Lubetkin, Zivia

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LUBETKIN, ZIVIA (1914–1978), founder of Jewish Fighting Organization (zob), fighter in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Born in Beten, near Slonim, Zivia Lubetkin was a member of the Zionist labor youth movement Deror and a representative of *He-Ḥalutz on the National Jewish Council. She married Itzhak *Zuckerman (Cukierman). In the summer of 1939, she attended the Zionist Congress in Basle and returned to Poland in September. During the time of the German invasion she found herself in the Soviet zone of occupied Poland and made her way back to Warsaw, where she was part of the underground. After witnessing the deportations of the summer of 1942, when more than 265,000 Jews were shipped from Warsaw to Treblinka between July 23 and September 12 without resistance, she was one of the organizers of the Jewish Fighting Organization, the zob. She participated in the first armed resistance to the Germans in January 1943. At the time of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (April 1943), she was among the fighters in the central ghetto while her husband was one of the leaders of the revolt, operating on the Aryan side. On May 8, 1943, after the main bunker at Mila 18, which housed the command of the Jewish fighters' organization headed by Mordecai *Anilewicz, fell, Lubetkin escaped from the ghetto with the other surviving fighters through the sewage system. There had been no advanced planning for an escape route and the escape through the sewers was improvised by Simcha Rotem ("Kazik"). Upon arriving on the Aryan side the two clashed, as Lubetkin wanted to wait for other Jews hiding in the sewers and Kazik insisted that they leave rather than risk apprehension by the Germans. In August of the same year, she and her husband sent Isaac Schwarzbart, a member of the Polish National Council in London, a telegram that reported the results of the revolt in the ghetto, called for help, and included a warning to the Jews of Western Europe of the fate awaiting them after deportation to Poland. Zivia Lubetkin fought with the partisans and participated in the Polish revolt of October 1944, together with other survivors of the Warsaw uprising. After Poland was liberated from German occupation by the Soviet army in January 1945, Zivia Lubetkin settled in Palestine. She and her husband were among the founders of kibbutz *Loḥamei ha-Getta'ot, which built a memorial and museum to the ghetto fighters. They were active in the ghetto fighters' organization in Israel. As a member of the executive of *Kibbutz ha-Me'uḥad, she was appointed to the Executive of the *Jewish Agency (1966–68). In her testimony at the *Eichmann trial, she described the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. A compilation of Lubetkin's extemporaneous speeches, Days of Destruction and Revolt, was published in 1979.


Y. Cukierman and M. Basok (eds.), Sefer Milḥamot ha-Getta'ot… (1954), index; Ha-Yo'eẓ ha-Mishpati la-Memshalah Neged Adolf Eichmann: Eduyyot, 1 (1963), 242–61; N. Blumenthal and J. Kermisz, Ha-Meri ve-ha-Mered be-Getto Varshah (1965). Add. Bibliography: Z. Lubetkin, In the Days of Destruction and Revolt (1980); M. Sirkin, "The Passing of a Heroine," in: Midstream (October 1978).

[B. Mordechai Ansbacher /

Michael Berenbaum (2nd ed.)]