Haviva Reik (Emma) 1914-1944
A Jewish Paratrooper from Pre-State Palestine and an Emissary of the Hagana
Haviva Reik, a member of the Hashomer Hatzair youth movement from childhood, was born in a small Slovakian village near Banská Bystrica. In 1939, she immigrated to Palestine and joined Kibbutz Ma`anit. She joined the Palmach in 1942, and at the conclusion of her service she joined the paratroopers’ unit with the aim of returning to Slovakia to help rescue Jews from the hands of the Nazis.
On September 21, 1944, Reik was dropped near Banská Bystrica, which was then the center of the Slovakian Rebellion. Her mission was to establish contact with Rabbi Weissmandel and Gisi Fleischmann, the leaders of the “Working Group.”
One week earlier, paratroopers Rafael Reiss, Zvi Ben-Yaakov, and Haim Hermesh had been dropped at the same location. They tried to set up an independent Jewish Partisan unit and established a small camp near the village of Bukovich, where they started stockpiling weapons.
“Every day I am alive,” wrote Reick at the time “is a gift from the heavens.”
On their sixth day at the location, the camp was stormed by a Nazi S.S. unit, and Reick, Weiss, and Ben-Yaakov were taken prisoner. On November 20, 1944, they were executed by the Germans and buried in a mass grave in Kremnicka.
Reick is the namesake for Kibbutz Lehavot Haviva, the Jewish immigrant ship Haviva Reick, and the Givat Haviva education center.