Friday, July 19, 2013
HAVIVAH REIK (1914-1944) was one of the four members of the Hagana who were parachuted over Slovakia during World War II.
Havivah was born to working-class parents who lived in a small village near the town Banska Bystrica in Slovakia. She immigrated to Palestine in 1939 and joined the kibbutz Ma'anit of Ha-Shomer ha-Tza'ir. During the critical days of the war she volunteered to return to Slovakia. On September 15, 1944, parachutists from Eretz Israel were dropped over Slovakia into an area that was the scene of fighting between the Germans and the Slovakian anti-Nazi rebels. This was the start of "Operation Amsterdam" - which had been planned by the British army.
On September 20, Havivah Reik was parachuted from an American plane over the heart of the fighting area. She was fourth of the group of parachutists. The four saw as their main aim the organization into a Jewish fighting unit of the Jewish youth who were still in Slovakia; but they discovered that these were already fighting either with the Slovakian army or with the partisans. Havivah returned, therefore, to Banska Bystrica where she had been an active member of Ha-Shomer ha-Tza'ir and of the local branch of the Jewish National Fund before she left for Palestine. On her arrival there, she found very few Jews whom she knew. Most of the community, including her parents and members of her family, had been sent to the German concentration camps in Poland. She then set about helping those who remained.
The Germans amassed strong forces to put down insurgents and, after heavy fighting, conquered their centre on October 28, 1944. The parachutists, together with a group Jewish Youth movement members from the capital made their way into the hills and set up camp in the mountains.
This was attacked by the Germans and many of the group were killed. Three of the parachutists, Havivah Reik, Rafael Reis, and Zvi Ben-Yakov, were captured and put to death; the fourth, Chaim Hermesh, was the only one to escape and return to Palestine after the war had ended.
Havivah Reik was executed in the village of Kremenicka and buried, together with hundreds of Jews and partisans, in a communal grave. In 1952 her body was brought to Israel and re-interred on Mt. Herzl in the special plot for parachutists.
The memory of Havivah Reik - kibbutznik and Palmahnik - hjas been honoured by several organizations. This commemorative stamp bears her portrait, the tab recording the name of the village in which she was born and died.
After the war, on September 1945, Reik's and Reiss' bodies were exhumed and buried in the Military Cemetery in Prague. On 10 September 1952, Haviva Reik's remains were buried in Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem, along with those of Szenes and Reiss. Kibbutz Lahavot Haviva, the Givat Haviva institute, a small river, a gerbera flower, a big Water reservoir, an Aliyah Bet ship, and numerous streets in Israel are named after her.
Thank you very much Merja for this FDC.