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Acco

Sunday, 24 February, 2019 - 12:03 pm

Our next stop was Acco. Acco was originally built during the Crusader time period when they ruled over Israel. It was a large fortress built to protect the Crusaders from the Muslims. Under the British Mandate the fortress was turned into a prison for Jews that the British felt were dangerous.

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Many of the Jews that were arrested were young men who had escaped Nazi Germany with one desire - to live in a Jewish homeland. The pictures we saw of the prisoners showed the average age was 18-22. Under the British Mandate there were three groups resisting the British. The Hagana was the main group who cooperated the most with the British and showed the most restraint. The 2nd group was Esel, who were middle of the road. The 3rd group, Lechi never cooperated with the British. These 3 groups at times did not cooperate with one another. The British handed out sentences based on which group one was attached to. We found out that Mushka and Menucha Rochel’s grandfather was also a prisoner at Acco.

We saw the horrible prison conditions that the British had for all prisoners. They slept in small cells and were only allowed very little sun light. The outside was allowed to send in food and provisions. We saw how the Jews cleverly hid information in the middle of toilet paper rolls and in the bottom of food jars. The 3 resistant groups did work together to mastermind a breakout of the jail. They were able to get explosives in to the prison. In all 27 prisoners escaped.

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We ended our tour in the execution room. There we heard from the last words of Dov Gruner, a Hungarian born Jew who escaped to Israel in 1940 and was executed by hanging at Acco. “I could have let life take care of itself. I could have gone to America, but this would not have satisfied me.”

Rabbi Kosofsky led us through “Kel Malai” for the Jews who lost their lives. It was a truly moving moment, one we will not forget.

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