web analytics
May 28, 2015 / 10 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Abba Kovner And The Real-Life Jewish Avengers

Abba Kovner later in life

Abba Kovner later in life

As moviegoers over the weekend flocked to see Marvel’s new superhero ensemble, they would understandably associate the idea of avengers with Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk and Black Widow.

But in fact there was a real-life band of Jewish freedom fighters with the same name who were bent on sticking it to Hitler’s henchmen.

Captain America was launched in 1941 with the iconic image of the superhero punching Hitler right in the face, knocking him for a loop. That’s no surprise – Cap (like Superman, Batman, X-Men and so many other superheroes) was created by Jews: Joe Simon (born Hymie Simon) and Jack Kirby (born Jacob Kurtzberg).

Kirby grew up on the tough streets of New York’s Lower East Side, the hub of the Jewish immigrant experience. And so it became Cap’s address, too.

As Kirby recalled, the neighborhood was rough and tumble, with street fights a common occurrence. Likewise, Kirby’s doppelganger, Steve Rogers (Cap’s alias), who started as a small weakling too feeble to join the military, was picked on and bullied. But after an experiment performed by Dr. Reinstein (sounds like Einstein), he quickly became a super soldier tasked with aiding the Allied war effort.

All of this may seem like fantastic child’s play but at about the same time – some 71 years ago, in June 1941 – as Nazi Germany was attacking a city in Lithuania and establishing the Vilna Ghetto, there actually was a small group of heroic Jews who took on the handle The Avengers.

This band of Jewish resistance fighters, also known by the more official sounding United Partisan Organization, operated out of the Ponar forest – the same place that fellow Jews from the ghetto were taken to be shot and buried in mass graves.

One of the leaders of this brigade was Abba Kovner, the famous organizer of the Vilna Ghetto uprising who fought back against the Nazis and planned to carry out a mass act of revenge on the German people soon after the war ended.

The story of these Jewish fighters was documented in The Avengers, a 1967 book by Michael Bar-Zohar about Holocaust survivors who tracked down Nazi criminals in an effort to avenge their massacred brethren, and later in the 1986 documentary “The Partisans of Vilna” and on The History Channel. For many Jews, the story goes, the fact that huge numbers of Nazi soldiers were allowed to simply go home once the war had ended was intolerable.

Rich Cohen came out in 2000 with a book by the same title, also about those Jews who sought revenge.

“In the winter of 1941, a charismatic young poet named Abba Kovner formed a Jewish guerrilla group in the Vilna ghetto, in Lithuania,” Cohen wrote. “They sneaked through the city’s sewers, blowing up German transports and outposts with homemade bombs. After the war Kovner and his Avengers hatched a plan to poison 8,000 Nazis imprisoned at Stalag 13 in Nuremberg.”

So as you’re chewing on your popcorn, just remember that lurking behind the colorful costumes, special effects and superhero banter is a deeper real-life storyline. (JTA)

Abe Novick is a writer and communications consultant. He can be reached at abenovick.com.

About the Author: Abe Novick is a writer and communications consultant. He can be reached at abenovick.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Abba Kovner And The Real-Life Jewish Avengers”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Ben & Jerry's new flavor: Bernie Sanders
Ben & Jerry’s Launches New Flavor: Bernie Sanders
Latest Indepth Stories
Robert Wistrich (z"l)

Prof. Wistrich, was THE foremost historian of anti-Semitism; committed spokesman & advocate of Jewry

J-Street

Jewish Voices for Peace’s 2015 Haggadah is a blatant anti-Israel screed crying, “L’chayim to BDS!”

Rabbi Lichtenstein (z"l).

On his shloshim, I want to discuss a term I’ve heard countless times about Rav Aharon: Gedol HaDor

Abbas and Obama

After obsequious claims of devotion to Israel, Obama took to criticizing Israel on peace process

Mr. Obama, Israeli voters have democratically chosen to apply Israeli sovereignty over Judea&Samaria

Netanyahu so disdains Shaked’s appointment he completely ignored her after the swearing-in ceremony

Ronen Shamir’s just the latest tenured Leftist convicted of sexual misconduct with his own student

NY Times precious front page ink is only reserved for portrayals of Israel as the aggressor.

Although I loved law school, I doubted myself: Who would come to me, a chassidish woman lawyer?

American Jews who go gaga for Obama are first and foremost “Liberals of the Mosaic Persuasion”

“Illinois is the first state to take concrete, legally binding action against the BDS campaign”

Many books have supported the preferability- not to be confused with desirability- of the status quo

Consider the Pope’s desperation, reading daily reports of the slaughter of Christians by Muslims

The contrast between a Dem pretending to love Israel & a Dem who truly loves Israel is CRYSTAL CLEAR

Pentecost, derived from the Greek word for 50, is celebrated 50 days after Easter.

U.S and European demands for the creation of a Palestinian State in the West Bank is world hypocrisy.

More Articles from Abe Novick
Abba Kovner later in life

As moviegoers over the weekend flocked to see Marvel’s new superhero ensemble, they would understandably associate the idea of avengers with Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk and Black Widow.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/abba-kovner-and-the-real-life-jewish-avengers/2012/05/09/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: