Heinrich Himmler’s Books at the National Library of Israel

Even a mass murderer can have a personal library. Some of the books from Heinrich Himmler’s private collection, containing his signature, can be found today at the National Library of Israel. How did they get here?

Shlomo Shunami, a former senior staff member at the National Library of Israel, devoted his life to locating Jewish libraries that remained scattered across Europe after the Holocaust, and bringing these books to Israel. Over decades, he managed to transfer hundreds of thousands of books to the Jewish State, many of them ended up at the National Library of Israel.

In an interview conducted in 1977, Shunami recounted that among the books that had come from Germany were some from the private collection of none other than the head of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, one of the most powerful figures in the Nazi regime.

I set out to find them.

Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS

Himmler was a talented administrator who successfully ran many complex governmental and policing systems while raining terror down on the citizens of Germany and the rest of Europe. He, more than anyone else, was responsible for the deportation of the Jews to ghettos in Eastern Europe, the establishment of concentration and extermination camps, and the murder of six million Jews and millions of others. Unlike other senior Nazis like Joseph Goebbels, Himmler did not have an extensive academic background. Yet he spent a great deal of time developing dubious racial and pseudo-scientific theories intended to “prove” the supposed superiority of the Aryan race and the inferiority of other peoples. It is easy to imagine him surrounded by books on history, folklore and science written by German and other scholars.

Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS

Adolf Hitler’s personal library, discovered after the war, was transferred to the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. The library of the antisemitic newspaper Der Stürmer was deposited at the Yeshiva University Library in New York. But what ever happened to Himmler’s books?

Himmler was very interested in mysticism and the supernatural, and many of his books dealt with these subjects. Some of these books, collectively dubbed “the witch library,” were discovered a few years ago in the Czech Republic.

But what of the more traditional, classic antisemitic material that he most likely owned?

As luck would have it, this intriguing question has been solved. After years of searching, I stumbled upon a book from Himmler’s personal library in the collection of the National Library of Israel.

The book Der Aufstieg der Juden by the journalist Ferdinand Fried is a historical description of the Jewish people from the destruction of the Second Temple to the Roman period. Fried joined the SS and was promoted within the organization by Himmler himself. What’s more, the copy of Fried’s book in the National Library contains his own dedication to Himmler, who Fried described as his loyal partner in their joint struggle.

A year and a half after Fried penned the dedication, Himmler signed his name at the top of the page in large letters in green ink, with the date 28.12.38, probably the date on which he finished reading the book.

Ferdinand Fried’s book, featuring the dedication to Himmler. Himmler signed his name at the top of the page

I have held many of the library’s treasures in my hands, but the thought that 84 years ago, the blood-soaked hands of the architect of the Holocaust also held this very book was chilling, to say the least.

This book led me to another title from Himmler’s library. This time, it was the book Schriften für das deutsche Volk, by the Orientalist and antisemitic biblical scholar Paul de Lagarde, on the subject of government and politics. Himmler had signed his name at the top of the book’s title page.

The next book I found was Die Vererbung der Geistigen Begabung, which deals with issues of heredity and race and their impact on character and intelligence. Himmler signed his name as usual, with the date 22.1.39.

Two other books I discovered on that occasion did not belong to his personal library, but were sent by Himmler to the Nazi movement’s branch in the city of Haifa. Yes, there was indeed such a thing!

The first of three pages detailing the books kept in the library of the Haifa branch of the Nazi party in Palestine. Himmler’s book is the twelfth on the list. Photo: Israel State Archives

Before World War II, less than 2,500 German citizens were living in Mandatory Palestine, most of them in the Templer colonies. The Templers (not to be confused with the medieval Knights Templar) were a religious group with roots in the Pietist movement of the Lutheran church in Germany whose members immigrated to Ottoman Palestine in the mid-19th century. Karl Ruff, an architect born in Haifa to Templer parents, founded the Palestine branch of the Nazi party. Nazi groups were established in the Templer colonies of Haifa, Jaffa, Jerusalem, and Sarona (Tel Aviv), and by the end of 1933, they had 121 members. The Palestine branch continued to expand, and members were emboldened to march through the city streets in Nazi attire, carrying flags emblazoned with the swastika. To encourage the members of the branch, the Nazi movement in Germany sent pamphlets, books, and even cheap radios for listening to propaganda broadcasts from Berlin. Towards the outbreak of the war, some of the men were drafted into the German army and returned to Europe. The rest of the Germans in the country were imprisoned or deported by the British Mandatory authorities (you can read more here).

