NAME: Kotik, Yaakov


DATE OF BIRTH: September 27, 1913

DATE OF DEATH: July 13, 1996

Yaakov was born on September 27, 1913 in Ciechanowiec, Poland, where he grew up. He joined Beitar and made aliyah illegally in 1938. As soon as he arrived, he joined the Nationalist Movement, Beitar, the Histadrut and the IZL. As part of this activity, he was arrested a number of times, and he was detained for short periods of time. The CID had a file on him.

His IZL commander ordered him, on August 20,1938 to transport a valise full of pistols, grenades, ammunition and explosive material from the Histadrut offices on Geula Street in Tel Aviv to another place in the city. A CID Jewish informant leaked this information, and the police encircled the building in an ambush. Yaakov had no idea of their presence, so he took the valise and walked out. While still in the stairwell, the police pounced on him and seized him. Martial law had been imposed by the Mandatory government, and Yaakov was liable to receive the death penalty for possessing this quantity of firearms.

His trial began on September 29,1938. Even though he knew what awaited him, Yaakov stood straight and maintained his morale. He refused a defense attorney, arguing that he should be considered a prisoner of war. Nevertheless, the attorney Seligman was appointed to defend him. As expected, the judges did not deliberate long before sentencing him to death on October 3,1938. After the verdict, Yaakov sang HaTikvah. He told his fellow prisoners: “Don’t worry. I will accept my death with dignity.” However, ten days later, the sentence was commuted to life in prison. In fact, he spent seven years in prison in Jerusalem and Acre, including six months of solitary confinement. In the meantime, World War II broke out. The IZL split, and Yaakov followed Yair.

The informant turned out to be Valentine Beck, who was present at the time of Yaakov’s arrest. The IZL learned of this and ordered that he be executed as soon as Yaakov was sentenced to death.

Around the time of the establishment of the State, Yaakov was released, and he began working as a clerk for the Histadrut. His free time was dedicated to the underground.

Yaakov had no family of his own, and he passed away on July 13,1996 at age 82.