He was wounded in the Bolshevik Revolution, injured and captured by the Nazis during World War II, and was one of the founders of the State of Israel. All of this happened many years ago, but he was never forgotten. Over the past weekend, Ben-Zion Solomin celebrated his 100th birthday, and received special greetings from England's Queen Elizabeth,
the British army, President Shimon Peres
and the Israeli police commissioner.
Today, Solomin lives in the northern Israeli city of Afula,
is a father of two, and has five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
He was born in a small town in Latvia, was deported with him family to Tartastan's capital Kazan, and in 1917, during the Bolshevik Revolution, was caught in clashes by chance and took a bullet to his palm. "The scar still shows to this day," said his son Yossi, a member of Kibbutz Sha'ar HaAmakim. His six siblings died of typhus in Kazan, and he was the only one to survive the disease.
After seven years, he returned to Latvia, joined the Betar Movement, absorbed Zionism – and the results were not late to come. In 1934 he made aliyah, settled in Rosh Pina and became a halutz: He drained swamps and planted vineyards and orchards.
Solomin with British army representatives (Photo: Gil Nehushtan) In 1941, during World War II,
he joined the British army and fought the Nazis. Early on in his service he was injured. "German
paratroopers attacked his outpost in Greece's Kalamata Port. Father took a bullet to his arm, which was taken out using rusty pliers in a field hospital," his son Yossi said. After his injury, he continued fighting, was captured by the Nazis and held in a Polish prison camp until the war ended under conditions of forced labor.
In 1946 he returned to Israel
and founded a blocks factory, however two years later he again donned a uniform, when he joined the police in the Independence War and took part in the battles. In 1953 he was one of the founders of the Border Guard, where he served until 1975.
On Friday, his family celebrated his 100th birthday with him, and the event included special representatives of the British army, who greeted him on behalf of the Queen of England and Her Majesty's Army. Solomin was also greeted by President Shimon Peres, Israel's police commissioner, Border Guard chief and Association for the Wellbeing of Israel's Soldiers (AWIS) Chairman Avigdor Kahalani.
"Father saw and met death many times in his life," his son Yossi concludes.
And what does 100-year-old Solomin say? "I hear whining about high costs and about what happened to us, and to everyone I say – in our most optimistic moments, we never dreamed we would have such a magnificent country."
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