These flags were used by the Nazi party branch in Mandatory Palestine

Among the books that reached the Nazi library in Haifa were those sent by Himmler himself. Eventually, the British dismantled the organization in Haifa, and the books found their way to the National Library in Jerusalem. So far, I have located only two of them. The first, Bauernbrauch im Jahreslauf, describes the country life, nature, customs and folklore of Germany. The second book, Die Schutzstaffel als antibolschewistische Kampforganisation, is Himmler’s own book on the history of the German people, the founding of the SS, and the racial and mental qualities required of its members.

Both books open with a short dedication to the Nazi group in Haifa from November 9, 1937. Both also feature Himmler’s personal signature along with his rank, Reichsführer-SS.

Himmler’s book, donated to the Nazi library in Haifa

I carefully closed Himmler’s books, returned them to the National Library’s rare books storeroom, and went to look for some hand sanitizer…

A Farewell Letter From the Besieged Jewish Quarter

“Remember me in happiness”: The last testament of Esther Cailingold, a soldier and teacher who fell in the battle for the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem's Old City during Israel's War of Independence

“I have lived my life fully if briefly, and I think this is the best way—’short and sweet.’ Very sweet it has been here in our own land.”


She lay on the floor, along with the rest of the wounded, in the second story of the Armenian monastery. She was burning up with a fever and in unbearable agony. There was no morphine left. Someone offered her a cigarette. She raised her hand towards it, but stopped. “No,” she whispered. “The Sabbath.” Those were her last words. She died not long after, just twenty-two years old at the time of her passing.

Knowing that her end might be near, she wrote a moving letter to her parents in London that was later found under her pillow. A final letter, from the hell that was “the besieged Jewish Quarter, 1948.” The full text is included below.


A footpath in Rehavia

A few years ago, a Jerusalem Municipality committee convened to decide on the names of streets and squares in the city. One of the names commemorated, 70 years after the fact, was that of the soldier and teacher Esther Cailingold, who took part in the defense of the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem during the War of Independence. A small footpath in the Rehavia neighborhood, leading to the school where she was a teacher, was named after her.

The beginning of Esther’s life does not at all reflect its dramatic end. She was born in London to religious, Zionist parents. As a young woman, Esther excelled in her studies at university.

Esther as a bridesmaid, at the age of three


However, her Zionist upbringing and news of the horrors of the Holocaust that was filtering through at the time caused her to change paths and immigrate to Mandatory Palestine in 1946.


Running barefoot across rooftops, dodging bullets…

She sought her future in the Land of Israel as an English teacher, and found it at the Evelina de Rothschild School in Jerusalem. In late 1947, she joined the Haganah, the largest of the Jewish military organizations in Mandatory Palestine. At first, she continued to teach, but soon enough, as what would come to be known as Israel’s War of Independence unfolded, she became a full-time soldier. A few months later, when she heard of the plight of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City, she asked to join the defenders of the besieged Quarter.

There were about 1,700 people living in the Jewish Quarter at the time, most of them without military training – ultra-Orthodox men, women, children and the elderly, whose defense was in the hands of roughly 150 fighters, armed with insufficient weapons. So long as the country was still under British control, the fighters could only enter the quarter disguised as regular civilians, and so Esther arrived under the guise of a teacher. At first, she served as a signal liaison between various Haganah positions, providing food, drink and ammunition for the fighters.

Esther as the company cook

With the departure of the British in mid-May, Arab attacks on the Jewish Quarter intensified. Esther was lightly wounded, but she was bandaged up and quickly returned to her post. She often ran along the rooftops, dodging bullets that whizzed by to reach the various Haganah positions.


“It was Saturday night. The people of Jerusalem sat in their homes. They cheered and celebrated the Declaration of Independence in haste and restraint, certain in the knowledge that war was imminent, and here it was already showing its first signs. The Arab attack cut short the festivities, and continued for the rest of the week.  But now, it is the Sabbath and Jerusalem’s Jews sit in their homes, distraught. At this hour, the city’s streets have gone quiet. And its guardians do not rest.”

(A column written by Esther and published in the Hebrew newspaper Hatsofeh, 15 years after her death.)

She was given a rifle and became a fighter

On May 16, the Arab attack began on the Jewish Quarter, and within a day managed to seize about a third of it. On May 19, a Palmach (the elite fighting force of the Haganah) unit was able to breach the Quarter, but soon had to withdraw due to the exhaustion of the fighters. Their replacements, lacking any military training, were also unable to help.

That same day, Jordan’s Arab Legion force, commanded by British officers, invaded the Old City and began shelling the Jewish Quarter. The defenders of the Jewish Quarter fought Arab canons, mortars, and machine guns with pistols, rifles, and scarcely any ammunition. That day, Esther Cailingold was given a rifle and she became a fighter.

Esther at shooting practice with her Sten gun

Then, on May 26, Arab forces blew up a building just as Esther was entering it, shattering her spine.  She was evacuated to the clinic in the Jewish Quarter, but with no medical supplies, and the facilities in poor condition, there was nothing they could do for her. Slowly dying, she was able to remain conscious, speaking and praying with those near her.

“It is difficult to count all of the acts of heroism… one young woman, named Esther, lay wounded in the hospital and vanished. Later it became known that she had taken up a rifle and gone out to shoot at the enemy, until she was wounded and killed by a bullet to the back.”

(A witness’ account of Esther’s bravery, published in Hebrew in the Davar newspaper, June 1, 1948, click here for the full article)


In Motza, near Jerusalem


A letter found under a pillow

Meanwhile, the members of the Legion continued to blow up the houses of the Jewish Quarter, one by one, until it finally fell and the inhabitants surrendered. The wounded, including Esther, were evacuated to the nearby Armenian monastery. It was a Saturday, May 29, 1948. Esther Cailingold lay on the floor, on the second story of the monastery, along with the rest of the wounded. She was burning up with a fever and in unbearable agony. There was no morphine left. Someone offered her a cigarette. She raised her hand towards it, but then stopped.

“A year after the heroic death of my daughter Esther. May the LORD avenge her death.  His delicate and sweet daughter [who was] loved by all. She was modest in her deeds. She was deeply religious and went often to pray in the Hasidic synagogues…

Arriving in the last convoy to the Old City, she said, ‘I am happy to be near the Western Wall!’ There she was slightly wounded, but she refused to accept help and continued. On the day of the surrender, she was fatally wounded, on the eve of Shabbat Beḥukotai [“By my decrees,” the 33rd weekly Torah portion], she asked for a prayer book and with the help of her friend Shulamit, she prayed minḥa  [the afternoon prayer] and Kabbalat Shabbat [prayers welcoming the Sabbath recited on Friday evening], and at six o’clock in the morning on the holy Sabbath, she died.”

(The eulogy recited by Esther’s father a year after her death. Published in Hebrew in Hatsofeh, May 29, 1949. Click here for the full obituary in Hebrew)

“No,” she whispered. “The Sabbath.” Those were her last words. She died around five in the afternoon, just twenty-two years old at the time of her death. She was buried first in the Sheikh Bader cemetery and two years later, her remains were reinterred in the military cemetery on Mount Herzl.


