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[Page 311]

Independence War

 

The people of Israel will remember his sons and daughters, the faithful and the brave, the soldiers of Israel Defense Forces, who sacrificed their lives in the war for the resurrection of Israel.

The people of Israel will remember and be blessed by their seed and mourn the beauty of youth, the passion for heroism, the holiness of will and the self–sacrifice of those who perished in the heavy battles.

The heroes of the Six Day War and the victory will be sealed in the heart of Israel for generation after generation.

 

Chaim FUKS

Son of Yaakov and Rywka–Rachel, born in January 1923 in the city of Krośniewice, Poland, and educated in the spirit of tradition. With the outbreak of World War II, the Holocaust also hit their home. He was separated from his parents and has not heard from them since. Chaim went through all the inferno sections of the labor and extermination camps. He went through three years of terror and fear in the Auschwitz death camp. In 1945, he was released from the Bergen–Belsen camp and immediately called his sister in Israel, who remained the only one in the whole family, and asked for her help on his way to Israel. On various

 


Chaim FUKS

 

and strange adventures, he came to Italy and there he joined the “Zionist Youth” kibbutz. He arrived in Israel on the illegal immigrant ship “Operation Boatswain”[1] and was deported to Cyprus. He stayed on the deportation island for four months and, in 1947, he finally arrived in the land of his dreams.

On first call, he reported for service and, in early March 1948, enlisted and was sent to Be'erot Yitzhak in the Negev[2]. There he was one of the activists in his unit in the Negev Brigade. Organized several plays, composed songs and became very fond of his friends. As a member of the Palmach, he was sent to defend Kfar Darom, and in defense of a distant and isolated village, he fell, on Monday, May 11, 1948. He was laid to rest in the Nahalat Yitzhak military cemetery[3].

Translator's footnotes

  1. In memory of the Palmach operation “23 Who Went Down at Sea” Return
  2. At the time. Now near Petah Tikva. Return
  3. In Tel Aviv Return


Chaim FISZ

 


Chaim FISZ

 

The only son of Lea and Moshe–Aharon, he was born on March 19, 1925[1], in the city of Kutno, Poland, and on March 23, 1926, he immigrated to Israel with his parents and the family settled in Haifa. After graduating from elementary school, he studied in the vocational school, near the Technion. In 1942, he complied with the demand[2] and went to contribute his part to the war effort in establishing the refineries of Abadan, in Iran, and in his spare time he devoted himself to propaganda and Zionism among local Jews and especially to the youth and taught them songs of the land and told them about Hebrew life. On his return from Iran he continued his professional work. He worked in the Haganah as a platoon commander, motivated his subordinates and acquired their affection. Chaim was very devoted to his parents and sometimes helped them even beyond his means. In the fall of 1947, he and his father began building a home for his parents in Kiryat Motzkin and took on the technical responsibility and a large part of the work to save money.

When the War of Independence broke out following the UN General Assembly's decision to divide the country into two states, he hastened the completion of the building and immediately after the roof was cast, he went into combat service, on February 1, 1948, although he could have been released as an only son to his parents.

In battles and dangers, he knew how to encourage the spirit of his men, to such an extent that some of his friends who were transferred to service units in the home front left to be in his class in the “Carmel” brigade. With encouraging singing, he led his class on the mountain paths to Operation Galilee Purification, and in the battle for the conquest of Tzippori[3] during Operation Dekel, he fell on Tuesday, July 16, 1948[4]. He was laid to rest in the Kiryat Motzkin Cemetery.

Translator's footnotes

  1. 25 Shevat 5685, corrected in MoD website. Return
  2. British demand. Return
  3. Sepphoris. Return
  4. 9 Tamuz 5708. Return


Zvi SHAPIRO

Son of Deborah and Daniel, born on the thirteenth of Tevet 5681 (December 24, 1920) in the city of Kutno, Poland, to a Zionist and traditionalist family. He studied at the Zionist elementary school in the city of Strykow, near Lodz. On November 24, 1929, he immigrated to Israel with his parents. Here he studied for a year at the “Tel Nordau” elementary school in Tel Aviv, from there he moved to the elementary school in the Borochov neighborhood and after graduating from the elementary school he studied for a while at the vocational school named after Max Fein. Zvi dropped out of school and joined a training program in Tel Yosef. He was humble and quiet and loved by his friends. Some time

 


Zvi SHAPIRO

 

before the outbreak of World War II, he joined the Haganah. He was among the first to volunteer for the British Army in World War II and served in a Hebrew unit for leadership in Iraq and Egypt. As the 8th Army advanced after the victory over the Germans at El Alamein, he participated in a water transport unit in the military campaign along the Libyan desert, Sicily and Italy. He was active in providing assistance to Holocaust refugees. After being discharged from the British Army,

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where he served for six years, he joined the Dan cooperative, as a member. In his civic work, he did not find complete satisfaction, for he was always troubled by the thought that should be done for the sake of the homeland.

