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[Page 377]

J. In Memory of those who
Fell in the Defense of Israel

Translated by Meir Bulman

Edited by Dr. Rafael Manory


Four members of the Będzin community fell during the 1936–39 bloody Arab revolt in Eretz Israel. What follows are essays that Mordechai Hampel published at the time in Zagłębier Zeitung..


Jecheskiel Muntzik

M. Hampel

On Sunday, Iyar 25, 5698 [26th May 1938], fatal fire rained again from all sides upon Upper CHanita. Jecheskiel Muntzik, who was standing guard between Upper and Lower Chanita, was severely wounded in his stomach. Under a barrage of gunfire, the wounded was transferred to the village yard where he was given first aid. However, because of the severe wound the doctor on location instructed on his immediate transfer to the hospital.

Outside, the battle continued, and our men bravely filled their respective roles. Under those conditions, Muntzik was transferred in pain to Hadassah Hospital in Haifa. He was immediately taken into surgery but passed away on the table.

He was in his 20s when he arrived in Eretz Israel, where he would live for only three years. In Będzin, he was a member of Tzeirei Mizrachi and HaShomer HaDati. In Eretz Israel, he joined the Histadrut labor union and started working as a manual laborer. We saw him standing on scaffolding, plastering houses in Tel Aviv, or at the woodshop with a saw in his hand. He grew tired of the loud city and relocated to a kibbutz, but he did not last there long and left. He wondered about his future in Eretz Israel and decided to settle in a village. He went to Kfar Yonah and joined the union of working settlers, Borochov. He was active in public life in Kfar Yonah and was beloved by all.

But he dreamed of a higher purpose in life. Nowhere did he find rest for his thrill-seeking soul. Where to now? The Upper Galilee charmed him. Yes. He would go to the Galilee, which needs him as a worker and a guard. Chanita was his goal. It was a settling point surrounded by mountains, wilderness and murderers who hate productive lives. If one of Jecheskiel's friends tried to prevent him from going to Chanita he felt insulted and hurt.

“My place is there, among the conquerors of the Galilee mountains. Chanita will be ours forever and we will never leave it. A Jewish community will thrive here like in the days of old. The Galilee waits for us to enliven it, but who knows whether I will see my desires come true…” was what he told me a short while before he enlisted in Notrim and Haganah.

He did not witness his dream of the future Jewish state's founding come true. Jecheskiel, you did not die in vain!


Dov (Beryl) Hayshrik

M. Hampel

He was born in Będzin, 1913, but at the age of 5 he emigrated with his family to Germany. When the Nazis came into power, he made aliyah and his parents returned to Będzin with other refugees who were deported from Nazi Germany.

He worked in Tel Aviv for a while. When the revolt erupted, he volunteered as a policeman on Mt. Carmel. His friends with whom he worked and guarded said that he was the silent type who enjoyed spending time alone but always had a friendly smile on his face.

More than once, he poured out his heart to his friends, “My acclimatization here on the soil of Eretz Israel is difficult. I am like a seedling who was uprooted and transplanted onto foreign soil. I was educated within the German culture, which I was proud of until the German beast began trampling over humans. My world was shaken, and I escaped my tormentors. Here, on Mt. Carmel, I again sense the power within me, and it strengthens me and heals my wounded soul. Every stone here is precious to me. These rocks and I have entered a covenant that will never be severed…”

On March 30, 1928, Beryl was declared a hero and the newspapers praised him. Arabs had attacked the workers the Carmel Forest, which he was tasked with guarding. A battle erupted between the murderers and our guards, who were led by Beryl. The attackers were defeated, leaving blood marks behind, and the workers were saved. He, of course, celebrated his victory, but did not boast as he just fulfilled the sacred duty of a Jewish guard.

Only 5 months passed before the ambush returned. This time, the end was horrifying; 10 Jewish guards, including Beryl, fell in battle.

Tragedy struck on Av 18, 5698 (15 Aug 1928). A truck full of people was attacked. The driver was injured, and the vehicle was stopped. The murderers had hoped for this, and they opened fire from all directions. The few guards returned fire, but the murderers outnumbered them and prevailed. Beryl killed an Arab, but he was mortally wounded.

Knowing the possible fate of a guard, he prepared a will prior to his recruitment. He wrote “1) I want to be buried on a hill within the Carmel Forest. 2) I ask that my parents be sent for and helped settle in Eretz Israel. 3)My few possessions will be given to my family. 4) I wish that my brother will come to Eretz Israel and fill my position as a guard. Long live our homeland!”

Have his wishes been fulfilled?


Moishel Sandishov

M. Hampel

Moshe, son of Meir Lemel Sandishov (passed away in Israel), fell at his post. When the revolt began, he joined the Notrim. Tragedy struck as he made his way to the police station in Herzliya. The vehicle that he was travelling in tipped over and he was instantly killed. He was brought to Hadassah in Tel Aviv and an honorary guard of police and Będzin members accompanied him.

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He was 31 when he died. He spent 5 years in Eretz Israel. While in Będzin, he joined the youth organizations Freiheit and Hechalutz.

He made aliyah in 1932 and quickly acclimated. He acquired Hebrew with excellent fluency. He worked as a carpenter. He was married and a was father of two. He sent for his parents and was infinitely happy.

He always displayed happiness and a fun spirit. Even when the Second Italo-Ethiopian War (1935) erupted and the skies of the yishuv were clouded as work decreased, he was in a good mood because he was certain that the crisis and unemployment would pass and the song of labor would sound again.

