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Biography - Haviva Reik (Chaviva Reich)

Biography - Haviva Reik (Chaviva Reich)

Chaviva Reik - Haviva Reich - Zionist Partisan Heroine of World War IIHaviva Reik (Chaviva Reich or Havivah Reich) ((1914-1944), Haviva Reik was one of 32 or 33  Palestinian Jewish parachutists from Palestine sent by the Jewish Agency and the British army Special Operations Executive on military and  missions in Nazi-occupied Europe.

Haviva (Emma) Reik was born in the Slovakian village of Shayo Hasso, and grew up in  Banska- Bystrica in the Carpathian mountains. She  joined the Hashomer Hatzair youth movement there.In 1939 she came on Aliya (immigrated) to Palestine, where she joined Kibbutz Ma'anit and later enlisted in the Palmach, the elite strike force branch of the Haganah  underground military organization. She joined the new parachutists' unit.

In her native Slovakia, an uprising was in progress against the puppet. government. The center of this uprising was the in the Banska-Bystrica area. The revolt had begun in the spring of 1944. It was initiated by the Czechoslovak Agrarian party, part of the Social Democratic party, the Communist party, sectors of the Slovak nationalists, and  army officers. In late December 1943 these groups, et up the Slovenska Narodna Rada (Slovak National Council; SNR). The uprising aimed to overthrow the axis puppet Hlinkova Slovenska Ludova Strana (Slovak People's Party of Hlinka; HSLS) and detach Slovakia from the Axis. There were armed underground Jewish cells existed in each of the three Slovak labor camps before the SNR was established. Early in 1944 they established contact with the SNR, and became part of the movement. An SNR victory could save the remaining Slovak community. Over 2,000 Jews fought in the uprising, and about 500 fell in battle. Reik and her comrades were sent to contact this group. The uprising was to coincide with allied advances, particularly the Soviet Army. However, the Red Army held back. The partisans made considerable gains, and on August 28 the Nazis decided to occupy Slovakia and eliminate the uprising.

After their training, Reik and three others, Rafael Reiss, Zvi Ben-Yaakov, and 'Haim Hermesh (Kassaf) waited in Bari, Italy to be parachuted into Slovakia. However,  the British authorities refused to send a woman behind enemy lines for a military operation. In September 1944, Reik hitched a ride with a group of American pilots who were flying to Banska-Bystrica and joined the others on September 21. At the end of the month, a fifth parachutist,  Abba Berdiczew, joined them,  bringing radio equipment.

In Banska-Bystrica, Haviva and the others engaged in relief and rescue activities. They organized a soup kitchen and community centre for refugees, and they facilitated the escape of Jewish children to Hungary and then to Palestine. Through their connections with  partisan and resistance groups, they helped rescue allied POWs. However, their time was very short.  Late in September, SS - Obergruppenfuhrer Gottlob Berger, the chief commander of the German forces, was replaced by the Hoherer SS. - und Polizeifuhrer  SS - Obergruppenfuhrer Hermann Hofle. They used Ukrainian Waffen SS troops (among them apparently John (Ivan) Demjanjuk) to suppress the rebellion. On October 27, 1944, the Germans occupied Banska-Bystrica.  Haviva and the other parachutists escaped with about 40  Jewish partisans. They built a camp in the mountains, but they were captured after a few days by Ukrainian Waffen - SS troops of the Galicia division .On November 20 the Germans shot most of the captive Jews, including them Reik, Ben-Yaakov and Reiss. Abba Berdiczew was deported to Mauthausen death camp and later killed.  Haim Chermesh escaped, fought with the partisans, and later returned to Palestine. On September 10, 1952, Haviva Reik's remains were buried in Mt. Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem along with those of the others. Kibbutz Lehavot Haviva, the Givat Haviva institute, an illegal immigrant ship and numerous streets are named for Haviva Reik.

See Also: Zionist Parachutists  Hannah Senesh Enzo Sereni

 

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