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Yitzhak Arad
Yitshak arad 2016.jpg
Icchak Rudnicki

(1926-11-11) November 11, 1926 (age 93)
OccupationHistorian, retired IDF brigadier general

Yitzhak Arad (Hebrew: יצחק ארד‎) (né Icchak Rudnicki) (born November 11, 1926),[1] is an Israeli historian, author, retired IDF brigadier general and a former Soviet partisan, NKVD member, director of Yad Vashem from 1972 to 1993. He specialised in the history of the Holocaust.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ YIVO's 89th Annual Benefit - Yitzhak Arad Accepts the Lifetime Achievement Award
  • ✪ Surviving the Kovno Ghetto
  • ✪ How My Mother Escaped the Ponary Massacre


My faith put me in a position that I was witness and in some way active in the two major events, the most crucial events of Jewish history in the last two thousand years of our history: it's the Holocaust and the creation of the State of Israel. During Holocaust, I witnessed the extermination of the people of my township Święciany, Švenčionys, near Vilnius. I witnessed, I was actually traveling with the train with two thousand Jews in April '43 were taken to Ponary, to Vilna, I was with them in the last moment I left the train. During the Holocaust I was for three years keeping arms and fighting Nazi Germany in the ranks of the Soviet partisans and later in the ranks of the Soviet army until Germany was defeated, until the fall of Berlin. So this part of my life influenced the way I decided that my obligation is to tell, to write, to do research of what happened and to commemorate the world from which I came. The second part of my life was the creation of the State of Israel. Since I was a child I was educated in a Hebrew school and my whole dream was to reach Eretz Israel and to fight for its establishment as a Jewish state and again the fate made it possible. At the end of '45 I was already here illegally, joined underground, the Palmach, participated in the War of Independence in Jerusalem and the Negev, in the ranks of the Palmach. And I continued to stay for 25 years in the Israeli army, in the armed forces as the commander of company battalion, battalion commander, brigade and later I was the chief education officer if the Israeli army and then when it was proposed by the Israeli government to become chairman of Yad Vashem, I left the army and my second part of my life I devoted for commemorate the world from which I came, the experience that have in the Holocaust in the field of lecturing, writing what happened, and doing research on this subject. In my first lessons, with which I started with the history of the Vilna ghetto, were published in English, "The Ghetto in Flames." So for over twenty, over thirty years, I was lecturing doing research on the Holocaust. So these two parts of my life, influenced my whole way of living. In spite of the past, despite the fact that my parents were, that my whole family, was murdered by the Nazis, I would say for me personally I wouldn't select another life The rules for any nation in truths are the history of its past and so preserving the history is important for our present and for our future for the future of existence of the Jewish people. Especially the history of European Jewry, which I would say that for many hundreds of years this was the center of the Jewish world, it is the crucial and important. The Holocaust of course I would say put an end to the long years and history of European Jewry and preserving it is crucial and essential for our future. YIVO's work is, its collections that they have, it's library, collections which includes all parts of Jewish life, of the culture and the music and art and history and pretty much everything was collected. YIVO was the largest in the world, the largest collections of this material, I will say that we were lucky that in spite of the fact that the Germans took over most of the material that was in Vilnius, in the YIVO in Vilna, by the Rosenberg Squad, but they didn't destroy the material. They took it all to Frankfurt and the we were lucky that the United States army discovered it and it was transferred to YIVO in New York. I think that in order to preserve all this, the preservation of the material and especially to digitize it now because the future is indeed of worth it's not the only in reading, but it should be easy to find it to approach it. So I think that the new project at YIVO now, which is in cooperation with the Lithuania, the Lithuanian archives, is a very important project for the future, to preserve and to digitize all the material for study, for research, for commemorating our history of they Jewish people. Jewish people are facing now a problem of assimilation. I know that every year quite important segments of our people are in the direction of assimilation. Therefore the activity of YIVO, and I would say many institutions which are now in Israel, Yad Vashem and others, to preserve all this for the future and to make it accessible for the younger generation in the language they understand, this is of the highest importance. I would like to express my thanks to YIVO for awarding me with the Lifetime Achievement Award.


Early life and war experiences

Arad was born Icchak Rudnicki on November 11, 1926, in what was then Święciany in the Second Polish Republic (now Švenčionys, Lithuania). In his youth, he belonged to the Zionist youth movement Ha-No'ar ha-Tsiyyoni. During the war – according to Arad's 1993 interview with Harry J. Cargas – he was active in the ghetto underground movement from 1942 to 1944.[2] In February 1943, he joined the Soviet partisans of the Markov Brigade, a primarily non-Jewish unit in which he had to contend with antisemitism. Apart from a foray infiltrating the Vilna Ghetto in April 1943 to meet with underground leader Abba Kovner, he stayed with the Soviet partisans until the end of the war, fighting the Germans, taking part in mining trains and in ambushes around the Naroch Forest of Belarus. "The official attitude of the Soviet partisan movement was that there was no place for Jewish units" acting independently, said Arad.[3]

After the occupation of the Vilnius region by the Red Army, he became a member of the NKVD. He took part in the raids and arrests of members of the local independence underground.[4]

