Sarah Aaronsohn Dies

October 9, 1917

Sarah Aaronsohn dies four days after shooting herself in an effort to avoid further torture and interrogation from the Turkish authorities. Aaronsohn was born in 1890 in Zichron Yaakov. In 1914 she married and moved with her husband to Constantinople. Her marriage would end after one year and in 1915, Sarah returned to Zichron Yaakov.

Following the outbreak of World War I, her brother Aaron, a world famous agronomist, established the spy network Nili to aid the British and help bring about an end to Ottoman rule in Palestine.

Sarah joined her brother gathering information for Nili. When he was out of the country on various missions, Sarah supervised all the intelligence gathering and was responsible for communicating with the British, eventually coordinating Nili’s clandestine efforts.

While on a visit to her brother in Egypt in 1917 she was warned not to return to Zichron Yaacov for fear of being uncovered as a spy. Sarah refused, in part to protect the other members of her network. She was captured by the Turkish authorities on October 1, 1917. She was tortured for four days, never disclosing anything. On October 5, she was taken to her home to prepare to be transferred to a prison in Nazareth. Left alone in the bathroom, she began writing a letter. When she heard the authorities coming to get her, she took a pistol from a hiding place and shot herself in the mouth. She lay in a paralyzed state before dying on the 9th at 8:30 AM.

Read about Sarah at the Jewish Women’s Archive