As the recent revolt arrived, he was stricken with terror at the sight of lives being uprooted by desert-dwellers as the smoke columns rose from Israel's burned fields. He thought, “my Land is at risk and I belong at the front!” and volunteered for guard duty.

As a typical man of Haganah, he hurried to every vulnerable and dangerous post, prepared to sacrifice his life for the honor of his nation and his homeland. He spent days and nights at outposts and trenched in Abu Kabir, Gan Yavne, and Kiryat Shaul. He thwarted the attacks of the murderers who lay in ambush for Jewish lives and property. More than once, fire blazed near him and many friends fell beside him, but luck smiled upon him and he left each battle safe and sound. But death awaited him on the road.

        His funeral became a demonstration. Many followed the procession. Traffic stopped where his procession passed. Many bouquets were carried by his colleagues from the police, his friends, and members of the Będzin community. The Jewish city honored its son, who fell at his post.

In the old cemetery in Tel Aviv, near the graves of many martyrs, a new grave was dug and will forever hold our Moishel. A dear friend departed, and I am at a loss of words of consolation for his grieving family. I am consoled only by knowing that his two young orphans will be raised in the spirit of their father and will be worthy of their father, who was sacrificed at the altar of God and Eretz Israel. All who knew him will remember him.


Yehuda Klajner

M. Hampel

The alumni of the youth groups of Będzin knew him well. How could one not know the humble and quiet Yehuda?

He made his first social steps a decade ago, when he joined the accomplished HaShachar movement of Będzin. He was very young when he was charmed by Zionism.

His simplicity, quiet nature and his self-distancing from all arrogance did not awaken a special interest in us at first. He loyally fulfilled every task given to him without pretension or demands. He slowly acquired our admiration and trust, and with time we recognized his gentle personality. He was one among many whose qualities were actualized in his life, work and death.

He encountered many difficulties and roadblocks at every turn after joining the Zionist movement and planning Aliyah; the difficulties were posed especially by his parents, but his love for the land he longed for prevailed and was at the center of thoughts; he would cross seas and lands and would make aliyah because his environment was too narrow for him.

He joined the youth organization Vitkinia, an arm of the Histadrut Party, and attended hakhshara. Two years later, he reached the land of his dreams. His group, Bamaale, was yet to be founded. In the meantime, he joined the Kiryat Anavim group and served as a guard. Yehuda, a guard? Yehuda, with a rifle on his back? Who could ever predict that?

From Kirayt Anavim he went on to Chulda, also not his group, to train in agriculture. He was beloved by everyone there and was devoted to his work.

He gathered around him his friends, the members of Vitkinia, who dreamed of founding an independent group in Pardes Channah. He was the group's life force, its initiator and planner but he never saw his efforts bear fruit.

One Thursday after Sukkot, the work in the field was finished and the workers hurried home. The workers' vehicle was attacked. The group members jumped out and sought cover and those who were armed opened fire. The battle lasted only seconds, but the results were grave. Three members were hit including Yehuda. The attacking Arabs saw their success and ran away, but were chased by the remaining Chulda guards who repaid them as they deserved.

Two bullets penetrated Yehuda's chest and he died instantly. His life was short: 24 years overall.

In the new cemetery in the rebuilt Chulda (it was abandoned after the events of 1929), three fresh mounds tell us: despite it all, we will not leave Chulda again and the day of redemption is close!

Should I mourn for Yehuda or be envious of his death for his land and his nation? Now he lies with Chulda above him and the Judean Mountains and beneath him.

We the members of the Będzin community in Israel offer our deepest condolences to his grieving parents and his widowed wife, our friend Rachel (née Perlmutter of Rivne).


Szmuel Dawid Vardi (Rozencwajg)

M. Hampel

In the early morning of Av 29, 5682 (22 Aug 1922), three young people worked on the road between Tel Aviv and Neve Sha'anan. Fire was opened on them from one of the orchards. A bullet struck Szmuel Dawid Vardi and he died instantly.

He was 25 years old. He made aliyah from Będzin two and a half years ago. He worked in Ruhama, Be'er Tuvia, and on the roads of Tiberias–Tzemakh and Afula–Nazareth. He began guard duty in Be'er Tuvia, where he was arrested after he chased away a few Arabs who came onto the fields. He was jailed for seven weeks and a few days ago he was exonerated in court. He joined a workers' union in Jaffa, and today, Av 29, He was set to begin work but death preceded him.

(Hapoel Hatzair No. 35-36, 5682, 1922)


Szlomo Rembiszewski

M. Hampel

He was a schoolmate of mine who dropped out to make aliyah in 1924 as a member of Hashomer and Hechalutz. He quickly acclimated to life and work and Israel, although he was not accustomed to working when he lived in his father's house, Reb Berisz, who was a wealthy town notable. He studied mechanics and worked as a tractor operator.

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He was saddened by his friends who came with him on aliyah but returned shortly afterwards to Poland without working like him to connect with the Homeland that he so loved. Despite the difficulties he encountered at the start of his journey, he did not complain.

He did not leave despite his mother begging him in her letters to return home like his other friends, but she failed to persuade him because his decision was firm. Her mother's heart predicted what might happen to her son. Indeed, an accident happened while he worked; his leg tripped and was stuck between the wheels of the tractor. His foot was amputated, and he was on the verge of death for a few days. He told his friends during his final hours, “it is better if I die, because I do not want to be crippled for life and be a burden on others.”

