NAME: Kaplan, Shmuel



DATE OF DEATH: February 1, 1975

Shmuel, son of Noah and Nehama, was born in 1914 in Bialystok, Poland. His parents were simple people, warm and generous, and their house was open to everyone who was in need. Shmuel attended a professional high school and completed his studies there.

At age fourteen, he joined Beitar and took an instructors’ course in Warsaw. He also underwent training in self-defense. He made aliyah in 1933 with his wife Devora née Skolnick, whom he met in Beitar. In the Land of Israel, he continued his Beitar activities. He soon joined the IZL. During those years, Beitar members were pursued by the Histadrut and had difficulty finding work. It took him three years to get a job with the Tel Aviv Municipality, as a truckdriver in the sanitation department. At the same time, he was smuggling in weapons from Poland in herring barrels. He used the garbage truck to transfer weapons throughout the country. He helped Mapilim come ashore, and he often brought them home to stay the night.

When the IZL split, he joined Lehi. On 16 September 1940, he was part of the Lehi operation to rob the APC Bank in Tel Aviv. The same day he was arrested and placed in administrative detention, in Mizra, Latrun and Acre Prison. His detention dragged on and on. In Latrun, Shmulke (as he was known), was “the king without a crown.” He was allowed to do practically anything, as long as he remained in the camp, a position he took full advantage of for the underground: he arranged mail, contacted members of the Hagana and the police, smuggled in food and cigarettes, et cetera.

He played a pivotal role in the planning and execution of the escape of Yitzhak Shamir and Eliyahu Giladi from Mizra. He also played an integral role in the planning and execution of the escape of twenty Lehi members from Latrun by way of a tunnel. When German citizens, a fifth column in Latrun, attacked a Jewish prisoner, Shmulke beat them viciously, until they required hospitalization.

He was with the first group of 251 detainees who were deported to Africa on 19 October 1944. He was held in Sembel (near Asmara, Eritrea) and Carthago (Sudan). He was released on 16 December 1946, after six years in prison. When he returned, he went back to Lehi, and he was sent abroad on underground missions.

After the state was established, he took different jobs and was in business.

He passed away on February 1, 1975, leaving behind his wife Devora and daughter Tova.

His son Shammai, a hero of the Six-Day War, was killed in action. He received the Medal of Courage. His story was written in Shabbetai Tevet’s Hasufim BaTzariah.