Auction 42 - Rare and Important Items

A Note Handwritten by Beitar Fighter Shlomo Ben-Yosef – First of "Olei HaGardom" – Written Prior to his Execution

Opening: $10,000
Unsold
A note handwritten by Shlomo Ben-Yosef. [It is believed that the note was written in the Acre Prison on June 28,1938, a day prior to his execution].
Ben-Yosef wrote on the note, in pencil, the sentence: "Mavet, Neged Moledet, Ze Efes" (Hebrew: "Death is nothing compared to [fighting for] the Homeland") and signed his name "Shlomo Ben-Yosef".
Shlomo Ben-Yosef (Tabachnik) was born in 1913 in Lutsk, Poland. When still a child he expressed Zionist views and at the age of 15 joined Beitar. His father died in 1930 and he was obliged to support his family. In spite of being unable to achieve a "certificate" he managed to immigrate to Eretz Israel together with a group of other Beitar members in the framework of "Af Al Pi" Aliya, and joined an enlistment company in Rosh Pina. When he arrived in Rosh Pina he burnt his foreign passport and changed his name from Shalom Tabachnik to Shlomo Ben-Yosef, after his father.
During the Arab Revolt of 1936-1939, following atrocious terror attacks by Arabs [on March 29, 1938, five Jews who rode in a taxi on the Acre-Safed road were murdered, a Jewish woman was raped and her body dissected; on April 16, 1938 a car was shot at, five of its passengers were "Hagana" members three of whom were killed, amongst them David Ben Gaon, who earlier fought with the Beitar Company in Rosh Pina and was a close friend of Shlomo Ben-Yosef]. When it became clear that Etzel commander and Ze'ev Jabotinsky do not approve of starting attacks, Ben-Yosef, and two other members, decided to plan a retaliation attack. The three ambushed an Arab bus, shot at it and threw a grenade. The grenade did not explode, Ben-Yosef and his friends were captured, brought to court by the British and Shlomo Ben-Yosef was sentenced to death.
On June 29, 1938 Ben-Yosef marched to the gallows while singing Beitar songs. When a sack was put over his head he cried out "Long live Jabotinsky".
One day prior to the execution, Ben-Yosef wrote several letters and several notes. In a letter to Ze'ev Jabotinsky he wrote "it is a great honor to let you know that tomorrow I go to fulfill my last sacred duty, as a soldier of Beitar in Eretz Israel…" on other notes he wrote various slogans and ideas: "I was a Beitar servant until my last day", "What is a homeland? It is worth living for, fight for, and die for", "Tel-Hai friends! Do not be scared, I shall die like a Beitarist with the name of Ze'ev Jabotinsky on my lips.." and more. The note presented here is one of this group of notes and letters which were, most probably, written the night prior to his execution.
Note, 5.5X8 cm. Mounted on a black Bristol sheet and attached to cardboard. Good condition. Folding marks. Miniature tear in the center. Minor spots. Tear with omission on lower left corner.
Provenance: The estate of Simcha Holtzberg, "Father of the Wounded Soldiers".
Category
Rare and Important Items