Commander of Golani Brigade Recounts Family’s Past in the Holocaust

Date: 22/04/2009, 11:09 AM     Author: ani Sneh

At the Ghetto Fighters’ House, six torches were lit in memory of the six million Jews that were murdered in the Holocaust; this year, the sixth torch was lit by Col. Avi Peled at the annual assembly that was held last night (Tuesday), at the Ghetto Fighters’ Kibbutz. “This is a great honor and opportunity”, said Col. Peled to the IDF (Zahal) website. “This is the time for our generation to protect the nation in order to avoid the situation from repeating itself.”

Col. Peled definitely serves as symbol of the continuity of Jewish fortitude, and thus lighting the sixth torch was an appropriate honor. His grandmother, Herena, was born in Vienna in 1922 and in 1939 after the Austrian conquest, her family fled to Czechoslovakia and from there to Poland, only to be separated from her parents and sent to Ghetto Lodz. At the end of the war she was only able to locate her sister, and after 50 years she found out that her third sister lives in Russia. In 1998, the three sisters reunited in Israel. His grandfather, Eli, was born in Poland in 1922 and after the war, he fled to Russia where he joined the Red Army and the Partisans. When the war ended, he found out that he had been left alone. The two met in Austria and then immigrated to Israel by sea, illegally. They moved to Bat Yam, and still live there today. Eli, an officer and a grandson, chose to maintain a military career and to become a commander in the Golani Brigade; he continued to serve even though he got wounded during Operation Cast Lead and returned to command the Brigade despite his injuries. Col. Peled is married to Ronit and is a father to three children.

“Even the atrocities of the Holocaust couldn’t succeed in eliminating us, and the supporters of evil of our generation did not succeed”, said Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, to the audience. “Now we have a country, a national home; now we have an army to protect us. Our fate was put into our hands. We have risen throughout history and we will stand on watch of our liberty, always with respect to our morals and values… We are a nation that advocates peace, and we will do all that is in our power to bring peace upon us and the entire region, but we will not compromise our security and the promise of our existence here. It is our right to be a free nation in our country.”