They fought the Nazis and lost their families in the Holocaust. Now, a Tel Aviv-based organization for partisans who fought in World War Two is being forced to close its doors, with no government funding to support it.
A Tel Aviv-based organization of partisans and ghetto and underground resistance fighters who fought against the Nazis in World War Two has been forced to close its doors.
The Organization of Partisans, Underground Fighters and Ghetto Rebels in Israel, which had become a second home for the former partisans who lost their families in the Holocaust, had to shutter after funding for its activities dried up.
Founded in 1945 by fighters who emerged from the forests of Europe after the end of the war, the organization then set up in Israel in 1948. Run out of a small unit in Tel Aviv, it survived on private donations and membership fees.
“For people who were partisans and members of the ghetto and underground resistance, this organization was a home,” said Baruch Shuv, the organization’s chair. Shuv, 92, had been leading the group for the last 20 years.
“Most of us were on our own because our families were murdered during the Holocaust, and we came to the organization to drink coffee, talk, and most of all not feel alone,” Shuv continued.
“Over the years the organization grew from 300 members to 1,600.”
Shuv, who as a 17-and-a-half-year-old partisan in a Russian unit whose role was to derail German trains and sabotage the rails, is angry and upset.
“We worked to perpetuate and memorialize the legacy of the Holocaust and its heroes, so that people would know that the Jews didn’t go like sheep to the slaughter,” Shuv said.
“We shared stories of resistance, we collected testimonies and put out books written by members of the organization that told their personal stories as partisans. We also gave lectures in schools about the resistance.”
But the number of members started to decrease over the years and it became harder to fundraise. In the absence of organized state support, the organization was eventually forced to give up on its activities.
“It’s a terrible feeling. We don’t deserve a bitter ending like this,” Shuv said. “It’s as if it’s forbidden to record this episode of the history of the Jewish people. The State of Israel, with its leaders and clerks, has finally managed to overthrow and subdue the Jewish partisans, the rebels and all the members of the resistance who fought the Nazis.
“The German army, with all its might, didn’t manage it, but the leaders and clerks of the State of Israel have.”