Hundreds of senior citizens who fought the Nazis in World War II were honored Tuesday in a ceremony at the Latrun Memorial with a special medal from Israel on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany.
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Among those honored at the ceremony were partisans, ghetto fighters, soldiers (mainly in the Soviet army) and volunteers from the pre-state Jewish community in the British army.
The participants represented about 1.5 million Jewish men and women who fought against the Nazis, among them about 500,000 Jews of the Soviet Union and 40,000 Jewish fighters from Palestine.
The oldest honoree was Benzion Solomin, who celebrated his 102nd birthday two months ago. Solomin, who lives in Afula, was born in Latvia and was wounded in the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. He came to live in Israel in 1934 and joined the British army in 1941 to fight the Nazis. He was captured in an assault on the outpost where he was stationed and sent to a POW camp in Poland. In 1948 he fought in the War of Independence and subsequently joined the Border Police, where he served until 1975.
Also honored at the ceremony were Yitzhak Arad, 89, who was a partisan during World War II and later became a brigadier general in the Israel Defense Forces and served as chairman of Yad Vashem; Simcha Rotem, one of the last survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising; Yon Dagan, who as a tank officer in the Red Army destroyed German tanks and was decorated with Soviet and Polish medals; and Asher Dishon, 93, who served in the Jewish Brigade.
The ceremony, with the participation of Immigrant Absorption Minister Zeev Elkin, was organized and emceed by Brig. Gen. (ret.) Zvi Ken-Tor, who is working on the establishment of the Jewish Fighters Museum at Latrun and is documenting the stories of Jewish fighters in World War II. Ken-Tor called on the government to make good on its pledge to assist in the establishment of the museum.