NAME: Cohen, Menahem

LEHI ALIAS: Naphtali

DATE OF BIRTH: January 7, 1924

DATE FALLEN: October 27, 1948

Menahem was born to Yaakov and Bluma, born in 1924 in Tel Aviv. The family moved to Kfar Saba, and Menahem studied at the Mizrahi school and yeshiva. He was an instructor in Bnei Akiva, then in Beitar. Yehoshua (Shepsil) was his brother, two years older than him, and Menahem followed him into the underground with IZL, before the split. He was rejected initially due to his youth, so he went and got his rifle to prove he was ready to join its ranks. After the split, they moved to Lehi. In Kfar Saba, he was an agricultural worker and helped his parents.

R.A. (a girlfriend of his from Beitar Kfar Saba) recalls: “He was a sensitive, bashful, introverted boy, with blazing black eyes, always aware of other’s distress and happy to help. He loved books and wrote well, from essays to love letters.”

After the breakout of twenty prisoners from Latrun, Menahem had to leave his house and go work at the Lehi printing house. He was transferred to Tel Aviv to train the youth, then to Jerusalem. Finally, in 1946, he was sent to Lehi’s Haifa branch.

When an assassination attempt against the British CID commander in Haifa was uncovered, Menahem was arrested and sent to Latrun. He made a daring escape attempt, making it over the barbed wire and through the minefield, but he was recaptured.

After the Acre prison break, Menahem was among those exiled to Kenya. He dug an escape tunnel there, but came down with meningitis due to all the stress. He was in bed for weeks. Once the exiles were returned from Kenya to Israel, he enlisted in the IDF. He was disqualified for active duty, but he applied in another place and managed to trick the medical board. This allowed him to get into the battalion commando of the 8th Brigade.

He was killed in action on October 27, 1948, at the battle for Beit Guvrin. He was injured by a shell, but he told his comrades to leave him and keep fighting. When they took him out in a half-track, another shell hit the vehicle and it caught fire. They took Menahem out of it, but by the time they could get him to the first aid station, he had lost a great deal of blood and died. The next day, he was buried in Kfar Warburg.

Menahem — Mendke to his friends — was the epitome of the fearless freedom fighter, ready to sacrifice anything in the pursuit of the ultimate goal.

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