His wish was granted and on Av 3, 5686 (14 July 1926), he passed away. His friends mourned the pleasant, gentle and kind Shlomke, who was taken before his 22nd birthday, before he could enjoy his life.

He was buried in the old cemetery in Tel Aviv (on Trumpeldor Street). On my first visit to Eretz Israel in 1929, I visited his grave. At his parents' request I renovated his tombstone and decorated it with his framed picture. I placed flowers on the headstone on behalf of his many friends and his family members, of whom only his younger brother in America survived.

Although 30 years have passed, I can still see his smiling face. His eyes reflected innocence and kindness and I will never forget them.


Two Fallen Będzin Members in Degania Bet

J. Londner


Zvi Kutner

Bed-379.jpg - Zvi Kutner

I never imagined that fate would bring me to write his life story. I will try to extract from the trove of mutual memories some that would somewhat reflect his beloved figure.

Zvi was born in Chrzanow, a town in Western Galicia. WWI stole his father from him when he was 6. His widowed mother struggled to provide for her 3 children. In order to ease her burden, the grandfather decided to raise Zvi in his home in Będzin, and we lived under the same roof since. Grandfather treated him like his own child and did his best to fill his father's place.

Since childhood, he stood out as a resolute and somewhat stubborn child. He excelled in his school studies. He was studious and sharp-minded, and the teachers dubbed him “Galician Mind” for that reason.

Concern for his mother and sisters forced him to abandon his studies early and begin working. He worked as a clerk and stood out as a talented and devoted worker.

Those days were the days of an awakening within the pioneering movement. Our shared home was immersed in the Zionist spirit, and Zvi was deeply influenced by it. He joined the Gordonia youth group, which was taking its first steps then. He devoted his full youthful energy and warm heart to the chapter. His days were devoted to work, and the evenings were devoted to studying and the youth movement. Even then he was an excellent organizer and educator and was successfully connected with and guided his pupils.

When the time for action arrived, he was among the first to attend training, in which he immersed himself with youthful passion, playing central roles and seeing his efforts bearing fruit.

His turn came to make aliyah. Family issues presented difficulties, but he wisely overcame them and arrived in Eretz Israel. The life of the group and its many problems occupied his full attention. Every question concerning our shared life left an impression on him. There was a reason that he was liked by all and the members trusted him.

Shortly before WWII began, the movement sent him on a mission to Holland. The War began During his mission and Zvi was trapped in the enemy's claws. He was in Nazi captivity for 6 whole years. Contact with him was unstable. With every letter that arrived from him, after passing strict Nazi censorship, we felt his fear for our home.

The prison camp was not far from where his family lived, and the Holocaust which descended on his nation and his family unfolded before his very eyes. He was able to meet his mother and sisters in the camp. That meeting shook him because he was certain he would not see them again.

He returned to us after the War ended. We remember the joy and excitement in our home. It seemed that the years of captivity would distance him from our lives, and it was wonderous to see him reenter into the roles in the group as a member of various committees and a guide of a group of young olim.

The time arrived and our country was tested. The enemy plotted against the Jordan Valley and the Degania kibbutzim. Facing an enemy armed with the best weapons we stood tall with our scarce equipment. One day, a group of members including Zvi left as reinforcement for the Samakh police force. They left without hesitation and did not return. They died as heroes while desperately protecting the front lines of Samakh.

The loss was great. Thanks to them and in the spirit of their sacrifice and yours, my dear Zvi, we continue our lives and work.

He was the first from dozens of our family members whose death was as meaningful as his life.

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Jonatan Weisbord
(Member of Degania Bet, born Tishrei 20, 5672 (12 Oct. 1911), fell Shvat 11, 5708 (22 Jan. 1948)

J. Londner

Bed-380a.jpg - Jonatan Weisbord

On that bitter day, I stood there as if thunderstruck when news arrived that Jonathan fell. How could I come to terms with the fact that such a dear person with whom I had spent more than half my life was suddenly taken?

We were born in Będzin. As youths we played together, hopping through the streets, bathing in the river that passes through the town, sunbathing on the hot Tamuz days, unburdening from Torah study on days of vacation from the Mizrachi school, where we were first educated.

His father's home stands before my eyes. His father, Reb Fishel Weisbord, was a pious man of majestic appearance, with a well kempt semi-yellow beard, his kind eyes smiling and rife with friendliness and kindness. His mother, Perle, was a comely woman of short stature, who was immersed in motherly warmth. It was a good Jewish home with many sons and daughters, and I enjoyed the time I spent there. The parents were always preoccupied with their grocery store, but his father always found the time to engage in friendly conversation. He was a good Zionist and he demonstrated a deep understanding of matters concerning the youth. He happily sent his children to Gordonia and Vitkinia.

Jonathan worked at a large hardware store. His time after work was devoted to Gordonia, the movement in which he was raised and educated. We spent long evenings at the Gordonia club where he was always lively, and sang powerfully with the crowd. He devoted much energy to his organization. Many Gordonia members that are scattered around the country still remember Jonathan.

One step further and we were together in a hakhshara (preparation) group in Zagnańsk. It was a period of glory in our lives. That is where the core group of Gordonia members that is today in Degania Bet was founded. There were many failures and tribulations in the training period, but we withstood all of them and our dream came true. Jonathan greatly contributed to the efforts. Surprisingly, the gentle Jonathan emerged as a good and diligent laborer who pleased his supervisors.

