2015 - Resident Profile - Ari Nabozny

2015 - Resident Profile - Ari Nabozny

A true lion: Meet Holocaust survivor and independence fighter Arie Nabozny

Arie Nabozny 2013Just a third of European Jewry survived World War II and Adolph Hitler’s “Final Solution.” Arie Nabozny is one of those survivors, but his harrowing story has an added layer of complexity. Emerging from the Holocaust, he then emigrated to Palestine and fought in the War of Independence.

Details of his life from 1939 to 1945 can be found in a story that appeared in an issue of Returning in 1945 to his Polish town of Sarny from a Siberian labor camp, he learned that his relatives had perished and found the home built by his father leveled—“just sand, nothing left.” Twenty-three years old, alone and fearful, he set off for Lodz, Poland. 

There, along with other displaced teenagers and young survivors, he received support from the Haganah, an underground Jewish defense movement organized in 1920 both to protect Jewish settlements in British-ruled Palestine and to assist in creating a homeland there for Jews worldwide. The Haganah members he encountered had traveled to Lodz to rescue survivors and encourage their move to Palestine. For Nabozny, raised and educated in a Zionist household and fluent in Hebrew, the Haganah brought hope for achieving his objective to live in Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel. 

Any trip to Palestine involved peril because of Britain’s tight restrictions on immigration. Aliyah Bet, a clandestine operation dedicated to circumventing these restrictions, shepherded Nabozny and other refugees on a circuitous route by foot, trucks, trains and ship to Haifa. Arriving July 1, 1946, he immediately joined the Haganah. 

Those familiar with history know that clashes between Jews, Arabs and British authorities were complex, violent and impassioned. Nabozny played a role in that struggle and ultimately was present in Tel Aviv on November 27, 1947, when the United Nations’ vote to partition Palestine into two states was announced. He witnessed an emotional David Ben-Gurion proclaiming from a museum balcony, “Blessed are we who have been privileged to witness this day,” and was swept up in the ensuing celebration that filled the streets of Tel Aviv throughout the night. Yet, joy was cut short.

Following Israel’s formal declaration of independence on May 14, 1948, five Arab nations invaded the new nation. Nabozny was caught in the heat of combat as his military unit battled its way south from Tel Aviv, with the mission of forging a secret bypass route over rocky terrain to Jerusalem to bring food, water, fuel and medical supplies to the city’s trapped residents. When armistice negotiations finally ended the war, Nabozny resigned from the defense force. Arie and Ida Nabozny

Today, Arie Nabozny, whose Hebrew name means “lion,” is in his nineties and grateful to be alive. In his home at Ring House, he is willing to recount the miracles that permitted him to experience the peace and joys of marriage and a devoted family. He is a treasure, and we’re honored to have him on our campus. 

Nabozny family Israel


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