Yitzhak Zuckerman

Yitzhak Zuckerman

Yitzhak Zuckerman was born in Vilna in 1915. After leaving the Hebrew High School he joined the Zionist youth movement and by 1936 was working at head office in Warsaw. A socialist, Zuckerman was elected secretary general in 1938.

When the German Army invaded Poland in September 1939 he moved to the Soviet Union. In April 1940 he returned to Poland in order to promote underground resistance to the Nazis.

Zuckerman attempted to unite Marxist and Zionist forces in Poland by forming the Ha-Shomer Has-Tas'ir. On 22nd December 1942, Zuckerman, Gole Mire and Adolf Liebeskind took part in an attack on a café in Cracow that was used by the Schutz Staffeinel (SS) and the Gestapo. Mire and Liebskind were both tracked down and killed but although shot in the leg he managed to escape.

Zuckerman also joined Mordechai Anielewicz, the leader of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in April 1943 and the Polish uprising in August 1944. Zuckerman survived the war and in 1947 emigrated to Israel where he established the Ghetto Fighters' Kibbutz and the Ghetto Fighters' Museum.

Yitzhak Zuckerman, who appeared as a witness at the Adolf Eichmann trial in 1961 died in Israel in 1981.

Primary Sources

(1) Leaflet published by the Jewish Self-Defence Organization (December 1942)

Do not go willingly to your death! Fight for life to the last breath. Greet our murders with teeth and claws, with axe and knife, hydrochloric acid and iron crowbars. Make the enemy pay for blood with blood, for death with death?

Let us fall upon the enemy in time, kill and disarm him. Let us stand up against the criminals and if necessary die like heroes. If we die in this way we are not lost.

Make the enemy pay dearly for your lives! Take revenge for the Jewish centres that have been destroyed and for the Jewish lives that have been extinguished.

(2) Mordechai Anielewicz, was one of the leaders of the Warsaw Uprising. Just before he was killed he wrote a letter to his friend Yitzhak Zuckerman.

What we have experienced cannot be described in words. We are aware of one thing only; what has happened has exceeded our dreams. The Germans ran twice from the ghetto.

Perhaps we will meet again. But what really matters is that the dream of my life has come true. Jewish self-defence of the Warsaw ghetto has become a fact. Jewish armed resistance and retaliation have become a reality. I have been witness to the magnificent heroic struggle of the Jewish fighters.