This week in Israeli history: April 15-21

Center for Israel Education

The last barracks building at Bergen-Belsen is razed at the end of June 1945. Photo: British Imperial War Museum

April 15, 1945 — Bergen-Belsen Is Liberated

The British 11th Armored Division liberates the Nazis’ Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where Anne Frank is among an estimated 50,000 Jews and others who die in the final two years of World War II. About half the 120,000 people sent to the camp are alive, scattered among 13,000 unburied corpses, but they suffer from malnutrition, typhus and other diseases. Almost 14,000 of them die in the 2½ months after liberation.


Two guards reportedly were asleep during the 1983 break-in at the Museum for Islamic Art, and the window used for the theft did not have an alarm. (Photo: Go Jerusalem)

April 16, 1983 — Watches, Art Are Stolen From Islamic Museum

In what may be the costliest heist since modern Israel’s founding, watches, clocks and paintings are stolen overnight from the poorly secured Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem. The loot includes 57 watches crafted by 18th century French-Swiss artisan Abraham-Louis Breguet; one of them, a timepiece made for Marie Antoinette, is valued at $30 million. The theft remains unsolved for more than 20 years.


A supply convoy reaches Jerusalem on April 17, 1948.

April 17, 1948 — Rabin Leads Relief Convoy Into Jerusalem

Commanded by 24-year-old Yitzhak Rabin, the Harel Brigade delivers a supply convoy to Jerusalem under fire from Arab guerrillas. The supplies bring relief to Jewish residents who have been blockaded since February. The convoy arrives four days after an ambush of a medical convoy bound for Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus kills 80 Jews, most of them doctors and nurses. Arab forces again cut off the roads to Jerusalem on April 20.


Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion tried to persuade Albert Einstein to serve as Israel’s second president.

April 18, 1955 — Albert Einstein Dies

Physicist Albert Einstein, who declined an offer in 1952 to serve as Israel’s second president, dies at age 76. Einstein opposed militant nationalism, but after witnessing attacks on Jews, he was drawn to Zionism. He wrote in 1921 that “Jewish nationalism must be developed both in Palestine and everywhere else.” He joined a U.S. fundraising tour for Hebrew University that year and spoke at the university’s planned site in 1923 in his first visit to the Land of Israel.

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Gadi Taub poses for a portrait at Columbia University, Monday, October 02, 2017. (Photo Credit: Natan Dvir) (Photo: Natan Dvir)

April 19, 1956 — Writer Gadi Taub Is Born

Gadi Taub, a leading interpreter of modern Zionism, is born in Jerusalem. Taub’s maternal grandparents moved to Mandatory Palestine in the 1920s; his father arrived in 1939 after escaping from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. A Hebrew University instructor, author and newspaper columnist, he is a critic of the settlement movement and a supporter of a Palestinian state. He also writes novels and works on films and TV series.


Napoleon lays siege to Acre in 1799.

April 20, 1799 — Napoleon Backs Jewish Claim to Palestine

A month into an expensive siege of the Turkish-held city of Acre, Napoleon issues a proclamation offering to hand over Palestine to the Jewish nation if France is successful in capturing it. The proclamation aims to win the support of Palestine’s Jews, but evidence indicates that they feared the French and helped the Turks fortify Acre. Napoleon withdraws his plague-ridden army in June and returns to Egypt.


Moshe Barazani (left) and Meir Feinstein are buried on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. (Photo: National Library of Israel)

April 21, 1947 — 2 Jewish Militants Kill Themselves Before Hanging

Moshe Barazani, 20, of Lehi (the Stern Gang) and Meir Feinstein, 19, of the Irgun kill themselves with a grenade smuggled into their prison in Jerusalem to prevent the British from hanging them the next morning. Iraq-born Barazani had been caught with a grenade meant for the assassination of a British officer, and Jerusalem native Feinstein had been captured after participating in the sabotage of a railway station. They met in prison.

Items are provided by the Center for Israel Education (israeled.org), where you can find more details.