Abba Kovner

December 31, 1941: In the dark days of the European Night, this was an attempt to strike a match and bring a flicker of hope to the desperate. On this night, Abba Kovner uttered some of the most meaningful lines of the 20th century.  On New Year’s Eve, Abba Kovner spoke out at a meeting of Zionist Youth hiding in a convent outside of Vilna.  He asserted that Hitler wanted to kill all the Jews and called for armed resistance with his famous words. “Let us not go as sheep to the slaughter.”  As a result of the meeting and his stirring call to action, the Jews formed the United Partisan Organization.  Kovner’s revolt failed and he became part of a partisan unit.  Later, he was active in smuggling Jews into Palestine.  After fighting in the War for Independence, he settled down on a kibbutz with his wife and pursued a career as a poet.  He was one of the witnesses against Eichmann when the Nazi butcher was brought to trial in Jerusalem.

In 1983, Israel Post issued a souvenir sheet honoring WWII Jewish resistance fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto.

Warsaw Ghetto Resistance Fighters - Israel S.S.

And here is a photo of Kovner testifying at Eichmann’s trial in May 1961:

abba kovner at eichmann's trial


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