The time came then for aliyah. Jonathan was among the first. We arrived as tourists-athletes with the first Maccabiah Games. The traveling conditions were terrible, but we accepted everything lovingly. Our first steps in Israel were with the Chulda collective. Acclimation was difficult and we, the first five of our soon-to-be formed collective, did not find that we fit in Chulda. A year passed, and the first of our other members arrived. We settled in the village (“moshava”) that neighbored Kvutzat Shiller.

We, the first five arrivals, shared our limited “experience” with the new arrivals. There was much work in the moshava, but the pains of acclimation were also numerous. During that time, Jonathan stood out as a work guide, and always found kind words and gave correct advice, and he brought peace and mediated between members.

Later, we reached the Jordan Valley, Degania Bet. Like a healthy and well-nourished seedling, Jonathan immediately found his place in all areas of life, was responsible and performed all of his tasks well.

Was there anything in which he wasn't successful? He was a good coachman, an excellent tractor operator, an expert land leveler, a devoted fodder worker, and his final role was driving.

Because of our shared work as drivers, I was very close to him in his final days. I recall that I traveled with him to Tel Aviv a few days after the UN's festive deceleration. We often spoke about that meaningful event, and he expressed his strong desire to see the vision of the State of Israel come true, but he was not fortunate enough.

Heavy clouds gathered on the horizon. The Arabs began firing their first arrows against transportation workers, but the Jewish drivers, including Jonathan, were not deterred. He risked his life to transport resources to the besieged cities.

The last time I saw you, my dear Jonathan, was on the road that crosses the Jezreel Valley. We waved at one another and I did not think that it would be the last time I would see you.

When I travel to Jerusalem, there, on the Qastel hilltop, I can hear the echoes of your final sigh.


Reuven Elbaum

Bed-380b.jpg - Jonatan Weisbord

Reuven was born in Będzin on Elul 22, 5693 (2 Sept.1923). He made aliyah with his parents as a child.

He was educated in the Orthodox school Takhkemoni and was one of its best students. He was often praised by his teachers, and he graduated with honors.

In 5708 (1938), at the age of 15, he joined Gadna.[Editor's Note: This is the abbreviation for “Gdudei Noar”, “Youth Batallions”, a movement in which students were prepared for military service] He interrupted his secondary education due to his participation in Gadna, but when matters calmed down he returned to studying. He completed his studies by himself, and he completed his Bagrut [Matriculation] certificate examinations with distinction.

He was called to the flag once more at the age of 18, this time for regular service in the Israel Defense Force (IDF). The spirit of volunteerism that directed him to the ranks of the Gadna at age 15 did not subside when he was called for mandatory service. He was placed in a “special forces” unit. In this unit again, he excelled in service and a short time later,

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he was sent to a squad commanders' course. When he returned to his unit, he was given a squad to command and was promoted to the rank of sergeant.

On Av 15, 5713, (27 July 1953) he was sent with his soldiers to patrol territory in the Aravah region beyond the southern border. During the mission they encountered an ambush of the Arab Legion. Reuven covered his soldiers during the battle so they could return unharmed. He stood alone against an enemy force much larger than him for four hours until he fell.


Yechezkel Szlomo Auerbach

Bed-381a.jpg - Yechezkel Szlomo Auerbach

Son of Tuvia and Esther, born in Będzin on Adar 1, 5675 (15 Feb 1915). He was educated in a Hassidic-Zionist household. Stating at age 15, he was active in Tzeirei Mizrcahi [Mizrachi Youth]. After completing his studies in 1935, he joined the Ovadia hakhshara group in Slawkow. In 1939, three days before the start of WWII, the Mossad Lealiyah Bet dispatched him to Warsaw where he was to arrange documents and other necessities for a group of young olim from Zag³ębie.

The war caused his separation from his parents' home, as he wandered to the Russian occupied territories and reached Lviv. He struggled for his existence and passed many borders until he reached the Zionist capital of those days, Vilnius. Meanwhile, the sword of eradication caught up with his family. He made aliyah in April 1940. He flew through Vilnius, Kaunas, Stockholm and Marseille and from there he sailed to Eretz Israel on a French military ship. He joined the Avraham work collective, which at the time was stationed in a work camp in Kfar Pines near Karkur. He was among the first people to settle Kfar Etzion. He completed a Notrim [civilian (non-uniformed) Police] course and in July 1943 he began serving as a Noter in Kfar Etzion. In 1943, he worked for the Haganah newspapers B'terem and Eshanv. He later returned to Kfar Etzion. During the War of Independence, he served as a defender of Kfar Etzion. On the night of May 12, when the heavy battle in Kfar Etzion began, he assisted in transferring the injured from the hospital in Kfar Etzion to Masu'ot Itzhak.

He fell on Iyar 4, 5708 (13 May 1948) when enemy tanks stormed the village. Along with the other fallen of Gush Etzion, he was transferred to burial in Mount Herzl in Jerusalem on 17 Nov 1949.


Yeshayahu Ehrlich

Son of Eliezer and Esther. Born 10.10.1917. He was educated in the spirit of Torah and Hassidism and studied in the cheder and in a Polish school. In his youth he began working as a house painter to help provide for his family. He joined the Będzin chapter of “HaShomer HaDati” and was among its active instructors.

Years later, he joined the “Ovadia” Hakhshara group in Slawkow, where he played an important role in the social and activist life of the group. He was enrolled in the Polish military and served in it. He was again enlisted when the German-Polish war began, was injured, and managed to escape and return to Będzin.

