Lechi (לח״י, acronym for Hebrew לוֹחֲמֵי חֵרוּת יִשְׂרָאֵל Lōchamej Cherūt Jisra'el , German “Fighter for the Freedom of Israel” ) was a radical Zionist , paramilitary underground organization in Palestine during the British mandate . The British said they after its founder Avraham Stern as the Stern Gang , what is often called Stern Gang was translated into German. Lechi carried out terrorist attacks against the British mandate over Palestine. The organization was disbanded at the beginning of the Israeli War of Independence .
Lechi were founded by Stern in 1940 as a spin-off from the Irgun , when the latter, under the leadership of David Raziel, concluded an agreement with the British police after the death of Vladimir Jabotinsky in 1940 . Stern and his supporters, on the other hand, viewed the British as the main enemy and did not even rule out cooperation with Nazi Germany . The reason was the British White Paper of 1939 , which, among other things, provided for lower Jewish immigration. Avraham Stern wanted to see a Jewish state realized in a kind of monarchy ("Malkhut Israel"). He believed the British would not leave the country willingly. Therefore he rejected the ceasefire entered into by the Irgun , especially because the British did not want to offer anything in return.
Rather, the British stuck to the policy of the White Paper. Although it declared that it was bound by the Balfour Declaration , it substantially restricted both Jewish immigration to Palestine and the possibility of buying land there. Stern saw the only way to save European Jews from the Holocaust in entering Erez Israel . He saw no point in fighting on the side of the British, as in the event of an Allied victory the land of Israel would then continue to be occupied by the British. In contrast to the First World War with the Balfour Declaration, the British made no promises in this regard . Thus, like the later Central Command of Lechi, which succeeded him, he considered any kind of resistance against the British to be appropriate.
When, at the end of 1940, Great Britain was the only European country to resist National Socialist Germany and the outcome of the war seemed more than uncertain, Lechi sought support from Nazi Germany in its fight against the Mandate. In early 1941, Naftali Lubentschik met the German secret service agent Rudolf Roser and the diplomat Werner Otto von Hentig in Beirut , which was controlled by Vichy France , and handed over a memorandum. Lechi suggested that a "New Europe" aimed at by the National Socialists without Jews could only be established if the Jews were brought to Palestine and a Zionist state was established there, which was to be contractually linked and allied with the German Reich. The German negotiators rejected the request, however, and instead supported the independence of the Arabs and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Mohammed Amin al-Husseini .
On February 12, 1942, Stern was shot dead in his home by British police. Many members of the group were arrested. Therefore it initially took a back seat until it was re-established as "Lechi" under the leadership of Israel Eldad , Nathan Yellin-Mor and Jitzhak Shamir .
In addition to a few attacks that gained greater notoriety, Lechi mainly carried out smaller operations, such as attacks on British soldiers and police officers and, in some cases, on Jewish collaborators. In addition, infrastructure such as bridges, railroad tracks and oil refineries were sabotaged. Lechi was financed by private donations, racketeering and bank robberies.
In May 1944, Joel Brand submitted to Heinrich Himmler the proposal to save up to a million Jews (especially from Hungary) and to have the Western Allies deliver goods to Nazi Germany. This proposal was also rejected on the advice of the British Middle East Minister Lord Moyne . Then Brand joined Lechi. In November 1944 a Lechi detachment murdered Moyne in Cairo . The two assassins were caught, sentenced to death and executed in Cairo in early 1945.
On February 29, 1948, shortly after the train from Cairo to Haifa left Rechovot station , a bomb was detonated under a car reserved for the British military . 28 British soldiers were killed and another 35 soldiers and 100 civilians injured.
On April 9, 1948, during the battle for Deir Yasin Lechi members and members of the Irgun killed over a hundred Arabs, including numerous women and children.