When the War of Independence broke out, he hurried to comply with the draft order and joined the Alexandroni Brigade as a driver. He participated in various occupation operations in the Tel Aviv area and excelled mainly in rescuing the wounded from the battlefield. Zvi took part in the attack on the Arab village of Kfar Saba and in the occupation of the Arab village of Kari and excelled in fulfilling his role. After this battle he was promoted and appointed transport officer of his battalion. On May 14, 1948, as part of Operation Namal[1], he set out for the Arab village of Tantura to take out a vehicle that was stuck in the village. On the way to the village, he and his friend fell into an ambush by members of an Arab gang. Zvi was killed and laid to rest in the military cemetery of Netanya.

Translator's footnote

  1. operation to control the coastal strip from Tel Aviv to Haifa Return


David METAL (PELED)
1924 – 1949
[1]

In 1933, he immigrated to Israel with his parents[2] and two sisters. He first studied at the Tachkemoni elementary school in Tel Aviv and later at the Moriah Gymnasium. He was mainly attracted to technical studies. Member of the Bnei Akiva organization and later one of the first in the religious sports association Elitzur. The 13–year–old, while still in school, entered the defense ranks and remained loyal to her until his last day. He was noted for his simplicity and willingness to fulfill any role, without taking into account the danger involved. In the early days of Elitzur, he devoted himself to the Elitzur Shifts which were part of the Hagana and dealt with all areas of its operations.

After graduating from high school, his parents moved from Tel Aviv to Rehovot. It was the second year of WWII. His studies at the school were discontinued, since his heart was drawn to kibbutz and guarding. He went to train in the Yavne group of Hapoel Mizrahi. During the day – a farmer, at night – a field guard. After a while, he was called to training positions in charge at Elitzur, and he became overly interested in weapons theory and modern warfare theory. He immersed himself in pamphlets and forbidden books, and became well–versed in the types of weapons and battle theory. At that time, he entered the Watchmen[3] as a Hagana envoy and worked at the Southern District Headquarters. In the meantime, he participated in many courses in various places in the country, where he acquired a special expertise in topography and became one of the most talented and great instructors in this profession in the ranks of the Hagana. This profession conquered him entirely. He spent many days and nights on charts, maps and photographs. He was promoted to platoon commander and made long hikes and range practice with his subordinates, whose souls clung to love him because of the simplicity of his demeanor. Responsibility positions were assigned to him at the Southern District Headquarters and he filled them with faith and talent. More than once he was swiftly rescued from the eyes of the British police who stepped up their operations in those days.

In 1945 he married a woman and about a year later they had a son, Ehud. Even before UN General Assembly decided on the partition, even before the IDF, he was entirely devoted to the War of Independence in the South and would go into action almost night after night. He told about them only after the fact, with kindness and natural simplicity. With the declaration of the state and the establishment of the army, he was transferred to the Galilee and as a company commander participated in the battles of Mishmar HaYarden.

During the first respite, he was transferred to topography instruction, in courses for officers in all the troops (artillery, etc.) and worked in the service of maps and charts. At the time of the resumption of the fighting he requested to be transferred to a combat unit. His efforts continued for a month and he was transferred to the Negev as commander of gah”al[4]. He fell in operation Horev, near Bir Asluj, on the December 23, 1948[5], and was buried in Revivim. He fell as an officer in the 152nd Battalion. His name is engraved among the liberators of the Negev in Yad Zichron, in Bir Asluj.

David and I had the same age, but I have always seen him as a guide and educator. I was eleven years old when I came to Israel. And David was already a “veteran.”