Even during the war, he was a uniting force. He was among the organizers of the underground youth movement, which was tasked with teaching Torah and knowledge of Eretz Israel to the youth. He was deported to Auschwitz with the last Jews of Będzin. He continued his Zionist activities there too. He produced pamphlets in which he encouraged Jews to believe in the redemption and instilled in them the basics of Zionism. He circulated in various camps letters with encouraging content and instilled faith among the youth. He contacted Russian POWs and participated in plans to bomb the crematoria.

The American military liberated the camp when he was close to complete depletion of energy. After he healed, he worked for a while with an American intelligence agency and helped uncover Nazi war crimes. Despite his good financial state and good odds of receiving an entry permit to the U.S. he gave up his job because he longed for Eretz Israel. He and his friends founded one of the first religious kibbutzim in Germany, in the town of Eschbach. In December 1945, he left the American zone and travelled to Bergen-Belsen and then to the German-Belgian border to reach a Zionist group preparing for Ha'pala [illegal aliya]. He was arrested and jailed in Hamburg, but he endured and did not disclose the secret escape. He sailed to Eretz Israel on the ship Kaf Gimel, was captured, and exiled to Cyprus. At the start of 1947 he arrived in Eretz Israel and joined Kfar Etzion.

When the war began, he devoted himself to security affairs. He was a member of the guard corps of the kibbutz and was appointed commander of a post in Kfar Etzion. He fell in the last battle for Kfar Etzion on 13 May, 1948.

His body was laid to eternal rest in the mass grave on Mount Herzl on 17.11.1949.


Yaakov Nehemiah Gottleib

Bed-381b.jpg - Yaakov Nehemiah Gottleib

Son of Yisachar and Frida. Born in Będzin on 5 May, 1928. He was a member of a Hassidic household and a descendent of the Rabbi of Lelov. At age 7, he made Aliya with his parents. He attended studies at the Takhkemoni school in Tel Aviv. His parents were working people and despite their poor state, they did their best to provide an education for their eldest son. They hoped he would support them in their old age. As a member of Bnei Akiva and the sports union Elitzur, he joined Haganah

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in 1945 and was placed in the religious company of the armored division (HiSh) in Tel Aviv, but he wished to be placed in the religious unit of Palmach that was being founded then.

He was sent with his unit to aid the besieged Gush Etzion. “We know where we are going but we also know the significance of Gush Etzion to us,” Yaakov told a teacher that he saw before departing on the dangerous journey.

He expressed a great concern and devotion to his family, which he tried to encourage despite the difficulties he encountered. The unit flew by airplane to the besieged Gush, where Yaakov fought until he fell alongside others on May 13, 1948. He was buried on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem on 11 July 49.


Aviv Gutman

Bed-382b.jpg - Aviv Gutman

The only son of Yehuda and Sarah Gutman, Aviv was born in Haifa in October 1926. He completed elementary school and went to work.

He was a driver employed by a transportation company in Tel Aviv. He served as a driver in the British military during WWII. He was a Haganah member. When the War of Independence began, he joined Palmach.

He drove an armored vehicle. He was among those who accompanied the convoys to Jerusalem. He participated in many and varied missions but did not say much about them at home. His friends testified to his heroic efforts.

He loved life, and he knew how to expel sadness. He sang, hummed and joked. He was a happy man who knew all the new tunes and influenced the happiness of his surroundings. He excelled as a highly energetic person. He was a good friend who was always ready to help.

He left with a convoy to Gush Etzion. On the way back his convoy was attacked in Nebi Daniel. He then returned to Kfar Etzion.

In his final letter to his parents, he told of a trauma after six of his roommates were killed in his vehicle and he survived. In the same letter he blessed his sisters “to be strong and courageous,” which served as a sort of last will for his family.

He fell alongside the defenders of Kfar Etzion when Gush Etzion was lost on May 13, 1948. He was laid to rest in Mount Herzl in Jerusalem on 17.11.1949.


Aharon Weitzman

Bed-382a.jpg - Aharon Weitzman

Son of Moshe and Pesia. Born 15 January 1922, in Będzin. In 1924, when he was 2, his parents made aliyah with him. He studied at the Tahkemoni school in Tel Aviv. After graduating with honors, he joined HaNoar HaOved [“The Working Youth”] and began working in a hardware store for building materials. During WWII, at age 17, following the bombardment of Tel Aviv he joined the British military. He was taken prisoner in Crete. He was transferred from Crete to Germany, where he spent five years in captivity. He worked on a farm, including in a poultry enclosure and cowshed. He was kind and diligent and his fellow prisoners testify to his devotion and loyalty to the nation and his country. After returning from captivity he worked at Vulcan, a factory in Haifa. He then worked in Tira, at a kiosk he had opened with a friend. He was a devoted member of Haganah. He fell on 15.4.1948 in Haifa as he hurried to rescue a friend who was struck by a sniper's bullets. He was laid to rest in Haifa.


Aharon Hendelsman

Bed-382c.jpg - Aharon Hendelsman

Son of Yaakov and Bluma. Born in Będzin on 1 August, 1925, the same year his parents made aliyah. He attended the Bilu school in Tel Aviv and graduated with honors. He continued his education at the Max Pine trade school. He was an active member of HaNoar HaOved and of Haganah.

In WWII he interrupted his studied in the final schoolyear and enlisted in the Jewish Brigade. He was stationed first in Egypt and later in Europe.

