‘Forrest Gump of Jewish History’ Succumbs to Coronavirus
Stand for Israel | April 21, 2020
As Israel and those who stand for her observe Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), we will also remember a hero of the Holocaust who Schindler’s List director Stephen Spielberg dubbed “the Forrest Gump of Jewish history.” The Times of Israel’s Matt Lebovic reports on the passing of Benjamin Levin, who battled Nazis (he can be seen above, kneeling and looking down his rifle on the left) and leapt from a burning ship arriving in the newly formed modern state of Israel:
Calling his late father “extraordinarily unassuming,” son Chaim Levin spoke with The Times of Israel on Thursday. According to Levin, the key moments of his father’s life revolved around making difficult choices.
“Ordinary people are put into extraordinary circumstances,” said Levin. “What they do after is the measure of humanity.”
After watching the Nazis decimate the Jewish community of Vilna, Levin joined the “Avengers,” a small partisan band led by firebrand Abba Kovner…
During the German occupation of Lithuania, Levin’s group destroyed miles of railroads, blew up bridges, and killed an estimated 212 Nazis. Prisoners were never taken, including when the Jewish partisans helped liberate Vilnius in 1944. Marching through town with the Red Army, the “Avengers” identified collaborators for execution.
Although Levin’s parents survived the war, they were killed by neighbors in Vilnius when they came to reclaim their home. Chaim Levin is named after his grandfather, whom he never met.
After the murder of his parents, Levin and his sister to moved to pre-state Israel, where he joined the extremist Irgun.
Levin began his career in the right-wing paramilitary group by transporting Jewish survivors from Europe to pre-state Israel. Traveling through Turkey and Syria, Levin’s partisan skills served him until the Soviet army arrested him for these illegal activities…