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[Page 69]

Victims in the War of Independence

 

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Mosze Bromberg z”l

Translated by Smadar Donitsa Schmidt

Born in Ostrów Mazowiecka in 5679, 1918, to Abraham and Chaja Rozen from Łomża.

He studied at Tarbut, a Hebrew school and then at Yavneh, from which he graduated with honours. He was a member of the Zionist movement Noar HaZioni. His father came from a distinguished family who owned a glassworks. His mother Chaja – who was a gentle soul, a devoted mother and an educated woman – educated him and her daughter in the spirit of love for Jewish tradition and Zion.

(The daughter, who was living in Israel, went to visit her parents in Poland but never made it back – she was killed in the Shoah hy”d).

During World War Two, Mosze Bromberg was in Lomza and then in Russia. He managed to escape the horror and reached Israel in 1946.

With the outbreak of the War of Independence in 1947, he volunteered to join the Haganah and defended Tel-Aviv. He was wounded and died in Shapira neighbourhood in an attack on 10 Shevat 5708 [17 January 1948].

[Page 70]

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Sgan Aluf [Lieutenant Colonel] Szmul Glinka z”l

By A. Ofek

Translated by Smadar Donitsa Schmidt

“With thanks and gratitude I have received the picture of your son, Sgan Aluf Szmul Glinka z”l. I knew him and his work well and cherished him as one of our boldest and more courageous soldiers. Your grief must be even greater than mine, since you have lost a son; but it was also a very painful loss for me as well. I will cherish Szmul's photograph as a precious souvenir of one of our best sons, whose deeds are glorifying our great and tragic generation”…

The Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, Dawid Ben-Gurion sent this short, emotional letter to Szmul Glinka's father. Those lines fully pronounce the grief and pain of the Israeli nation and army with the fall of one of its finest men, whose name was worshipped, even during his life, by thousands of soldiers all over the country.

Szmul's life was short and wondrous. A life which was a symbol of the Hebrew boy who knew the pain of the Diaspora as a child, became a proud sabra [a Jew born in Israel] in his independent life after immigrating to this country and whose life was dedicated to the security of his country.

Szmul Glinka was born in Ostrów Mazowiecka on 4 Tamuz 5687 [4 July 1927]. It seems that with his mother's breast-milk he also absorbed the Hebrew and Zionist spirit, as his parents' home was always filled with Jewish tradition. His father Chaim was one of the Zionist lobbyists in town, active in Keren Kayemet, Keren HaYesod, the Hebrew school “Tarbut”, etc. His mother Leja, was a school teacher and taught Jewish children. The Hebrew language was almost Szmul's language of childhood. He received his childhood education in the first Hebrew kindergarten that was founded in Ostrów Mazowiecka. He then entered the first Hebrew school, “Tarbut”, in which the students spoke mostly Hebrew. In his first year of schooling, his teachers were already praising his diligence, his good behavior and his devotion to the students' club.

Indeed, Szmul stood out in school social life and was always first in games, sports and snowball fights with the Polish children.

The “Tarbut” School was near the Polish-Christian area of town. The Polish kids used to tease the Jewish kids, laugh at them and even throw stones at them. During the winter there would be street fights with snowballs between the two parties. In those fights, Szmul was one of the most active and best fighters in those days. Even then it was obvious that he had all the qualities to make him the best commander: initiative and leadership. He was brave, bold and always fought back.

These anti-Semitic acts made Szmul yearn for a life of freedom and independence. This yearning found its outlet in the form of dedication to the salvation of the homeland. He was one of the most active members in school for Keren Kayemet. The blue pushke was one of the items he cherished the most and he used to shake it to see how much had been donated. He also used to collect all the receipts for those contributions. Although he did not always understand everything that was said in the meetings, he was never absent and always asked later on “what” did they speak about, and “why”.

