“Yad Hashmona” means Memorial to the Eight. The name was given by the Finnish founding members in memory of the eight Jewish refugees, who escaped in 1938 from Austria to Finland, and who were handed over by the Finns to the Nazi Gestapo in November 1942.
It was a time when the Finnish government collaborated with Nazi Germany in opposing the USSR, in an attempt to recover the Karelia region which Stalin had conquered from the Finns in the “Winter War” of 1939–1940.
Of the eight refugees taken to Auschwitz seven of them were murdered. The lone survivor, Dr. Georg Kolman, who lost his wife and baby son in the extermination camp, later made “Aliya” to the Land of Israel.
The Finnish founders wished to somehow atone, on behalf of the Finnish people, for handing over the eight Jews to the Nazis. They viewed their contribution to developing the Land of Israel as an act of restoration and forgiveness.
Seppo Raulo, the driving force behind the Yad Hashmona establishment, was a young boy when he heard the story of the eight refugees. The burden of the “Debt” stayed with him until the moment the Israeli government signed the permits for the new settlement in Israel. In honor of the eight Jewish refugees, he named the new community “Yad Hashmona”—”memory of the eight”.