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Claims

Torchlighters and Wreath for the Righteous Among the Nations 2013

Dr. Lucien Lazare

 

Dr. Lucien Lazare was born in Strasbourg, France. In the summer of 1942, while still a youth and active in the Scouts movement in his city, Lucien took part in accompanying Jewish children on the trains that smuggled them to the border. Lucien managed to outwit the Germans lying in wait for the children at the train stations, and bring them to their destinations. He helped rescue many children, who owe him their lives.

 

After the Allies landed in Normandy in June 1942, Lucien and his friends joined the French resistance who fought in western France.

 

Lucien made aliyah to Israel in 1968 and worked as a researcher, teacher, and educator in the field of history. He is a founder of the Rene Cassin High School in Jerusalem.

 

He is married, the father of four, grandfather of 18, and great-grandfather of 14.

 

Lucien Lazare: “The future of Israel and survival of the Jewish people cannot be ensured, in my opinion, without being strong, but values are needed that hold us back from using those weapons.”

 

Aviva Blum Waks

 

Avraham Blum was a leader of the Jewish Bund, and later became active in the Jewish Combat Organization (ŻOB) in Warsaw. Although trained as an engineer, he dedicated most of his time to Bund activity. The Bund opposed Zionism, but Abrasza Blum was persuasive, leading the Bund to join the Jewish Combat Organization. He was called “the spiritual father of the resistance” and refused to leave the ghetto even though his wife and two children were hiding on the Polish side.

 

Abrasza Blum took part in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising together with a group of young Jewish fighters. He survived and escaped to the nearby forest after the fighting, returning soon after to hide in Warsaw. When his hiding place on the fourth floor was discovered, he tried to escape by climbing down a rope made from bed sheets, but fell when the rope tore and was injured. He was caught by the Germans and brought to the Gestapo, after which his whereabouts remain unknown.

 

Blum’s son and wife remained in Poland for many years. The son, a nuclear scientist, eventually emigrated to the United States. His daughter Aviva, seven years old when the war broke out, made aliyah when the war ended and became a member of a kibbutz. Today she is an artist living in Jerusalem.

 

Aviva Blum Waks: “I have four great-grandchildren, two boys and two girls, and I only hope that they will never have to live through a war.”

 

Semion Rozenfeld (the torch was lit by Brigadier General Benny Mar)

 

Semion Rozenfeld was born in 1922 in the Ukraine. He was drafted to the Red Army, taken prisoner by the Germans, and together with another 230 Jewish prisoners, sent to a concentration camp in Minsk. Only 15 Jews survived the hunger and disease rampant in the camp, and they were deported to the Sobibor extermination camp.

 

Semion was separated from the other Jews. When one of the prisoners asked the German guard where their friends from the train were, the German pointed to the smokestacks and said, “Over there”.

 

Semion was recruited for the Sobibor resistance. Soviet Jewish POW Alexander Pechersky, the commander, asked him whether he was capable of killing someone with an axe, to which Semion replied, “I’m not capable of killing a human being, but a Nazi – yes.”

 

Semion was 21 years old during the uprising. “I was not afraid,” he said, “because I didn’t have time to think about fear. I only thought about life.”

 

During the uprising, many prisoners broke through the fences and fled to the nearby forests. Some were killed during the escape and subsequent searches. Others were betrayed to the Germans or murdered by the villagers who lived near the camp.

 

Semion survived. After the war, he returned to the Ukraine, married, and made aliyah in 1990. Semion has two sons, two grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

 

Yehuda “Poldek” Maymon

 

Yehuda Maymon, known by his underground name, “Poldek,” was born in Krakow, Poland in 1924. As a member of the Tzofeh scouts movement and later the Akiva Zionist youth movement, he joined the resistance and was made the courier for headquarters. He helped hang posters that called upon the Poles to resist, and was one of the group that threw homemade hand grenades into the Cyganeria Café in the center of town, killing German officers inside.

 

Poldek confronted death many times. His mother was killed by a German sniper testing the calibration of his gun. His father was murdered in Bergen-Belsen where he was sent after the second selection in Krakow. His girlfriend, whom he met in movement activities, was killed by the Germans.

