Sarah Braverman, pioneer paratrooper, dies at 95

Founder of IDF Women’s Army Corps parachuted into Nazi-controlled Europe with Hannah Senesh.

February 10, 2013 17:01
2 minute read.
Sarah Braverman

Sarah370. (photo credit: courtesy)


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Sarah Braverman, a founder of the IDF Women’s Army Corps, passed away on Saturday at the age of 95.

Surika, as she was known, was one of the first women to join the Palmah, the elite striking arm of the Hagana militia, the forerunner of the Israeli army. She was also one of only three women among a select group of 37 volunteers from the Yishuv, Israel’s pre-state Jewish community, who were parachuted into Nazicontrolled territory during the World War II.

Her funeral is scheduled for Monday at Kibbutz Shamir in the Upper Galilee.

One of the founders of the kibbutz, Braverman was a dedicated Socialist Zionist and a member of the Hashomer Hatzair youth movement. She was born in the Romanian city of Botosani in 1918 and studied agriculture after making aliya in 1938, during the period of the British Mandate.

Braverman was honored by Israel during her lifetime for her role in assisting underground fighters in Europe, however, she never achieved the level of fame of her fellow paratrooper Hannah Senesh, who was killed after landing near the Hungarian border and whose poetry became an integral part of the Zionist zeitgeist here.

Too scared to jump during her paratrooper mission, Braverman eventually found her way onto the European battlefield “but landed on the ground in a small plane,” she told participants three years ago during a memorial for her friend Haviva Reik, another volunteer parachutist.

At that same event, Braverman also noted that she, Senesh, Reik and the other volunteers were “simple people who believed in what they were doing for their people and the Zionist Socialist and political movements they belonged to.”

During her time in the European underground, she recalled prior to her death, she hid her identity from the partisans and claimed to be an English journalist, but she used her real name. Her cover story, she stated, was ridiculous: “Whoever heard of an educated English lady who doesn’t wear makeup and knows how to milk partisan cows?”

Braverman was honored with lighting a torch on Israel’s 62nd Independence Day for her efforts to save Jews during the Holocaust.

Following her return from Europe, she was one of the first women to serve in the women’s corps and contributed to the establishment of that service branch.

Seth Frantzman contributed to this report.

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