Zuckerman (Cukierman), Itzhak

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ZUCKERMAN (Cukierman), ITZHAK (Antek ; 1915–1981), Warsaw ghetto fighter. Born in Vilna to a traditional Jewish family, he became one of the four commanders of the Jewish Fighting Organization (zob) that organized armed resistance to the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto. He was educated at Hebrew High School in Vilna and joined *He-Ḥalutz and moved to Warsaw as part of the youth movement. When He-Ḥalutz combined with Dror he became one of two general secretaries organizing the movement throughout Poland. When the war began he escaped eastward to Soviet-occupied Poland and organized underground branches of Dror. In 1940 he returned to German-occupied Poland and became a leader in Warsaw and from there traveled clandestinely to other ghettos, organizing the movement for agricultural training and Zionist education. He met and fell in love with Ẓivia *Lubetkin, a fellow Zionist underground leader. They later married. After word of the Einsatzgurppen activities reached Warsaw, he foresaw that all educational and cultural activities would have to be linked to armed resistance. During the great deportation that commenced on July 23, 1942, and sent 265,000 Jews to the Treblinka death camp in less than 60 days, Zuckerman pressed for active resistance, but his position was rejected at that time. When the zob was formed on July 28, 1942, he became part of staff headquarters. He was sent on a secret mission to Cracow to discuss resistance activities and was wounded there in December 1942. Returning to Warsaw with great difficulty, he participated in the preparations for armed resistance and was part of the group that fought the Germans during the January 18, 1943, deportations. He then became commander of one of the three fighting sectors. Because he looked like a Pole and spoke the language without an accent, he was sent out of the ghetto to obtain arms for the ghetto underground from Polish army organizations; he met with rebuttals. When the Uprising broke out on April 19, 1943, Zuckerman was on the Aryan side of the wall. He wanted to return but he received a formal note from zob commander Mordecai *Anielewicz and a "very aggressive one" from his wife: "You haven't done a thing so far. Nothing." They were desperate for arms. He returned anyway and helped assist fighters escaping the burning ghetto move through the sewers of Warsaw, which he knew well from his smuggling activities. After the Ghetto Uprising, he also helped organize a Jewish underground among Jews in hiding on the "Aryan" side, the Jewish National Council (Żydowski Komitet Narodowy). The committee distributed information and pamphlets dealing with the situation of the Jewish-led struggle against the Nazis, e.g., known as Kol mi-Ma'amakim, which appeared on Aug. 22, 1944. He wrote reports on the activities of the zob that were transmitted to the Polish government-in-exile. During the Warsaw Polish Uprising, the fighting of non-Jews in August 1944, Zuckerman commanded a group of fighters, the remnants of the zob. Liberated by the Russians in January 1945, he devoted himself to the restoration of the He-Ḥalutz movement and *Beriḥah, the mass movement of East European Jews into Western and Southern Europe on their way to Palestine. He arrived in Palestine in 1947 and was one of the founders of kibbutz Loḥamei ha-Getta'ot. In 1961 served as a prosecution witness at the *Eichmann trial in Jerusalem, where he read from the final correspondence he received from Mordecai Anielewicz. Zuckerman was also one of the founding directorate of the *Ghetto Fighters' House and was editor of its publications. During the 1950s and 1960s as the status of the Warsaw Ghetto Resistance fighters provided the first generation of Israelis with a proud history of the Shoah, Zuckerman's moral voice was often heard. He was interviewed by Claude *Lanzmann in the film Shoah, in which he described the aftermath in rather non-heroic terms. "I began drinking after the war. It was very difficult… If you could lick my heart it would poison you." His autobiography, published first in Hebrew and expertly translated into English, ranks together with Czerniakow's Diary and the Ringelblum documents as an indispensable means for understanding the situation of Warsaw's Jews. Aptly titled A Surplus of Memory, it is indeed a full, unexpurgated recitation of his memories from that period.


N. Blumental and J. Kermish, Ha-Meri veha-Mered be-Geto Varsha (1965), index; Z. Popkin, in: Commentary, 13 (1952), 34–37.

[B. Mordechai Ansbacher /

Michael Berenbaum (2nd ed.)]