Ruth Klieger Aliav
Code name "Hanom" (Lady in Egyptian Arabic), 'Hamoavia" (The Moabian girl).
According to her autobiography Ruth was born 1914 in Czernowitz —Rumania, but other evidence show that she was born in 1907, in Kiev- Ukraine. She was the youngest of many brothers and sisters of the Polishuk wealthy family. During WW I Ruth was left in the care of her aunt in a remote village while all her family fled away. Her family thought that she was dead, but the reunion happened after her picture as a little girl giving flowers to Habsburg Archduke Carl was published in a newspaper.
From childhood she was in "Shomer Hatzair" (Zionist-Socialist youth movement) and prepared herself for "Aliya" and Kibbutz life.
Yet before coming to Israel she studied at Vienna University and received a doctorate in Law. She also studied languages and was fluent in 9 languages.
After marriage in 1935 she immigrated to Israel. The Kibbutz life and the marriage didn't fit her temperament especially after her only one-year old son died from meningitis. She decided to move to Tel-Aviv, where she worked in main office of the Histadrut, (Worker's Union) .There Berl Katzanelson personally recruited her into the Mossad.
In 1939 she was sent to Rumania to help Barpal as a translator, but it didn't take long for Barpal to recognize her abilities to work by herself. Her chic and her languages proficiency helped her make easily personal contacts with bankers, ministers and others and to make them help in the "Aliya Beth" endeavors. During 1939-40 she commanded Rumania "station", sent the "Tiger Hill", the last ship to arrive before the WW II started, and the "Hilda" that arrived January 1940 with 726 refugees. In 1940 three Hagana men came to Rumania, Yehuda Arazi, Itshak Haker and David Arnon to buy arms and check sabotage possibilities. Arnon and Haker remained in Rumania with Ruth helping them in their mission. Arazi left for other tasks. Towards the end of 1940 the three escaped to Bulgaria and Istanbul. In Istanbul Ruth continued to take care of Mossad actions especially the "Darien".
In 1942 Ruth was sent to Cairo by Golomb (the commandor of the Hagana) and Katzanelson as an envoy of the Mossad and the political bureu of the Jewish Agency. She smuggled Jews overland to Eretz - Israel but also cooperated with the British Intelligence. Ruth uncovered a pro- Nazi organization of Egyptian officers spying for Rommel and put Anwar Saddath (the Egyptian President in years to come) into jail. In Cairo she contacted "Free-French Forces" (French forces commanded by Charles De-Gaulle that continued fighting the Germans during 1940-44).
During her stay in Cairo David Ben-Gurion came for a visit, Ruth hired for him a room in her hotel. It was not their first encounter for they had met in Geneva at the Zionist Congress August 1939. In Cairo they had a night-long meeting while Ben-Gurion interrogated her on her past, family and her activities in the Mossad. From her testimony she asked Ben-Gurion what his stand on the Darien affair was, he evaded giving her an answer.
Ruth arranged on that same night a meeting between Ben-Gurion and her contact in "Free French Forces" Joseph Blanshar, nicknamed "Zort". He in turn arranged a meeting for Ben-Gurion with Mendes-France, a French Politician working on De-Gaulle's side (Later to become France's Prime-Minister). Ruth's connections with Ben-Gurion went and strengthen, they admired and venerated one the other. Rumors and gossip soon appeared but from her testimony she doesn't mention that their relations crossed any red lines.
Near the end of the war, late in 1944, Ruth wanted to return to Israel. Ben-Gurion insisted that she should go to Europe and with the help of De Gaulle she reached liberated Paris. a short time after the liberation, she was the first Mossad activist to come into liberated Europe and contact the death camp survivors. She felt that she had to care for their spiritual needs as others were taking care of the physical needs of the survivors. She organized the First Passover Seder in Marseilles for the survivors of Bergen-Belsen.
In 1945 Ruth met Eisenhower in his headquarters. She received the rank of (honoree) colonel in the US army, allowing her free access and travel through out Western Europe. In October 1945 she convinced Colonel Witte, the American officer responsible for the DP (displaced Persons) to "lend" her a troop-ship "Ascanius" to take orphans to Palestine. Word spread that a ship is leaving Marseilles, so 2600 DP's went on board, (not only orphans).On arrival in Haifa the British had no choice but to let the people down.
October 1945 Ben-Gurion came to Paris. Ruth was his aide arranging his meetings, food and more. At the same time she was the Mossad envoy and ran the Jewish Agency office. She had long talks with Ben-Gurion and convinced him about the importance of the activities of the Mossad of Aliya Beth.
Eventually, at the end of 1946 she returned to Israel to take care of her brother and his family that survived the Holocaust In 1947 Ben-Gurion sent Ruth to North and South America, where she was the main fundraiser of the Mossad. She was also in the "Israeli" delegation at Lake Success during the United Nations historical decision on 29th November 1947 to establish the State of Israel.
On returning to Israel after independence Ben-Gurion sent her as a one women investigating mission to the "Maabarot" (Temporary camps for new immigrants). He wanted to make her his advisor on absorption of the new immigrants but the party old —hands didn't like her ideas, but according to her testimony two party commissars threatened her that they'll make trouble and undermine her work. After 10 years of hard work with constant refusal of the party leaders to accept her as an equal she decided not to take Ben-Gurion's offer and disconnected her ties with him.
Ruth started to work at ZIM (Israeli shipping company), first as manager of the Jerusalem office and then as the head of public relations at ZIM. Ruth had many famous friends and acquaintances, Ali Khan and his wife Rita Hayward, Danny Kaye, Chagall and others. Ruth was Helen Keller's guide and hostess on her visit to Israel and took her to meet Ben-Gurion. Paula was there and seated her far away from her husband that was probably their last meeting. Ruth added Aliav (Alia B in Hebrew) to her name in her passport, a surname personally suggested by Ben-Gurion.
In 1974 her autobiography written together with American authoress Peggy Mann was published and was a best seller, 2 million copies. The book was translated to Hebrew and she got the Yitzhak Sadeh prize for military literature in 1976.
She died in 1979.