 

Poldek was sent to Auschwitz, became ill, and lost his will to live. He was sustained only by his desire to survive so he could tell the story of the resistance of Hechaluts Halochem, “the Fighting Pioneer” underground, to which he belonged. A friend rescued him from being sent to the gas chambers, and later he was sent on a death march, from which he managed to escape to freedom.

 

At the end of the war, Poldek returned to Krakow and saw the extent of the devastation. Of the 25,000 Krakow Jews, only 600 survived.

 

Poldek made aliyah, established a family, was a senior officer in the Israel Navy, and returned to Poland as an employee of the Israeli Embassy.

 

He is 89 years old, the father of two and grandfather of seven.

 

Poldek: “If I had to say which moment of my life was the happiest, it was the moment when the creation of the State of Israel was announced.”

Julian Zanoda

 

Julian Zanoda was born in Algiers, the capital of Algeria. When the war broke out, men were drafted, children were expelled from school, and Jews were fired from their jobs. Some family members were sent to a local forced-labor camp with the intent of later sending them to an extermination camp in Europe.

 

The invasion of the American army prevented this from happening. An underground was formed in Algiers and nearby towns, which gave assistance to the forces planning to invade. Carrying out missions assigned by the agents, the underground neutralized strategic positions in Algiers on the day of the invasion – shutting down the telephone system and holding strategic locations for 24 hours. Julian was then 10 years old. He joined his father in the underground meetings, and he remembers that on the day of the invasion, his family members left home to block access roads and paralyze the transportation, endangering their lives to enable the American army to enter and take control of the city.

 

Julian and his family survived the war and emerged unscathed from underground activity. Julian made aliyah in 1970. Today he is the director of Moriel: Commemorating the Heritage of Algerian Jewry. He has three daughters, eight grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

 

Julian Zanoda: “History has given us a state and the chance to build and develop that state.”

Shimon and Yale Zuckerman

 

The sixth torch will be lit by Shimon and Yael Zuckerman, the son and daughter of Yitzhak “Antek” Zuckerman and Zivia Lubetkin, and their granddaughters Eyal, Roni, and Noam.

 

Antek Zuckerman was one of the leaders of the Dror Hechaluts Zionist youth movement and the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Antek would travel illegally to underground cells throughout Poland to help organize them and train the activists for underground activity.

 

Antek called for unifying the Zionist movements, and was one of the founders and leaders of the Jewish Fighting Organization (ŻOB), which united most of the ghetto forces. In the Warsaw Ghetto, he was deputy commander to Mordechai Anielewicz. Following the death of Anielewicz, Antek assumed leadership of the Jewish Fighting Organization, and headed all the Jewish fighting organizations in Polish towns. After the uprising and rescue of the few fighters who survived in the ghetto, he again met the woman who would become is wife, Zivia Lubetkin, who was also a leader of the Jewish Combat Organization.

 

Zivia was among the first to illegally cross the border into occupied Warsaw out of a sense of responsibility to the young people who were left behind. She was an organizer of the renewed movement activity, attended to the welfare of the members, negotiated support from the Judenrat, and often endangered her life trying to find escape routes for the underground. The name “Zivia” became a code word for the Dror movement and even for all Polish Jewry. She later became one of the organizers and commanders of the uprising.

 

After the war, Antek and Zivia were active in the Beriha “Escape” organization to help Jewish survivors leave Eastern Europe.

 

Yitzhak made aliyah to Israel in 1947 and was one of the founders of the Ghetto Fighters’ Kibbutz (Kibbutz Lohamei Haghetaot), and the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum in commemoration of the Holocaust, the bravery, and the resistance.

 

The education division and study center of the Museum are named for Zivia and Yitzhak Antek Zuckerman. Antek died in 1981, some three years after the death of Zivia; they are both buried in the cemetery of Kibbutz Lohamei Haghetaot.

 

 

The Wreath for the Righteous Among the Nations

Marta Peled, daughter of Righteous Gentile Joop Westerweel who helped more than 300 Jewish adolescents escape occupied Dutch territories, laid the Wreath for the Righteous Gentiles. Joop Westerweel was captured, interrogated and tortured, but did not reveal anything to his interrogators. Westerweel, who was married and the father of four, was executed in 1944 at the age of 45

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