The Revisionists who fought with the ZZW in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising have been denied their rightful place in history, argues former defense minister Moshe Arens.
The first German units entered the quarter at 6 a.m., marching in formation and singing. Behind them came light tanks and motorcycle units. As the lead troops reached an intersection, hand grenades and Molotov cocktails exploded around them and gunfire was opened from an adjacent building. The soldiers scattered, leaving their wounded sprawled on the street.
Thus, on April 19, 1943 - the day before Pessah - began the uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto. It would take four days before the Germans, backed by artillery and tanks, would break the back of the resistance - but it was almost a month before their commander, SS General Jurgen Stroop, reported to his superiors that "the Jewish quarter of Warsaw no long exists."
The Warsaw uprising was the first urban revolt in Nazi-occupied Europe. In Jewish history, it would hold an even more significant place - a counter to the "sheep to the slaughter" image of six million Jews surrendering passively to death, an affirmation that Jews could fight. Numerous accounts by eyewitnesses and historians over the past 63 years have left the impression that there is nothing new to be said about the event. However, history is now being called to task for having overlooked a central element of the story.
The source of this revisionist - and Revisionist (see below) - view is former defense minister Moshe Arens. His academic credentials are as a professor of aeronautical engineering, not history. But Arens has devoted the past three years to researching the role played in the uprising by Betar, the youth movement of the right-wing Revisionist camp.
Arens grew up in Riga, where Betar was founded by Ze'ev Jabotinsky, and he himself served as head of the Betar branch in the United States which his family reached on the eve of the war.
"In 1963, a book by a former partisan, Haim Lazar, was published in which he said that the important role played by Betar had been marginalized," said Arens, 80, in a recent interview. "His book made an impression on me but I was too busy to look into it. After I left the Knesset, I had the time."
On the basis of research into Jewish, Polish and German sources, as well as interviews with surviving participants in Israel and Poland, Arens has produced articles on the subject published in Jewish scholarly journals. He argues that the commonly accepted narrative of the uprising, which assigns Betar a peripheral role at best, is skewed. Betar's fighters were the best armed and trained in the ghetto, he says. It was Betar that raised the Jewish and Polish flags that agitated the German high command and transfixed the Polish population watching the battle from afar, and it was to the Betar sector that Stroop referred when he described the "main Jewish battle group."
Betar's leaders were killed in battle while key leaders in the other Jewish camp, dominated by left-wing Labor Zionists, survived. It was the latter's version that set the tone of the subsequent narrative, leaving a large hole at the center of one of the epics of modern Jewish history by playing down, or totally ignoring, Betar's role. Despite Arens's admittedly partisan interest in the subject, his writing avoids polemics and his argument is backed by well annotated sources.
On the eve of the war, Warsaw's Jewish community, numbering more than 300,000, was the largest and most vibrant of any in Europe. When the Germans invaded Poland in September 1939, the entire Jewish communal leadership fled eastward. Within a few months, the two main left-wing youth movements, Hashomer Hatza'ir and Dror, sent emissaries back to Warsaw so as not to leave their members leaderless. Among those dispatched were Mordechai Anielewicz and Yitzhak Zuckerman, both of whom would play a central role in the ghetto resistance.
Betar, the largest youth movement in Poland with 700 branches and 70,000 members, did not send anyone back. Betar's leader was Menachem Begin. The heads of the World Betar movement in London criticized his departure from Warsaw, using the analogy of a captain being the first to leave his sinking ship, as Begin would reveal with evident discomfort in a letter to an associate. He had chosen to flee, he indicated, because as a well-known personality he faced almost certain arrest and would then have been of no use to the movement. If his associates felt otherwise, he wrote, "I will draw the extreme conclusion - that is, I will return to Warsaw."
Begin did not return and neither did the Polish Betar leadership, assembled in Vilna, send anyone else. Arens suggests that despite the German occupation, the organization's focus remained on the coming battle for Palestine for which their youth groups had been preparing.
"Their view was Palestine-centered and their interest was to get their members out of occupied Poland to Vilna, rather than the other way around."
Jabotinsky had created the Irgun Zvai Leumi - Etzel or simply the Irgun - as the movement's fighting arm. It recruited its members from Betar and plans had been laid for the landing of thousands of armed men in Palestine in boats acquired by the movement.
An American Jewish historian, Lenni Brenner, explained Begin's departure in a similar vein. "Begin had become famous within his movement for his unique prescription for the Jewish dilemma: the immediate conquest of Palestine. He was not fleeing from the greatest disaster in Jewish history, he was rushing towards the only opportunity for a Jewish future."
