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[Page 681]

Briskers Who Fell in
the War of Independence

Translated by Dr. Samuel Chani and Jenni Buch

Let us remember our children that originated in Brest and gave their lives in the great struggle for liberation and the establishment of the State of Israel.

Joseph Guss. Son of Rachel and Shmaryahu Guss

Born in Brest in 1929, fell at Gush Etzion 21st Nissan 1948. He immigrated with his parents to Israel in 1934. After finishing primary school, he studied at evening high school classes, and worked at a clerical job during the day to help his parents.

Joseph was active in the Haganah, after the United Nation's partitioning of the country; he was amongst the first to volunteer to accompany the convoys trying to break through the blockade and reach Jerusalem. He was transferred by air to the besieged Gush Etzion when the situation deteriorated there. When his parents asked where he was going he said proudly “who but the young can protect our lives? Or should we go like sheep to the slaughter like our beloved ones did in Brest?”

He was proud of his voluntary contribution to the struggle for the establishment of the new nation. Despite the great difficulties that he knew existed in Gush Etzion, he reassured his parents that they should not worry and that the nation would be established in spite of their Arab enemies.

On the 5th May 1948, the Arab Legion under the guidance of the British Army attacked Gush Etzion with tanks and heavy artillery. The defenders of Gush Etzion withstood the attack but suffered heavy losses. Twelve heroes fell on that day, amongst them Joseph who was not quite 19.

Yakov Getzel

Born In Brest 1915, fell in the fields of Benyamina 1947.

The Getzel family was exiled from Brest to Siberia during W.W.1 – the family returned to Brest in 1925. Yakov studied at the Tachkamoni Hebrew primary school in Brest, and then at the Ort tradeschool where he learnt metal trades and locksmithing. He was known as strong and fearless, and always ready to defend the weak. He was never wounded in the fights between the Polish and Jewish youths, and was a graduate of Betar.

He arrived in Israel in 1935 and worked at Hadera. He was also a guard at Tulkarem and Kalkiliya. The members of the local farming settlements (moshavs) liked him because of his fearlessness. Yakov was arrested by the British at Hadera as the result of taking part in retaliatory action by the underground. He sat in Acre prison for several months.

After being freed from prison he was sent by the Haganah to Hanita where he was given the task of training himself to assemble and handle weapons in the armory of the British Army. He became a specialist in this field.

In 1947 he was sent to obtain weapons from the Arabs and never returned. He fell at his guard post in the fields of Benyamina.

David Gratzer, son of Chaya and Yakov Gratzer

Born 28th Tevet 1921 in Ramat Gan and fell 3rd Iyar 1948 at a radar station. David was raised in Kfar Yehoshua and was liked by his friends and teachers. David was quiet gentle and serious, he loved nature and prepared for a career in agriculture. His ambition was to have a rural life working the land.

When he was mobilized in March 1948 he was sent to the besieged Jerusalem, for weeks his family awaited his return, but he never did – he fell on road to Jerusalem.

Gershon Dubinboim, son of Mala and Tanchum

Born 26th April 1927 in Brest. Fell on the 21st Tishrei 1948 on the Negev Front.

The Dubinboim family made Aliyah from Brest to Israel in 1935. Gershon finished his primary school in Rechovot. Due to the difficult financial situation of his family he interrupted his studies and began to work at 15. He was accepted into Kibbutz Degania – and was sent to an instructor's course by the Haganah. Returning to Degania he gave all his free time to working for the Haganah.

When W.W.2 ended Gershon and his family became aware that all of their nearest and dearest in Brest had been murdered by the Nazis. Gershon decided to enlist in the Palmach where he took part in the most dangerous missions. He distinguished himself and studied to further increase his military expertise.

In December 1947 he was sent with his battalion to the Negev. He became battalion leader and took on the defence of the Yad Mordechai and Gvar Am district to ensure to communication lines there. This area quickly became the most difficult and bloodiest of battles of the whole Negev campaign. When the decisive battle broke out in Yad Mordechai, although his battalion headquarters was stationed further away, Gershon personally participated in its defence. Thanks to him the evacuation of the children was carried out successfully in the last moments before the Egyptian surrounded them and the decisive battle began.

