Her Story – Havka, 2013
Video Portrait, 06:21 min
Photography & Editing: Yariv Bartal (shot)
Chavka Folman-Raban was 15 years old when the Germans conquered Warsaw in 1939.
In June-July 1940, before the ghetto’s gates were shut, she took part in the first seminar of the Dror Zionist pioneering youth movement, for training a young leadership – the Aktiva. Several other participants were among the future founders of the ghetto underground “Jewish Fighting Organization” (Z.O.B.) That year, Chavka went to live in Dror’s commune at No. 34 Dzielna Street, opposite her parents’ home at No. 43. The Dror commune is where Chavka met the activist couple Yitzhak “Antek” Zuckerman and Zivia Lubetkin, who would greatly influence her path during the war and afterwards.
With her teenager’s audacity, non-Jewish appearance, and excellent Polish peppered with Warsaw slang, Chavka – just seventeen – became a liaison-courier for the ZOB, under the Polish identity “Emma Marczynjak.” In the spring of 1942, her commanders Mordechai Anielewicz and Yitzhak Zuckerman sent her on a mission to the vicinity of Treblinka to discover the truth of rumors that Jews were being killed there en masse. Later she would learn that her father was murdered there.
On 22 December 1942, Chavka was arrested after the ZOB’s daring attack on the Cyganeria Café, a favorite spot of the SS, in the heart of Krakow. The captured attackers were deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, Chavka as a Polish woman who aided the Jews. Upon the evacuation of the Auschwitz complex, she was sent on a “death march” to the Ravensbrück concentration camp in Germany. In late April 1945, shortly before the camp’s liberation by the Soviet Red Army, Chavka was taken to Sweden by the Red Cross.
Chavka Folman-Raban arrived in Mandate Palestine in 1947. Together with Zivia Lubetkin and Antek Zuckerman, she was among the founders of Kibbutz Lohamei Haghetaot (“Kibbutz of the Ghetto Fighters”). In 1987 Chavka joined the educational staff of the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum, where until this day she meets its visitors and imparts to them her story and world view.