Yitzhak Zuckerman was born on 13th December, 1915 in Vilnius. After having graduated from high school, he was admitted to university. However, he did not take up studies, but instead joined a kibbutz and set up his own Halutz community. He had been a member of a Zionist movement He-Halutz ha-Cair (Hebrew for a Young Pioneer) since he was little. In 1936, by order of the leaders of the movement, he came to Warsaw, joined a commune and took up work on a farm in Grochów. Two years later, he was already a general secretary of combined organization Dror-He-Halutz. When the war began, he was in Volyn, where he was organizing seminars for future Jewish pioneers in Palestine.
He came back to Warsaw after having illegally crossed the border of the General Government, in April 1940. He started creating smuggling networks for the Jews to take them from Poland to Palestine. When, after the outbreak of the German-Soviet war, it was no longer possible, he continued training pioneers in the ghetto; he organized regular schooling and contributed to the creation of the conspiratorial press. In July 1942, after the beginning of the great liquidation action by the Germans, resulting in about 300 thousand Jews being taken to the gas chambers in Treblinka, the previous shape of the underground work was no longer possible. Social life in the deserted ghetto was replaced with preparations for armed resistance.
On 22nd December 1942 took part and was wounded during the raid on „Cyganeria” cafe in Cracow. As a leader of one of the combat teams „Antek” participated in the „January self-defence” action in the Warsaw Ghetto. During the preparations to the Ghetto Uprising he was a commander of JCO in one of its designated areas.
On 13th April, 1943, a week before the outbreak of the uprising, Zuckerman left the ghetto in order to substitute for arrested-by-the-Germans Arie Wilner, the liaison between ŻOB and the Polish underground. The outbreak of the uprising took everyone aback. It must have been especially difficult for Zuckerman to look at the fighting ghetto and think about his friends, among whom was his wife Cywia Lubetkin „Celina”. He could not go back to the ghetto, though. His task was to stay in touch with AK and AL, supply weapon for the fighting and prepare escapes and hiding places for those who would survive. After the death of Mordechaj Anielewicz became the chief-commander of the Jewish Combat Organisation. „Antek” was putting together reports of the Jewish Underground which were later sent abroad. Co-founded and was a member of the Jewish National Committee.
On 1st August, 1944 another uprising broke out in Warsaw. One of the units fighting within the Armia Ludowa [People’s Army] was an independent platoon of ŻOB, including „Celina”, Marek Edelman and Symcha Ratajzer „Kazik”. „Antek” Zuckerman was the commander. It was his appeal that was published in the underground press. He wrote:
For three days, the people of Warsaw have been engaged in armed fighting with the German occupier. [...] Hundreds of Jewish adolescents and ŻOB fighters are standing shoulder to shoulder with Polish comrades manning the barricades. Our regards to the fighting. [...] Join the insurgents. Through pain to victory, to free, independent, strong and just Poland.
After the liberation of Warsaw, „Antek” and „Celina” lived together with other Halutzim in the so-called Kibbutz in Poznańska (58 Poznańska Street). They got involved with rebuilding the Zionist movement; both of them were also members of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Jews in Poland, which coordinated aid given to the survivors of the Holocaust and represented them before the authorities. Simultaneously, Zuckerman and his wife took part in preparations for illegal and then half-legal emigration of the Jews from Poland to Palestine. Throughout Brich (Hebrew for escape), lasting for three years after the war, 140 thousand Jews left Poland. The majority of them had survived the war on the territory of the USSR.
In 1946 left for Palestine himself. Three years later they founded kibbutz Lochamei ha-Getaot (hear. the Ghetto Fighter’s Kibbutz).
In 1961 Zuckerman testified as a witness during Adolf Eichmann’s trial in Jerusalem.
Died in the kibbutz he founded on 17th June 1981.
An article of Cyryl Skibiński entitled 35th anniversary of death of Yitzhak „Antek” Zuckerman and information about Yitzhak Zuckerman from Polish Judaic Dictionary were used in the publication.
The quotes in the text were taken from:
R. Assuntino, W. Goldkorn, Strażnik. Marek Edelman opowiada, Cracow, 2006.
I. Zuckerman „Antek”, Nadmiar pamięci (siedem owych lat). Wspomnienia 1939–1946, scholarly editing and preface M. Turski, afterword W. Bartoszewski, Warsaw.