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  • Writer's pictureAnnemeet Hasidi-van Der Leij

The Last Descendant….

There is a special memorial on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem to honor the Holocaust survivors who fell in Israel's 1948 War of Independence.

It is called the "Monument to the Last Descendant" because these young people came to Israel alone as the last survivors of their families.

Shalom Tepper, born in 1925 in Radom, Poland was one of those survivors.

He was deported to the Auschwitz and Majdanek camps, but survived.

He escaped and joined the Partisans in the Polish forests, where he fought the Nazis until the end of the war. Tepper came to Israel in 1946 and joined the Haganah two years later. This was the Jewish army in the period before the State of Israel was founded in 1948 and the foundation of today's Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), the army of Israel.

At the outbreak of the War of Independence on May 15, 1948, Tepper was serving in Battalion 33 of the Alexander Brigade. This Battalion was deployed to stop the army of Jordan and Iraq and also had a role in stopping the army of Egypt.

Shalom Tepper was killed in the battle of the Gaza Strip, where they fought against the Egyptian army. 89 other Israeli soldiers were killed in this battle.

Israel's anniversary, which begins tonight (April 30), commemorating the Israeli dead from all Israeli wars, including those killed by terrorist attacks, will also commemorate Tepper, along with all the other soldiers who gave their lives to defend this country.

Another Holocaust survivor who fought in the War of Independence and who was also born in Radom in Poland is Eliezer Ayalon.

Ayalon's story ended completely differently from Tepper's. Ayalon survived the War of Independence and subsequently married and had two children.

Born in 1928, Ayalon survived five different camps before being liberated by American soldiers. His entire family was murdered in the Treblinka extermination camp.

In an interview with Yad Vashem six years ago, Ayalon tells his story:

“I arrived here in Eretz Yisrael when I was a boy of 17 years old. All alone, from one world to a totally different world! This was the place my father had always told every Jew to go and then go up to Jerusalem.

My parents instilled in me an enormous love for this country from a very young age, which is why I came here after the war in Europe.

The day David ben Gurion proclaimed the State of Israel I felt I was coming back to normal life.” Ayalon recalls.

"Now here I am, with two married children, five grandchildren and a great-grandson. Three generations born from the ashes of the Holocaust. Today I am the happiest man in the world!”

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