The Avengers: A Jewish War Story

This is a terrific story of little-known but not soon forgotten Jewish avengers of the Holocaust. Not the comic book super heroes, who debuted in 1963, but the Jewish guerrilla versions incarnated during World War II. Against all odds they fought their oppressors, derailed Nazi troop and supply trains, and for their final act succeeded in surreptitiously poisoning thousands of Nazi POWs in American care.

Chief Avenger Abba Kovner may not have thought of himself as the reincarnation of Judah Maccabee but he unsettled enough Nazis in occupied Lithuania and captured ones in post-war Germany itself to win a similar reputation. Then he moved on to an Israeli kibbutz, fought in Israel’s 1948 war for independence and finally became a leading Israeli poet and author.

Kovner and his co-guerrilla couriers and lovers Ruzka and Vitka are already known in Israel. One hopes this amazing story of these heroes of the Holocaust will take them and their deeds to a wider audience. They certainly deserve it and author Rich Cohen has done a masterful job for them in a fascinating footnote to a genocide that must never be forgotten.

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