** Webmaster Note: The following
translation was generously provided by Lior
Mordechai Burko. We have presented it here exactly as it
was translated for us.
Vladimirets Betar Faction – I was one of its founders – I must
comment that there was initially some confusion about it,
because I was also one of the founders of the HaShomer Ha’Zair
It was 1926. I was returning from Dombrovic,
a town nearby Vladimirets. That town already had then
organizations of Zionist youth movements. My prime objective was
to organize the youth in Vladimirets too, but I was still
unfamiliar with the various different movements. We were boys of
14 or 15, and no social contact existed at the time between boys
One Sabbath I summoned a meeting of a youth
group (which in itself was surprising). For boys and girls to
meet under the same roof was something we were not used to in
This was the founding meeting of a youth
movement at my house. I invited Moshe Rosenberg, who was
studying at the time in Vilnius, to give us a lecture of some
sort, without even knowing the nature of this youth movement.
One thing was clear to us: It will be for the best if a scouts
group whose slogan would be mens sana in corpore sano [“a
healthy mind in a healthy body”] were to be established in
Most of the boys were Cheder graduates,
filled with nationalistic and Zionist spirit. We did not enquire
too much, and contacted the leadership of HaShomer Ha’Zair.
Bubbling life was starting in town: meetings and gatherins, Hora
dances, educational talks, etc.
After some time I read [Ya’akov]
Yaari-Polskin’s book Dreamers and Fighters [a book on the
life and deeds of the creators of the early pioneer settlements
of Eretz Israel between the years 1871 and 1921, L.M.B]. I was
fascinated by the actions of Joseph Trumpeldor and Zeev
Zhabotinsky. At the same time I read in the newspaper Haynt
a story about a national youth movement called after Joseph
Trumpeldor. The name “Joseph Trumpeldor” intrigued and
fascinated me, and I tried to convince my colleagues at HaShomer
Ha’Zair to move to the new movement that was called Brit [Yoseph]
TRumpeldor – The Trumpeldor Covenant [Betar]. I was not
successful at that.
I therefore left HaShomer Ha’Zair by
myself, and started to organize the new Betar movement in town.
I contacted the Warsaw Betar Headquarters, received much
propaganda materials, that I distributed in town. The Warsaw
Center must have thought we had a true Betar faction in town. It
was the time of election campaigns for the Zionist Congresses,
and the HaShomer Ha’Zair members fought me vigorously.
Especially remarkable in this struggle was Dov Chizhi, who later
left HaShomer Ha’Zair, and founded the HaKhalutz.
Dr. Lipmann of Warsaw arrived one Sabbath
by my invitation to give a lecture. I rented by myself the
Kina Hall. I recall one anecdote from that lecture. A young
boy, who was not a very shy boy, tried to heckle the speaker a
number of times. He particularly dwelt on one phrase of the
lecturer, and bothered him with requests to interpret the
“diagnosis and prognosis” of his talk. The lecturer, who was
already upset, responded [in Yiddish]:
Wipe up your nose.
The lecture was very successful, and
attendance was high. After the lecture I invited an elder youth
group for a conversation with Dr. Lipmann at the house of Leah
Beider. This was the beginning of the true Betar faction in
Vladimirets. With time, many youth joined us. The Betar faction
was especially strengthened when Knesset member of today,
Eliezer Shostak [Knesset member between 1951 and 1988, L.M.B],
joined us. Also the following were very active in the Betar
faction: Sarah-Fassil Dik, Leah Beider, Yudke Bas, Khassil
Resnick, Aharontsik Gorzig, Aharele Millstein, and dozens more,
that brought the Betar faction in our town to the prime of its
No too long ago, I met here in Israel with
Khamra [?] of Rovno, who was a member of the Center of HaKhalutz,
and he told me that at that time the HaKhalutza Center received
communications that Betar grew too strong, and needed to be
weakened. He came to Vladimirets for that purpose. Vladimirets
people surely remember how he was hidden in one of the beds
under the covers when they came to arrest him, but he was
discovered and arrested all the same. The next day he was
released after Nathan Tsherniak’s advocacy.
I will mention here an incident, I believe
it was 1930, during the Polish national Holiday of the Sea [?].
We received a formal invitation from City Hall to participate in
a military parade to be held in town. I commanded the march of
the Betar members, who marched like soldiers in a real military
style, carrying our national flag. This arose the curiosity and
admiration of the gentiles. After the parade the mayor and the
priest came to shale my hand admirably. I will mention an
anecdote again: It was 1931, I believe. By the Hill of Five
Trees, adjacent to the “Susza Wald”, they held a sharpshooting
competition. It was a Sunday, and also I and my Betar colleagues
participated. We shot with real rifles.
When I returned to town Tema Devlin greeted
me with with contempt, and she said “here comes the shooter.”
Indeed, it was considered improper and un-kosher in those
days to shoot a rifle, outside the realm of Betar.
I made Aliya in 1933 leaving a strong Betar
faction behind. When I came for a visit in Vladimirets in 1937 I
found a manifold stronger faction. The youth of 1933 had grown
and I hardly knew them anymore – strong and healthy young men
and women, who had not had the chance to make Aliya, and
were destroyed by the enemy.