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[Pages 411-412]

Częstochowers in the “Brigade”

A decisive stage in the efforts to settle the Land [of Israel], to take part in the War and to achieve official recognition of the participation and representation of Jews in the fight against the Nazis, was the creation and implementation of the Jewish Infantry Brigade Group or, as it was also called, “The Jewish Brigade”.

This was the only Jewish military corps to serve as an independent Jewish formation within the framework of the British Army and as part of the Allied Forces in general.

The Jewish Brigade was mainly made up of inhabitants of the Land of Israel and, amongst its members, there were also natives of Częstochowa who volunteered to wage war against German troops, thus aiding their brethren in the ghettos and forests in their struggle.

These were the Częstochowa volunteers in the Jewish Brigade:

  1. Potaszewicz (Hadari), Naftali;
  2. Markson, Kalman;
  3. Klarman, Nuchem;
  4. Jakubowicz (Ben–Moshe) Ezriel;
  5. Kartuz, Jakób;
  6. Klarman, Mojsze z”l;
  7. Lipiński, Józef;
  8. Nirenberg, Zvi;
  9. Wilinger, Szlojme;
  10. Braun, Dawid;
  11. Fridman (Pe'eri), Józef;
  12. Granek, Izaak;
  13. Włodowski, Majer;
  14. Lubling, Mojsze

[Pages 411-414]

Uszer Ilan (Szwarcbaum)





He was the son of Reb [Abram] Mordka and Kajla [née Szyf] Szwarcbaum. He emigrated to Palestine on 3rd August 1920. He was sent, at once, to work building the Tiberias–Zemach road, where he remained for about nine months. For some three months, he then worked in the Mitzpa moshava [rural settlement]. His employer was a convert to Judaism, who had settled in this moshava.

When the national [viz. Zionist] institutions announced policemen were needed, Szwarcbaum left his workplace and joined the police force.

Upon leaving the police, he tried his luck and opened a carbonated beverages kiosk in Tel–Aviv, on the corner of King George and Allenby Streets. He immediately became sick of this business. After one month, he relinquished his “kiosk” and moved to Jerusalem, where he entered was employed as a worker in the Kimchi and Menkarski restaurant.

One may judge how lowly the working conditions were at the time from the fact that, for over one year, Szwarcbaum's [monthly] wages, for working from 6:30 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. were literally just one [Palestinian] pound and fifty pence a month!

At the suggestion of one of his Częstochowa friends, on 27th May 1924, he joined the Haifa police force and, based on his two–years' experience in the police force, he was granted the rank of sergeant. On 27th March 1927, he began working in the police as a photographer.

During the riots of 1929, when the butcher Rotman was killed by the Arab rioters in the lower city[1] and the Jews living there began to abandon it, the Jewish policemen resolved to safeguard the peace of the Jewish residents and urged them not to abandon the location.

Constables Szwarcbaum, Klajnman and Szul[2] (Jurkewicz's son–in–law) particularly distinguished themselves in their influence. However, in one of the encounters with the Arab rioters, Szwarcbaum and another constable named Yehuda were wounded.

In the bloody events of 1936–1938, Uszer Ilan again took upon himself the guarding duties – even though he could well have sufficed with his position as police photographer.

On 27th March[3], when Uszer Ilan was walking with his wife in Kiryat Motzkin[4], he was run over by a motorcycle and was seriously injured.

In 1938, he visited Częstochowa, and was able to see his parents before they were annihilated.

When the State of Israel was established, Ilan joined the Israeli Police Force, in which he served until his retirement on 1st July 1957.



Gathering of Częstochowa “Ha'Shomer Ha'Tzair” Members in Israel, September 1963


Translator's footnotes:

  1. Built on Mount Carmel, Haifa has a lower and an upper part. Return
  2. שוהל in the original Hebrew. The spelling in Latin characters is uncertain. Return
  3. Year not specified; presumably between 1936–1938. Return
  4. Next to Haifa. Return

[Pages 415-416]

Mojsze Klarman z”l





We used to affectionately pronounce the name “Clarus”, without thinking of this Latin word's meaning – “pure”. Indeed, he will always remain as such in our memory.

He excelled in the simplicity of his ways – his vigour, perseverance, intelligence and, above all, in his obstinate stance, without yielding in [matters of] principle – from his schooldays to his last hour.