IN NOVEMBER 1940, the Germans enclosed the Jews of Warsaw in a walled ghetto. It was another year before the shape of the Final Solution became clear when 35,000 of Vilna's Jews were massacred. Emissaries were sent from Vilna to the Warsaw Ghetto with the news. Recalling his reaction, Yitzhak Zuckerman said, "This was not a pogrom anymore. I realized this was total death."
Meeting with other political leaders in the ghetto, Zuckerman proposed setting up an organization for armed resistance but the idea was rejected out of hand. Resistance, the others feared, could only bring catastrophe.
In the summer of 1942, almost three years after the start of the war, the Germans began the mass deportation of Jews from Warsaw. Within seven weeks, 270,000 were sent for "resettlement" but got only as far as the gas chambers at Treblinka. Fewer than 50,000 Jews now remained in the ghetto. Zuckerman and other youth movement leaders decided at this point to establish a fighting organization on their own if need be. The Jewish Fighting Organization came to be known by its Polish initials, ZOB. It grew to embrace 10 groupings - Zionists, Communists, even the anti-Zionist Bund - in fact, all the Jewish organizations in the ghetto except Betar.
Squads were organized, each made up of members of the same political grouping so as to ensure cohesion. Twenty-three-year old Anielewicz was chosen as overall commander. The weapons available were brass knuckles, knives, sticks and two pistols. That arsenal would grow, but not by much.
The antipathy between the mainstream Labor Zionists and Betar stemmed from deep ideological differences over the way to Jewish independence in Palestine. The Labor Zionists envisaged the incremental upbuilding of a Jewish homeland by creating farming settlements and a strong urban proletariat. Many of its members trained as agriculturists in anticipation of founding kibbutzim. Betar, on the other hand, took its cue from one of its songs - "In blood and fire Judah fell, in blood and fire Judah will rise." Instead of training for Palestine by milking cows, its young members wore brown shirts and executed military-style drills.
Mainstream Jews regarded Betar followers as fascistic "wild ones" who had placed themselves outside the consensus. The murder in 1933 in Tel Aviv of Haim Arlosoroff, the head of the political department of the Jewish Agency, was widely attributed to Revisionists, adding a blood grudge to the ideological split. In the Warsaw Ghetto, a Labor Zionist newsletter editor saw fit, even as they awaited the final German aktion, to write about the 10-year-old murder and link it to Betar.
Left to their own devices by the failure of their leaders to return and by the refusal of the ZOB in Warsaw to incorporate them, Betar members formed their own fighting organization, the Jewish Fighting Union, known as ZZW. It had begun with contacts between Jewish reserve army officers affiliated with Betar and "Aryan" officers they had served with in the Polish army. The Jewish officers were initially incorporated as a cell within the Polish underground. But it was soon transformed into an autonomous Jewish resistance organization, the ZZW, which recruited regular Betar members. Unlike the ZOB, the ZZW also accepted Jews unaffiliated with any political group.
Three previous unknowns emerged to assume command. The first was David Apfelbaum, 38, an ex-army officer from a wealthy family who was involved in the initial contacts with the Polish underground. Although a follower of Jabotinsky, he had not held any position in the Revisionist movement. At some point, the leadership passed from him to Pavel Frenkel, who was 23 when he commanded the ZZW in the ghetto's final days.
Frenkel had been a youth leader in Betar and was an inspiring orator. "We are not ruled by despair," he wrote in a posthumous tribute to Jabotinsky in 1942, "because the wave creates the swimmer - that is what you taught us."
A Revisionist leader would describe Frenkel as "one of the most beautiful, the most honest and one of the most modest figures that I have ever met in the course of a long political life. He was the personification of dignity."
The third member of the triumvirate was Leon (Leibel) Rodal, a 30-year-old reporter for the Yiddish newspaper Moment. The child of a wealthy family from Kielce, he had fled Warsaw before the Germans arrived but returned to the ghetto even though he had the looks and the means to hide out on the Aryan side of the city. The editor of another newspaper would recall him years later: "Always well dressed, elegantly but not ostentatiously. He loved life and its pleasures without neglecting his journalistic work, which was for him the first priority. I was not sure that a person like him, who was used to everything being available for him, would be capable of sacrificing his comforts, or even more than that, if it was required. I was wrong about him."