 


David METAL

 

He forwarded me a number of news, led and guided me as a housemate in the playgrounds, in youth groups in which he has already been absorbed and in the Hebrew language that was familiar to him. At school we studied together and of course, here too, I needed his guidance and advice. Days passed, years passed, we grew up. I continued to see him as the older brother. In the meantime, David revealed to me the great secret of his life: he was one of the Hagana men. In doing so, he also gave me the impetus to come to their secret. So, it was natural to me, when I appeared as a trainee in a course for officers in 1948, at the end of ten days of battles and found David among the instructors. It was no coincidence that he instructed his department in essential professions. Such as topography and aerial photography in which he was most specialized. This meeting in that course, after a breakup of a few years, seemed to renew our friendship. We had so much to talk to each other about the past and its consequences. And indeed, our hearts were opened and the mouths dubbed. I will never forget the day.

It was close to the end of the course, when the tension of the resumption of the battles was already hovering in the air, when David came to talk to me. I will not forget the sincerity and depth of emotion that surrounded his words. David explained to me that it is difficult for him to continue training, while others make his teaching “an ax to dig with” on the battlefield. And at the end of the war what could he tell his tender son? Although the battles we had experienced in the South at the beginning of the struggle were already behind him at that time, his work did not end there. He wants to continue the war as a company commander and when the days of calm come, he will be able to tell his son his experiences. I felt that he was right. But I did not pray that this would be our last conversation.

David went into battle as a company commander in the glorious Horev operation to liberate the Negev and expel the Egyptian invader from the country. He did not return from this operation and did not even get to tell his son, but it is clear to me that his son knew what his father had done and would be proud of him. The Torah he gave to the hundreds bore fruit and will continue to bear fruit. Many will be saved when needed.

His friend and student:
Zvi NAIMAN, Captain

 

David, Commander of the Religious Department

After the “Yeshivat HaDarom” moved from Pardes Hanna to Rehovot, the students continued their activities in the Hagana as part of the field unit in Rehovot. And when we organized religious classes, David was appointed commander of a religious department. In the underground conditions of that period, the people hardly met David. They knew the training officer. And on special occasions also met with the platoon commander and the company commander. However, the writer of these columns, who was a link between the yeshiva and the company headquarters, had more connections with David that, over time, even developed into an honest friendship.

David saw himself as a soldier and, from this point of view, acted. But not all

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individuals volunteered for defense. As a Torah institution that strives to maintain its special character and spirit, it was therefore necessary to coordinate its time and activities and the days of going out for training and their hours. Frictions could often break out on this issue. But with mutual understanding and will, difficulties were always overcome.

David was educated in a religious home and was saturated with a tradition of Torah and piety. And here he met in the circle of work in a whole crowd, presenting lifestyles contrary to his way and education. And yet things did not lead to arguments and controversy. He accepted things as a fact and this point was always out of the realm of arguing and exposing the lesions.

I remember a short conversation between us in the courtyard of the Great Synagogue, in the streets. He came to announce the date of departure for the courses. In a conversation about war and the roles of the commander, he summed up his opinion: “I am going to fight, I am also ready to fall in the war, as long as my son does not know what war is.” Even then, and from other conversations, I felt how much he lived the bloody life of our generation. He knew only one thing: a vicious circle of blood that would be put to an end, and even at the cost of many and good lives.

And he changed his life, his memory lives on in the hearts of all his acquaintances and his words resonate in their ears like the day they came out of his mouth. Only a question gnaws at the heart: does our people know how to keep the unwritten legacy of its unknown soldiers?

And did David's son, together with the sons of those soldiers, have a creative life in peace, without storms and wars? ...

M. HOVEV

(From “La'Oram”[6], a booklet in memory of the family members of Healthcare Maintenance Organizations' employees who fell in the War of Independence, Tel Aviv, 1959).

Translator's footnotes

  1. 26/5/1923–23/12/1948. Return
  2. son of Zelig and Chana. Return
  3. Jewish policemen under British Mandate. Return
  4. “גיוס חוץ לארץ” Foreign Recruits, recent emigrants, Shoah survivors. Return
  5. memorial says 26th. Return
  6. “In Their Light”. Return


Moshe PLOCER

Moshe Plocer hy”d fell among the 47 victims in the Yehi'am convoy[1].

Moshe was born in our town of Kutno in 1923, the son of Yehuda and Hinda, who were also from respectable families in our town.

His mother's father was Mr. Aharon–Yosef Lamski, and his father's father was Mr. Michael Dov Plocer of Gostynin.

