, and she fell like log, unconscious. - Talk, you cursed Jew! She did not move nor answer. She continued being silent. He brought the burning cigarette to her pale cheeks, to her forehead, took his anger out on her. There is nothing left to do. He ordered her to be taken to the cellar until she regains consciousness.

*

She awoke with dawn. The sun snuck in through the bars of the small high window. Her entire body ached. Her cracked swollen lips hurt, blood covered her face. A deafening noise and a throbbing head ache almost blurred everything around her.

With great difficulty she managed to rise on her feet and approached the barred window. The streets were empty. Military vehicles passed constantly: Tanks, armored cars, armed soldiers with steel helmets on motorcycles - everything flowed eastwards... Fancy cars with sharply dressed officers, looking fresh, smiling, as if they were off to a party or on holiday, passed by. It's hard to get accustomed to the idea. Did they really win? Maybe it's all a temporary glimmer?

Quickly pass squadrons and squadrons of airplanes. The earth, as if shaking under the noise of the engines. No one stops them, no one resists. The road is open for the progress of the Nazi filth. Cities and villages swallowed whole, or burned in a title wave of fire and explosions. The Red-Army is organizing to repel this awesome force but it is helpless. Outside the sun is shining, a hot summer day in the midst of July, but the cellar is infested with a bone shuddering, humid cold, and a pain of gnawing hunger is unbearable. Her head is spinning and her world darkens. She falls helplessly to the floor. Suddenly, cold water is poured noisily upon her. She awakes frightfully. Oh, murderers, what have you done? Why didn't you let me sink into the unknown darkness, not to wake again?

*

Again, she is in the same spacious room with the same face opposite her. She repeats her thought: No, nothing will help you, bastard. You'll never get your information from me... No no no! More beating, more threats. Day and night, the tortures of the merciless Nazi machine repeat themselves. Hana opens her mouth and words escape her like a volcano erupting, facing the astonished officer. - "We are millions and your devil's power will not destroy us all. Our brothers will avenge our blood. If you succeed today - not forever will you do so. Bitter will be your fate. With your blood you shall pay for your cruel deeds. I spit in your face! I'd rather die than live among animals like you. You shall be dammed forever"

 

A bullet from the Nazi's pistol extinguished her voice, but her words are not forgotten with her death. From then, until now, they reverberate in the heavens...

*

In Dokshitz there is a school named after Hana Bloch, and at every assembly Hana's name is read first and a choir of students answers in one voice: "She died a martyrs death for her people and her country..."

Zvi Markman, Kibbutz Hatzor

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