In his private life and in his public activities, he was not deterred by obstacles and he fought tirelessly to change the face of reality. All the years of his life were dedicated to the [Ha'Shomer Ha'Tzair] Movement and to the kibbutz.

At the Częstochowa cell, he was the director and instructor and, soon, he became instructor for the entire Zagłębie region. Prior to his emigration to Palestine, he was active in the central leadership division in Równe[1] and, later, in the central leadership in Warsaw.

In 1938, he arrived in a kibbutz in Palestine and, with his characteristic vigour and consistency, he began to become accustomed to the hard, physical labour. In the evenings, after work and on Saturdays, he dedicated himself to cultural activities in the kibbutz and to the consolidation of the movement's standing.

In 1942, he joined the British Army, in the artillery corps. There, too, he dedicated himself to public works among the soldiers and gained their trust. Clarus attentively followed every project that was implemented and would sharply criticise any error or deviation in our social life[2].

Once he had completed his service, he took upon himself an even more difficult task – instructing the Cherut [“Freedom”] nucleus [of] immigrants [who had survived] the Bergen–Belsen camp which, despite the state of emergency, was becoming integrated into the life of the kibbutz and the country.

In the War of Independence, Clarus fought at [kibbutz] Yad Mordechai[3] and, as an experienced mortar–man from the days of the Jewish Brigade, he was sent from position to position in order to strike at the concentrations of the enemy. However, once the shells had been exhausted, he fought on as a fusilier in the first line of fire. When the heavy armoured vehicles stormed his position, Clarus did not retreat, but held the trench – where he was hit by the enemy's bullet.

Excerpt from Clarus' last letter to his young lady:

The ruins of Yad Mordechai, Saturday, 22nd May 1948.

I take the opportunity to write you a few words. Perhaps we will manage to evacuate the injured and the [female] members, who will deliver this letter of mine to you. They will also tell you what happened here with us. You surely recall my views from before the 15th of May and of what awaited us after this date.

I had not foreseen such destruction and ruin to the [kibbutz's] farmland. The landscape around me seems so alien, that it no longer reminds me at all of our home and our kibbutz. I am happy that, at least, we were able to save the children and women. Let us hope that some of our men may live to see victory and give a hand to rebuilding the ruins.

Thus far, I have been lucky – let us hope we shall see each other again. But, if not, I have no doubts that you will manage to cope. If we succeed in repelling the enemy and do not allow him to take the position from our hands, this sacrifice will not have been in vain.

Tell Amos that there are tens of thousands here, with shells and other kinds of weaponry.

Warm kisses to you, Amos and Shulamit, and to the rest of the family.

Translator's footnotes:

  1. Rivne or Rovno, Ukraine, which was at the time annexed to Poland. Return
  2. It is unclear whether the author refers to projects within the British Army, or in Jewish Palestine in general. Return
  3. Kibbutz in Southern Israel, which was attacked by Egypt in the War of Independence in 1948. Return

[Pages 417-418]

Captain Michael (Micha) Ron–Besserglik z”l

The Book Committee




He fell [in the line of duty] on 20th Cheshvan 5720 (10th November 1960).

Micha was born on 29th Tishrei 5697 [15th October 1936] in Jerusalem[1]. He began his studies at the Ma'ala School and continued them at a working–class [primary] school. In 1947, when the country was at war and he was just 11 years of age, he already worked on the fortification of the broadcasting building and also knew how to wield a weapon.

During the siege on Jerusalem, Micha helped in the distribution of water to the city's residents and, when his parents were engaged in defensive duties outside the home (his mother received a badge of honour for the protection of Jerusalem), he took care of his younger sister and also served as a messenger between the positions.

In 1949, he moved with his parents to Tel–Aviv, where he completed his studies at the Max Fein vocational school, in the aeronautics course. When he was about 16, he received his pilot's wings, at first, in the Air Force's youth battalions. One year later, he joined the Air Force and completed the flying course as an excellent trainee. He was given his pilot's wings by the Commander–in–Chief, Lieutenant–General Chaim Laskov.