 


Moshe PLOCER

 

Grandfather Aharon–Yosef Lamski z”l immigrated to Eretz Israel in 1904, with his wife and family. But he was unlucky, because when he arrived, World War I broke out and the Turkish authorities brutalized him and forcibly returned him and his family to their country of origin, and the grandfather was no longer allowed to see the Jewish land.

The grandson Moshe followed in the footsteps of his pioneer grandfather, and immigrated to Israel with his parents in the year 1935 when still a child, in the first decade of his life. Within a few years he acclimatized and as a diligent and outstanding student he graduated from the Tachkemoni school and thus continued his path to buy a professional education at the Max Fein vocational school. He also graduated in this school with honors and came to life equipped with Torah and knowledge which he also acquired a lot by self–learning.

He was a member of the Hashomer Hatzair youth movement and when the time came for fulfillment, he joined kibbutz Reshafim. During his stay on Black Saturday, June 29, 1946[2] in kibbutz Mizra, he was arrested by the British and transferred to Rafah.

At Kibbutz Reshafim, he met his heart's choice, which he later married – Rywka Cohen. The coveted happiness was violated shortly after the outbreak of the War of Independence. Moshe, who had Zionist and pioneering consciousness, could not sit idly by. He immediately joined the convoy escort between Haifa and the Western Galilee. Eventually the road back to Haifa was blocked and the boys remained stuck in Nahariya. And when Kibbutz Yehi'am was heavily attacked and called for help, he was among the first volunteers to leave for the relief convoy. In this convoy, he was found dead on another black shabbat of 11 Adar 5768[3] and with him 46 other boys and girls like him.

Upon his death, he left his pregnant wife and later daughter was born whom we named “Amit” after her father who fell in defense of his people.

His parents could not even accompany him on his last journey as the Western Galilee was cut off and thus found his grave in the land of Nahariya.

May his memory be blessed.

Translator's footnotes

  1. Convoy to re–supply kibbutz Yehi'am, under Arab irregulars' siege. Return
  2. 1947 in the original text, aka Operation Agatha, British operation to confiscate weapons from Jews. Return
  3. February 21, 1948. Return

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Eliahu (Alex) SZARECKI

Son of Abraham and Chana, he was born on the 11th of March 1929 in Brussels, Belgium, to a family that emigrated from Kutno, in Poland. He learned at a French school and also received a Jewish education. In the Second World War, the family was destroyed by the Nazis, and he and his sister became refugees. He learned Hebrew from the volunteer teachers of the Hebrew Brigade serving at this time in Belgium, after the defeat of the enemy, and, with their help, he emigrated to Eretz [Israel] in the year 1945. He studied at the “Youth Aliyah” [school] in Kfar Ruppin for one year and after that, he went to work. He adapted quickly to the life in Eretz [Israel] and was liked by his friends for his cheerfulness and playfulness. As a member of the Haganah, from the beginning he participated in the defence of Tel Aviv during the War of Independence, and in attacks in and around Jaffa. After that, he was accepted into a unit of Mishmar HaAm [The People's Guard, a peacekeeping force at the time of Independence] in Sharona [a district of Tel Aviv], which was considered to be the first unit of the regular army within the framework of the “Haganah”. From that, he volunteered to serve in a bomb disposal unit in the Tel Aviv area, and, finishing the course, he went into action. He participated in a big battle on an Arab stronghold in the Sachneh district of Jaffa. After failure of the offensive due to the British helping the Arabs, he destroyed a fortified house and enemy cell nearby and, in spite of enemy fire, volunteered to rescue our wounded men from the site of the battle. He participated in reconnoitring attacks on Lod and Ramle, the clearing of enemy mines from the Zerifin camp and the fortification and mining of the defense line between Kfar Ono [now Kyriat Ono] and Safriya.

During the first truce, some troops of the guarding force accidentally entered one of our mine fields near Kfar Ono and some of them were wounded. Eliahu came to their help and while doing that he stepped on a mine and was blown to pieces on the 17th of June 1948. He was laid to eternal rest in the Nahalat Yitzhak cemetery on the 20th of June 1948.