Lechi was formally dissolved after the founding of the State of Israel, but continued to operate primarily in Jerusalem until the troops after the murder of UN envoy Folke Bernadotte and UN military observer André Serot in September 1948, which she carried out on September 17 , 1948 was forcibly smashed. The alleged masterminds behind the attack on Bernadotte were arrested but later given amnesty. Yellin-Mor, one of the assassins, turned away from radical Zionism and, together with Uri Avnery, founded the Semitic Action , which, with little success, propagated anti-colonialist cooperation with the Palestinians. Jitzhak Shamir and many other Lechi members found themselves politically with Cherut and later Likud .
- In 1980, a traditional national badge in the colors red, black, gray, dark blue and white was introduced for former Lechi members.
- In 1982 the Israeli Post paid tribute to the two Moyne assassins with a three-shekel stamp each, which came out with 18 other stamps in the memorial sheet " Martyrs of the Israeli struggle for independence ".
- Joseph Heller: The Stern Gang. Ideology, Politics, and Terror, 1940-1949 . Frank Cass, London 1995, ISBN 0-7146-4558-3 .
- Kati Marton : A death in Jerusalem . Pantheon, New York 1994, ISBN 0-679-42083-5 (deals with the murder of Count Bernadotte ).
- Arie Perliger and Leonard Weinberg: Jewish Self-Defense and Terrorist Groups Prior to the Establishment of the State of Israel. Roots and Traditions. In: Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions , Vol. 4 (2003), Issue 3, pp. 91-118,
- Israel Eldad : The first tithe. Jabotinsky Institute in Israel, Tel-Aviv 2008, ISBN 978-965-416-015-5 (EA 1950).
- Saul Zadka: Blood in Zion. How the Jewish guerillas drove the British out of Palestine . Brassey's, London 1995, ISBN 1-85753-136-1 .
- David A. Charters: The British Army and Jewish Insurgency in Palestine, 1945–1947 (Studies in military and strategic history). Macmillan, London 1989, ISBN 0-333-42278-3 .
- Ian FW Beckett: Stern Gang . In: Ders .: Encyclopedia of Guerilla Warfare . Checkmark Books, New York 2001, ISBN 0-8160-4601-8 , p. 224 (EA Santa Barbara, Calif. 1999)
- Gerold Frank : The Deed . Simon & Schuster, New York 1963 (discusses the murder of Lord Moynes ).
- James L. Gelvin: The Israel-Palestine Conflict. One Hundred Years of War . CUP, Cambridge 2005, ISBN 0-521-85289-7 .
- Tom Segev : The seventh million. The Israelis and the holocaust . Macmillan, London 2000, ISBN 0-8050-6660-8 .
- Adel Safty: From Camp David to the Gulf. Negotiations, Language and Propaganda, and War . Black Rose Books, Montreal 1992, ISBN 1-895431-10-7 .
- Arthur Hertzberg : Jewish Polemics . Columbia University Press, New York 1992, ISBN 0-231-07842-0 .
- Lenni Brenner : The Iron Wall. Zionist Revisionism from Jabotinsky to Shamir . Zed Books, London 1984, ISBN 0-86232-216-2 .
James L. Gelvin: The Israel-Palestine Conflict. One Hundred Years of War , p. 120.
Joseph Heller: The Stern Gang. Ideology, Politics, and Terror, 1940-1949 , pp. 85ff.
Tom Segev : The Seventh Million. The Israelis and the Holocaust , pp. 33f.
Adel Safty: From Camp David to the Gulf. Negotiations, Language and Propaganda, and War , p. 33.
Arthur Hertzberg: Jewish Polemics , p. 77.
- Gerald Clarke: When Terrorists Become Respectable . In: Time magazine of November 25, 1974 and Israel Eldad: The first Tithe , pp. 30ff.
- Lenni Brenner: The Iron Wall. Zionist Revisionism from Jabotinsky to Shamir , pp. 194ff. and Yehuda Bauer : From diplomacy to resistance. A History of Jewish Palestine 1939-1945 . Atheneum, New York 1973, p. 132.
- Tom Segev: The man with too many friends . In: Haaretz of December 2, 2011 (English).
- Scott catalog , Israel No. 831a to 831t.
- This work has also been translated into Danish, French, Israeli and Dutch.