But apparently, his destiny was to be a harsh one. The first time in his life he was hurt was when the Palestine Post premises were bombed. His parents' house was destroyed and he was rescued, with his sister, from amongst the rubble. A second tragedy occurred on the day he had qualified to fly jetplanes – when he set out for a short vacation, he suffered a severe motor accident and there were concerns that one of his legs may need to be amputated. He lay unconscious for several days and, upon regaining consciousness, his first question was, “Doctor, will I be able to fly again?” All his thoughts in life were focused on flying. Micha stayed in hospital for three years and he managed to convince the medical committee that he was physically fit for active flight.

On his first flight after leaving the hospital, the examiner put Micha through difficult tests and he was required to prove his strength precisely with his left leg, which took great efforts on his part.

With further training, Micha made up the time he had lost during his long hospitalisation and, when he was selected for the [Dassault] Super Mystère[2] Squadron, which was one of the Air Force's elite tactical units, there were no bounds to his joy.

Micha was highly respected and he never missed a chance to fly. The feeling that he needed to make up for lost time always pursued him. Like every pilot, he hoped to prove his strength, also, in an “encounter with the MiGs[3].” And, indeed, in one of the most prolonged and exhausting aerial battles which developed into dogfights between our aircraft and the enemy's, Micha vanquished an enemy [plane] in battle.

In the rejoicing that ensued in Micha's honour upon his return to the base, his comrades could not cease congratulating him on his success in shooting down the plane with its pilot. However, Micha, the stalwart warrior who was so adept in standing before great obstacles, said to them, “Comrades, I fully share your happiness as regards the aeroplane being shot down, but let us not forget that that pilot's mother surely awaited his return home. So, I find it difficult to rejoice over the loss of the pilot also”. Here was revealed the tender and warm heart of the intransigent man, who knew no tiredness in his battles for life. But a fortnight later, this heart of his ceased to beat, when he fell in the line of duty.

Blessed be his memory.

Translator's footnotes:

  1. Michael was the son of Nuta (Natan) Besserglik and Bracha Frenkel, both from Częstochowa. They later adopted the surname Ron. Return
  2. French fighter–bomber used by the Israeli Air Force. Return
  3. Russian aircraft widely used by the Arab nations. Return

[Pages 419-420]

Dawid Gliksman z”l




He was born in Częstochowa in 1913. From his adolescence, he had been educated in the Ha'Shomer Ha'Tzair Movement and, once he completed his service in the Polish Army, he moved to Lublin, where he underwent training and was preparing to emigrate to Palestine.

But the War thwarted his plans and he was forced to pass through all the seven circles of the hell of the Nazi occupation. In the “Small Ghetto”, he was one of the primary implementers and conceivers of the idea of the raising of ŻOB. In the organisation's first stages, he belonged to the operations management but, over the course of time, as the framework widened, he requested that he be released from his affiliation to the management, by reason that “the hubbub was too great” and thus, until he went off to the Koniecpol woods, he became an “ordinary person” and carried out any duty he was given.

In the Koniecpol forest, also, he continued in his modest ways, while remaining loyal to the values he had been brought up with and, although he suffered from wounds, never did he utter a single groan.

With all Fate's cruel upheavals, he somehow managed to live through the War and, again with his characteristic humility, he was willing to take upon himself new duties in his new circumstances.

Due to the searches the Germans conducted in the forests, the youths returned to town until the indignation be passed over [Isaiah 26:20]. It was again Machel Birencwajg who agreed, despite clearly knowing how great was the danger, to receive them in one of the buildings that housed the furniture storeroom, which was under his supervision.

On 19th March 1943, a ten–year–old boy fell into the hands of the Gestapo outside the ghetto. He and his mother were hiding in the same building where the group was – and the boy was aware of its existence. Obviously, intending to save his mother, he led them to the combatants' room. This was completely unexpected, and [thus] an armed, Jewish, partisan group fell into the hands of the murderers.

A few individuals managed to escape the trap in some impossible way, among whom was Dawid Gliksman who, after tribulations and distress, made it back to the forest.

Upon arriving in the Land [of Israel], Gliksman joined kibbutz Yad Mordechai (his kibbutz from his training days in Poland) and it seems that, within it, he had found his new home. He put down roots there and was prepared to finally pass into normal life [and] start thinking of a personal life. But bitter Destiny again treated him cruelly – with the onset of the War of Independence he stood – loyal to his ways – in the first line of warriors defending the Homeland and he fell in the Battle of Yad Mordechai.