With typical skill and courage he also fought with his battalion in the siege of Beer Sheba and was involved with the Stern group in bringing reinforcements to Hebron and destroying the bridge at Dahariya. He was hit by anti tank shrapnel there and died the following day, the 21st Tishrei 1948.

Gershon was beloved by the men of his battalion – he always demanded more of himself than of others. He was wholehearted in his dedication. The city of Rechovot honored his memory by naming a new street in Rechovot after him – Rechov Gershon.

Tzvi Drori, son of Ida and Gershon Drori

Born in Tammuz 1928 in Tel Aviv. Fell 10th Tammuz 1948. Tzvi Drori came from a deeply rooted Zionist family. His grandfather was Reb Shmuel Halperin, from the family of Rabbi Chaim Volozhyn, who was a great scholar and a dedicated Zionist. After W.W.1 he founded the Mizrachi organization in Brest and the Tachkmoni Hebrew School. He brought up all his children in the spirit of Torah and Zionism and was granted that all his children made aliyah to Israel and survived the Holocaust.

His son Gershon was Tzvi's father and an impassioned Zionist from his youth. He went to Israel together with his pioneer group aged 18. He worked on a railway gang and built the railroad between Sarafen and Lod. He endured all sorts of backbreaking work and in 1932 was one of the founders of a settlement at Yarkona.

From his mother's family he received the influence of Jewish culture and Zionism. His maternal grandfather was Kadish Tennewitzki, a committed Zionist official and worker all his life. He had made aliyah with all his family to Israel in 1938, but had returned to Brest to liquidate his business interests and perished in the Brest ghetto.

Tzvi was 3 years old when his family settled in Yarkona, and was still at school when his father died, forcing him to assume the role of provider for his family. He worked during the day and at night he studied with the Gadna (military cadets), training hard. At 14 years of age he became a member of the Haganah. When the terrible news about the 35 martrys of Gush Etzion arrived, he hastened to help the besieged at Gush Etzion. He went to his mother and said:” I'm going to replace them”. He excelled in his leadership abilities and took part in battles at Jaffa, the Sharon district, and the sieges at Latrun, Migdal Tzedek, and Rosh Ayin.

In the battle over Kola where his company found themselves in a difficult situation, he ordered his men to withdraw and left himself to cover their retreat. The company escaped unharmed but their leader Tzvi fell. It was his 20th birthday.

Tzvi's heroic deed

He shot at the approaching enemy tanks with his machine gun, even when they were only 200 meters away. At this critical moment, his machine gun jammed – Tzvi did not lose control and calmed and encouraged his men – he ordered a group of his soldiers to shoot at the tanks whilst he repaired his gun and began shooting again so that his men could retreat safely.

From the official report on Kola – the ambush of the village and the defence against it. 1948.

David Tash (Tour Shalom), son of Tziporah and Eliezer Tash By E. Tash

Born on the 28th Iyar 1928 in Brest. Fell on the 8th Shevet 1948 on the road to Gush Etzion.

David was born in Brest, on his mother's side he was a descendant of both Rabbi Nachum of Chernobyl and Rabbi Pinchas Koritzer. He inherited his love of Israel from his home, and his schooling at Tarbut further deepened this love. As a three-year-old child he loved the story of David and Goliath. Winnikoff's daughter would jokingly call the three year old to the phone and say: “ David, how did David kill Goliath?” he would reply: “ with five small stones.” Ironically his fate was that he, together with his group of 35 comrades, heroically fought in the same area that David killed Goliath with stones from the river.

It is possible that in their last tragic moments, they realized that they had no more bullets, and only had stones as ammunition. (The Arabs said that one of the 35 was found with a stone in his clenched hand).

In Israel he was brought up in the idealistic spirit of love for Israel and was active in the labor movement. He joined the Gadna (military cadets) where he was active; he studied sociology, philosophy and law at university. At the same time he was a youth instructor, cultural officer and guard in the Gadna. He lectured in factories, and was also involved in the theatre group.

