Blessed Is the Match: The Story of Jewish Resistance by Marie Syrkin

By Marie Syrkin

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In order to increase the chances of success, the attempt was to be made at two different places. Hanna went with one group, Joel with another. Crossing the border involved an elaborate technique and the connivance of smugglers who knew the points at which such attempts could be made. The first at­ tempts were unsuccessful. On one occasion, when the parachutists were in a peasant’s home, they were in­ volved in a shooting foray which almost ended fatally. After several more attempts, however, Hanna finally suc­ ceeded in getting into Hungary, on June 9, 1944.

From there, they could smuggle themselves across the border into the occupied country. Both methods were used. Hanna’s group was dropped in Yugoslavia. Its experience was to serve as a guide for future operations. If successful, a second group was to be dropped shortly in Yugoslavia. It must be remembered that the parachutists wore British uniforms, and if captured were to represent themselves as Palestinian members of the British airforce who had met with an accident over enemy terri­ tory. Their special function involved a dangerous mili­ tary secret, which had to be closely guarded for the sake of future plans as well as the safety of the individ­ uals involved.

The Palestinians had been be­ trayed at every point. Joel was questioned about the whereabouts of his friend, Perez. Following the usual underground technique, they had lived in separate quarters and been careful not to know each other’s address for fear of weakening under the third degree. He soon discovered, however, that Perez had also been arrested. The whole group was in prison. Convinced that the cause was lost, and anxious to forestall torture by the Gestapo, Joel attempted to com­ mit suicide by cutting his wrists with an American aviator’s aluminum identity disk left behind in his cell.

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Blessed Is the Match: The Story of Jewish Resistance by Marie Syrkin
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