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Yad Vashem This Month in Holocaust History
October 1944, Three paratroopers from Eretz Israel in Mandatory Palestine

October 1944

Three paratroopers from Eretz Israel in Mandatory Palestine

Pictured here, from the left, are Tzadok Drugoyer-Doron, Abba Berditchev and Chaim Yaari. The three were members of a group of Jewish volunteers from Eretz Israel in the British army, who were sent on missions in various occupied European countries from 1943-1945, including Yugoslavia, Hungary and Austria.

At the end of 1942, after the Jews of the Yishuv learned of the murder of the Jews of Europe, the Jewish Agency sought to infiltrate agents in Europe through the British army. The British recognized the unique motivation of the volunteers, their knowledge of the languages and the countries of destination, and agreed to activate them as agents and as guides for British liaison officers with the partisans. Thirty three were dropped into Europe and five others snuck in to their destinations. Nine of the thirty eight fell during their service.

Tzadok Doron (Drugoyer) reached Yugoslavia, where he served with British liaison units working with partisans in Yugoslavia. After Romania’s surrender, Doron was transferred to Bari, Italy. He was supposed to be transferred to Budapest after Hungary’s surrender along with his friend and comrade Chaim Yaari, yet this plan was never realized, and in January 1945 he returned to Cairo.

Abba Berditchev was an illegal immigrant to Eretz Israel from Romania who was caught and held in detention camps in Palestine. He volunteered in 1943 and was chosen for the paratroops. On March 15, 1944, Berditchev parachuted into Yugoslavia with Chana Senesh, Reuven Dafni and Yonah Rosen. Berditchev’s mission was to assist the Jews, gather intelligence and help rescue members of the air forces who were captured or had parachuted into Romania. He did not succeed in reaching Romania, instead returning to Bari, Italy. In August 1944 Berditchev traveled to Slovakia, where he participated in the Slovak National Uprising. After two months of fighting in the mountains, Berditchev was captured by the Germans and transferred in December 1944 to Mauthausen along with other captives, where he was brutally tortured. On January 26, 1945, Berditchev was murdered by the Nazis.

Chaim Yaari (Waldner) was sent to Austria in the spring of 1945, in the last days of the war, in order to search for missing British agents and British prisoners in the camps that had been abandoned by their German guards. After the war Yaari helped prepare boats for the Ha’apalah movement from Italy as an agent in Aliyah Bet. In June 1945 he left Italy. After the establishment of the State of Israel, Yaari was the commander of Branch 13 of the Intelligence Division (which became the Intelligence Services of the Israeli Army), a unit that carried out special missions in enemy territory. Yaari also filled other posts in the security services.

Yad Vashem Photo Archives 4922/74