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Yad Vashem "To Build and To Be Built". The Contribution of Holocaust Survivors to the State of Israel

Mordechai (Motke) Eldar

December 1973, near the Suez Canal: Mordechai Eldar (center) is promoted to the rank of colonel by Army Chief of Staff Major General David Elazar (right)
Mordechai Eldar with his two sons, Ori and Ofer, their wives Ora and Orli, and his six grandchildren
Mordechai Eldar as the head of a military delegation in Auschwitz in 2000, standing at the ramp where he and his family disembarked on May 26, 1944
Mordechai Eldar lights a torch upon the ruins of Crematorium #2 in Birkenau where his parents, siblings and most of his family were murdered
“I would do my part to build a strong army and a strong country”

Mordechai (Motke) Eldar served in the IDF for 30 years, achieving the rank of colonel.

Mordechai (Motke) Eldar was born in 1929 in Campulung la Tissa, Transylvania to a Spinka Chassidic family of six children. In 1940, with the Hungarian occupation of the city, racial laws were inflicted on the Jews. On 16 April 1944, the Jews were forced to assemble in the local school, where their valuables were confiscated. The following day they were taken to the Saltina ghetto. Motke remembers the hunger and torture in the ghetto and Hungarian fascist youths tearing off his father’s beard.

Deported in May from the ghetto to Auschwitz, Motke survived Auschwitz, Sachsenhausen, Mauthausen and Gunskirchen. Making his way to a refugee camp where he was reunited with his uncle, he eventually regained his strength and returned home to Transylvania, where he found his two sisters and his aunt.

After the war Motke tried to immigrate to Palestine with his sisters aboard the Exodus ship. On 17 July 1947, they arrived at the Haifa port, but were immediately returned to Hamburg. In June 1948, after a year in Germany, Motke arrived at the Tel Aviv port aboard the Kedmah ship, and continued from there to an immigrant camp in Hadera. Emerging from the Holocaust as a Zionist, Motke decided to devote his life to ensuring the national security of the State of Israel. He served in the IDF for 30 years, suffering a head injury during one of the battles in Hulda and achieving the rank of colonel. 

Motke has two sons and six grandchildren.