NAME: Verkshtal Gabriel

LEHI ALIAS: Shimshon

DATE OF BIRTH: October 1, 1924

DATE OF DEATH: May 2, 2015

Gabriel, son of Meir and Shoshana was born in Warsaw Poland, October 1,1924. From age six he studied in Warsaw Hebrew schools, learning perfect Hebrew. When anti-Semitism rose in Poland, effecting Christian children, they intimidated  Jewish children and passer-bys. Gabriel organised a group of tough boys in defence, equipped them with knives and fist-gear; when confrontations developed, the boys would rapidly show up.

The “Shkotsim” got the message, and things quieted down in the neighbourhood. Between 1939-1940, Gabriel helped his father support the family. In April 1940, using false documents the family managed to escape Poland , and after many adventures, reached Istanbul. In December 1940,  Gabriel  and sister Rina received entry permits; their parents arrived 1943. The children were absorbed at Ben-Shemen Youth Village.

Gabriel spoke Hebrew, was immediately integrated into school studying agriculture and metal-work. Shortly afterwards he was accepted in the Haganah as combat instructor. He was expelled from school due to  political dispute and joined Lehi after in-depth examination. The first missions were pasting up info -bulletins, confiscating merchandise, and various procurement operations. He participated in  sabotaging military installations,  stealing weapons and blowing up parked airplanes. In the Haifa Railway Workshops explosion, he was injured in both legs and captured by the British with a large group of  fighters. Only in 1954 was he recognized as a disabled IDF veteran.

Gabriel was sentenced to death with eighteen fighters  and placed in solitary confinement. Following intervention of renowned figures (First Lady Mrs. Roosevelt, Professor Einstein, Sartre, and others) they were granted amnesty. Sentenced to life, they sat in Akko Prison and Atlit Camp. Gabriel was released  after establishment of the State and joined the IDF immediately. He served in the 82nd Battalion, 8th Brigade under Yitzchak Sadeh, with many  Lehi members.

He met Frieda Berlin, future wife, during preparations for Lehi’s  Workshops operation. She was arrested and imprisoned in Bethlehem. They re-met in Atlit before release, fell in love, and were married in a military wedding while still conscripted. They have two children, Gadi and Adina, and four grandchildren. They reside in Tel-Aviv.