At a very young age Szmul started reading the newspapers, especially newspapers from Israel that his parents received. With his usual enthusiasm, he collected all the pictures of Israel that he kept in a special album. In this way he became an expert on everything related to the country .

Finally the happy day arrived and Szmul immigrated to Israel. His father was the first to immigrate. Ten-year-old Szmul along with his mother joined him later. The family settled in Kfar Yehoshua. Szmul was the happiest boy of all - his dream had come true.

Szmul's adaptation to the new country was very easy. He soon became as much a sabra as the native born children. Here too he was a diligent student. After finishing elementary school, Szmul went to the Agricultural School in Mikve, Israel. In Mikve he first learned about the Haganah and he taught the students self-defense.

When he finished school, Szmul went back to Kfar Yehoshua and started working in agriculture. But the situation in the settlement was not good and Szmul joined the Palmach with three of his friends. Since then, he dedicated his life to defending the country.

For ten years Szmul was a Hebrew soldier. It is impossible to relate all of his heroic acts during those years of training courses and excursions all over the country. Szmul was not afraid of difficulties and dangers that were part of his acts - prison in Rafiah by the British Mandate.

During the War of Independence, Szmul was in the mountains of Jerusalem where he first used real ammunition. He participated in the conquest of army positions, he saw his friends killed and even he was wounded in a skirmish. But even though he was wounded, he continued leading his troops and refused to be treated. When the unit descended on foot from the hills of Jerusalem to Shavla on the “Burma Road” [a by-pass road built to help relieve the Arab siege of Jerusalem], Shmul marched wounded at the head of his men, and he did not let them carry him on a stretcher.

It was then that the “legend” of Szmul started to spread throughout the country. Many stories were told about the young, fearless commander who set an example of courage. When listening to those stories, Szmul used to say: “there are no heroes. There are only deeds that have to be done by every man in Israel”.

When the Israeli army was established after the War of Independence, Szmul decided not to abandon the fighters and joined the army. He always said, “defending the country is the most important thing”.

Szmul served in the army for eight years, in different positions and ranks. His last position was as head commander of the armored brigade. He served the army day and night, almost never taking a vacation. His devotion to the army prevented him from continuing his studies, although he was always eager to learn and educate himself.

Szmul Glinka was a model soldier. He did not just sit and command his troops, but also fought beside them - this was his way.

Szmul was twenty-nine years old when the Kadesh war broke out. He went to Sinai with his troops and never came back. He died on 27 Heshvan 5717 (1 November 1956).

So ends the wondrous life story of Szmul Glinka. A vibrant life that was full of deeds dedicated to the nation. His family, friends and the whole country will remember him and mourn this great loss.

[Page 73]

Szmul Glinka z”l

By Arija Margolis

Translated by Smadar Donitsa Schmidt

The life of Szmul Glinka is the story of many modest lives in this new country, of people who absorbed the best Jewish and Zionist roots from their parents.

Szmul was a student at the “Tarbut” School in Ostrów Mazowiecka, his hometown, where he was raised on the tradition of seeking the truth. Later in life, this tradition led him to fulfill the vision of freedom and salvation.

He was filled with love for other people and especially Jews. He worshipped the everlasting values of Jewish tradition and was worried about the security of the country. He fought endlessly to find liberty and was killed while doing so.

I knew him as a young, innocent child, raised by a Zionist family. His mother, Leja Bursztejn from Łomża, was a teacher in a Polish school. Yet Szmul was educated in a Hebrew school in our town Ostrów Mazowiecka.

His father Chaim Icchok Glinka, who was also from Lomza, was the head of the Zionist Histadrut organization in Ostrowa from the day he came to town in 1922, until the day he immigrated to Israel in January 1936.

Their house was always open to all Zionist activities. The Hebrew schools in the Diaspora educated their students in the spirit of Israel and Zionism. Not only did the schools teach Hebrew, but they also tried to elevate the student's self esteem by encouraging all of them and giving them hope.

