NAME: Armoni (Kestenbaum) Moshe


DATE OF BIRTH: March 3, 1920

DATE OF DEATH: April 27, 1973

Moshe was born on March 3,1920 in the town of Munkács (then Czechoslovakia, now Ukraine) to Rivka and Haim. His father’s family hailed from Poland, and his grandfather ran an oil refinery in the area. His father and his mother (who was a local) settled in the region and were involved in commerce. Moshe, second of four children, was sent to his grandfather in Munkács to continue his studies in the Hebrew Gymnasium. He joined Beitar and IZL. A year before he completed his studies and graduated, he left home to realize his dream of making aliyah. He participated in the Af al Pi illegal aliyah program under the auspices of Beitar and IZL, abroad the Katina, in early 1939, after travails on the high seas over the course of months.

As soon as he arrived, he joined the labor company of Beitar in Beer Yaakov and afterwards in Rosh Pina, and he joined the IZL. While he was staying in Rosh Pina, IZL split, and he decided to leave it and join Lehi. Moshe settled in Netanya; he worked in the diamond industry and as a factory worker, while simultaneously undertaking missions for the underground. One night, in 1941, he was arrested for putting up posters. For two-and-a-half years, he was detained in Mizra and Latrun. He was one of the diggers of the Latrun escape tunnel, fleeing together with nineteen comrades on November 1,1943. Afterwards, he was given different assignments, including combat missions. He was a fearless fighter. He was injured in the attack on the army base at Holon. In June 1946, he took part in Lehi’s activities, particularly the attack on the Haifa Railway Workshops, in which eleven fighters perished. Moshe, known as Nadav, was called Coucy by everyone. He was arrested, tried and sentenced to hanging together with nineteen comrades. He wore red clothes, until the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. In May 1947, he was one of the escapees from Acre Prison. After the breakout, he became responsible for Lehi branches in Sharon and Haifa.

When the State was established, he joined the IDF with the other Lehi members. He was assigned to the 8th Brigade under Yitzhak Sadeh, and he served as a squad commander in Company A of Battalion 82, with the rank of first lieutenant. He took part in most of the brigade’s battles. When the fighting died down, he was transferred to the Navy.

After the War of Independence, he worked in the Municipality of Tel Aviv; afterwards he was a contractor. He married Hannah Gelbard Appelbaum, a Lehi member, the widow of his friend, Elimelech, one of the attackers at the Haifa Railway Workshops who was killed during the escape from Acre Prison. They had two daughters, Yami and Ruthie, and he raised Elimelech’s daughter, Uriela.

Coucy, known for his quick smile, was tragically killed in a work accident on April 27,1973. He was buried in the Lehi section of the Holon Cemetery.