Here is the text of her final letter, written in Hebrew and found under her pillow, which she had written six days earlier:

Dear Mummy and Daddy, and Everybody,

If you get this at all, it will be, I suppose, typical of all my hurried, messy letters. I am writing it to beg of you: Make an effort to accept everything that has happened to me, accept it with the meaning that I intended and understand that I have no regrets. We have had a bitter fight and we have experienced Gehenom [“hell” ed.] – but it has been worthwhile because I am completely convinced that the end will see a Jewish state and the realization of our longings.

I shall be only one of many who fell in sacrifice. I had an urge to write this because one in particular was killed today who meant a great deal to me. Because of the sorrow I felt, I want you to take it differently – to remember that we were soldiers and had the greatest and noblest cause to fight for. God is with us, I know, in His Holy City, and I am proud and ready to pay the price it may cost me.

Don’t think I have taken ‘unnecessary risks.’ There is no other choice when human resources are short. I hope you may have a chance of meeting any of my co-fighters who survive if I do not, and that you will be pleased and not sad about how they talk of me. Please, please, do not be sadder than you can help. I have lived my life fully if briefly, and I think this is the best way — ‘short and sweet.’ Very sweet it has been here in our own land. I hope you shall enjoy from Mimi [Esther’s sister] and Asher [Mimi’s husband] the satisfaction you missed in me. Let it be without regrets, and then I too shall be happy. I am thinking of you all, every single one of you in the family, and am full of pleasure at the thought that you will, one day, very soon I hope, come and enjoy the fruits of that for which we are fighting.

Much, much love, be happy and remember me in happiness.

Shalom and le’hitraot,

Your loving Esther


The commander of the Jewish Quarter, Moshe Rusnak, wrote to her parents, recommending that Esther be awarded a citation of merit. This never came to pass. 74 years later, at least a small path in Rehavia is now named after her.

May her memory be a blessing.


Epilogue (written by Esther’s nephew, Eli Tor-Paz):

Esther’s father Moshe found it hard to go on with life after her death. He died in London in 1967. After his death, her mother, Hannah immigrated to Israel and lived in Haifa and then Jerusalem until her death in 1992. Esther’s sister, Miriam, and her brother [Asher] immigrated to Israel in the 1950s and have lived in Jerusalem ever since.



The photos of Esther which appear above are taken from the Hebrew book, מלונדון לירושלים : סיפורה של לוחמת בהגנה

(“From London to Jerusalem: The Story of a Female Fighter in the Haganah”)


This article is based on a Facebook post by Benny Landek, originally written in Hebrew, which you can find here.


Further Reading:

The Story of Esther Cailingold

An Encounter with Esther Cailingold – Heroine of Jerusalem

Israel, 1948: Vidal Sassoon in Combat

Not long before becoming the world's most famous hairstylist and building a business empire, Sassoon fought for Israeli independence. He lost friends, gained confidence, went weeks without a shower, and literally never learned the Hebrew word for 'retreat'...

A well-coifed Vidal Sassoon poses for a photo while in Israel, 1948 (Original photo: Toldot Yisrael via the Sassoon Family / Colorization: MyHeritage)

“As I left the hall, I knew that I would not be cutting hair for quite some time.”

April 1948. Vidal Sassoon, a poor 20-year-old Jew who had been learning how to cut women’s hair by day and literally fighting fascists on the streets of London by night, had just been clandestinely recruited to battle for Israel’s independence.

He would soon find himself in Paris and then aboard a dodgy Dakota aircraft, eventually landing outside Haifa after stops in Rome and Athens. Grouped with other English-speaking volunteers in the Palmach, the elite combat force that would later be integrated into the Israel Defense Forces, Vidal and his comrades were sent to the Negev where they lived in stark huts and went weeks without changing clothes or showering, let alone doing their hair.

Like many other foreign volunteers, Vidal’s Hebrew was sparse.

In a rare 2010 interview conducted as part of Toldot Yisrael, an oral history project focused on Israel’s founding generation, he recalled:

“They never taught us the word ‘retreat’ in Hebrew.”