(From the book “Yizkor” – Accounts of the life and the death of the fallen during the Israel War of Independence, published by the Israeli Government, Ministry of Defence, 1956)

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Abraham SZYMONOWICZ z”l

Son of Azriel and Rywka, born in Kutno on August 3, 1930, immigrated to Israel in 1936, from Poland. He studied until the fourth grade at an elementary school in Ramat Gan and moved to a school in the Borochov neighborhood, where he studied in the fifth grade. An 11–year–old member of the Hashomer Hatzair youth movement and from the age of 15 – as a trainer. He studied seventh grade at the New High School and eighth grade at Beit Hakerem Seminary in Jerusalem. Showed up for full service in March. He was previously a member of the Hagana for three and a half years, from the age of 14 (in the Hebrew Youth Battalions), twice disqualified for combat service, but entered a combat unit in Palmach. He joined the Hashomer Hatzair training in Shoval, served in Palmach and trained, despite his health condition, which did not allow him to do so. Until the last battle in which he fell, he did not take part in any one operation.

He fell on June 3, 1948 in Ashdod. When the retreat began, his platoon was ordered to cover the retreat, but a large portion of the men did not advance – and only Abraham and with him a few, remained for cover. He was wounded in the leg; his friends withdrew and he was left lying wounded in the field, along with another wounded man and they were found dead the next day.

From his letters

5/25/48

– – – I'm currently in Mishmar HaNegev. I moved here from the training camp where I was all the time, even though we thought we would move to Shoval, where we used to have conscript training. Our time is divided into two. A week of training and a week of working in the fields. This week we are working in the fields. We work in fortifications (excavations). The work is hard and especially because many warts growing on my hands. It's hard for me to bend my arms because it hurts. Here we live more or less in a state of training. There are no commanders and military discipline here and all the other “wisecracks” we had in the depot (in the camp); we are mostly in a kibbutz, not ours, but a kibbutz. – – –

 


Abraham SZYMONOWICZ

 

25.3.48

– – – Yesterday I was at the recruitment station where I checked in, to be granted a leave of absence to return home. We were sent to one person, but he was not at home. We will try to take care of this immediately, because in two weeks we will finish the exams. It is said that without an authorization, it will be impossible to leave the city for those who must enlist, as one could think I am a fugitive, fleeing the city. I, of course, continue to visit the activities of the movement in the city, although I visit regular activities and I do not come for other purposes like choir of the Ken[1], parties, etc. but still, I do not want to stop my relationship with the movement. First, I think I have no need to prepare day and night for exams. Second, I am released this way for three hours a week from exam preparation; Third, even if this had been a major obstacle to my studies, I would have attended the activities. After all, we argued about that before I left.

Do not be afraid to visit the city in terms of security. You probably imagine we are constantly shoot at, in Jerusalem, and that the whole city has become a big battlefield, but that is not true.

26.3.48

“Strength” be with me!

– – – Although I would very much like to see you, I think it is not worthwhile to travel because it is like being escorted and the way is risky. You know that victims often fall on the way to Jerusalem. If they had sent you, I would understand, but just to visit me?…

Translator's footnote

  1. From Hebrew “Nest”, the youth section of the Hashomer Hatzair Return


Arieh Grinbaum

by Yechezkel, Ch. and Moshe TABENKIN

Arieh Grinbaum fell in battle in the Negev. He was only twenty-two when he died.

Arieh had two brothers and a sister. But at the end of World War II, he remained the only one in his entire family. During the war years, at a very young age, he was exiled to Germany, where he was transferred from one place to another, from one concentration camp to another. After the war he came to Belgium and set his goal: to immigrate to Israel. That's when I first met him, in the training kibbutz in Belgium. He has always been a key man in the group, and everyone loved him very much. With the immigration of the first group from Belgium to Israel, it was clear to all of us that Arieh would be among the first, and indeed, he immigrated to Israel in March 1946.

 


Arieh GRINBAUM

 

Half a year later, when we all arrived in the country. We hardly could recognize Arieh. He had already managed to become an “Eretz-Israeli.” Even then, he asked to enlist in Palmach, but we on the face of it did not agree to it, because we needed Arieh in the company. Shortly before the outbreak of the war, he was sent to a course of class commanders, and since then we have only seen him during his short vacations.

Arieh was one of the first to enlist in the army. He was always a warrior, and he remained a good soldier until his death. We're sure he fought until the last minute.

All the while he was maintaining close contact with friends, taking an interest in everything that was going on in the field. Lately there has also been a lot of talk about discharge from the military; he really wanted to go home. In his last letter from the Negev, he wrote: “I only left you for weeks, but it seems to me that I was not at home for a year. We had a small party for my birthday, but we will soon drink at home…”

He was sure he would return. He did not believe he would be hurt, none of us believed it and to this day we do not believe, that Arieh fell.

