Tzvi (Freddy) Gross, was the son of Yitzchak Gross, who had been born in Poland and worked as a tailor, and Klara, who was a native of Germany. Tzvi was born on April 10, 1930 and had an older brother named Rudolph, born in 1922.
When the Nazis came into power, the family began searching for a way to escape. In October 1936, Tzvi’s parents succeeded in smuggling Rudolph out to the United Kingdom through the Kinder Transport (an organized rescue effort that took place prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. The United Kingdom took in nearly 10,000 predominantly Jewish children from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and the Free City of Danzig) Later on, Tzvi volunteered to serve in the Royal Air Force.
In October, 1940, Tzvi’s parents were deported together with Tzvi (who was known by all as Freddy), from Manheim to the Gurs Internment Camp in Southern France, and in March, 1941, were transferred to the Rivesaltes Camp. On May 5, 1942, 12 year old Freddy was smuggled out of the camp by the Jewish Scouts in France (EIF- Eclaireurs Israelites de France) who were active in the underground, saving Jews. Freddy was transferred to a shelter for children in Moissac. Three months later, in August, 1942, his parents were sent from the Detention Camp D’rancy to Auschwitz, where they were exterminated.
In August, 1944, while General Patton’s Third U.S. Army moved towards Paris, the uprising of the French Underground against the German Army that had been ruling Paris since 1940, intensified. The U.S. troops and the French Underground joined forces and succeeded in liberating Paris first and all of France soon after.
In November, 1944, about two months after France was freed, Rudolph Gross found his brother Freddy and sought to reunite with him. Rudi, who was a soldier in the American Air Force, was stationed in London during that time, where he also got married. Among documents found in the archives of the Organization for Saving Children OSE(Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants), it is stated that Rudi continued to serve in London and therefore had to postpone bringing Freddy to London immediately. He promised that as soon as he returned to the U.S., he would begin procedures to obtain a permit for his younger brother’s immigration.
At the age of fifteen, Freddy was sent to an institution for Jewish youth in Toulouse, in the south of France, where he was taught all about Zionism. “Freddy had light brown hair and dark blue eyes. He was vivacious, spoke German and French, was always clean and dressed neatly …. He was friendly and good at taking photographs. Freddy”, as was stated, “wished to complete his high school education as quickly as possible in order to become an electrician. At the same time he was working for a local photographer and liked his work very much”.
On January 18, 1947, within the framework of the “Youth Aliyah”, otherwise known as Aliyat Hano'ar,(a Jewish organization that rescued thousands of Jewish children from the Nazis during the Third Reich. Youth Aliyah arranged for their resettlement in Palestine in kibbutzim and youth villages that became both home and school), Freddy set out aboard the “Lanegev” ship from the port city of Sete in the south of France. On February 9, 1947, the ship arrived at the shores of British Mandatory Palestine and was immediately discovered by British soldiers. The settlers tried to resist their arrest by throwing various objects at the soldiers, however, their resistance ended after 20 minutes, when the settlers were exiled to Cyprus. Six months later, on September 23, 1947 Freddy arrived back aboard the “Hagannah” ship. He settled in Jerusalem where he met his cousins, (Uncle Heinrich’s sons) Alan and Hans, who were living in the Talbieh section of Jerusalem. Heinrich had been his mother’s brother.
Rudolph Yonas, one of the most senior photographers in Jerusalem, was living alone in the city. He became interested in Freddy who found a warm home with him and who was raised by Yonas as his son, teaching him much about photography. Freddy showed a great talent for the subject and began his internship with the well known photographer, Kovach.
A few months after Freddy arrived in British Mandatory Palestine, his brother Rudolph managed to obtain an entry visa for him to the U.S.. However, Freddy had already become involved with what was going on in the country at the time and joined the underground movement known as ” Etzel” (an acronym of the Hebrew initials, also referred to as Irgun, or by the abbreviation IZL, which was The National Military Organization in the Land of Israel. It was a Zionist paramilitary organization that operated in Mandate Palestine between 1931 and 1948). When the fighting broke out in Jerusalem, Freddy was sent as a guard, to retaliate against military aggression. He was happy for every chance he had to contribute to the combat against the enemy.
On May 14, 1948, Freddy participated in Operation Kilshon (Pitchfork), named so after three branches of military efforts, in order to gain control over areas that were abandoned by the British forces when they left Jerusalem. The northern branch took over the police academy, Sheikh Jarakh and areas in the Mandelbaum – Musrara section in order to create a territorial continuity between Mount Scopus and the neighborhoods of Yemin Moshe, Talpiyot and Ramat Rachel. The Northern Kilshon ended successfully with hardly any casualties besides Freddy who was hit by a sniper. He was evacuated to the hospital where he died after a number of hours. He was temporarily buried in Sanhedria in Jerusalem. He was eighteen when he fell.
On November 15, 1951 (16 Cheshvan, 5712), Freddy’s remains were transferred to the Military Cemetery on Mount Herzl to be buried there.
On the first anniversary of Freddy’s death, his friend Avner eulogized him; The story of his life was comprised of torments and suffering but he was a determined young man with a sense of humor and a big heart. On the most cheerful day, the day the last of the British soldiers left our country, he walked out of his home, leaving a note for his adoptive father saying; ‘God willing, I will return’, but he did not return….”