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In Europe, he participated in large-scale efforts of rescuing refugees and bringing them to Eretz Israel. At the end of 1946, he was discharged from the military, returned home and worked at the Malachim cooperative in Tel Aviv. With the money he earned from his work he enjoyed purchasing books.

He enlisted again when the War of Independence began. As he was approved as a member of his employing cooperative, its members implored him to postpone his enlistment. He rejected their pleas because of the vital need for his work in the war industry. He was sent as a squad commander to Jerusalem and was among the protectors of Talpiot and Mekor Chaim.

He used his experience that he gained as a Noter and member of the Jewish Brigade and quickly adjusted to the severe siege conditions. He encouraged his friends. He was not upset and did not complain. He volunteered for the hardest tasks and quickly became the platoon's life force. He served as the platoon's armorer, camp policeman, secretary, and assistant platoon quartermaster. Everyone sensed his good spirits and readiness to help, like filling in on guard duty for a tired friend. In battle he was the lead stormer and was the first in an armored vehicle to storm the Allenby camp on May 15, 1948, where he was mortally wounded.

His commander, who told about Aharon's final mission said, “He was a wonderful soldier in the full sense of the word. I have lost many people, but Aharon is the heaviest loss of all. All the people in Jerusalem who knew him bitterly mourned him. When he fell, there was a day of general mourning in Talpiot.”


Israel Aron Zlotnik

Son of Avraham. Born in Będzin in 1923 into a hardworking Orthodox family. He graduated from primary school and began working at a young age, and was a young boy as WWII began. He was moved from camp to camp, including the Auschwitz death camp. He stood on the verge of death but survived more than once. He believed that he would survive so he can make aliyah. He was liberated from Bergen-Belsen and from there he relocated to Munich. He worked for UNRA and joined the Dror kibbutz. His turn for aliyah arrived on Passover of 1948. He was detained in Cyprus and was among those who paved a path out of the deportation camp. Along with a few of his friends, he enlisted on the day he arrived in Eretz Israel and was sent to Manara.

He and his friends were in the kibbutz only for a few days. They were pioneers and defenders who had just begun breathing the air of Eretz Israel and on 27/8/1948 they fell together, eight new olim [Hebrew term for new immigrants]. He was transferred from the mass grave in Manara to the military cemetery in Haifa on 2 August 1950.


Dawid Tishler

Son of Yaakov and Keila. Born in Będzin in 1924, he made aliya with his parents in 1925. Attended primary school in Ramat Gan and continued secondary education until seventh grade [equivalent to year 11]. Thanks to his great writing and his attentive reading and writing habits, his teachers encouraged him to devote himself to literature. He was an active member of HaNoar HaOved. When he was forced to withdraw from school due to a lack of resources, he began working as a youth counselor in Beit HaShita. He was an excellent counselor and it was decided he would be sent to study education. He later joined Palmach in Beit HaShita and participated in the resistance to the British. After completing his service, he returned home to help his aging parents, and he worked in a factory in Ramat Gan. A year later, he lost his parents. He then decided to accept his aunt's offer and join the Ramat Rachel kibbutz. Before he could adapt to the work, the war began and demanded the skills he acquired in Palmach. He filled his role as a defender. He encouraged his friends to believe and hope for an independent Israel.

After a hard day of bombardments, he wrote to his sister, “no matter, this is sufferable. All will be well. I don't know when, but all will be well,” but he was not fortunate enough. During the retreat from Ramat Rachel on 22.5.1948 he and other retreating fighters attempted to board the kibbutz's water tanker when an enemy shell crushed them. He was buried in Sheikh Badr, and on 8.9.1950 he was transferred for burial in Ramat Rachel.


Yehuda Lasker

Bed-383.jpg - Yehuda Lasker

Son of Michael and Chana. Born on the eve of Shavuot, 5682 (June 1922) in Będzin. A descendent of a family of Hassidim and industrialists.

In his youth, his father was a Hassid, but he was captivated by Haskalah and Zionism and Yehuda, his parents' only son, was raised with those values. He attended the Mizrachi school and later the Firstenberg Gymnasium. He was set to receive his matriculation diploma [baccalaureat] in 1939. He was a member of HaNoar HaZioni [Zionst Youth movement]

He worked at a factory in the Będzin ghetto and later was transferred to a “foreign subjects camp” in Germany. After WWII ended, he made aliyah on the illegal immigration ship Tel Hai on 28.3.1946. In Eretz Israel he worked in construction and became a carpenter. He continued his education after work hours. He studied architecture. He was a member of Haganah, and during the Independence War participated in the defense of Jerusalem, first in the medical corps and later in the Artillery Corps. He was not sent to battle being an only child, but when the call arrived to aid a Jewish settlement, he did not hessite and travelled with a delivery of ammunition. On the way to Rosh HaAyin, he was fatally wounded on 10 Tamuz 5708, (17.7. 48). He died on the same day and was buried in the Nachlat Itzhak military cemetery.


[Page 384]

Josef Lancman
[Editor's note: in English spelling: Lantzmann]

Bed-384a.jpg - Josef Lancman

Son of Meir and Hela (nee Aronov from Będzin). He was born om 18.12.29 in Sosnowiec. His family arrived in Eretz Israel in 1940, when he was 10 years old. Before long, Josef adjusted well to life in Eretz Israel. He attended post-secondary education, was an avid athlete and was active in Hapoel [The sports club of the workers' union] and in Haganah. He was among the first to defend Tel Aviv-Jaffa after the UN resolution in 1947. He received squad commander training and was sent on missions on the southern front. During the final weeks of his life, he was in Negba. He participated in the defense of the site during the harsh days of battle. He recorded events in his daily journal without complaining of difficulties and dangers. He fell while defending Negba on 6 Tamuz 5708 [13 July 1948] and was buried that same day.