“All orders were given in Hebrew, which none of us understood, though we soon learned the hard way to recognize the sounds,” he elaborated in his first memoir, Sorry I Kept You Waiting, Madam. In fact, the gap in his linguistic knowledge almost got Sassoon killed when an Egyptian armored car sped towards him, “blazing away with its machine gun,” its bullets “tickling the sand all around us”:

“… nobody had told us how to say ‘Run like mad’ in that ancient tongue. Maybe they thought we would never hear it…”

Sassoon and his friends scurried up the nearest hill, racing for cover alongside their sabra brothers-in-arms. One of the faster soldiers, Sassoon would have caught up without any issue, if not for an unexpected and embarrassing turn of events…

“I would have made it easily, had I not been hit – by a very personal crisis. My belt burst!

…My plants flopped around my ankles. I fell flat on my face. By the time I got the sand out of my mouth and my pants at the correct military level, my comrades were fifty yards ahead, scrambling up that hill in a cloud of dust. Sten gun in one hand, decency held high with the other, I took off after them…”

In a later memoir, Vidal: The Autobiography, Sassoon recounted:

“News of my exploit got around, and for about a month soldiers that I didn’t even know would look at me and start laughing. The embarrassment stayed with me, but there’s no doubt it was a memorable lesson in self-preservation…”

Yet the war was, of course, not all fun and games.

Sassoon and 41 fellow soldiers took a strategic hill from Egyptian forces in a daring early morning assault, the success of which he called “a bloody miracle” – and one which cost a heavy price. Seven soldiers were killed taking “Hill 18”, while numerous other left the battlefield on stretchers.

A funeral in the Negev for fallen Palmach soldiers, 1948. The photo appears in an historic album available online as part of a collaboration between the Palmach Photo Gallery, the Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage and the National Library of Israel
Tending to Palmach casualties in the Negev, 1948. The photo appears in an historic album available online as part of a collaboration between the Palmach Photo Gallery, the Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage and the National Library of Israel

“I wasn’t touched. I was also one of the lucky ones. But the casualties were very high,” he later recalled of his service fighting in and around the Gaza Strip as part of the strategically imperative Operation Yoav.

The soon-to-be legendary hairdresser’s most harrowing experiences during the war was seeing one of his friends get killed as he ran towards Vidal with some rations.

“Half his head came away. A sniper caught him. I think it’s the only time that I really got out of sorts… I went to the end of the trench and just vomited,” he recounted in the 2010 interview.

Vidal remembered the first shower he took on a kibbutz after leaving the battlefield quite vividly, calling it “one of the greatest luxuries I have ever known.”

“The water cascaded down on us, streaking away the filth of days and washing away some of the grimmer memories, too.”

Though somewhat striking in contrast, perhaps it’s no wonder that the name “Vidal Sassoon” would become synonymous with ubiquitous shower-centric commercials, soaps, shampoos and other products.

“I came back from Israel with so much more confidence… It gave me the inspiration to go on and do other things,” he recalled in his Toldot Yisrael interview.

Within just a few short years of his “luxurious” shower in the Negev, the poor Jewish kid from London became the world’s most famous hairstylist, a universal symbol of popular culture, his name gracing salons, academies, and beauty products across the planet.

Already by the mid-1960s he was a global cultural icon, recognized and referenced even in faraway Israel. Israeli hairdressers would boast that their cuts were “like at Vidal’s”. Some of them had even gone to London to learn from the master himself, though most just went to his academies or simply mimicked the styles he created and popularized.

Yet it wasn’t until after the publication of his first memoir in 1968, and the expansion of his business empire in the years that followed, that Sassoon’s participation in Israel’s fight for independence became more widely known.

In 1970, David Carmeli, Sassoon’s commander in the Palmach who had since became a respected expert in water and agricultural engineering at the prestigious Technion, was flown to London to surprise Vidal on an episode of the show “This is Your Life”.

