Moshe Alpan

אלפן משה

Moshe Alpan (Pil) – Elefánt Márton
Born in Lazony (Lozin) Bazin (Pezinok) in 1918
Died on 30.1.2006 in Israel
Member of “Hashomer Hatzair”


Pil was one of the most prominent figures in the Hungarian Zionist youth movements underground. His parents, Marcus Elefánt and Reisman Frieda, lived in Várna (Varin) and in Bazin (Pezinok) in Slovakia. His parents, his older sister, Rozy, and her husband, were deported to Auschwitz. His parents died but his sister survived. His two younger sisters, Ella and Shoshana, were active in the Hungarian underground. In 1936 Moshe graduated from the Jewish high school in Munkács. Until 1939 he studied Law and Philosophy at the University of Prague. He joined the “Hashomer Hatzair” movement and worked in education and organization. Moshe also trained members for aliya in the framework of the hahsharot. He served in a forced labor unit and in 1941 became a teacher for Jewish children who were not allowed to study in Slovak schools. In 1942, when the deportation of Slovakian Jews started, Moshe went underground, obtained forged documents and, as a member of the central committee of the movement, organized illegal activities. Since he spoke Hungarian fluently, on January 19th, 1944, the movement decided to send him to Budapest where he joined the underground activities. At the beginning Moshe used the fictitious name of Michael Solsky, a Polish refugee, and later he operated under the names of János Szabó and Mihály Rajec. He mainly dealt with providing assistance to refugees from


Slovakia and Poland.

After the German occupation of Hungary on 19.3.1944, Moshe was a prominent activist in the Organization for the protection and rescue of Jews. In the argument among the different movements on the issue of the building of bunkers, he expressed his opposition, arguing that in light of the reality in fascist Hungary the bunkers would be deadly traps for their occupants. Moshe dealt with the return-tiyul in view of a period of relative calm there, as well as the tiyul. He often traveled to the border himself.

Moshe represented his movement in various forums of the underground and of Hungarian Jewry.

After 15.10.1944, when the Arrow Cross Party formed the government, Pil was mainly engaged in rescuing people serving in forced labor units and Budapest Jews. He took part in the establishment of children’s houses where thousands of Jewish children, many of whom orphans, found a shelter.

In December 1944 Moshe was the soul and organizer of the liberation strategy of members of the Zionist youth movements underground from the central military prison on Margit Boulevard. After the liberation, in January 1945, he engaged in the rehabilitation of the movement and in helping those returning from concentration and extermination camps.

Moshe was active in the organization of the illegal aliya within the framework of Aliyah Bet.

In 1946 he made aliya with his wife, Tova Diamant, an underground activist, and joined Kibbutz Ha’ogen.

At first Moshe worked in the fields and later became the manager of the kibbutz rubber factory. Between 1958 and 1974 he was a member of the “Koor” (the umbrella organization of the Histadrut industry enterprises) directorate. In the same period, in 1962, he went to London where he studied economics.

From 1965 to 1967 he served as the Israeli attaché for Economics Affairs in East Africa. From 1974 Pil was an independent consultant in the fields of industry and economics.

In recent years he has served as the chairman of the Museum for the Heritage of Hungarian Speaking Jewry and a member of the directory of the Society for the Research of the History of Zionist Youth Movements in Hungary. He was a resident of Kfar Saba.

Moshe Alpan is the author of the book: Be’en Hasa’ara ( Weathering the Storm ), published by’The Society for the Research of the History of the Zionist Youth Movement in Hungary’. Israel. 2001 ( Hebrew )

His literary work translated to Hungarian – Mose Alpan: A viharban ( Weathering the Storm ) Makkabea Kiadó. Budapest, 2004.