Joel Zew Lustiger

Son of Gila and Yitzchak Menachem. Born in Będzin in 1927. The Judenrat demanded that he report for a labor youth camp. He hid, and his mother was jailed because of his failure to report. Fearing that she would be punished and deported, he reported and was sent to Dulag, a labor sorting camp.

While he was in Dulag, Rabbi Grossman and Judenrat chairman Molczadski visited the site to calm those sentenced to labor camps and promise them that they would not be harmed. Young Lustiger asked the rabbi to pray for him to see his parents again. Molczadski was deeply moved and wanted to give the boy a fifty-mark bill, but he refused to accept it and said, “Get away from me! You disgust me!”

He was sent to various labor camps including Seckenheim, Gross-Rosen, Buchenwald, and Blechhammer. In the last camp, he met his father, who was in a grave condition and the son did everything to ease his suffering. Thanks to him, his father held on, overcame his suffering and is now in Israel.

He was beloved by all and was always ready to help others.

The Allied forces liberated him from the Zweibruggen labor camp. After the war, he stayed in Germany, where he was successful in business. In 1946, he travelled to Eretz Israel during aliyah Bet on the Tel Hai ship. He worked in construction and as a night guard.

On Adar 17, 5707 [15 March, 1947], during the siege on Tel Aviv, on his way to the post office to send a letter to his father, he was killed by a British bullet.

He was buried in the martyrs' section in the Nahalat Itzhak cemetery.


Szlomo (Shlomek) Metz

The only son of Zvi Hirsh and Miriam. Born in Będzin on 13/10/1922. While he attended secondary education, he was active in HaNoar HaZioni [Zionist Youth] organization. The Nazi invasion of Poland ended his studies and his Zionist activism. He was imprisoned in the camps Auschwitz, Dachau, Flensburg, Lauenburg, and Mühldorfbut but he maintained his human and Jewish spirit. Even in the camps, he was able to instill bravery and security in his brothers who shared his fate.

After liberation he worked to unite survivors in an organized community in Kreinburg, Bavaria. He was elected community president despite his young age. He did much to improve the state of the displaced people. Once the community leadership was stabilized, he resigned as president. He continued his education, completed secondary education and later studied chemistry and medicine in Regensburg. He progressed in his studies but when he heard that Eretz Israel was under enemy attack, he left his studies and his father, contacted envoys of Haganah, and after brief training in Germany and in France he arrived in Eretz Israel in June 1948. He completed officer training and was placed in a Palmach battalion, participated in all its battles. He fell in the Iraq al-Manshiyya battle on 16/10/1948. He was laid to eternal rest in Nahalat Itzhak on 29/9/1949.


Cwi Kuchman

Bed-384b.jpg - Cwi Kuchman

Son of Eliezer and Rachel. Born in Będzin on 23/3/1928. He was afflicted by the horrors of Nazi occupation. He was led to a death camp in a closed train, jumped from it and escaped. He was captured and escaped again. He wandered from one death camp to another, the last one being Buchenwald. He was tortured severely there too but with a tremendous desire for life he overcame and survived.

After liberation, he relocated to Italy. In 1945, he made aliyah illegally on the ship Mataroa. He relocated from the Atlit detainee camp to the Ben Shemen Youth Village. He was thin and exhausted but within a few months he developed and became a healthy and strong young man. He studied and worked in the moshav and was an expert in dairy farming. He joined the HaNoar HaOved [The Working Youth] division that was enlisted for training in Degania Alef (“Hachoshlim” [The Forgers] group) and was praised for his quality work in the farm. He left work and joined Haganah because of the situation in Eretz Israel. At the beginning of the Independence War, he participated in the Palmach missions and its battles in the upper eastern Galilee. He participated in the defense of Ein Zeitim and Jewish Safed. While standing guard at the roadblock in front of the town's Arab section, a sniper's bullet struck his stomach. He passed away on 24/3/1948 after six days of suffering. He was buried in the Safed war grave.


[Page 385]

Szmuel Nudelman

Son of Eliyahu and Leah. Born in Będzin in 1929. Was a primary school student until the start of WWII. He lived in the town with his family under the boot of the cruel occupier. In 1943, his family perished with the area's Jews. He was sent to a concentration camp in Germany with other local youth. They were then transported to Buchenwald. In the concentration camp he was a member of the underground and during his work as a paramedic he smuggled weapons for defense purposes. After WWII, he made aliyah on a Haa'pala [illegal immigration] ship. He was a student in Aliyat HaNoar in Jerusalem and in Ben Shemen youth village, where he trained as a metalsmith. After graduation, he relocated to Tel Aviv and worked as a metalsmith. He enlisted and was placed in a Palmach brigade stationed in Ramat Naftali in the Upper Galilee.

He devoted his full energy to training so he could perform the role he would be tasked with within a short while. After completing mortars training, he worked as a convoy defender. He fell on February 6, 1948 while escorting a convoy to Manara. He was buried in Manara.