A few years later, Carmeli was brought to New York to speak at a special event celebrating the “first annual Beauty Hall of Fame award dinner of the American Jewish Congress” – an honor so specific that it seems to have been created solely for Vidal Sassoon, who was apparently the “annual” award’s only ever recipient.

Published in The Sentinel on December 25, 1975; available via the National Library of Israel Digital Collection
Published in the Bnai Brith Messenger on December 12 1975; available via the National Library of Israel Digital Collection

For the rest of his life, Vidal Sassoon built an empire of style and philanthropy – vocally and financially supporting many Jewish and Zionist including the Hebrew University and its Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism. He believed that global antisemitism could only be defeated through education of the young and a “very powerful Israel which upholds the dignity of Jews everywhere.”

“Israel gave us dignity. Israel means our very life’s blood. We can’t have any race or people decide our destiny,” he said at a 1981 fashion show to raise money for Israel Bonds.

More than thirty years earlier, matters at home had required Vidal to leave Israel for London after his step-father had a heart attack and his beloved mother – who had encouraged him to go and fight – needed her son at home to help support her.

Shortly before Vidal returned to England, the fiancée of the man he had seen killed in action told him:

“This is your home, Vidal. This is your country. It’s not enough just to fight for it. That’s pointless, in fact, if you don’t stay to help build it.”

“Was she right?” Vidal questioned two decades later.

“Sometimes I wonder.”


Many thanks to the Toldot Yisrael team for their assistance preparing this article. Their complete interview with Vidal Sassoon is available here. Toldot Yisrael is an initiative dedicated to documenting the testimonies of the State of Israel’s founding generation. The collection is now deposited at the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem.

This article has been published as part of Gesher L’Europa, the National Library of Israel’s initiative to connect with people, institutions and communities across Europe and beyond, through storytelling, knowledge sharing and community engagement.

An Egyptian Soldier’s Diary From the Yom Kippur War

Naji Ali, an Egyptian sergeant, documented a total of five days during the fateful Middle East conflict of 1973, leaving a chilling record of the war's brutality and the treatment of captured Israeli soldiers. The historic document recently surfaced in the collections of the National Library of Israel

The notebook the Egyptian soldier carried with him during the Yom Kippur War was used for a purpose other than the one his commanders had intended.

The booklet was originally meant to be used for logging the test results of Soviet “Sagger” missiles transferred to Egypt in preparation for the next military confrontation with Israel. One page of the notebook in question was indeed used for this original purpose, from which we learn that the missile examined by this particular soldier was found to be in good working order. But when the fighting broke out on October 6th, 1973, the notebook was repurposed into a personal diary, and on its cover the soldier inscribed the Arabic word for “Memoir”.

We don’t know the soldier’s full name. The diary only mentions the name “Naji Ali”. Other than that, the author offers very few personal details besides being a “health sergeant” of the Third Army’s Seventh Division. In other words, he likely served as a medic.

“For eternal memory from the battlefront in Suez. Health Sergeant Naji Ali, unit 741”

Shalufa, located on the west bank of the Suez Canal, north of the city of Suez and south of Ismailia, was known as a frequent and bloody point of conflict in the history of Israeli-Egyptian warfare, stretching back to the Sinai Campaign of 1956. The war broke out on a Saturday, at midday, Yom Kippur, 1973. On that first day of war, Naji Ali crossed the Suez Canal and was among the Egyptian forces that moved into the Sinai Peninsula via Shalufa. The documentation from this fateful day, in which Naji Ali describes his first encounter with IDF soldiers and the transfer of equipment from the Shalufa camp to the east bank of the canal is perhaps the most difficult section of the text. Apparently, the events described happened at the Lituf military outpost, an Israeli position on the eastern bank of the canal.

