To Our Last Breath

Abba Kovner during Israeli War of Independence

Credit:Frank Scherschel/GPO

The man in the above picture is Abba Kovner, and in it he is speaking to members of the IDF as they prepare to win Israel’s independence in 1948. Kovner would go on to help Israel win her freedom, and then become a beloved poet for the people of Israel. But before that, Kovner helped lead Jewish partisans in an uprising against the Nazis in the Vilna Ghetto.

On New Year’s Eve of 1941, Kovner spoke to his fellow Jews to inspire them in the seemingly hopeless fight. And then, as seen in the below photo, he read from his original handwritten paper while testifying in Israel in the 1960s trial of the architect of the Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann.

Abba Kovner at Eichmann trial
Abba Kovner at Eichmann trial

In January, we will be focusing on Holocaust-related articles and facts and things of interest, so as those of us who stand for the Jewish state and the Jewish people prepare to leave 2019 and enter into 2020, let us begin with these profound words spoken nearly eight decades ago:

Let us not go like sheep to the slaughter, Jewish youth! Do not believe those who are deceiving you. Out of 80,000 Jews of the Jerusalem of Lithuania, only 20,000 remain.

In front of your eyes our parents, our brothers, and our sisters are being torn away from us. Where are the hundreds of men who were snatched away for labor by the Lithuanian kidnappers? Where are those naked women who were taken away on the horror night of the provocation? Where are those Jews of the Day of Atonement? And where are our brothers of the second ghetto?

Anyone who is taken out through the gates of the ghetto will never return. All roads lead to Ponary, and Ponary means death.

Oh, despairing people, tear this deception away from your eyes. Your children, your husbands, your wives, are no longer alive. Ponary is not a labor camp. Everyone is shot. Hitler aimed at destroying the Jews of Europe. It turned out to be the fate of the Jews of Lithuania to be the first.

Let us not go like sheep to the slaughter. It is true that we are weak, lacking protection, but the only reply to a murderer is resistance.

Brothers, it is better to die as free fighters than to live at the mercy of killers. Resist, resist, to our last breath.

Tags: Abba Kovner Adolf Eichmann Anti-Semitism Holocaust Israel World War II

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