NAME: Armoni (Gelbard), Hannah

LEHI ALIAS: Sarah

DATE OF BIRTH: 1925

Hannah was born in December 1925 in Germany to Miriam Gittel and Israel Freiher, who moved there from Poland and changed their name to Gelbard. With Hitler’s rise to power, the family left, including the three children: Hannah, her sister Fanny and her younger brother David. They moved to Belgium and then made aliyah to the Land of Israel, with certificates, in September 1935.

In 1942, Hannah joined Lehi, recognizing the necessity of driving the British out of the land in order to establish a state and realize the dream of independence. In the underground, she was trained with firearms and explosives.

Her cell disseminated promotional materials, put up posters, observed the enemy, and transferred equipment and food to the hideout of those who had fled Latrun in the dunes of Holon. When her identity was revealed, she had to go underground. From that point on, she was active 24 hours a day.

In late 1944, she was sent to Ramatayim, where she worked with two escapees from the prison, and she was the contact between them and the central committee. In a shack in Ramatayim, there were courses for commanders, and Hannah became a cook. In 1945, she was transferred to Haifa and appointed over the youth department. In February 1946, she married Hayim “Elimelech” Appelbaum, a fellow Lehi member.

She was part of the operations to blow up Naaman Bridge and attack the Haifa Railway Workshops, in which eleven were killed and dozens were captured, including four young women. Elimelech was captured, but Hannah escaped.

Once she learned that she was pregnant, she was transferred to Tel Aviv, to live with her in-laws. She taught Lehi ideology and wrote letters for the movement to supporters abroad. She also transcribed the manuscript about the battle at the Haifa Railway Workshops, which Elimelech wrote in Acre Prison and smuggled to her. His story was published by the underground in We Did Not Return to the Base.

Elimelech was killed in an escape attempt from Acre Prison, before he could see the book in print or his daughter Uriela in the flesh, who had been born six weeks earlier. Afterwards, Hannah returned to Haifa to oversee the youth division, and she kept contact with the movement’s supporters. When the supervisor of the Haifa branch was transferred to Jerusalem, Hannah went with him to coordinate the youth division in the capital. She was in charge of disseminating promotional materials, putting up posters, and ideological training, among other missions. Her daughter Uriela was with her, but she often wondered: “What will happen to her if she loses her mother as well?”

In September 1948, she married Moshe “Nadav” Armoni, who had been captured at the Haifa Railway Workshops attack and was experienced at breaking out of prison. Their daughters are Yami (Miriam) and Ruthie.

In April 1973, Moshe was killed in an accident.

Since 1982, Hannah has dedicated herself to Beit Yair, maintaining the legacy of Lehi and organizing its events.

She published two books of poetry, a book of eulogies and a memoir of her time in Lehi.

 

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