We will not forget you, brother and dear friend…

Yechezkel

Anyone who knew Arieh loved him. He was always cheerful, always ready to help a friend. I met him three and a half years ago, in a training camp in Belgium. When I got there, Arieh was already an old member, and his place was respectable

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in the group. In his work for Belgian peasants, he was one of the best workers. He longed to immigrate to Israel. He thought a lot and talked about it and even made plans: here we will all immigrate to Israel, build a new settlement, build a house for ourselves after so many years of wandering. He would always talk about it. To start over, he always wanted to create things that he could say about: “Here, we did it with our own hands.”

And really — Arieh immigrated to Israel among the first in our group — our “avant-garde”. This is how Arieh began to fulfill his vision. While in Kiryat Anavim, he immediately adapted: he learned the language, worked various jobs and traveled a lot in the area. He seldom wrote to us abroad, because he said, “What shall I write? Come, see by yourself and discuss.”

When we arrived in Israel after six months, our “avant-garde” joined us, and together we went to Heftziba[1]. There we started our new lives, and once again Arieh found his central place in our group. He was diligent in his work in the locksmith's shop and active in all areas of our lives, but one thought continually haunted his rest: to enlist, to go to Palmach. He could no longer sit still; his mind went out into action. The argument with him was difficult. We explained to him how important he was to group and how much we would miss him going. He was convinced and stayed. Although he only remained for a short time, during this period we came to know how much the Arieh we knew abroad had changed. He was an Israeli. With the desire to live and re-create in it what was once.

I do not know — it is possible that the fact that we did not fulfill one hundred percent our ambitions from the training period, and perhaps other thoughts disturbed Arieh's rest. As the situation worsened, he went and enlisted. He was first in a course for class commanders and then was recruited for full service. Very often he would come home, taking advantage of every spare moment to spend time at home. He was interested and asked about this and that, and even told us about his life in his new environment. After a successful operation he would tell us, with his face glowing: “Brother, we knocked them fairly, although there were a few wounded, but not terrible. The main thing — we occupied another place.” We wondered about his new and strange style, and when we commented on it, he would answer: “What do you think, war is not a child's play. To win you have to make sacrifices…”

Indeed, he too was one of the necessary sacrifices we made for the liberation of the homeland and for the independence of the people.

Arieh fell in the Negev - and now - we have lost our good and loyal friend. We will never forget him.

Ch.

 

Words of his battalion comrades

Arieh has not — neither a voice nor a dialect[2] — he has not.

I have yet to believe that he is gone. He was good and brave — and why did he fall? I still see him by, walking confidently and courageously. Despite everything, I still hear his encouraging, stimulating voice. Could it be that a lead bullet would kill the courage and purity of the soul, longings, hope, and love of a twenty-year-old? …

Arieh knew what was before him, knew the dangers lurking. And yet he came out full of faith in the face of the darkness that encodes horrors in his debt. He went for those who followed him, who followed all his deeds, to lift up their spirits, to encourage them.

I will not forget the last night: we progressed in darkness, we listened to the noise coming from there. We walked, crawled a little, ready to attack. Even in these moments, he found the way to the individual, encouraged with a good word and merriment.

The Egyptians camped on a hill, with cactus fences spread here and there. The platoon stormed it, grabbing a bridgehead. Another unit burst into the deep gulch. The attack was carried out in one shock, surprising and breaking the resistance. The position was breached, occupied.

For years we had walked through the communication trench, which we had passed safely only a few seconds earlier, and then there was a burst of gunfire. Arieh was wounded by two bullets, one of which pierced his abdomen. After he was injured, he shouted at me: “I was injured”, he knelt down, fell, and in the morning…

It's hard to define how we feel. On the face of it, the disaster did not dampen our spirits. We got the verdict. We knew it might come. That there will be no escape for victims. And the thing is coming. And yet it is hard, painful… and the heart will not be comforted.

