Remains of fallen female soldier found after 70 years

25 year-old Private Liebke Schaeffer was killed defending Kibbutz Yad Mordechai against an Egyptian assault.

May 6, 2018 21:01
1 minute read.
A SOLDIER stands in front of a monument engraved with names of fallen soldiers, ahead of a ceremony

A SOLDIER stands in front of a monument engraved with names of fallen soldiers, ahead of a ceremony marking Remembrance Day, in Jerusalem. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The IDF has located the remains of a female soldier who was killed during the War of Independence, 70 years ago, after an intensive search by the branch for locating missing persons, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit announced on Sunday.

Pvt. Liebke Schaeffer, who was born in Poland in 1914 and immigrated to Israel in 1939, was killed defending her kibbutz of Yad Mordechai from an Egyptian attack on the night of May 23-24 1948, just days after the declaration of the establishment of the state.

Liebke Schaeffer (Izkor website)

Schaeffer and Pvt. Yitzhak Rubinstein, who was also from Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, were evacuating the wounded, carrying Pvt. Binyamin Eisenberg, who had been injured in the attack, when all three were killed.

All three were recognized as fallen soldiers whose burial places were unknown and until today, Schaeffer was the only female IDF soldier whose burial place was unknown.

Lt.-Col. Nir Yisraeli, the head of the Missing Persons Division of the IDF, said that locating the bodies of soldiers killed in wars is not a simple task and the troops involved are required to have “initiative, commitment to the mission and professionalism.”

Having a “proper burial – this is the IDF’s obligation to the fallen and their families. Any investigation that comes to an end is significant,” Yisraeli said, adding that being able to give the family closure “gives us the strength to move on, to act and investigate tirelessly, in order to close the investigations of as many dead as possible whose burial place is not known.”

There is a memorial erected to Schaeffer in the military cemetery in Yad Mordechai, which is located some 10 kilometers south of Ashkelon, close to the northern Gaza Strip. Her name will be added to the mass grave in Kibbutz Nitzanim in a ceremony that will be led by the head of the IDF’s Manpower Directorate, Maj.-Gen. Moti Almoz.

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