ARAD, YITZHAK (1926– ), ghetto activist, partisan, underground fighter, IDF officer, and historian. Born Isaac Rudnicki in Swieciany, Lithuania, Arad began his underground activities at the age of 15 in his hometown when he was captured by the Germans and put to work cleaning confiscated Soviet weapons. Arad was able to steal a gun and together with a group of friends formed an underground group. In 1943, the group escaped from the ghetto to the forest and joined a contingent of Soviet partisans. After the war, he immigrated to Israel illegally and became active in the underground against the British.
Known by his Russian partisan nickname, "Tulka," he continued to serve in the newly created Israel Defense Forces and as a career officer moved up the ranks in the Armored Corps. Arad's last position in the IDF was chief education officer, retiring from active service with the rank of brigadier general.
Arad served as chairman of the directorate of Yad Vashem from 1972 to 1993, in all likelihood the last survivor to hold that position. Under his leadership, Yad Vashem developed various monuments, including the Warsaw Ghetto Square, with its imposing recreation of Nathan Rapoport's sculptures honoring the Resistance fighters, and the Valley of the Communities, a commemorative sculptural series of walls depicting 5,0000 Jewish communities destroyed in the Holocaust. It opened the Children's Memorial to the Holocaust designed by Israeli architect
. Arad was deeply sensitive to the role of Yad Vashem within Israeli society as the conscience of the Shoah and also to its task of Holocaust commemoration.
As a scholar, his expertise was on the Holocaust in the areas of the former Soviet Union. He is the author of the two-volume History of the Holocaust: Soviet Union and Annexed Territories (2004); Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka: The Operation Reinhard Death Camps (1987); Ghetto in Flames: The Struggle and Destruction of the Jews of Vilna (1982); the memoir Partisan: From the Valley of Death to Mount Zion (1979); and Anthology on Armed Jewish Resistance. He also served as editor for The Pictorial History of the Holocaust (1990), The Einsatzgruppen Reports: Selections from the Dispatches of the Nazi Death Squads' Campaign against the Jews: 7/41–1/43 (1989), and Ponary Diary, July 1941–November 1943: A Bystander's Account of a Mass Murder (2005). He co-edited Documents on the Holocaust: Selected Sources on the Destruction of the Jews of Germany and Austria, Poland, and the Soviet Union (1981) and contributed to The Encyclopedia of the Holocaust. Arad testified in war crimes trials in Israel and was a consultant for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.