“Bereavement lived in the valleys of our tents
In our path, bereavement was like a companion —
Carrying in his palm to the darkness of our mourning
A candle of grief, a candle of genius – memorial fire.”[3]

Moshe TABENKIN
member of the battalion

Translator's footnotes

  1. Kibbutz in Northern Israel, between Afula and Beit Sh'ean. Return
  2. in reference to Rachel Bluwstein's poem Silence: “But life has a voice and a dialectů”. Return
  3. from Moshe Tabenkin's “Eulogy” poem, in his book Bits of Lives. Return


Lt. PNUEL (Nachman FALC)

by Yechiel KADISHAI

Nachman, son of Sara and Yechiel Falc, was born on the 11th of Shevat 5685 (February 5, 1925). He was a student of the Am HaSefer school. From his youth he belonged to Beitar. After immigrating to Israel, he joined the Beitar youth branch in Tel Aviv. He was modest in his demeanor, devoted to his comrades and iron-willed, and thanks to these character traits he was privileged to be admitted before many of his comrades in the Irgun (Etzel). He was sixteen years old when he enlisted in the British Army, hiding his young age since he was then two years too young in order to be accepted for military service. He was one of the activists in the war for the Hebrew emblem and was even imprisoned for a while due to it.

 


Nachman FALC

 

On the Italian front, Nachman was badly injured in the leg and had to walk for a year with the help of crutches. Only thanks to his iron-will power did he overcome his ailment and began to walk without support. Upon his release from the army as a cripple, he was among the first of the Margolin settlement nucleus, established by discharged soldiers, but for fear of being a burden on his comrades he announced that he would actually join only upon his full recovery. In the meantime, he returned to work at the Irgun (Etzel), where he took a course for commanders and began training people and occupied other positions. But his wish was to go into battle despite his handicap. Several times, he renewed his request to be transferred to a combat corps, and his joy knew no bound when he was granted his request. Upon launching attacks, he made efforts to prove himself, though it was difficult for him to walk which caused him severe pain.

From one of the attacks on the city of Ramle, Lieutenant Pnuel did not return. Our Nachman was then declared missing.

Four years later, his bones were recovered and on the 11th of Iyar 5712 (May 6, 1952) he was laid to rest in a mass grave in Kiryat Shaul[1].

*

With the outbreak of World War II, thousands of members of the Jewish community in the country volunteered for the British Army — for services and combat units. Among them were the Beitar who volunteered for the combat units (in Buffs).

[Page 316]

Nachman, who was then about sixteen years old, changed his year of birth to be accepted into the service, claimed that he had already turned eighteen.

At the end of 1943, with the transformation of the

 


 

Buffs into Palestine battalions which included Jewish and Arab companies – the soldiers were given a new emblem with the inscription: “Palestine (E. I.)” in Hebrew, Latin and Arabic letters. Dozens of Beitar and Haganah members refused to wear this emblem as long as it was not engraved with the full spelling “Eretz Israel” (there was no opposition on their part to the English and Arabic inscriptions — but the argument was against the inscription “Palestine” in Hebrew letters).

Among the first to refuse to wear this emblem was Nachman, who argued that one should resist and fight for a Hebrew emblem.

Due to this “offense”, he was brought before the British Military Court in Sarafand-Al-Amar. In this trial, Prof. Yosef Klausner z”l and Rabbi b”d Meir Chai Uziel ztz”l testified to his credit, claiming that the “defendant” was right in his position, since carrying such a symbol is an insult to a Jewish soldier from Eretz Israel.

The military tribunal sentenced Nachman, and the seven dozen other soldiers who stood trial, to two months' military imprisonment, in addition to the one-month period he was in custody until the trial.

Nachman was one of the “excellent” sitters – friendly and brother to every prisoner, by his good temper, by his willingness to help and by his uplifted mood influenced his brothers in arrest and imprisonment and from time to time they remember the lively and friendly young Nachman.

Translator's footnote

  1. Cemetery, north of Tel Aviv. Return


Efraim FIRSTENBERG
(of Blessed Memory)

Son of Zwi Firstenberg, he was born in Kutno in 1923. While still a child, he went to Eretz [Yisrael] with his parents. He attended school and later lived on kibbutz Ein Hahoresh from where he joined the “Hagana” [pre-State army]. During the Second World War, he enlisted in the Jewish Brigade. He fought in the front at Tobruk, where he excelled as a courageous and fearless fighter. When he returned to Eretz Yisrael, he joined the Fighters for the Liberation of Israel (“Lehi”) [a radical group, also known as “Stern”, after its leader Abraham Stern], where he participated in many actions. His wife Chana, who was a nurse, also attended to his comrades who were injured during their underground actions.

