NAME: Menkes Yosef


DATE OF BIRTH: May 15, 1917

DATE OF DEATH: May 6, 1994

Yosef was born in the city of Kozova, Poland, on May 15, 1917 to Avraham and Pearl, a Religious Zionist family.  In the morning, he studied in a Polish school, while in the afternoon, he pursued Jewish studies. He joined Beitar at age nine. At twenty, he went to a Beitar commanders’ course; in 1938, shortly after the course, he made illegal aliyah through the Beitar-IZL program Af al Pi.

A year after they arrived, World War II broke out, and Yosef joined the British Army, serving there for five years. While he was in Europe, he did everything he could to rescue children from all over Europe and bring them to bases of the Jewish Agency, from which they were sent on to the Land of Israel.

In 1945, Yosef was demobilized and immediately joined the ranks of Lehi. He was placed in the operations division and took place in several operations, including attacking British soldiers and police, blowing up train tracks, confiscating cash (including robbing Tel Aviv’s Barclays Bank) and maintaining armories, among other activities.

After the Partition Plan was announced, the Arabs launched attacks against the Yishuv throughout the country. The road to Jerusalem was cut off at Shaar HaGai, and the city was besieged.

Under Eldad’s orders, Yosef left with two Jeeps and several men, including Palmach members, to find an alternative route. They found a very difficult road; at points, they had to haul the Jeeps manually. Nevertheless, they succeeded. They were followed by forces with mechanical equipment who made the road passable for all vehicles. This was the Burma Road (which took its name from a similar route created by the British during World War II in Burma). Yosef was very proud of this operation, which saved Jerusalem from being utterly cut off. He traveled along “his” road many times, transporting Lehi reserve fighters to Jerusalem, arms, ammunition and equipment. He remained in Jerusalem to fight and was put in charge of transportation and armories.

In 1952, Yosef married Esther Gevirtzer. They had three children and eight grandchildren.

After the war, he worked as a baker, but he continued his involvement in underground activities, the Tzrifin Underground in particular. He was found guilty of the Kastner murder and sentenced to a long prison term, but he received clemency. After he was released, he bought a taxi and became a cabdriver.

Yosef passed away on May 6,1994. He was buried in the Kfar Hasidim Cemetery.