World War II – The story of a Jewish soldier – Leon Kopelman

​​​From the partisan to the Military Police of the IDF

One bright morning, Leon Kopelman, a strong and charming man, who, although of over eighty is bright eyed and lively, visited The IDF and Defense Establishment Archive to reminisce about his past in the army. He brought with him several photographs from his service, which he donated to the archive and are currently part of our huge collection.

Among these was a photograph of two soldiers sticking a signboard in the ground directing "To the Post" (Mishlat). The same photograph which now stars in the archive's publicity materials and icon.

Yes, that young man bending and holding the signboard was none other the Leon Kopelman!!

But Leon's story does not begin there. Mr. Kopelman, ID: 9479, among the first to join the IDF in 1948, already began his service in Europe.

Leon is a Holocaust survivor, who, during WORLD WAR IIfought with the partisans against the Nazis, as well as in the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto.  Later he immigrated to Palestine illegally via Italy, and immediately joined the military effort in The War of Independence.

He participated in the Military Police course in Kiryat Meir. On Independence Day, May 15, 1948, Kopelman was sent north and was attached to the Golany Brigade. He participated in of the Brigade operation: in the Jordan Valley, Jenin, Nazareth, etc.

Later on, the section under his command was attached to the 4th Brigade, and took part in battles in the Gazza Strip, Operation "Uvda," etc.

After the ceasefire, Kopelman continued serving the IDF, organizing and commanding the course of female MPs.

In his reserve service, Kopelman fought in the Sinai Campaign with the 4th Brigade, in Bir Hasane and Bir Gafgafa, towards Ras Sudar on the banks of the Suez Canal.

In the Six Day War, Kopelman was drafted with his private car and served in the POW camp in Atlith.

Leon served in the IDF's reserves until reaching the age of 55.

On the personal level: Both Kopelman sons and his daughter served as officers in the IDF, and the third generation continues on his way.

Mr. Kopelman kept in his house for 60 years an album of photographs taken in the War of Independence, recording the establishment of the Military Police. Most of it was deposited in the IDFA.

The exhibition presents choice photographs from the first days of the Military Police. 

To the main exhibition​ ​ To the next page

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