[Pages 419-422]

Felix Beatus[a]

The Sh./10[1] was the first armoured battalion of the IDF. It was founded in 1948 by “The Old Man” the deceased General Yitzchak Sadeh, one of the creators of the Palmach[2] field companies [viz. commando arm] of the Haganah. The [battalion's] first commander was Major Felix Beatus, who spoke only Polish and Russian.

Felix Beatus himself came to Palestine from Szczecin (next to Częstochowa[3]), Poland, in May 1947. When the Red Army invaded Poland [in 1939], in accordance with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, Felix fell captive to the Russians. In the questionnaire that he filled out, he put down his occupation as “driver–mechanic”, as experienced Jews, who told him this profession surpassed others as far as the readers of the questionnaires were concerned, had advised him to write.

And, indeed, just ten days later, he was summoned to repair a Citroën motor car belonging to a high official of the NKVD[4]. Beatus rummaged about in the Citroën's insides, without being able to tell right from left. The car [then] started up quite spontaneously and was again deemed fit for travel. Beatus was released from captivity, but his questionnaire was not lost. In 1941, when German troops invaded the Soviet Union and [General] Guderian's tanks[5] were storming towards Moscow, Beatus was drafted into the Red Army and sent on a course for tank drivers. At first, he drove a light T–27 tankette and, later, a T–34 [medium tank]. In a T–34, he fought at Kremenchuk, Chutovka, Połtawa and Charków[6]. In 1943, he was a tank [platoon] sergeant in the Red Army.

In 1943, the Soviets began to build up their exiled Polish Army. Felix, having become an officer, was sent to study for six months at a commanders' academy and [then] sent out to fight in the ranks of the Polish Army[7] at the Lenino Front, near Urzecze [Belarus]. He completed his service in the Polish Army as commander of a tank platoon, with the rank of Major.

Be that as it may, in 1947, he was the Jew most experienced and knowledgeable in armoured warfare in the entire Land of Israel. Yitzchak Sadeh had the foresight to comprehend that the State of Israel would [only] rise through war and a modern war at that. There were no tanks, but [nevertheless] Felix Beatus lectured at the Haganah's squad commanders' course in Jo'ara[8]. The course's commander was Bar–Lev, who would, in the future, become head of the IDF Armoured Corps [in 1957] and Commander in Chief [of the IDF in 1968].

Beatus lectured in Russian and his words were translated to Hebrew. Despite speaking Polish perfectly well, he only knew the terminology [pertaining to] tanks in Russian. In 1947, “The Old Man” and Beatus founded the first armour school.

Today, Felix Beatus is the manager of the Egged Tours[9] station at the [Ben–Gurion] airport in Lod.

Original footnote:

  1. From the book “The Tanks of Tammuz” by Shabtai Teveth. Return

Translator's footnotes:

  1. 10/ש in the original; reference to the IDF's 82 armoured battalion. Return
  2. Acronym of Hebrew “plugot machatz,” i.e. storm troops. Return
  3. Szczecin is, in fact, at a distance of 425.8km. from Częstochowa. Beatus did arrive in Palestine from Szczecin, but he had been brought up in Częstochowa, to which his family moved in his youth from his hometown of Kalisz. Return
  4. The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs, viz. Soviet Home Office. Return
  5. The 2nd Panzer Army. Return
  6. All in Ukraine. Return
  7. The Polish First Army, aka “Berling's Army.” Return
  8. A hilltop in the Carmel Range of Northern Israel. Return
  9. A subsidiary company of the Egged Bus Cooperative. Return

[Pages 421-424]

Mordechai (Motek) Kusznir z”l





The son of Chaim and Chawa Kusznir, he was born in Częstochowa in 1914. His parents came to our city from one of the towns in the Jewish Pale of Settlement in Russia.

His father was a great expert in the tailoring profession, but did not pursue greatness. He never did establish his own independent workshop, but toiled all his days as a hired tailor for others.

Over the course of the years, young Motek became one of the leaders of the proletariat youth that rallied round the Bund.

At the movement's Central, they recognised his distinct qualities and great organisational strength and, at one of the meetings, he was named coordinator of the Bundist youth alliance Tsukunft [Future].

With the outbreak of the Second World War, Motek Kusznir was among the best of those who acted [personally] and urged the youth not to yield to the Nazis' machinations – to destroy Our People through prolonged pernicious operations, whose end–goal was utter annihilation. Together with his other comrades, he called rebellion against the Nazi regime, to go underground and, from there, to hit the Germans and to hinder them in [their] work of extermination.