Szmul was a quiet, modest boy and yet fearless - not afraid of taking risks .

He saw the conquest of Sinai as a must - a just act against those teasing and torturing us. With courage and a brave heart he fought for the country in Sinai as head of the armored brigades and he was only twenty-nine years old.

His eighteen years in Israel were full of hard work in agriculture, the Palmach and the army - all of which were undertaken with loyalty and dedication.

We, the citizens of his hometown mourn his death with his parents and stand still next to his grave. May his soul rest with all the great men of this nation who sacrificed themselves for the sake of future generations.

[Page 74]

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Israel Grynfeld z”l

Translated by Smadar Donitsa Schmidt

The son of Jona and Henia Markusfeld, he was born in Ostrów Mazowiecka and raised in Tel-Aviv. When he finished high school, he studied Physics at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He was very talented in his profession and with his school colleague Yoram Terbet (who was also a victim of the war) wrote a book on Physics entitled “Analytic Mechanics” following the lectures of Prof. Y. Rokach. The book was published after their deaths by Y.L. Magnes Publishing Company near the university. Israel Grynfeld was a youth guide and a member of Palmach since 1944. During the War of Independence he was a First Lieutenant and participated in the battles in the mountains of Jerusalem. He was killed in Sha'ar Hagay while defending a carload on its way to Jerusalem on 19 Adar II 5708 [29 February 1948]. He was buried in Kiryat Anavim.

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Uri Zwikielski z”l

Translated by Smadar Donitsa Schmidt

Uri, the son of Josef (born in Ostrów Mazowiecka) and Bejla Zwikielski, was born in Jerusalem in August 1930. From childhood, he was responsible and mature. When he was fifteen years old, his family moved to Tiv'on, where Uri continued his technical studies.

When war broke out, he immediately joined the army even though he was only seventeen years old. Uri was an example to the soldiers with his fearless spirit, energy and warmth. Uri participated in the battle at Mishmar Ha'Emek and served as a Patrolman and Signalman.

He excelled with his courage as if he was a veteran warrior. In one of the battles against the Arab village El Zabuah near Mount Tavor, he was killed. After six days his body was rescued along with the bodies of his friends. He was buried in the same grave with his comrades on the land of Beit Keshet. Uri died on 27 Nisan 5708 [6 May 1948].

[Page 75]

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Jakub Lustig z”l

Translated by Smadar Donitsa Schmidt

Jakub Lustig was born in Ostrowa on 20 September 1916. He was one of the victims of the murder in Sdom. He was killed on the afternoon of October 4th, 1956 on the road leading to Sdom. He was brought to rest that week in the cemetery in Kiryat Shaul and was mourned by the mayor of Beersheva, B. Tobiyahu; Ben Zvi, the mayor of Givataim and V. Bar-Razon, the Secretary General of Solel-Boneh.

He was 19 years old when he immigrated in 1935 from Ostrów Mazowiecka, Poland. He served in the Jewish Brigade, in the Haganah and in the army. In the last six years before he died at age 40, he worked as a driver at Solel-Boneh. His wife and son survived him.

[Page 76]

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Szmul Fejgin z”l

By his brother Izrael Fejgin

Translated by Smadar Donitsa-Schmidt

Szmul was born in Warszawa in 1914. With the outbreak of World War One, the family moved to the town of Jenów, near Pinsk. We lived there until 1924 when we moved to Ostrowa.

In Jenów, Szmul studied at the “Tarbut” Hebrew School.

In Ostrowa, he continued his studies at “Tarbut”.

He immigrated to Israel as a “tourist” during the Maccabia.

He became a member of Ramat-Yohanan group (know then as the Northern group) and worked there in different jobs such as cultivating field crops and forestry.

In his last year, he was the editor of the group's newspaper and the coordinator of cultural events. He wrote numerous poems and articles that were highly appreciated, but remained scattered after his death and were never gathered or published.

