Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Granddaughter of Sobibor uprising leader Alexander Pechersky plants a tree in memory of her grandfather at the KKL-JNF tree planting center in Nachshon Forest.
, a granddaughter of Alexander Pechersky
, the leader of the revolt in the Sobibor extermination camp, planted a tree in memory of her grandfather in the KKL-JNF tree planting center
in Nachshon Forest. The ceremony took place on the annual memorial day of the Sobibor uprising. “It is a great honor for me to stand on the ground of the land of Israel and plant a tree here in memory of my heroic grandfather,” said Ladichenko. “I hope all the trees here will grow and become a great forest.”
Natalia Ladichenko plants a tree.
Photo: Yoav Devir.
Photo: Red Army Archive.
This is her first visit to Israel, and her arrival from Russia was made possible thanks to the initiative of the Amigour housing company. Semyon Rosenfeld, who also took part in the Sobibor revolt, is one of the last of the insurgents who is still alive, and he lives in a sheltered housing facility for the elderly in Tel Aviv, which is managed by Amigour. He had an unusual request as a gift for his ninetieth birthday—to commemorate the man who was his commander during the uprising in Sobibor and to invite Pechersky’s family to Israel from Russia.
The Amigour Company agreed and decided to establish a memorial and a social club in memory of Pechersky in the Derech Hashalom sheltered housing facility in Tel Aviv. The inauguration ceremony of the memorial was attended by the Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein, Immigration and Absorption Minister Sofa Landver and representatives from the Russian Embassy, among others.
The Nachshon Forest Planting Center. Photo: Yoav Devir
The new KKL-JNF tree planting center is located in the area of Hamaginim Forest, which is dedicated to commemorating IDF soldiers who fell in the defense of the State of Israel. “Pechersky was one of the warriors of the Jewish Army of all times,” said Amigour CEO Yuval Frankel at the tree planting ceremony. “It is a privilege to commemorate a man who almost went unnoticed. Through our project, we are correcting an historical error and honoring the last survivors living in our midst.”
Yuval Frankel. Photo: Yoav Devir
Prior to the tree planting, Natalia Ladichenko and Michael Ben Abu,
KKL-JNF director of fundraising in Israel, recited the Planter’s Prayer. “A tree symbolizes past, present and future,” said Ben Abu to Ladichenko. “Your grandfather symbolizes the past—the roots of the tree, and, as his granddaughter, you symbolize the future—the fruit of the tree.”
The tree planting center in Nachshon Forest, which is in the Judean Lowlands, was inaugurated by KKL-JNF about three months ago, and hundreds of people from all over the world have planted trees there since then. The center serves tourists visiting Israel, who wish to experience planting a tree in the land of Israel with their own hands. The forest covers an area of about 200 dunams and is designated for tree planting in the summertime, and is equipped with drip irrigation in order to ensure the trees' growth.
The tree planting ceremony was emceed by KKL-JNF fundraising and projects coordinator Eran Zabadi
. “We have been privileged to plant a tree here in this land, where the trees themselves are heroes,” he said. “In this land, which was desolate for so long, KKL-JNF has planted forests
, and many of the planters were themselves refugees who had escaped to the forests of Eastern Europe.”
The Sobibor revolt took place on October 14, 1943. The Jewish insurgents first killed eleven SS officers. The Jewish prisoners had succeeded in stealing firearms from the barracks of the Ukrainian guards and distributing them among the prisoners. As soon as the rebels were discovered, Alexander Pechersky instructed them to escape, in order to survive and tell the world about the annihilation of the Jews.
Hundreds of prisoners ran in every direction. They stormed the gates and the fences as the Ukrainian guards shot at them. Of the 600 prisoners in the camp, 300 succeeded in escaping. About 150 were killed by the gunfire of the guards and by the explosion of landmines. Another 150 were shot afterwards by the Nazis. By the end of the war some tens of survivors were still alive, among them Alexander Pechersky, who passed away in 1990 at the age of eighty.
Group photo, with KKL-JNF planting certificates. Photo: Yoav Devir
“My grandfather did not have the privilege of visiting Israel, but it is good that I have been so privileged,” said Ladichenko at the conclusion of the ceremony. “He loved Israel and was interested in what was happening here. I am sure he would have been very proud if he could have been with us today.”