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Joseph “Joe” Kohn




Date And Place Of Death

Date And Place Of Death

July 17, 1948 - Old City of Jerusalem

Security Unit

War / Battle

War of Independence

Resting Place

Har Herzl

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Life Story

Joseph "Joe" Kohn, son of Tziporrah and Yitzhak, was born August 21, 1908 in Philadelphia, PA. He grew up in Los Angeles and went into business. He was drafted into the US Army in 1941 and served in the information section of the 26th Infantry Division. He participated in many actions in the Far East, attaining the rank of Staff Sergeant. After the war, Joe returned to his business affairs in LA. The destruction of European Jewry and the blocking of the road to liberation for its few survivors touched him deeply; in July 1947 he appeared at the office of the 'American League for a Free Palestine' in Washington saying, 'I am a soldier; I have fought in the wars of other nations, I now want to fight for my own people; I am at your service.' Joseph assisted in the guarding and outfitting of the 'Altalena' when it was purchased and in January 1948 transferred to IZL service in Paris. He contacted former Maquis people participating in the purchase and packing of arms and forwarding them to Israel and was arrested briefly. He was released in time to meet the 'Altalena, at its berth in southern France prior to its sailing for Israel. He served as military police officer on the ship, although on principle he refused to accept any rank designation. After the mini-civil war over the 'Altalena' which began at Kfar Vitkin and ended with the destruction of the Altalena on the beach of Tel Aviv, he enlisted with the IZL forces in Jerusalem. He participated in the Irgun/Stern breakthrough into the Old City, the last night of the Ten Days, July 17, 1948. He was killed in this action two hours before the start of the truce. He was buried in Sheikh Badr A, and then was reinterred at Har Herzl on September 19, 1950.
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