Friday, November 20, 2009

1948 Betar Conference in Paris

Posted By Ann Rabinowitz

Can You Identify These Betar Delegates?
Left to right:
Eli Blankenfeld (later went to Brazil), Moshe Halperin (later went to Israel and became Tsemah Tsemarion), Motel Zandberg, and Zedek/Zadok (last name unknown).


Very often, one’s ancestors were involved in various religious, social or political or youth activities and it is through these activities that more about them can be learned. An example of this is those individuals who participated in the Betar (בית"ר, also spelled Beitar) Revisionist Zionist youth movement which was founded by Vladimir Jabotinsky in Riga, Latvia, in 1923.

By 1940, the Betar movement lost their beloved leader Vladimir Jabotinsky, but continued their activities throughout the war years, especially in Poland where their largest contingent was located. They gathered speed after the end of the war despite the destruction of a good proportion of their membership through the decimation of the Holocaust. A general conference was held in Paris in September, 1948, to bring about some better organization of the European Betar movement.

To put the Conference in perspective, it followed the proclamation of the new State of Israel on May 14, 1948 and the Altalena Affair in June, 1948.

Photos of the attendees have been gathered together by Lea Dror-Batalion, the daughter of the director of the Professional Betar School in Darmstadt, Samuel Milek Batalion. The School was run entirely under the auspices of Betar and helped train Holocaust survivors after the War. Unfortunately, the individuals in these historic photographs are, for the most part, not identified by name. Dror-Batalion has a wonderful site which incorporates all that she has learned about her father and the people he served in Betar. She is hoping that visitors to the site will be able to provide identifications for some of the people in the photographs.

The site is located here.

The following is a photograph of Samuel Milek Batalion during his attendance at the Paris Conference.



Samuel Milek Batalion

The attendees at the conference were mainly Holocaust survivors, many from France and Germany, but others were from places such as the Baltics, who later made aliyah to Israel after their training with Betar. Afterwards, destinations such as America and Latin America received some of these delegates who did not choose to go to Israel.


Delegation on Excursion in Paris

A photo of a group of participants to the conference is shown above on one of their excursions in Paris. A further photograph depicts a plenary session of the conference with all of the delegates in attendance. As can be seen, there were women delegates or attendees in the background as well as the men.



General Meeting of Europe Betar Representatives

It is photographs such as these that enhance what we know of the post-War world and the lives and aspirations of the Jews who survived the Holocaust. Despite the decimation of the old world they knew and loved and the desolation and losses that they had sustained, these survivors continued to search for and dream of a better contemporary world which featured the continued survival of the new State of Israel.


NOTE
: It would be appreciated that if you recognize any of the individuals in these photographs or those on Lea Dror-Batalion’s sites that you contact the Blog.

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