A vivid portrait of Frenkel and a group of other ZZW fighters was given by a Polish underground leader, Janusz Cezary Ketling-Szemley. He met them four months before the uprising in a shack far from the ghetto. The ZZW had acquired the structure to store arms and other materiel purchased on the Aryan side of the city.
"In a low dark room, where large amounts of ammunition, hand grenades and pistols had been stored, I found some young Jews dressed in civilian clothes. Only pistols and hand grenades stuck in their leather belts gave away that they were members of a military organization. Their commander, Pavel, wanted to personally check the possibility of cooperation with the military and civilian Polish authorities.
"The small wooden house on the far outskirts of Warsaw had been transformed into a stronghold, ready to be defended at any moment. I liked the attitude of the Jewish fighters, their fanatical will to fight, the high risk they were willing to take for the cause. Danger had an irresistible charm for me personally. However, the lightheartedness and familiarity with which these young boys treated the danger that awaited them made a very strong impression on me."
Ketling was taken by Frenkel into the ghetto through a 50-meter-long tunnel, lit by electricity and padded with blankets, that had been dug from a cellar inside the ghetto to a cellar on the Aryan side. In the beginning, he learned, the tunnel construction had been directed by "specialist engineers" but they gave up when they encountered subsurface water.
The task was taken over by a 20-year-old named Szlamek.
"His fervor, energy and self-sacrifice influenced everyone," wrote Ketling. "He was inexhaustible, a poet without the knowledge of the art of writing, a self-learned man - a virtuoso. He composed songs and beautifully played the piano. Szlamek, although a layman, had better technical knowledge than the engineers. The completed tunnel was the crown of his short and beautiful life, which came to an end in his heroic fight against the Germans during liquidation of the ghetto."
Shortly before the uprising, historian Emanuel Ringelblum visited the ZZW headquarters, a six-room flat in an otherwise abandoned building. Weapons hung on the walls as did German uniforms acquired for disguise. In one room, instructors were being assigned to give combat courses while an arms purchase deal was being concluded with a former Polish officer from the Aryan side. In another room, someone was reporting about money expropriated from wealthy families in the ghetto for arms purchases.
"There was great activity in the command room, as in any army headquarters. In answer to my question as to why the premises were not camouflaged, I was told that there was no fear of betrayal from their own followers, and in the case of an undesirable visitor, a gendarme, for example - he would not leave alive."
IN JANUARY 1943 - four months after the mass deportation - the Germans staged a smaller roundup, aimed at removing 8,000 ghetto residents. The move caught the ZOB by surprise and there was no time to organize for battle.
However, small units staged improvised attacks. A group of young men and women under Anielewicz inserted themselves into the line of Jews being led away, each of the fighters finding a place abreast of a German soldier. At a signal, they pulled pistols and fired. When Anielewicz's ammunition ran out, he grabbed a gun out of the hand of a German soldier. Another group under Zuckerman, armed only with four pistols and four grenades, fought from inside a building. Skirmishing continued over the four days of the aktion.
According to a Polish underground paper, about 10 gendarmes and German soldiers were killed and a dozen wounded. Jewish losses were given as nine dead. A number of German rifles and pistols were captured.
Although the January fighting was limited in scope, its impact was electrifying. The ghetto population, uncertain previously about how to regard armed resistance, was suffused with pride and henceforth accepted the ZOB's edicts. The lesson for the fighters themselves, as Zuckerman would put it, was that "it is possible to kill Germans and not die; Germans can be defeated." The Germans would henceforth enter the ghetto at night only in groups and were uneasy about going inside buildings at any time.
Frenkel and Rodal met with ZOB leaders in a bid for integration of the ZZW into the overall fighting force. The ZOB agreed to accept ZZW members individually but not the ZZW as an autonomous body. It argued that the ZZW, unlike the other organizations, had opened its ranks to outsiders and might have been infiltrated by informers for the Gestapo. The ZZW in turn said that if it was accepted it wanted the overall command to go to the most qualified person, an apparent allusion to one of its own members. The integration talks failed but there was agreement on the sector the ZZW would defend. As Zuckerman would put it: "We turned over to them part of Muranowska Street and told them: From here you won't go out. If you want to fight, fight." The main part of this sector, Muranowski Square, was at the northeast corner of the ghetto.
