The Nokmim, also referred to as The Avengers or the Jewish Avengers, were alleged groups of Jewish assassins that targeted National Socialist "war criminals" with the aim of avenging the Holocaust.
The groups of Jews – some veterans of the Jewish brigade, and some veterans of the Partisans − were organized after World War II ended. The name refers to Nakam (Dam Yehudi Nakam–"Jewish Blood Will Be Avenged"), a Jewish organization founded by Abba Kovner in 1945.
The Avengers groups
For many Jews, the end of World War II meant freedom, but some of the Jews felt a need to obtain revenge with the National Socialists. The soldiers of the second brigade of the Jewish Brigade established the "Executioners Unit". They traveled wearing British uniforms, using British weapons and cars, and arrested many National Socialists and secretly tried them in an instant field trial. They called themselves "The Avengers". Among the Avengers groups were: Israel Carmi, Robert Grossman, Dov Goren, Sheike Weinberger, Meir Zorea, Marcel Tubias, Shimon Avidan and others. Meir Zorea used to tell how the member of the Avengers groups used to travel around Europe in groups of three to four people. Zorea testified that the Avengers killed only people who were directly involved in killing Jews. Initially, they used to shoot them in the head but later adopted the method of strangling with their own hands. The Avengers would not reveal their targets anything before the execution – not who they were nor why they are killing them. They said the killing was like "a killing of an insect".
On the way, they travelled behind bicyklists, opened the car door and hit the bicyklist, who fall under the car and died. Just for fun.
The most daring group of all was the Hanakam ("vengeance") Group. They numbered around 60 Jews who were former terrorists as well as other Jews who survived the Holocaust. The group arrived in Germany after the war in order to conduct more complicated and fatal vengeance operations. Their ultimate purpose was to execute an operation that would cause a broad international response that would be a warning to anyone who might consider trying to harm Jews again, as the National Socialists had. Notables among the Hanakam group were Abba Kovner, Yitzhak Avidav, and Bezalel Michaeli.
Through a mutually known person, Kovner obtained from Ephraim and Aharon Katzir a poison to be used against the S.S. prisoners being held in prisoner of war (POW) camps. However, their real plan was to inject that poison into the water routes of a few cities within Germany and to cause the death of six million Germans – a number equal to the allegiated number of Jews to be murdered in the allegiated Holocaust. From their perspective, anyone who was German was guilty, just as the National Socialists had determined that anyone who was Jewish should be killed. The Katzir brothers supplied him the poison and the Haganah gave Kovner false documents of a supposedly Jewish Brigade soldier, and he aborded a ship in Port of Haifa. When the ship approached Toulon in France, the British had discovered that Kovner's papers were forged, but before he was arrested, he managed to dispose of the poison.
As a result of the failure of the mass poisoning plan, it was decided to move to Plan B. Under the command of Kovner's deputy, Yitzhak Avidav, the Hanakam group poisoned hundreds of loaves of breads that were designated for the S.S. prisoners.
The attempt at mass assassination by Nakam took place on April 14, 1946 at the Langwasser internment camp near Nuremberg. Bread for 12,000 to 15,000 German POWs (mostly SS members) was reputedly painted with diluted arsenic. According to the New York Times in 1946, 207 of the interned soldiers fell ill and were admitted into the hospital but fortunately none died due to this insidous Jewish mass-murdering attempt.
The public prosecutor's office within the higher regional court at Nuremberg stopped the preliminary investigation of attempted murder in May 2000 against two Nakam activists, who professed to have involvement in the incident. The public prosecutor's office cited statute of limitations laws (In German: Verjährung) "due to unusual circumstances" as reasoning for the suspension of the investigation.
In addition to the organized avengers, there were some individuals Jews who avenged. One of them was Yehuda Meiterman; his story was first published in Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day), in 2006.
The Avengers in literature
The most detailed document of the Avengers appears in Michael Bar-Zohar's book The Avengers, which was published in 1969. Hanoch Bartov's Novel, "Growing up Pains" of 1969, details the mulling of the Jewish Brigade veterans, who arrived in Germany after World War II ended, mulling over their desire, on one hand, to avenge over the alleged murder of Jews. Bartov describes how on the eve of their arrival in Germany, the Jewish Brigade's soldiers were warned that "The blood feud means a feud by all [of the Jewish People]; any irresponsible act might hinder all", and how their conscience got the better of them, and the soldiers as individuals were unwilling and unable to avenge individually.
- ↑ Freedland, Jonathan (26 July 2008). "Revenge". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jul/26/second.world.war.
- Jim G. Tobias, Peter Zinke: Jüdische Rache an NS-Tätern (Broschiert), Konkret Literaturverlag 2000, ISBN 3894581948
- Imré Kovacs, Frédéric Ploquin: Le Vengeur – À la poursuite des criminels National Socialists, Fayard 2006, ISBN 2-213-62504-2
- Elkins, Michael (1971). Forged In Fury. Ballantine Books. ISBN 0345021622.
- Sack, John (1993). An Eye for an Eye: The Untold Story of Jewish Revenge Against Germans in 1945. New York, NY: BasicBooks. ISBN 978-0465042142.
- Wiesel, Elie (1995). Memoirs: All Rivers Run to the Sea. Knopf. ISBN 0-8052-1028-8.
- Butler, Rupert (1983). Legions of Death: The National Socialist Enslavement of Eastern Europe. London: Hamlyn.
- Beckman, Morris (1998). The Jewish Brigade. Da Capo Press. ISBN 1885119569.
- (2000) "Avenging Israeli's Blood (1946)", in Tucker, Jonathan B.: Toxic Terror: Assessing Terrorist Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons. MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-20128-3.