NAME: Ravdel, Zalman



Zalman was born in 1915 in Ludza, Latvia, to Yitzhak and Penina. He had three brothers and two sisters. His older sister and brother were killed by the Latvians, while his mother and his sister Zlata survived and made aliyah, but not until February 1969. Zalman grew up in a religious home, in which he was inculcated with Zionism and the yearning for an independent Jewish state.

At age thirteen, he joined Beitar and was very active in the branch and in training. In 1937, he began serving in the Latvian Army. As soon as he was discharged, in 1939, he began his journey to the Land of Israel. He was captured by the Romanians, imprisoned and deported to Varna, Bulgaria. After ten months, he was able to embark on the Mapilim ship Libertad, with 380 others. The journey took five weeks, and when they arrived, the British sent them to detention in Atlit.

In 1941, he was released and joined the Beitar company in Tel Litwinsky. When it was disbanded, he moved to Ramat Gan, where he joined the IZL and was part of purchasing operations. In 1942, he joined the British Army. He was sent to North Africa, where he spent the rest of the war.

In 1945, he was in Italy, and he met his childhood friend Herzke, now the Lehi fighter Amikam. He deserted, joined Herzke and made his way to Rome with him under the name Memo. As Lehi’s agent, he crossed the border between France and Italy many times. One time, the Italians caught him and he was deported to Austria. He made his way back to Italy, but since Lehi’s Rome branch had been closed, he decided to return to Israel with the Hagana youth group.

He arrived after the State had been established, and he immediately went to the Lehi camp at Sheikh Munis. He enlisted with the other Lehi members in the IDF, and he was assigned to Blond Dov’s Company A of Battalion 89, 8th Brigade. Zalman trained halftrack drivers and fought the Arab Legion and the Egyptian Army in the Negev.

The pièce de résistance was the capture of the police fort at Iraq Suwaydan, nowadays Fort Yoav, and breaking through the Egyptian lines at Auja el-Hafir. When the War of Independence ended, he joined Herzke in established a Lehi settlement in the Negev called Neve Yair. He met Yehudit Hizkia there, and they married. They moved to Tel Aviv and had two children, Ariella and Rami. Yehudit passed away on 13.6.2000. Zalman worked for the IDF as a driver transporting tanks. In 1981, he retired and started to work for RAD Data Communications, where he is employed until this very day.