A Flag Comes Home After 16 Years

Originally published in “Israel Horizons” magazine, Dec. 1956.

Miracles can happen even to a flag.

Recently, the flag of Gdud Maapilim, of Ken Keidani of Hashomer Hatzair, was brought to Israel, the only flag of the Lithuanian youth movement to have been saved. It was brought to Israel by Moshe Kagan[1], now of New York, who was a delegate of Mapam[2] to the World Zionist Congress.

Moshe Kagan, who hails from Keidan, was a member of Hashomer Hatzair from his early youth. He writes:

Moshe Kagan

“In 1940, as the Russians were entering Lithuania, and the Zionist movement ordered all its branches moved underground, I succeeded in getting an exit permit for the United States, via Sweden. I had only a short time to prepare for the trip. I knew that I would not return to Lithuania and that all Zionists, including the Hashomer Hatzair movement, would not renew their work again. I decided to save whatever I could (I had but a small suitcase with me). I took the flag of my group, some books of the movement and the collected works of Borochov, and began my journey. I decided then that I would carry the flag to Israel with my own hands.”

Now, sixteen years later, Kagan has fulfilled his vow. The meeting after twenty-five years between the members of Kibbutz Bet Zera, of the Lithuanian movement, and Kagan, was a moving experience. As the flag was unfurled and the date of 1933 appeared, many memories and thoughts came back to the gathering. They remembered their youth movement in Lithuania and the Jewish people there who also are no more.

The flag will be kept in Kibbutz Bet Zera as an exhibit in a room dedicated to the martyrs of Keidan.

The kibbutz has decided to plant trees in the Jewish National Fund forest in the name of Moshe Kagan, for the sixteen years during which he guarded with devotion this flag.

[1] Moshe (Martin) Kagan, 1920-2012, Progressive Zionist leader and activist in the U.S. and Israel.

[2] Israeli political party, organized in 1948 out of socialist-Zionist movements including Hashomer Hatzair, Poalei Zion and others. Strongly rooted in the kibbutz movement during its early years.

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