The surprise attack was a success and the Egyptian army not only took the frontline outpost, but also captured Israeli prisoners of war. The callous reporting of the cruel treatment of the captives is shocking to read:

October 6th, 1973, Saturday at 2:00 PM, Shalufa military camp:

We flew in Egyptian planes over Sinai and after destroying the strong positions, we drove amphibious vehicles, landing on positions on the coast and started crossing with our vehicles. The crossing was quiet and without any particular issues. A while later, a civilian position next to us was attacked. The enemy flag was lowered. We captured an Israeli soldier and he surrendered and raised his hands. We did not shoot him because it was pointless. We beat him instead with our boots until he was dead. Then we moved all the equipment like ammunition, tanks, food and drink to our forces that had already crossed.

This is the most chilling passage in this short diary, and it appears right at the beginning. The documentation shows that at this stage the Egyptians did not try to transfer the prisoners to detention, but intended to get rid of them quickly and without wasting their ammunition.

Once the attacking forces were stationed in the area, the author listed the supplies delivered to them: food, ammunition, and artillery. The Egyptian wounded were treated by a colleague named Hassan.

The chilling account of the first day of the war]


Although Naji Ali called his diary a “memoir,” his tone on the second day of the war was propagandist. Reading his words, one can imagine listening to a Radio Cairo broadcast of the war:

The fighting continues for the second day.

The forces are constantly advancing with incredible victories, shooting down some of the enemy planes and tanks.

Except for one position that retaliated strongly and aggressively and caused a limited number of casualties, but we took care of them quickly.

The outpost attacked vigorously and despite our forces’ attempts to stop it, it continued to attack but failed to fend off our offensive. That day we managed to lower the enemy flag and hoisted our Egyptian flag on the soil of Sinai on the eastern bank of the canal. Praise God.

Documentation of the third day of the war once again demonstrates the intensity of the Egyptian soldiers’ hatred of the Israeli enemy. This time, captured IDF soldiers narrowly escape death:

8/10/1973 – Monday

We managed to cross the canal again; we moved some of the equipment and ammunition.

With God’s help, we managed to permanently silence position 149 [the same outpost that had resisted aggressively the day before, apparently a reference to the Lituf outpost].

So the whole area is more or less calm except for the aerial shelling.

When we silenced it [position 149, apparently] our forces captured the area around the position.

We were given a signal to go to the shore and bring three enemy prisoners. We beat them, aggressively. The soldiers surrounded them and wanted to drink their blood. But the leaders [the officers] prevented this in order to question them and extract information.

The signature of an officer with the rank of major (not Naji Ali) appears next to the results of the test of the Russian missile at the end of the diary


The fourth and fifth days of the war are documented in the Egyptian soldier’s diary without any particular incident of note. Once the “strong position” was subdued, Naji Ali’s unit concentrated on preparing the equipment and supplies for further combat and military advances into the interior of the Sinai Peninsula. The equipment included a bottle of Coca-Cola collected from the occupied Israeli outpost:

9/10/1973 – Tuesday [day four of the war]

In the morning at 6:00 we ate breakfast [written here: “over four Israeli planes” – likely referring to planes that crashed, C.M.] and then I moved to the eastern bank. I went to the strong position and brought back a fork, a Coca-Cola bottle, and two other items [unclear]. And the day ended peacefully.

The diary concludes with documentation of the fifth day of the war. This was Wednesday, October 10, 1973. Naji Ali noted that he showered for the first time in ten days. He ended his diary thus:

I loaded ammunition and weapons in the afternoon. I went back and was amazed to discover five more cars loaded with ammunition. I passed them safely. The day is over.

Documentation of day five, which concludes the diary


Due to the diary’s brevity, we were able to follow the entire course of documentation up until the abrupt ending on the fifth day of the war. The Yom Kippur War would last for two more weeks, with the momentum swinging in Israel’s favor on October 15th, when the IDF managed to cross the Suez Canal and establish a bridgehead on the western bank.

What does the diary’s sudden end say about the fate its author, Naji Ali? Did he lose his diary during the fighting? Was he killed in combat? We simply do not know.