2019-01-02 / Mideast

Simcha Rotem, last Warsaw Ghetto Uprising fighter, dies

Simcha Rotem, the last known surviving Jewish fighter from the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943, has died. Rotem, known as Kazik, died in Jerusalem at the age of 94.

“This is the loss of a special figure, because ‘Kazik’ was a real warrior in the full sense of the word,” said Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev in a statement.

Rotem was born in Warsaw in 1924 as Kazik Ratajzer and joined the Zionist youth movement Hanoar Hazioni at the age of 12.

By 1942 he was a member of the Jewish Fighting Organization and during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising fought and served as a liaison between the bunkers in the ghetto and the Aryan side of the city. At the conclusion of the uprising, Rotem led the last fighters from the ghetto through the sewers, saving their lives. He kept them in hiding in the forest and in various apartments until the end of the war.

In 1946, he immigrated to Mandatory Palestine and was imprisoned by the British in the Atlit detention camp. Once in Israel, he joined the Haganah, the precursor to the Israel Defense Forces and fought in the War of Independence.

He was an active speaker and member of the Yad Vashem committee that selects the Righteous Among the Nations, honoring non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

He is survived by two children and five grandchildren. (JTA)

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