He did not make do with just oral propaganda, but also printed an illegal journal in the Polish language named For Your Freedom and Ours.

In this publication, he incited Jews and Poles, as one, to oppose the cruel, oppressive regime. The Gestapo left no stone unturned to find the source of the “evil” that was being done to it by way of this operation and they finally managed to discover the location where the journal was being edited and also apprehended its editor. Motek Kusznir was brutally tortured by the Gestapo, but he did not reveal the names of his comrades.

His family members, with the help of the Częstochowa Jewry, gathered significant sums of money with which they were able to bribe the Gestapo people, who eventually consented to release him from his imprisonment.

In 1956, Motek managed to emigrate to Israel and, shortly afterwards, he joined the Bund Union in Tel–Aviv, in which he performed the duties of the movement's Secretary.

Motek went about thinking and planning out wide–scale operations, but was unable to carry out his ambitions. He died an untimely death in 1960 at just 46 years of age.

Blessed be the memory of this prolific man, who was snatched away in his prime.

[Pages 423-424]

Reb Berisz Częstochowski z”l

J.Ch. Plai (Filik)

In Częstochowa Chassidic circles, Reb Berisz Częstochowski stood out in particular as he was one of the few in whose heart the Zionist ideal had nestled from the dawn of his days.

Reb Yissuchor–Dov [Berisz] was born in Częstochowa in 1870. His father was Reb Mojsze Częstochowski, one of the prominent Radomsko Chassidim and a confidant of the [Rebbes] Chesed Le'Avruhom and Kneses Yechezkel through to the last Rebbe, Reb Szlojme Henoch hy”d. He was raised and educated in the lap of Torah and Chassidism by his forefathers and was endowed with talents, distinguishing himself as an assiduous, young prodigy. He was a disciple of the rabbi and prodigy Reb Efroim ztz”l of Mstów, who ran a yeshiva in that town, to which only talented individuals were admitted as pupils. (During this period, the renowned writer Hirsz Dawid Nomberg also studied there and was among Yissuchor–Dov's classmates.)

Following his nuptials, he engaged in business and achieved becoming a distinguished figure, who was popular amongst the city's residents from all circles, for his beaming countenance and warmhearted attitude towards each and every individual. He was also a good singer and a wonderful prayer–leader. His prayers constituted a religious experience, burning with Sacred Fire. For many years, he led the Mysef prayer services at the Radomsko shtiebel.

Although he was not officially affiliated with the Zionist Movement, he was committed to the Zionist ideal and always stood to the right of [i.e. supported] young men who had been “seized with Zionism” and who introduced the Mizrachi ideology within the walls of the shtiebel. He was among the first share–buyers in The Jewish Colonial Trust ([Jüdische] Kolonialbank), at the beginning of the Zionist activity – back in Herzl's days – and he suffered for his adherence to this cause.

In 5693 [1933] he emigrated to Palestine, where his two daughters Shoshana and Yafa were already living in [kibbutz] Ein–Harod. The Chassidim wished to prevent his emigration and they sent a special delegation to the last Radomsko Rebbe, to entreat him to dissuade him from taking this step. The delegation told the Rebbe that Reb Berisz proposed to settle in [the secular kibbutz] Ein–Harod, of which the religious fanatics disapprove. All the efforts of the Rebbe and his friends could not prevent him from emigrating to the land for which he yearned. When he arrived there, he settled in Haifa.

With the outbreak of the War, when news reached him of the annihilation of the Polish Jewry and that the majority of his sons and large family had perished, his face darkened. But he recuperated and found solace in his Torah lessons, alone and in public, in the Talmud, Zohar and Midrashim. Shortly before his death, he had completed the entire Talmud for the seventh time.

When the Second World War began, his sources of income – the funds which his sons, who had continued running his business in Częstochowa, used to send him – were stopped and he moved to Ein–Harod, where his daughters had been among the kibbutz's builders since the beginning of their Aliyah. He gained the esteem of all who knew him there, despite the fact that he carried on in a Chassidic manner, studying Torah and fearing God, and everyone admired him for his honesty, patience, and radiant countenance, which exuded happiness and joy at the young generation's work of building and pioneering creativity. He died in ripe old age.


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