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Study and Theory/
Independence Day

Yosef Baratz

Degania, Mother of the Communes

Degania 1, 5707

Hadera was at the time a sort of center for labor and for Hebrew Defense. The existence of the commune in Hadera greatly influenced the life of the laborer in this colony. The fact that we left the colony in order to move to Umm-Juni made a great impression among the workers in Hadera and in all over Israel. On the day of our arrival to the area of Umm Juni, Degania, our group consisted 12 people, of whom two were females. The "group" as it crystallized in the life of the Land of Israel, is an original creation, the Land of Israel, its origin and roots lie within the national and moral ideology, which brought all the pioneering, laboring movement to the homeland. On the 25th of Tishrei 1911, the group set out to work.

Our friends, Moshe Barsky, in Degania, and Yosef Zalman in Kineret were killed. Moshe Barsky, who was always the first to take part in any given mission, set out on a mule to Menahemiah to bring medicine to a patient. Near midnight he was found dead near the road. We informed his father in Russia of the casualty, and the following is the response we had received for commemoration and documentation:

"Distinguished friends - Degania Group! I have received your precious letter written in tears and blood, in which I observed genuine words emerging from the hearts of comrades and friends who are bound by a soulful, everlasting connection. Dear brothers! That which we hadn't anticipated caught up with us. A calamity has befallen us. Yet I believe that your spirits will not fall and you shall not retreat. G-d forbid, on the contrary. I hope that the memory of my late son shall yet contribute to your strength and courage to be able to stand firmly in the holy war until we will have carried out our great plan, for which and in your midst, my son has sacrificed his soul and his blood. Brothers in goal! I do not only thank you for your participation in my sorrow, but I also seek to comfort you, for my sorrow is also your sorrow. So, let us hope together that the blood of our huge sacrifice, the blood of my son and your brother, Moshe, has risen to the Will, and that perhaps he shall be the last sacrifice on the altar of our holy mission.

Great and immeasurable is the pain. We do not cry nor eulogize.


Dear sons, work with vigor and with hope that our nation shall reinforce your beliefs. We are sending you our second son, to replace the son that has fallen. The death of Moshe is bringing us all to Israel.

Hertz Barsky"

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