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Sunday, May 10, 2015

THE 1.5 MILLION JEWS WHO SERVED WITH THE ALLIES IN WORLD WAR 2 - THE 250,000 WHO DIED FIGHTING TO LIBERATE OTHER PEOPLE - In spite of the many honors they received, they are almost forgotten - Often they were forced to implement anti-Jewish measures, showing how only by serving with the Israeli Army can Jews defend other Jews.

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Key points
  • PM Netanyahu was criticized for mentioning Jewish powerlessness in the 1940s. 
  • In fact, the role played by Jewish soldiers serving with Allied armies during World War II proves that point.
  • An estimated 1.5 million men and women served with honor during WW2.  About 250,000 of them died fighting.  But they were not serving the Jewish people.
  • Jews who served in the Russian, British, and American armies may have been forced to participate in anti-Semitic actions.
  • Jews serving with US forces, for example, were forced to enforce Vichy anti-Semitic laws that continued to be applied during the US occupation of France.
  • Jewish pilots serving with the US and British armies were not allowed to bomb the Nazi death camps infrastructure or railways leading to the camps.  (In their own private conversations the Allies agreed they did not want to deal with too many Jewish survivors after the war.)
  • The British refused for a long time to train the Jewish Brigade out of fear that after the war they would defend the Jews of Palestine.
  • The British sent the Jewish Brigade to fight a battle or two, and only after September 1944.  The British, who were managing the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, were openly pro-Arab and anti-Jewish.
  • Jews serving in the Soviet Army often had to hide the fact that they were Jews, due to discrimination.
  • Jewish recruits in all Allied armies often volunteered for the most dangerous missions.
  • Overall, Jews received a high number of honors for bravery, but they are now forgotten.
  • All of the above proves that only by serving in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) can Jews truly defend Jewish interests.
  • Medoff-050815
Netanyahu and Jewish World War II Veterans
Another View
By Rafael Medoff

May 8 marks the 70th anniversary of V-E Day, when Nazi Germany surrendered to the Allies.

Recent remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about Jewish powerlessness in the 1940s have been criticized for supposedly insulting those Jews who served in the Allied armies. The criticism is unjustified. In fact, one could argue that the role Jewish soldiers played in World War Two actually confirms Netanyahu’s point.

An estimated 1.5-million Jewish men and women served with honor and distinction in the American, British, Soviet, and other Allied armies during World War II. 

Their courage and sacrifices deserve our unstinting admiration.

But they were not serving the Jewish people; they were serving in the armies of other nations. 

When Netanyahu noted that the existence of the Israel Defense Forces represents “the first time in one hundred generations [that] we, the Jewish people can defend ourselves,” he was absolutely correct.

Jews who served in the Allied armies were not defending fellow Jews. In fact, there were instances when their service involved taking actions that were inimical to Jewish interests.

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For example, some Jews who were serving in the Soviet army during 1939-1941, when the Soviets were allies of Nazi Germany, would have been involved in the Russian invasion and occupation of eastern Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

Some even might have found themselves taking part in the violent arrest of yeshiva students and other Jews who were branded “counterrevolutionary” or “bourgeois” and exiled to Siberia or worse.

Jews who were serving in the British navy between 1939 and 1945 may have taken part in intercepting Jewish refugees trying to reach Palestine and forcing them to return to Hitler Europe.

And Jews serving in the British army in 1940 might have been involved in the roundup and mass internment of German Jews in England. Winston Churchill’s first action as prime minister was to order the mass detention of all German nationals, Jews and Nazis alike. Many of them were deported to Canada or Australia.

Jews in the United States army in 1942-1943 who took part in the Allied liberation and administration of North Africa may have been involved in maintaining the anti-Jewish laws that the previous Vichy French regime had implemented, and which the Allies continued to enforce for nearly a year. This included severe discrimination against the Jews of Algeria, Morocco, Libya, and Tunisia, several thousand of whom were held in slave labor camps.

The fact that Jews serving in various armies around the world could find themselves being ordered to take part in actions that harmed fellow Jews underlines the prime minister’s point about what happens when the Jewish people are stateless and powerless.

Likewise, Jewish soldiers, being under orders, were unable to take steps that clearly were in the Jewish interest – for example, Jewish pilots in the American air force had the ability, but were not permitted, to bomb the railways leading to Auschwitz or the gas chambers and crematoria. That is the difference between Jews serving in the Allied armies and in the IDF.

The writer Mark Schulte, in a May 1 Jewish Press op-ed article, claimed it was “ironic” that while Netanyahu has been “ignoring Jewish combat contributions,” his father, the late Prof. Benzion Netanyahu, who was in the U.S. during the 1940s, lobbied for “the creation of a Jewish Brigade in the Commonwealth’s armies.”