In December 1945, Yitzhak Arad immigrated without authorization to Mandate Palestine , on the Ha'apala boat named after Hannah Szenes.[citation needed] In Arad's military career in the IDF, he reached the rank of brigadier general and was appointed to the post of Chief Education Officer. He retired from the military in 1972.[citation needed]

Academic career

In his academic career as a lecturer on Jewish history at Tel Aviv University, he has researched World War II and the Holocaust, and has published extensively as author and editor, primarily in Hebrew. His current research deals with the Holocaust in the USSR. Dr. Yitzhak Arad served as the director (Chairman of the Directorate) of Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Authority, for 21 years (1972–1993). He remains associated with Yad Vashem in an advisor's capacity. Arad was awarded Doctor honoris causa degree by Poland's Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń on 7 June 1993.[5]

Dismissed investigation in Lithuania

In 2006, following a story in the Lithuanian Respublika newspaper that called Arad a "war criminal" for his alleged role in the  Koniuchy massacre perpetrated by anti-Nazi Soviet partisans, the Lithuanian state prosecutor initiated an investigation of Arad. Following an international outcry, the investigation was dropped in the fall of 2008.[6]

Arad said he had nothing to apologize for, and that he was "proud" that he "fought the Nazi Germans and their Lithuanian collaborators ... the murderers of my family, the murderers of my people."[7] Arad has said he believes the investigation was motivated by revenge for expert evidence he gave in a United States trial of a Lithuanian Nazi collaborator.[8]

British historian Martin Gilbert said he was "deeply shocked" by the "perverse" investigation. Efraim Zuroff pointed out that the Lithuanian government had never prosecuted a single war criminal, despite the evidence that Simon Wiesenthal Center had collected and shared.[8] According to Zuroff, "What is common to all these cases is that they're all Jews. Instead of punishing Lithuanian criminals who collaborated with the Nazis and murdered Jews, they're harassing the partisans, Jewish heroes."[9] Some 200,000 Jews were murdered in Lithuania during the Holocaust, mainly by Lithuanian collaborators.[9]

Lithuania's record of prosecuting war criminals has been spotty, leading The Economist to write that the investigation against Jews was selective and even vindictive. According to Dovid Katz, this is "Holocaust obfuscation" that "involves a series of false moral equivalences: Jews were disloyal citizens of pre-war Lithuania, helped the Soviet occupiers in 1940, and were therefore partly to blame for their fate. And the genocide that really matters was the one that Lithuanian people suffered at Soviet hands after 1944".[10]


He was born Icchak Rudnicki, later adopting the Hebrew surname Arad (Hebrew: ארד‎). During World War II, he was known as Tolya (Russian diminutive for Anatoly) in the underground and among the partisans.[11]

Bibliography in English

As author

  • The partisan : from the Valley of Death to Mount Zion (1979)
  • Ghetto in flames : the struggle and destruction of the Jews in Vilna in the Holocaust (1980)
  • Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka : the Operation Reinhard death camps (1987) ISBN 0-253-21305-3
  • The Holocaust in the Soviet Union (2009), University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 978-0-8032-2059-1
  • In the Shadow of the Red Banner (2010), Gefen Publishing House. ISBN 978-965-229-487-6

As editor

  • Documents on the Holocaust: selected sources on the destruction of the Jews of Germany and Austria, Poland, and the Soviet Union (1982, rev. 1989, 1999) with Israel Gutman and Abraham Margaliot
  • The Einsatzgruppen reports: selections from the dispatches of the Nazi Death Squads’ campaign against the Jews July 1941-January 1943 (1989) with Shmuel Krakowski and Shmuel Spector
  • Pictorial History of the Holocaust (1990)
  • Ponary diary, 1941-1943 : a bystander’s account of a mass murder, by Kazimierz Sakowicz (2005, from the Polish; the title refers to Ponary massacre)



  1. ^ Izhak Arad (Rudnicki) vital statistics at Jewish Partisans' website
  2. ^ Yitzhak Arad interview for Martyrdom & Resistance, September/October 2010. Tishri/Cheshvan, 5771
  3. ^ "Icchak Arad: od NKWD do Yad Vashem". (in Polish). Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  4. ^ UMK Senat (2016). "Doktorzy honoris causa UMK". Nicolaus Copernicus University,
  5. ^ The Crime of Surviving, Tablet, Dovid Katz, May 2010
  6. ^ Double Genocide, Daniel Brook, Slate, 2015
  7. ^ a b Reopening Lithuania's old wounds, BBC, 21 July 2008
  8. ^ a b Nazi Hunter: Lithuania Hunts Ex-partisans, Lets War Criminals Roam Free, Haaretz, 7 Aug 2008
  9. ^ Prosecution and persecution, The Economist, 21 Aug 2008
  10. ^ Burkhard Schröder, Litauen und die jüdischen Partisanen (Lithuania and the Jewish Partisans), Heise Online, September 14, 2008
  11. ^ "Past Winners". Jewish Book Council. Retrieved 2020-01-26.

External links

This page was last edited on 27 January 2020, at 12:24
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