Bella Barouch nee Weinberger, was born in Mukacevo, Czechoslovakia.
Bella had a great childhood, surrounded by her loving family, until the war began.
The city was seized by the Hungarians in 1939 and harsh antisemitic measures were imposed, however, as with the rest of Hungarian Jewry, they remained in place until the German invasion of 1944.
Bella was sent to Auschwitz Birkenau where she was imprisoned for 3 months and then sent to Wüstegiersdorf concentration camp and used as forced labor for ‘Krupp munitions.’ There she would purposely sabotage as many munitions as she could without getting caught. She was liberated in 1945.
After liberation she found out that all her family had been murdered and decided to move to Palestine.
Bella boarded a ship to the Holy Land. When she realized the British wouldn’t let her off the boat, she jumped off attempting to swim to shore. British soldiers grabbed her by the hair, pulled her back in the boat and put her in a cage and took her to Camp 66, in Cyprus, the internment camp for Jews attempting to move to Palestine.
After the UN vote for Israel, Bella boarded the Altalena and set sail for Israel. After her arrival, the TB she contracted in the camps started to cause her troubles and she was hospitalized. It was there she met her husband, an Egyptian Jew.
Her strength, intelligence, and command of languages (10 in total) had been noticed, and she was called by the Ministry of Defence.
She worked closely with all of Israel’s leaders. Her office was next to Prime Minister Ben-Gurion’s.
Even when I sat with her this week, she wouldn’t tell me exactly what she did back then, but she did tell me she once gave Moshe Dayan a slap for being a little too flirty!
In the 60’s her husband, a specialist oil engineer, couldn’t find work in Israel. Bella’s friend Levi Eshkol did all he could to try and help, but they received a request from the Canadian government, so they moved; here she has built a beautiful loving caring family.