According to Prof. Yisrael Gutman of the Hebrew University, whose book The Jews of Warsaw: 1939-1943 is the standard work on the subject, there were about 500 ZOB fighters and 250 ZZW fighters. In addition, there were unaffiliated groups and individuals who would fight on their own. The main problem was the lack of weapons. Although every fighter appeared to have a revolver, the ZOB had a total of only 10 rifles and one or two submachine guns, according to Gutman, who was himself a squad leader in the ZOB. In addition, the organization had about 2,000 grenades and 2,000 Molotov cocktails. Before the start of the battle, every ZOB fighter received 10 to 15 bullets and up to five hand grenades.
In his last message during the battle to Zuckerman, who had been on the Aryan side when the uprising began, Anielewicz would say, "The revolver is worthless and we hardly used it. What we need is grenades, rifles, machine guns and explosives."
Attempts to obtain better weapons from the Polish underground had proved unavailing.
The ZZW was better armed because of its good connections with elements in the Polish underground and because of access provided by its tunnel. It had at least one, perhaps two, machine guns as well as some machine pistols. Both groups also made bombs by packing explosives into pipes.
Following the January skirmish, all fighters were placed on a ready status, living together in squads in their assigned deployment areas.
Gutman says there was no atmosphere of depression among the fighters, even though they recognized that their fate was sealed. "Preparations for battle made for a climate of enthusiasm. The fighters did not wallow in self-pity and sometimes even spoke about their end with a hint of black humor."
The leadership of the ZOB deliberately avoided organizing safe houses on the Aryan side or making any other preparations for escape. "We were afraid to leave so much as a crack open for retreat," Zuckerman would explain.
One of the most remarkable aspects of the uprising was the "bunker mania," as Gutman termed it, that seized the civilian population in the wake of the ZOB's display of daring in January. Until now the Jews had gone to their death submissively because resistance seemed hopeless. The young Jewish fighters had now kindled hope, however faint, amplified by radio reports of the German defeat at Stalingrad.
In virtually every cellar and courtyard in the ghetto, the population, from young to old, worked almost round the clock building sophisticated bunkers whose entrances could be camouflaged. Many were equipped with water pumps, plumbing, electricity, fans and beds, and stocked with bread husks and other food that would enable the inhabitants to hold out for weeks or months. Engineers, architects and other professionals were busily engaged.
The fighting organizations were deluged with young men wanting to join but there were not enough weapons to go around and the organizations wished to maintain the coherence of their ranks on the eve of battle. By going underground, the civilian population had become partners in the resistance. In some bunkers, civilians who had managed to purchase revolvers were prepared to use them if the Germans broke in. At the same time, many acquired cyanide pills.
ON APRIL 18, reports were received from the Aryan side that German troops were massing. About 2 o'clock the next morning policemen could be seen deploying outside the ghetto wall. Residents were alerted and began hauling bedding and other belongings to the bunkers. The fighters took up their positions after receiving helmets and kits containing battle rations, underwear and first-aid supplies.
The Germans were expecting resistance similar to what they encountered in the January skirmishing but they believed that a strong show of force would deter it. They had no idea of what awaited them, thanks apparently to the purge of informers in the ghetto carried out by both the ZOB and ZZW.
The first shots fired by a ZOB squad commanded by Zecharia Artstein triggered the action. The lead German column fell apart and the force retreated from the ghetto. Stroop dismissed the officer in command and took personal charge. Reentering the ghetto, the Germans set fire to Artstein's building but the ZOB squad eluded the soldiers by fleeing over the rooftops. For months, the fighters had prepared escape routes over the roofs and through passages, some underground, between buildings. Four other ZOB squads ambushed a German column and set fire to a tank with Molotov cocktails.
Another German force, entering Muranowski Square in late afternoon, was stunned when it came under heavy fire that included at least one well-sited machine gun. Over one of the tall buildings fronting the square, a blue-and-white Jewish flag was raised by the ZZW defenders. German soldiers succeeded in penetrating another building which appeared to be the center of resistance.
"The Jews and the criminals resisted from position to position and escaped at the last moment by flight across lofts or through subterranean passages," Stroop would report. With darkness, Stroop withdrew his forces from the ghetto.
Something like exaltation gripped the ghetto fighters when they descended into the streets that night. They had survived, with relatively few casualties, a day-long battle against a German force numbering 2,000 soldiers and police and backed by armored vehicles and artillery. It was Pessah Eve.
It can be presumed that some bunker inhabitants improvised a Seder, something they could not have contemplated when the day began. For some, the child's question that opens the ceremony - "Why is this night different from all other nights?" - must have been too cruel to bear. For many, the theme of the Seder - going out of bondage into freedom - would have assumed a new relevance. They were indeed abandoning bondage - not to live as free people but to die as free people.
