Friday, August 02, 2013
In Memory of Eliyahu Shlomi
This item appeared in the Palestine Post on August 21, 1940:
The story behind his death:
Eliyhau Shlomi (Daiches) was a Betari from Vilna. His sister, Paula/Paulinka, is mentioned in Menachem Begin's "White Nights" on pages 189-191 in the 2007 edition I annotated. He came to Mandate Palestine on the clandestine immigration ship, the Draga, in later 1938.
The story begins in the summer of 1939 when Irgun members in Herzliya discovered two Hagana arms caches and removed 30 rifles, 2 sub-machine guns, grenades and ammunition. A year later, when a check was made, the Hagana discovered the loss of their weapons and sought out who was responsible.
They entered the citrus grove of the Plesser family, held a son, Shmuel, for a few days and beat him viciously with fist blows to his nose and so managed to discover an Irgun cache but the quantity was small. Unknown to all, the former head of the Irgun in Herzliyah, Yaakov Polansky-Polani, had joined the Lechi and took the arms with him.
The Hagana then decided to empty other arms caches of the Irgun in Kfar Saba and, again, after some brute physical force applied to the father of the Irgunist in charge who also had been kidnapped, one Antzilevich, including the application of 30 falaka whip blows (beating on the soles of the feet), 2 Hotchkiss machine guns were taken along with 79 rifle and 7300 rounds of ammunition delivered the previous year from Poland. At a second location, a man and his wife were detained by the same Hagana unit, headed by MH. He was also whipped on his feet and revealed the location which held a considerably large amount of weapons.
The Hagana then decided to punish the Betar unit in Herzliyah, and as the Sefer Hagana notes, they came "to employ sanctions against the dissidents" (this was four years before the Saison was initiated). Despite an earlier search in the clubhouse that revealed nothing, permitted by Yaakov Lankin, some 200 Hagana men and members of the HaPoel sports club descended on the camp on August 18, armed with sticks, poles and knuckledusters, turned off the water and surrounded it, allowing no one in or out. A fight broke out with the vastly outnumbered Betarim who were beaten and the clubhouse totally wrecked.
Eliyahu Shlomi, suffering from blows to his head from a metal pipe, was rushed to hospital and there he died.
He was 21 and had previously served in Zichron Yaakov and Petah Tikva Giyus (special recruitment service units similar to today's Nachal, of Betar.
The notice in HaMashkif:
May his memory be for a blessing.