After the War of Independence, he worked in the administration of the main bus station in Tel Aviv and after that, he worked as a driver on the Tel Aviv-Eilat line. On the 17th of March 1954, he was driving a bus through Ma'ale-Akrabim [“Scorpion's Pass”, 100km south of Beersheva] when feddayin murderers attacked it and many passengers were killed, among them Efraim and his wife Chana. Their small son Michael suffered bad injuries.

May their memories be blessed.


Eli ELIAV z”l

Eli was born on September 30, 1936 to his parents Hela and Gedalia Eliav and was educated at the “Shahaf” group — this is the second educational group in Ein HaHoresh, and the first class to complete his law studies at the local educational institution. While a small child, he accompanied on three trips with his parents, who set out on a family visit to Cairo, Egypt; And as an adult boy — on the verge of twelfth grade — he made an independent visit to his relatives in France. After graduating from the educational institution, he enlisted in the IDF, where he served in the Air Force — partly in a pilot course. As a soldier, he also participated in Operation Sinai.

In the farm, he worked in the dairy industry and in the electrical profession. Following the call of the movement, he joined a group of boys who came to the aid of the young kibbutzim Ga'aton and Horshim. While plowing in Horshim, he perished in a fatal tractor accident on September 1, 1960.

Y. K.

 

My Eli is no more…

The son has disappeared, and I will not see him again. We'll never see him again.

I will no longer hear his young voice, when he was coming home: Mother, hello, how are you, mother? I will not even get to see him smile, his beautiful smile, as he spoke to me, revealing his rows of white teeth: “I do not want to wander around anymore. I do not want to wander around anymore.

 


Eli ELIAV z”l

 

I do not want to be like a gypsy. I want to return home, to the kibbutz.” Still, when they decided to send the group of boys to Kibbutz Horshim, he went with them. And Eli also went, and who could foresee the terrible disaster, for Eli would not return from there alive; that Eli would be brought back, that Eli's body would be returned in a closed coffin from there.

My Eli, my son. In my heart you live, I carry your image with me everywhere. Everything that surrounds us, every plant in the garden, every tree that blooms is tied to you. Remember the walnut tree we planted? You then joked at our expense and said: At least ten years will pass before the walnut tree will bear fruit. And to this I replied: I will not benefit from it but you, Eli, you and your little ones will surely play under the ancient walnut tree, climb on it, pick and eat its fruits.

And who would have thought in those moments that a cruel hand would pluck our son from us! In your prime youth, in your spring, at the beginning of your path in life, the tree of your life is picked and cut down! And you were only twenty-four years old. Twenty-four years we lived together, my son. On the green grass, around our new home, it was so good for us, our little family, when we gathered together — and in the evening it was so pleasant to just sit, chat, laugh and talk.

[Page 317]

I miss you, my son. I would so much like to see you again. How precious to me is your voice that resonates in my ears, your beautiful laughter. I love you Eli, with all my heart. With every fiber of my soul, I am bound to you, to your memory! I had a terrible nightmare. Help me wake up my son. But the cruel reality hits me on the head. I will not see Eli again. He will never return. The tractor killed him. Yes, you could have jumped out of it and be saved, but you were holding the wheel. You intended to save the tractor…

Why was I not at your side, my son, at that bitter and hurried moment? Why did I not keep you? Why did I not call you with all my might: Eli, save your young life. It is so precious to us.

And you, you never wanted us to worry about you, my son, I remember you on the eve of your enlistment in the Air Force. You came with a determined decision in your heart. No mother would want to risk her son's life — you answered my objections. But there must also be pilots, and they are sons of mothers like me.

Remember Eli, Operation Sinai, at the time when anxiety for our son's safety made us bite our fingernails and you said: Mom, don't expect regular letters from me, because it is possible that one of them happens not to arrive on time. Do not worry Mom, I am no longer a small child.

No, Eli, you were no longer a small child, you were a young man, handsome and intelligent. Life was ahead of you, and you were at your best. Your deep eyes are turned to the future, and in your heart is hidden the secret of life. Eli! Has the burial stone be put on all that?...

A letter you started writing, a sketch for a sculpture you drew, a final article that you did not finish, a room where you did not live long enough, a life in which you longed — we say aloud: it is a lie. And I, my son, my eyes will seek you in vain, and in vain I shall wait for you, my son.

Mother

 

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