ON THE second day, the ZZW raised a Polish flag alongside the Jewish one.
Visible across the city through the battle smoke and the incessant sound of explosions, the flags had a deep impact on the rest of Warsaw. It was also impacting on Berlin.
The battle was being closely monitored by SS commander Heinrich Himmler, who feared that the defiant flags could trigger an uprising in the Aryan part of Warsaw. Stroop would later relate that Himmler telephoned him and said, "You must at all costs bring down those two flags."
Despite his best efforts, however, he could not do it that day. Nor the next.
The revolvers of the ghetto fighters were virtually useless at the ranges they were shooting but they were effective against troops entering buildings and attempting to fight their way upstairs. It was not until the fourth day, after artillery had pounded the upper stories of the beflagged building, setting part of it aflame, that soldiers succeeded in reaching the roof and ripping the flags down.
When German officers reported spotting a large group of Wehrmacht soldiers among the Jewish fighters, Stroop feared that prisoners had been taken and notified Berlin. But the men were Jews wearing uniforms which had been manufactured in ghetto workshops. One Jewish survivor would report seeing Rodal dressed in an SS officer's uniform and accompanied by four men dressed as German soldiers approach a group of German soldiers and lure them into an ambush. It is difficult to know how much credibility to accord such stories but the linking of Rodal specifically to the act suggests that he did have occasion to disguise himself as a German at some point.
On the fifth day, Anielewicz reported to Zuckerman that much of the ghetto was burning and that contact had been lost with the units. "Everything that has been done so far has been done perfectly," he said. "The most important thing: my life's dream has been realized. I lived to see Jewish defense in the ghetto in all its greatness and glory."
The German leadership, preoccupied with the Stalingrad and North Africa battles, nevertheless closely followed the surprising events in Warsaw.
"The only thing noteworthy [in the occupied territories]," wrote propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels in his diary on May 1, "is the exceptionally sharp fighting in Warsaw between our police, and in part even the Wehrmacht, and the Jewish rebels. The Jews have actually succeeded in putting the ghetto in a condition to defend itself. Some very hard battles are taking place there, which have gone so far that the Jewish top leadership publishes daily military reports. Of course this jest will probably not last long. But it shows what one can expect of the Jews if they have arms. Unfortunately they also have some good German weapons, particularly machine guns. Heaven only knows how they got hold of them."
Instead of risking casualties by sending men into the buildings, Stroop decided to burn the ghetto down or blow it up in order to flush out the Jews. After several days of intense battle, most of the ghetto fighters would be dead, wounded or exhausted. Survivors took to the bunkers from which they emerged at night to clash with German patrols. Some sought escape routes through sewers and tunnels. Apfelbaum and Rodal were mortally wounded in a battle at Muranowski Square on April 27. The last significant battle was fought the next day in the same ZZW enclave, which Stroop referred to as "the nest of the Jewish military organization situated at the border of the ghetto."
Reporting "very strong resistance," he wrote: "It becomes clearer every day that we now encounter the real terrorists, because the action takes longer than expected. Swearing against Germany and the F hrer and cursing the German soldiers, they hurled themselves out of windows and off balconies."
ANIELEWICZ MET his death along with some 60 ZOB comrades on May 8 when the Germans discovered their bunker at Mila 18. On May 16, Stroop blew up a synagogue and termed the "grand aktion" over. It had been planned as a three-day operation and taken nearly a month. Moreover, it was not yet over.
German police would continue uncovering occupied bunkers for many more months. One of the last armed encounters came in June when Artstein, whose ZOB squad had fired the opening shots, was killed alongside a ZZW squad leader. The partisan divide had been bridged on the field of battle.
About 80 ZOB fighters succeeded in escaping the ghetto through the sewers, including Zivia Lubetkin, Zuckerman's wife. (Women played an active combat role.) Most reached the forests where they joined the partisans. Only about a dozen survived the war, according to Gutman. It is not known how many ZZW fighters survived.
Four armed fighters hid in a bunker for five months before crossing into the Aryan sector. One group of civilians remained hidden in the ghetto until January 1944, and at least one survived the war.
Reported German losses during the uprising were astonishingly low, given the ferocity of the fighting attested to by both sides, its duration, and the physical evidence of the destroyed ghetto. Stroop lists only 16 dead and 102 wounded. The dearth of effective weapons in Jewish hands offers a reasonable explanation.