Notwithstanding that he was exempt from active combat duties, according to one of his commanding officers: “ he willingly chose to be on the front line and volunteered to take part in the desperate attempt to break the blockade at the beseiged Gush Etzion. There together with his entire group he fell after a long and hard battle”.

The editor of the newspaper “Am Oved” (working nation) published a book of David's writings titled: “David Tash, one of the 35”.

Benjamin Yarchi (Pitcharski). Son of Nathan

Bejamin Yarchi was born in Tel Aviv in 1927. He graduated from the Geula High school. He was amongst those who led the drive and penetration into the Negev, even before the establishment of the State of Israel. He fell on the road to Falugia.

An only son, his parents could not survive this great tragedy and both died shortly after him.

David Neumark

Born into a distinguished old Brest family. His father Baruch Neumark (Noy) was the mayor of Acre. His grandfather was Ben Zion Neumark, a famous Zionist activist in Brest. When he was a child his family migrated to New Zealand. Although he adjusted successfully there the youth never stopped yearning to go to Eretz Israel.

In 1945 the entire Neumark family made Aliyah to Israel, and it was then that I met David for the first time, a quiet shy youth. Underneath he had an unforgettable lust for life. He was friendly, loyal and popular. The day when he entrusted his secret to me is etched into my memory – he told me that he had been accepted for Gadna training and how his face lit up with joy.

On the 29th Dec 1947, a month after the U.N. resolution to establish a Jewish State, one of the underground divisions attacked the Arab suburb of Romema, which held a nest of Arab bandits.

The British arrived to assist the 'innocent' Arabs. They shot at the neighboring Jewish settlements from their armored cars. The 16-year-old David who was incidentally passing along the street at this time was shot and killed by one of their murderous bullets.

(A friend).

Ben Zion Fogel. Son of Nechama and Yitzchak

Born 11th Elul 1930 in Rechovot, fell 3rd Tammuz 1948.

Ben Zion's father Yitzchak was educated at the ORT Trades School and hostel in Brest, where he was brought up in the Zionist spirit. He came to Israel with the first group of Zionist pioneers from the hostel in 1926 and worked as a laborer in Rechovot. His mother Nechama arrived in Israel in 1926 and immediately went to on a kibbutz.

His parents went to work the land together and were part of the founding group that established the first worker's moshav of 'Kfar Bilu'. Their son Ben Zion was educated at first in this village, then at high school in Rechovot, and later graduated from the Max Fein Trades School as a machinist. He excelled himself with his diligence and good nature, and was very much like by his friends and teachers. He was devoted to the Haganah where he trained from his early youth. In the battles for liberation he was amongst the best at creating diversions and an excellent organizer. He took part in dozens of actions including escorting convoys to Jerusalem, Kfar Uriah., Nachshon, Latrun, Tel Arish and the “Maccabee” action. He was finally transferred to the 52nd battalion in the Nitzanim area where he participated in some bloody battles. On a Saturday night the 4th Tammuz he was sent to collect the dead and wounded, where he was wounded himself. He said to the medics that he was only lightly wounded and could carry on helping others. However, he died shortly afterwards. He was not yet 18 years old.

Yitzchak Shuster. Son of Chaya and Eliezer

Born on the 1st Iyar 1924. Fell on the 17th Tishrei 1948.

Yitzchak finished primary school in Brest. He then endured and survived all the horrors of W.W.2 in Europe. After the war he was a member of the kibbutz Ichud group in Germany and came to Israel in the “Haportzim” refugee ship which arrivied at Nahariya January 1948. He worked as a barber in Hadera. He was mobilized into the Israeli army and served as a medic in the 'Givati' battalion. He participated in the battles for the Negev and was wounded at Negba. After recovering he returned to the battlefront and was killed on the 19th October 1948, during the attempt to break the siege of Moav Akiva, whilst fulfilling his duties as a medic. He was laid to rest at Kfar Warberg.

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