20 in September 1940 | Soviet prison inmate
With news of the progression of the German army, Begin and Aliza had to leave the city, together with members of the Betar Commission and members of other movements, and made their way to Vilna. Although Begin was offered a certificate allowing immigration in to Israel, he stayed in Vilna and tried to reorganize the activities of the Betar movement in occupied Europe. In July 1940, when Lithuania became a Soviet republic, Begin and his wife were forced to move away to the outskirts, where they hid with a Catholic family, along with Dr. Israel Eldad (then Scheib) and his wife. But the Soviet authorities traced their trail after a short time. On September 20, 1940, agents of the “NKVD”, the Soviet secret police, arrested him, and being aware of the suffering awaiting him, equipped himself with a Bible. For eight months he was imprisoned in Lukishki Prison, in extremely cold and hungry conditions, and was questioned about his Zionist activities. At the end of the period of detention, he was sentenced in absentia, and it was determined that he would be sent to a labor camp for eight years. Begin was sent to Pechora in northern Russia, where he was given hard labor. His book “white nights” describes this difficult period.
In 1941, with the German invasion of the Soviet Union, Polish inmates were released from soviet prisons in order to establish a Polish army to fight the Germans. Thus, Begin was released in September 1941 and was drafted into the Polish army, under the command of General Anders. Begin tried to go to Israel, and in April 1942, managed to get to Israel and was reunited with his wife, who came to Israel in 1940. Just after arriving to Israel, he learned of the fate of his family: his parents, his nephew Ari and his brother Herzl were murdered by the Germans. Many of the city’s residents were drowned in the river; Menachem Begin’s lead them, and encouraged them to sing HaTikva before they were killed.