Stroop was embarrassed by a query from his superiors about the weapons captured in the ghetto. He was able to list only nine rifles and 59 revolvers, as well as several hundred hand grenades and explosives. But it had not been a battle whose outcome would be measured in casualties or territory. It had been a battle for dignity and the Jews had clearly triumphed.
This was reflected in the admiration expressed by underground Polish publications which often had to overcome innate anti-Semitism. "The courageous resistance of the Warsaw Ghetto has been going on for a month," wrote the newspaper Gwardzidsta. "It is the strongest and most prolonged act of resistance in the occupied territories."
Several newspapers noted that it was the first time that Jews, as such, had been engaged in battle since the Bar-Kochba revolt. "For the first time in 18 centuries they have risen from their humiliation," wrote a Catholic youth newspaper. "Who knows whether the spirit of Israel will not rise out of the ashes of Warsaw."
Another underground paper, Mysl Panstwowa (Government Thinking), wrote: "The Jews have risen to the level of a fighting people. Even if they do not fight for their existence - which is out of the question, considering the absolute superiority of the enemy - they have nonetheless demonstrated their right to national existence."
THE JEWISH narrative of the uprising would become inextricably involved in the convoluted politics of the Zionist movement. The first accounts that reached the Yishuv in Palestine came from Jews on the Aryan side of Warsaw, particularly Yitzhak Zuckerman, who had acted as liaison with the Polish underground during the fighting. These accounts mentioned only the ZOB. Zuckerman would later acknowledge that "we issued propaganda communiqu s. I wasn't thinking of historical precision."
But the ZZW would be left out of more elaborate accounts Zuckerman and other ZOB leaders would give later.
After Zuckerman's arrival in Palestine in 1947, he acknowledged ZZW's participation in the battle and deemed it "courageous" but limited its role and derogated its Revisionist leadership. "As is their way, they broke discipline." This complaint, notes Arens, echoed that of the Labor Party leadership in Israel against Begin's IZL which defied the official Zionist leadership. "The Labor Party was in power for the first 29 years of Israel's existence," writes Arens. "During this period Zuckerman's narrative of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, consistent with the prevalent ideologies of the dominant Socialist-Zionist parties and their disdain for the Revisionists and their successors, became embedded in the collective memory."
There was no competing ZZW version, he says, because almost all its senior commanders had been killed. "The few survivors who reached Israel had held no position of importance in the Revisionist movement and consequently their voice was not heard. The commanders of the ZZW - Pavel Frenkel, Leon Rodal and David Apfelbaum - have remained unsung heroes to this day."
The one senior commander to survive, Kalman Mendelson, had been seriously wounded in the ghetto and again in the "Aryan" Polish uprising a year later.
He remained in Poland and it was only 30 years after the revolt that he wrote about it in the Polish press.
Pavel Frenkel survived the battle but was killed in a clash with the Germans in May or June in the Aryan part of the city. No photograph of him has survived, but Arens has reincarnated his image by asking two persons in Israel who knew Frenkel, Fella Finkelstein-Shapchik and Yisrael Ribak, to describe him to Gil Gibli, an artist who has done composite sketches for the Israel Police. The result is published here.
Three months before the uprising, the young Betar leader addressed a gathering of ZZW fighters: "We will die before our time," he said, according to someone who was there, "but we are not doomed. We will be alive as long as Jewish history lives."
The sketch, and the new look at the ZZW's role in the uprising, bring Frenkel and his comrades at last onto the stage of Jewish history.
A long-lasting enmity
The divisiveness between Revisionists and Labor Zionists would continue long after the creation of Israel.
Prime minister David Ben-Gurion refused to permit Ze'ev Jabotinsky's remains to be reinterred in Israel, something that would be granted by Ben-Gurion's successor, Levi Eshkol. Ben-Gurion said he would accept any party into his governing coalition "except Herut [the party established by the Revisionists] and Maki [the Communist Party]," and he would refer to Herut leader Menachem Begin from the Knesset podium not by name but as "the man sitting next to MK Bader."
Visceral hostility would not be transformed into normal political riva lry until the eve of the Six Day War when Begin visited Ben-Gurion at his Sde Boker retreat and urged him to return as prime minister. Eshkol, in turn, invited Begin to join his national unity government.
Abraham Rabinovich, a former reporter for The Jerusalem Post, is the author of The Yom Kippur War: The Epic Encounter that Transformed the Middle East.
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