Simcha Rotem
Simcha Rotem born Szymon Rathajzer, also known as Kazik (his nom de guerre as a member of the Jewish underground in Warsaw
Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

), served as the head courier of the Jewish Fighting Organization (ZOB), which planned and executed the Warsaw ghetto uprising
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was the Jewish resistance that arose within the Warsaw Ghetto in German occupied Poland during World War II, and which opposed Nazi Germany's effort to transport the remaining ghetto population to Treblinka extermination camp....

 against the Nazis.

The Warsaw ghetto

In 1942 he joined the ZOB. Because of his non-Jewish "Aryan
Aryan is an English language loanword derived from Sanskrit ārya and denoting variously*In scholarly usage:**Indo-Iranian languages *in dated usage:**the Indo-European languages more generally and their speakers...

" appearance and unaccented Polish
Polish language
Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland and by Polish minorities in other countries...

, Rotem became particularly useful as a courier for the Warsaw Ghetto fighters. The nickname "Kazik" - an abbreviation of a Polish name "Kazimierz" (Casimir
Casimir – is an English, French and Latin form of the Polish name Kazimierz, derived from the Slavic elements: kazić "to destroy" and mir "peace, prestige, world". It is originally a warlike name and may mean "someone who destroys opponent's prestige/glory during battle". Also, some researches...

) - was given him during a ZOB mission, because of his Aryan look.

The Warsaw ghetto uprising and aftermath

As a ZOB member, Kazik took part in the Warsaw ghetto uprising. He became the head courier, reporting directly to the ZOB commander, Yitzhak Zuckerman. When it became apparent that the Germans would prevail, he was sent via a secret passageway to the "Aryan" side of Warsaw where he met with Zuckerman to arrange an escape for the fighters. However, the passageway was discovered by the Nazis. Unable to return, he and Zuckerman were trapped on the Aryan side while the fighting raged and the ghetto burned. Desperate to reach his comrades, Rotem made several attempts to enter the ghetto through the sewers before finally succeeding. There he encountered Zivia Lubetkin
Zivia Lubetkin
Zivia Lubetkin was one of the leaders of the Jewish underground in Nazi-occupied Warsaw and the only woman on the High Command of the resistance group Żydowska Organizacja Bojowa .-Pre-World War II:...

, one of the last surviving leaders of the ghetto uprising, and he led her with her team of approximately 80 fighters through the sewers to the "Aryan" side and then to the forests outside of the city. Throughout the rest of the war he continued his underground activities with the resistance, in particular helping to care for the several thousand Jews, who still remained in Warsaw in hiding. In August 1944, he took part in the Polish Warsaw Uprising
Warsaw Uprising
The Warsaw Uprising was a major World War II operation by the Polish resistance Home Army , to liberate Warsaw from Nazi Germany. The rebellion was timed to coincide with the Soviet Union's Red Army approaching the eastern suburbs of the city and the retreat of German forces...


Post-war life

Immediately following the end of World War II, Rotem became a member of the Jewish resistance, a special squad who tracked down and executed known Nazi war criminals in Europe. He took part in the Beriha organization, that helped European Jews immigrate to Mandate Palestine
Mandate Palestine
Mandate Palestine existed while the British Mandate for Palestine, which formally began in September 1923 and terminated in May 1948, was in effect...

, despite the restrictions imposed by the British Mandatory policies (White Paper of 1939
White Paper of 1939
The White Paper of 1939, also known as the MacDonald White Paper after Malcolm MacDonald, the British Colonial Secretary who presided over it, was a policy paper issued by the British government under Neville Chamberlain in which the idea of partitioning the Mandate for Palestine, as recommended in...

). Although his twelve-year old sister was murdered in the ghetto uprising, his parents and another sister survived in hiding and, in 1947, he and the surviving members of his family immigrated to Mandate Palestine. He now lives in Jerusalem.

External links

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