He was a member of the Haganah and participated in different battles near Ramat Yohanan in 1936 to 1938. He was killed on the 3rd of Av [31 July] 1938.

[Page 77]

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Aron Cukierman (Company Commander) hy”d

By Arija Margolis

Translated by Smadar Donitsa Schmidt

Aron was born on the 4th of Kislev 5671, December 5, 1910, to Abraham Zalman and Mirl Cukierrman, a religious family in Ostrów Mazowiecka.

He received a nationalistic education and was active in different Zionist organizations. When he immigrated to Palestine in 1931, he joined the Betar troops in Hadera.

He worked as a farmer in Hadera's orchards. He always knew how to lift the spirits of his friends during the hard times they went through and played a major role in establishing the cultural life of the community. He was an example to all his trainees, as one would expect of a commander, and they nicknamed him “Aharonchik”.

Being a commander and guide was an inseparable part of his character and he demanded more of himself than he did of others.

In 1933 he moved to Tel-Biniamin near Ramat-Gan with a few other settlers. That same year he broke the rules of the British enemy by blowing the shofar at the Wailing Wall on Yom Kippur.

He was imprisoned for two weeks for this act of defiance. After his release, he devoted himself completely to underground work. In those days he worked in the orchards in the morning and organized the underground for Haganah at night. When the Etzel troops were divided, he joined Yair Shtern and although he later left Lechai, he was always suspected of being a member of that group.

In 1942, he was arrested after a reward of two hundred Liras was offered for his capture. He was held in prison in Mizra, Latrun and then exiled to Eritria, Sudan and Kenya. During those years, he used the time to gain more knowledge in many fields. His letters to his parents during those five years reveal his pure soul and deep concern for his aging parents and even more so for his country.

In June 1947 he was released and brought back to the country. His parents tried to convince him to leave “all those things” and become a “modest citizen”. They succeeded for a short time, but when the War of Independence broke out Aron was convinced he belonged in Tel-Aviv and not in Hadera. He moved to Tel-Aviv and took up a responsible position in Etzel.

In an attack on Jaffa, Aron was in charge of the supplies and outdid himself making sure that there were enough supplies and more than once risked his life in order to rush re-supplies to the front line. He was killed while on an intelligence patrol. On Passover, 30 April 1948 he was buried in Hadera in a military ceremony. All Hadera's citizens were there. His death was a great loss to his friends and especially to his parents. His father became ill soon after and unable to overcome this loss, died six months later.

[Page 78]

Aron Cukierman z”l

By Cwi Hadassi (Pokrzywa), Haifa

Translated by Ros & Meir Romem

The editors of this book requested that the journeys of various Ostrowers be described. Thus I too was asked to tell a story about reluctantly wandering far from home – a story involving my experience and that of Aron Cukierman z”l.

At the beginning of 1944, the information about the Holocaust in Europe had been confirmed, but the Mandate government closed its ears refusing to open the gates of the country to the survivors who had succeeded in escaping from the Nazi hell. So, Etzel declared war on the foreign government in the Land of Israel. The declared aim of Etzel was to open the gates of the country and to expel the British.

With the increase in activities by the Underground there was an increase in imprisonment and I soon found myself, together with many hundreds of “terrorists”, in a detention camp in Latrun.

A large army of tanks and artillery surrounded the camp at sunrise on the 19th of October 1944. We were still asleep, some in vests and slippers. And we were tied up and transferred to the airport, where we were met by thirteen military planes. Singing “Hatikvah” the two hundred fifty-one men were led to the planes, while they were covertly picking up bits of earth of the Homeland. Thus began the episode of exile, which lasted for four years and a half and which concluded only after the expulsion of the British from the Land of Israel.

Today it is hard to perceive the extent of the blow dealt to the group of exiles who had previously experienced trouble and torture. Being exiled had never occurred to them not even in their worst nightmares.

