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Joseph Trumpeldor

Joseph Trumpeldor
Joseph Trumpeldor in the uniform of a British army officer but without visible badges, c. World War One
Born November 21, 1880
Pyatigorsk, Russia
Died March 1, 1920 (aged 39)
Tel Hai, British Mandate of Palestine
Battles/wars Russo-Japanese War
*Port Arthur (WIA),
World War I
* Battle of Gallipoli (WIA),
Battle of Tel Hai 
Awards Cross of St. George

Joseph Trumpeldor (November 21, 1880 – March 1, 1920, Zion Mule Corps and bring Jewish immigrants to Palestine. Trumpeldor died defending the settlement of Tel Hai in 1920 and subsequently became a Zionist national hero. According to a standard account, to him are attributed the last words, reminiscent of Horace: "It does not matter, it is good to die for our country."[1]


  • Early life 1
  • World War I 2
  • Political activist 3
  • Battle of Tel Hai 4
    • National hero 4.1
    • Legacy 4.2
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life

Joseph Trumpeldor was born in

  • The personal papers of Joseph Trumpeldor are kept at the Central Zionist Archives in Jerusalem. The notation of the record group is A42.

External links

  1. ^ Idith Zertal, Israel's Holocaust And The Politics Of Nationhood, Cambridge University Press, 2005 pp.13-15. That he ever said these words, which are similar to a famous line in the Latin poet Horace, has been challenged. Various versions exist, based on two primary witnesses, Dr George Gerry who had arrived in Palestine just two weeks earlier, and Abraham Harzfeld. His Hebrew was broken and stilted: he is known to have spoken Russian while his wounds were attended to.
  2. ^ Henry Laurens, La Question de Palestine, vol.1, Fayard, Paris 1999 p.502
  3. ^ a b  
  4. ^ Aviel Roshwald, The Endurance of Nationalism; Ancient Roots and Modern Dilemmas, Cambridge University Press. 2006, p.148).
  5. ^ Matthew Silver, 'Fighting for Palestine and Crimea:Two Jewish Friends from Philadelphia during the First World War and the 1920s,' in Peter Y. Medding (ed.), Jews and Violence: Images, Ideologies, Realities, Studies in Contemporary Jewry,vol.18, Oxford University Press, pp.201-218, p.215, n.43.
  6. ^ Yael Zerubavel, 'The Historic, the Legendary, and the Incredible: Invented Tradition and Collective Memory in Israel,' in John R. Gillis,Commemorations: The Politics of National Identity, Princeton University Press, 1994 pp.105-126, p.115.
  7. ^ Yael Zerubavel,Recovered Roots: Collective Memory and the Making of Israeli National Tradition, University of Chicago Press, 1995 pp.159-160, 167.
  8. ^ Matthew Silver, 'Fighting for Palestine and Crimea,' ibid. p.215, n.43
  9. ^ Idith Zertal,Israel's Holocaust and the Politics of Nationhood, Cambridge University Press, 2006 p.14. Gerry said that his last words were 'It is worth dying for our country, and this was later emended. Zertal records that Pinhas Schneourson testified he had heard Trumpeldor, just before his death, in reply to the query:"How are you?"," say: 'It is good to die for our country".(n.14)
  10. ^ Anita Shapira, Land and Power: The Zionist Resort to Force, 1881-1948, Stanford University Press, 2992 p.101.


Both right-wing and left-wing Zionists regard Joseph Trumpeldor as a hero. The Revisionist Zionist movement (the precursor to Likud) named its youth movement Betar, an acronym for "Covenant of Joseph Trumpeldor", while the left-wing movements remember Trumpeldor as the defender of the kibbutzim and have established memorials in his honour. In the same year that he died, the Joseph Trumpeldor Battalion for defence and work was founded, which established several kibbutzim. The town of Kiryat Shmona ("City of Eight") is named after Trumpeldor and the seven others who died defending Tel Hai.


as "It is sweet and honourable to die for one's country," or "It is sweet and fitting to die for the fatherland" --- and which inspired numerous nineteenth- and twentieth-century nationalist patriots in various countries. English (iii 2.13), which can be rendered in Odes's Horace poet lyrical Roman, the famous line from the Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori [10] These words, which spread like wildfire throughout the Jewish immigrant community in Palestine, are rather atypical for Jews on their deathbed. They are the equivalent in Hebrew of the Latin apophthegm[9]), who attended him and was the only firsthand source for this declaration, had been in Palestine for only two weeks, and might have had difficulty in understanding him.[8] After his death, Trumpeldor became a symbol of Jewish self-defence, and his memorial day on the 11th day of

National hero

It is unclear exactly what happened once Trumpeldor assumed command, but an early report speaks of 'misunderstanding on both sides'. Ultimately, a major firefight raged in which seven Jews and five Arabs were killed outright; Trumpeldor was shot in the hand and stomach, and died while being evacuated to Kfar Giladi that evening. The eight Jews were buried in two common graves in Kfar Giladi, and both locations were abandoned for a time.[3]

..up to the Kfar Giladi courtyard
path from the Tel Hai courtyard..

[3] On 1 March 1920, several hundred

Joseph Trumpeldor's memorial in Tel Hai

Battle of Tel Hai

Upon his return to aliyah, and returned to the British Mandate of Palestine himself.

Political activist

Due to his handicap he began to study law. He gathered a group of young Zionists around him and in 1911 they emigrated to Palestine, then part of the Israel Defense Forces. He saw action in the Battle of Gallipoli with the Zion Mule Corps, where he was wounded in the shoulder. The Zion Mule Corps remained in Gallipoli through the entire campaign and was disbanded shortly after being transferred to Britain.

World War I
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