NAME: Ribbenbach, Menahem

LEHI ALIAS: Motke, Mordechai

DATE OF BIRTH: September 23, 1927

DATE FALLEN: December 5, 1946

Menahem was born in Tel Aviv in autumn 1927, to Tuvia and Malka, who participated in the Third Aliyah from Poland, along with their four children born in the Diaspora. Tuvia made the decision one Friday night, when the Sabbath table was resplendent with its candles. A Pole, who was passing by their window, spat on them and called them dirty Zhids. “No more!” vowed Tuvia. His friends and family urged him to abandon his “crazy scheme” of moving to “desolate Palestine,” pointing out how well-off the family was in Poland. Tuvia could not be dissuaded, and he brought his family to Zion, to redeem and to be redeemed.

The same personal and national pride which brought Tuvia from the Diaspora to the homeland was inculcated in his children. They all joined Beitar, then the IZL. When the latter split, his sons Hayim and Menahem decided to join the persecuted and maligned Lehi, which continued to fight for the liberation of the homeland despite it all.

Menahem attended the Bilu School in his hometown, joining Beitar at a young age to follow his older brother. He was alert, curious, quick to learn and diligent, dedicated heart and soul to the nationalist cause. These traits were made known in Lehi, and he was promoted to positions of responsibility.

In 1944, he was assigned to Lehi’s intelligence division, Dept. 6. Menahem was put in charge of a youth cell. He had sharp investigative skills, an excellent memory, exceptional stamina and many technical talents. Whenever he would follow a person suspected or known to be a CID asset, he would never relent, never stop to eat or sleep, until he had acquired every iota of information about the subject. He and his boys would walk the streets tirelessly to discover who was tracking the movement of Lehi members; most of these belonged to the Hagana’s “antiterror” unit. Menahem and his boys would find out where these men lived, where they met, where they were based and headquartered, who their commanders were. This allowed the movement to silence them. When the Saison came to a close, Menahem and his boys could refocus on the British. They excelled in this capacity as well, but this was not enough for them. Menahem and his boys wanted to take part in the operations undertaken based on the information they had acquired. From time to time, they were granted the opportunity.

After his brother Hayim (Petachya) fell in the Haifa Railroad Workshops operation in June of 1946, Menahem became more adamant in demanding an active part. On December 3,1946 he got to do exactly that. Menahem had gathered intelligence for the Polish Bank robbery. Yaakov “Blond Dov” Granek approached a bank clerk, who was carrying a case full of money, accompanied by an armed Jewish policeman. Menahem was covering Yaakov, who identified himself as a freedom fighter. The Jewish policeman opened fire on the two of them, but they refused to return fire, as the Central Committee had ordered them not to hurt Jews in the course of an operation. Dov was rescued by two other members of the operation and brought to the hospital. Menahem, who had also been hit, had to escape alone, while losing a great deal of blood. He died two days later, on December 5, 1946.