Today, when I think back on those years of wandering in the vastness of Etritrea, Sudan and Kenya, it seems to me that we overcame our troubles only because we believed we were continuing to do our part in the war. It was as if we were a company that was cut off, but had not surrendered.

Governors and rulers of the countries where we were transferred, as well as commanders of the army and police in whose hands we were placed, often marveled at the secret strength of this unusual camp. It continued with its song of our forefathers “On the Rivers of Babylon” to which our anthem “they will not break our spirit” was added.

Jewish bravery and the Jewish mind found a large scope of activity through an organization to create escapes. Working like ants, using knives and forks, they dug tunnels hundreds of meters long – and through these tunnels many escaped. They put dummies in their beds in order to make up for the missing and to cover up the escapes for a long time.

The second way the camp demonstrated its strength and cohesion was by protecting its rights as a camp of Jewish fighters. Not once were there hunger strikes and conflicts because our religious and public demands were not met. Every offense against the camp and our values was met with severe opposition. It was immediately made clear to the authorities that they would not succeed here with the methods they used to deal with other prisoners, who were near us and who became informers and degenerates.

I think there was no other prison or detention camp that was able to produce so many clever ruses, with such skimpy means, in order to reach freedom. There were groups that escaped in full army uniform, produced in the camp, even with wooden pistols that were used to over power military vehicles. There were escapees with passports prepared from start to finish in the camps and they crossed entire continents to their desired destinations using them, until the security authorities had to stand guard day and night awaiting escapes from the camp.

The third phenomenon the camp excelled in was education. There was not a single person who did not study; whether it was law, engineering, matriculation exams or other subjects, until our name was famous around the world as “Gilgil University” (the name of the detention camp in Kenya).

In July 1948 – a few months after the establishment of Israel, a ship entered the harbor in Tel Aviv, the same ship, that in the past, the authorities used to exile refugees. On its decks were hundreds of exiles, accompanied by a British warship. The warship was required by a ship of the Israeli navy to leave the territorial waters of Israel while we received a reception, complete with ovations, by the Israeli sailors. These Israeli sailors had just previously faced an attack by Egyptian planes on the harbor of Tel- Aviv.

On this day the exile episode came to an end - the story of those who practiced the meaning of their song – “they will not break us”.

[Page 80]

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The personality of Gedaliyahu Shafmi (Wąs) z”l

Translated by Ros Romem

Among the names of the young men who sacrificed themselves on the altar of the people during the years when the Jewish people struggled for its freedom, the name of Gedaliyahu z”l will not be forgotten.

He was born in Ostrów Mazowiecki on 15th Elul 5684 [27 August 1923]. His father was Reb Chaim and his mother Nechama whose maiden name was Lewitow.

In 1933, when he was ten, he made aliyah to Israel together with his mother (his father had been there for two years already) and he continued his studies until he was seventeen.

When he started work, in order to help his father, his supervisors and colleagues at work were sympathetic and appreciative.

He did not stop studying even during the years that he worked, reading a lot and making efforts to broaden his knowledge in fields that might be important in his work as a clerk.

A young man, with a great heart, who could not remain apathetic towards the War of Liberation that took place at that time in the Land of Israel and with modesty and obedience fulfilled his debt to the country by joining Haganah and participating in the coastal immigration at Tel-Aviv.

At the time of the big searches [by the British] in Tel-Aviv in the summer of 1946 he was arrested and brought with other suspects to the Takhmoni School, a place where the British police sorted the prisoners in order to send them to prison camps.

At the intervention of a police officer, a Jew who knew him personally, he was released. But one of the British policemen hit him with the butt of a gun on the head. Gedaliyahu was always devoted to his parents and did not want to upset them, so did not tell anyone at home about what had happened. But one day he was badly beaten, taken to hospital and never returned home.

He died on the 5th Heshvan 5706 [presumably this should be 5707] [30 October] 1946.

 

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