Of all the stories that have been told of the Holocaust and its horrors, perhaps this is one you won’t have heard. At the close of the Second World War, dozens of survivors plotted a titanic act of revenge: the mass murder of six million Germans.
It was 1945 and Europe’s Jewish population had been tortured and decimated. Abba Kovner, who later became one of Israel’s eminent poets, united 50 survivors who had cheated death in ghettos and concentration camps, and called them Nakam, or the Avengers.
Determined not to let the Holocaust pass without retribution – only a tiny fraction of those complicit in the greatest crime in human history were ever tried or punished – the Avengers concocted an astonishing plan to poison the water supply in Munich, Nuremberg, Hamburg and Frankfurt.
The little-known tale of revenge and betrayal, which threatened the lives of innocent civilians and implicates Israel’s first leaders, is told for the first time this week in my documentary Holocaust: The Revenge Plot.
“Though it may have been unprecedented, our act as a group was not a personal vendetta,” Kovner said himself, in never-before-heard tapes he recorded before his death, in the late Eighties. They were unearthed when his grandson moved to his house and passed it on to The Moreshet museum. It was astonishing to listen to them decades later, and hear Kovner explain the desire for revenge that news of the Holocaust brought: “It was something horrible and new, [to] try and get even with the Germans in an unconventional act of vengeance and make them pay for the six million Jews.”