The National Partisans Conference in Tel Aviv - April 1, 1964
Choosing from the worthy agenda, I would like to discuss the role of the partisan organization in the State of Israel. Seeing the word "partisan” at first arouses a feeling of rejection. "Organization’ and "partisans” are concepts which contradict each other. The term "in partisan fashion” usually is understood to mean that there is no regular organization, no regular weapons or equipment, and that the task is to be carried out in an unstructured and unorganized manner.
Today, we find ourselves in peacetime, or at least a time of calm. The State and Israeli society have fashioned many varied instruments to solve immediate problems as well as problems with far-reaching consequences. Is there really a need for a partisan organization? Or perhaps, the intention is for us to become a kind of veterans brigade, like the one my grandfather belonged to in Lithuania, whose members would display their medals once a year on a holiday and thus mark the events of the past. This was my first thought. On second thought, it appears that it is impossible to pass on awareness of certain things in a satisfactory manner about what others are doing, even if they are doing a great deal. All the institutions which the previous speaker mentioned, for example - we cannot forego them, but neither may we forego our historical aim. With all the existing organizations which are operating and which will operate, it is necessary that they be recognized by the Israeli public and accepted by them.
I believe that it was Cholawski who said, and rightly so, that only a partisan organization could be the spearhead of these organizations. Therefore, I too am committed to the proposal of uniting all these institutions, ensuring that we will be the central group. However, it is important that we do not become an organization of secretariats, councils and the like, with futile arguments such as those which took place this morning. Forgive me. There are serious problems which arise from time to time which need to be addressed and resolved. The secretariat should not be a secretariat in the usual sense of the word, as in any other organization, but it should be the headquarters which would call upon the members from time to time, whenever it sees fit, according to the directives agreed upon at this conference or at any other general forum. The headquarters would call upon the members for any one-time activity, but I am wary of "routine”. Nevertheless, it would be enjoyable to come to the partisan house from time to time – and like everyone else, I will come to meet friends.
I strongly object to the words of the previous speaker, Gad Rosenblatt. I have read his important book, but it is inconceivable that we should weigh whether it is worthwhile to receive the decoration or not. We are dealing with a matter of principle, and I believe that when the Government of Israel awards the Fighting Decoration to the families of the fallen, it will be an honor for that Government. I cannot imagine what the state would look like today without its recognition of the 3000 partisans living in this country and what they achieved.
In the matter of our connection with other organizations, I wish to point out that regarding commemoration, there are two aspects to be considered:
First of all there is our moral obligation to our members, our comrades. This is clear, and needs no further explanation. But there is an additional aspect which was mentioned in the previous symposium. The commemoration should be supported by scientific research, if not by practical research. It is not sufficient to cone and argue, contending that there were [partisans], they fought and achieved. It is not enough to know that we are right, others must be made to understand it too. We must show proof of what occurred. On this point I would suggest that the partisan organization encourage those who are carrying out the project. I would even suggest addresses beginning with Yad Vashem and even going so far as an Israeli scientific academy, which would dedicate a Chair or even a special research institute, whose members would interview all the partisans living in Israel. This is an historic opportunity, since in a few years, as was mentioned today, this opportunity will no longer exist. Therefore, I would like to request that this point be given expression when resolutions are made,
Dov Levin advanced through the years and became Prof. Dov Levin, an expert on the subject of the Holocaust.