Arie Fridler

Bed-385a.jpg - Arie Fridler

Son of Saul and Chaya, born in Będzin, 1923. He studied at the local primary school. He spent the years of the war in concentration camps. He made Ha'pala from Germany in 1945. He then joined the Zionist youth kibbutz Tel Yitzhak. He worked in construction. He had an excellent and pleasant voice and he was cheerful. He was a member of Haganah since the day of his aliyah. He was among the first to enlist when the Independence War began. Four days before he was to be called to regular service, he and a group of friends went out to repel an enemy attack on the eastern side of the kibbutz, and fell between Tira and Tel Mond on 13/5/1948. He was laid to rest in the Tel Yitzhak cemetery won 16/5/1948.


Alter Rechnic

Just yesterday he was still among us. Only a short while ago, he came up with the idea of gathering dozens of Gordonia members from Poland in Kibbutz Ma'ale HaHamisha. Now he is missing and everyone feels his absence.

Alter wrote an important chapter in the history of the renewed Gordonia movement in post-WWII Poland. A few months after the war ended, he journeyed on a difficult road on a mission for the Yishuv and the kibbutz.

On a cloudy fall day, he reached the survivors of our youth movement in Poland. He instilled in us the desire to revitalize the movement. He devotedly conducted with us the efforts of gathering all forces needed to reestablish the group.

He spent many nights on the dangerous roads of Poland. He visited towns and rural villages. Within a short time, we gathered hundreds and thousands of youths and founded dozens of hakhshara [training for settlement activity] camps. His dreams and desires to see the movement grow and develop came true. Wherever he went, he organized and worked to bring the message of Eretz Israel, the group and the pioneering effort that he had participated in building.

His main desire was to bring the group to Eretz Israel. He left Poland and began working on organizing Haa'pala efforts in a European seaport. There he met with hundreds of our members who chose Haa'pala and brought them onto the boats. His deep satisfaction was felt in the letters he sent us during that time.

I met him in France a year later. He was tired and sick and desired to return home, to Eretz Israel.

He returned to work shortly after returning to Eretz Israel and a few days of relaxation. He wanted to catch up on the work for the group that he missed while on his mission.

Bloody events erupted when the State of Israel began. He spent most of his time on the road without regard to the dangers. He was killed on his way to Jerusalem on a mission from the group and did not see his dreams come into full fruition.

Ma'ale HaHamisha will be his eternal monument! 1

Zvi S.


Baruch Pszenica (Chita)

Bed-385b.jpg - Baruch Pszenica (Chita)

Born in Będzin, 1923. At the age of 13, he joined Gordonia where he was raised and educated and in later years became one of its activists.

When WWII began, he travelled to Vilnius, and when he reached the Soviet-occupied zone he was captured and jailed. After his release, he enlisted in the Polish military. After returning to Poland in 1945, he worked in organizing groups for aliyah.

[Page 386]

He then relocated to Germany, where hecontinued enlisting people for aliyah. He focused primarily on members of Gordonia, who were trained in Germany and were organized in the aliyah group “Nili”. In 1946, he attempted to sail to Eretz Israel on the ship Mordei HaGetaot. The ship was captured by the British and all its passengers were deported to the camps in Cyprus. The detainees despaired but Baruch knew how to liven them up and instill a hope for the future.

In 1949, the camp was disbanded, and Baruch made aliyah with his wife and his daughter who was born there. They settled in the kibbutz Mishmar HaSharon.

While serving in the IDF, he was tasked with responsible roles that were suitable for an experienced soldier. He was killed in action in Beit Guvrin on Av 15, 5711 [17 Aug 1951].

May his soul be bound in the bond of everlasting life!


Josef Majer Parnes

Bed-386.jpg - Josef Meir Parnes

Son of Szmuel Dawid and Chava. A native of Będzin, he was born on 20/5/1920.

He was courteous and kind, and he liked helping others. Even in the Będzin ghetto, when everyone was immersed in their own troubles, he encouraged and strengthened the spirits of others. He was deported to Germany as a forced laborer, and those who were with him in the camps say that despite the troubles, he remained calm and did not lose hope for the future, which breathed life into him and allowed him to survive.

In the beginning of 1948, shortly before the founding of the State of Israel, he made aliyah and immediately enlisted in the IDF. He was beloved by his commanders and friends in the army too. He participated in many battles. During the siege on Jerusalem, he served in the engineering corps' bomb squad and was among those who placed landmines in the demilitarized zone, under fire from the Arab Legion. He was among those who conquered the Negev.

He fell in action near Julis in the Negev a few days before his scheduled release date. He was laid to rest in the military section of the Rehovot cemetery.

Your memory, my dear brother, will remain etched in my heart and I will never forget you.

Your brother


Szmuel Bialka (Weiss)

Son of Efraim. Born in 1917, Będzin. He made aliyah illegally in 1938. In Eretz Israel he joined Lehi [Military arm of the Stern group] and participated in attacks against the British.

He was known as “Aharon” in the underground. When he was captured by the authorities, he was sent to detention camps in Mizra and Latrun, from where he escaped with a group of 20 who dug a tunnel from the camp to beyond the barbed wire fence. After his escape, he devoted himself to building Lehi's bunkers and he lived in one of those bunkers.

He sat by lantern light somewhere in Rehovot or Bnei Brak and published Lehi's mouthpieces HaHazit and HaMaas. His health declined due to a lack of oxygen, but Szmuel continued with his underground work.

When Lehi joined the IDF, Szmuel enlisted in an armored raiding battalion and was a squad commander. He fell during one of the attacks on Iraq Suwaydan on November 9, 1948. He was buried the next day in Kfar Warburg.


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