Yitzhak Zuckerman, Jewish Rebel, is Born, 1915
On This Day in Jewish History: December 13, 1915
On December 13, 1915, Yitzhak Zuckerman – who went by the name Antek in the Warsaw Ghetto – was born in Warsaw, Poland. As an active member of Zionist youth movements, namely Hehalutz, Zuckerman was one of the first to interpret the “deportations” to the East as the beginning of the systematic annihilation of Jews.
In March 1942, Zuckerman met with other leaders of youth movements where they discussed the need for a defense organization. While many feared that resistance would only provoke the Nazis, on July 28, the ZOB (Jewish Fighting Organization) was formed. This came shortly after the first deportation of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto to the Treblinka extermination camp. As one of the three commanders, Zuckerman helped create another organization, the Jewish National Committee (ZKN).
Zuckerman became one of the key points of contact with resistance movements on the Aryan side outside of the ghetto. As such, he was able to negotiate the black-market purchases of pistols, grenades and rifles. He was then able to smuggle these, along with messages, into the Warsaw Ghetto through the sewers.
Zuckerman was outside of the ghetto during the uprising and was not able to make it back in time. However, he was able to save around 75 fighters within the ghetto’s walls through sewers and onto the underground of the Aryan side following the uprising. Active until the war’s end, Zuckerman continued to spread word of the situation regarding the state of European Jewry. At the end of the war, Zuckerman and his wife, Zivia Lubetkin (another leader in the Warsaw Ghetto) moved to British Mandated Palestine, where they settled in 1947 and founded the kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot.
In 1961, Zuckerman and Lubetkin were prosecution witnesses in the trial of Adolf Eichmann. While recognized as a hero for his efforts during the war, his mental health suffered greatly. In 1981, Zuckerman died of a heart attack and passed away at age 66.