I had the opportunity to meet Prof. Netanyahu on numerous occasions and interview him in detail about his experiences in the 1940s. He was working for the establishment of a separate Jewish armed force, not recruiting Jews to enlist in the British army.

The organization that he and Peter Bergson (Hillel Kook) founded in 1941 was called the Committee for a Jewish Army of Stateless and Palestinian Jews, not the Committee to Persuade Jews to Join the Existing Allied Armies.

Certainly such a Jewish army would have been part of the overall Allied military structure, since they were all fighting against a common foe, Nazi Germany. But the whole point was that the Jewish people needed its own army.

Mr. Schulte was correct to note that more than one thousand Jewish veterans of World War Two later served in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. But that, too, proves Netanyahu’s point. It was only when those veterans had concluded their service in Allied armies and joined Israel’s that they became part of the process of ending nearly two thousand years of Jewish national powerlessness.



The forgotten Jews who fought the Nazis

By Itzchak Tessler
About 250,000 Jewish soldiers were killed while fighting for Allies' armies, 36,000 received awards of excellence from US Army and 160,000 were awarded citations from Red Army. So how did 1.5 million Jews who fought in World War II sink into oblivion?

There is not a single student in the Israeli educational system who doesn’t learn about the Jewish Brigade and about Hannah Szenes and her friends.
The bravery of the 5,000 Brigade soldiers should be praised and admired, but the truth is that it's just a drop in the ocean of Jewish blood which was shed on the front, vis-à-vis the Nazis.
About a million and a half Jews fought as part of the Allies' armies. They stood out both because their number was much higher than their relative percentage in the countries they came from, and because of the huge number of losses they suffered.

According to different estimates, about 250,000 Jews were killed while fighting for the Allies' armies. In addition, a relatively high number of Jews received medals of honor.


Dr. Shimha Goldin, the son of a Polish soldier who was taken captive by the Soviet Army, and the father of Lieutenant Hadar Goldin who died as a hero in Operation Protective Edge, decided to initiate a conference which would give the Jewish fighters in World War II all the respect they deserve.


"My father was a Polish soldier who was captured by the Russian army during the war, and that's what saved his life," he says.

Goldin, who is the director of the Goldstein-Goren Diaspora Research Center at Tel Aviv University and a senior lecturer at the Department of Jewish History, initiated an international conference at the university titled "The Jewish Soldier in World War II," which was held this week in the presence of researchers and representatives from leading universities in Israel and around the world.
Outstanding contribution
Dr. Goldin says the Goldstein-Goren Diaspora Research Center managed to get its hands on a particularly large number of letters written by Jewish soldiers who served in the Russian army.
Dr. Simha Goldin and his father, a Polish soldier who was taken captive by the Soviet Army (Photos: Ido Erez, the Goldstein-Goren Diaspora Research Center at Tel Aviv University)
 Dr. Simha Goldin and his father, a Polish soldier who was taken captive by the Soviet Army (Photos: Ido Erez, the Goldstein-Goren Diaspora Research Center at Tel Aviv University)
Dr. Leonid Smilovitsky, who is leading the research, and his team have made it their goal to use the information obtained from the letter to study the Jews contribution to the Allies' war effort.
Did the Jews join the army due to national loyalty or because it was compulsory?
"This is one of the questions which will be raised in the conference and are worthy of a thorough discussion. In some of the countries there was compulsory enlistment, but the huge number of Jewish soldiers and their contribution were only revealed in the past few years.
"If you break down the number of Jews among the high-ranking soldiers and those who received citations, alongside the huge number of losses, the Jews' contribution stands out both in the Russian army and in the American army.
"When you compare the figures, you realize that the Jewish Brigade's contribution to the war effort was relatively small from an overall view, both because the Jewish population in Israel was small and because of the places the Brits sent the soldiers to from the Land of Israel."
What effect did the anti-Semitism in Europe and in the United States have on the Jews' military service?
"Prof. Catherine Merridale, the author of 'Ivan's War,' examined the lives of fighters in the Red Army and discovered, among other things, that although everyone is equal according to the Soviet model, there was definitely anti-Semitism inside the army and Jews were required to demonstrate courage.
"The research in this field is at an early stage, and thanks to the huge amount of archive material collected by Brigadier-General (res.) Zvika Kan-Tor and the Museum of the Jewish Soldier in World War II, we will be able to publish studies on the issue in the future."
A Jewish girl's letter to her father the soldier (photo courtesy of Tel Aviv University)
A Jewish girl's letter to her father the soldier (photo courtesy of Tel Aviv University)
200,000 fallen Jewish soldiers in Red Army alone
Prof. Dina Porat, the chief historian of Yad Vashem and head of the Kantor Center at Tel Aviv University, strongly opposes the attempt to compare between the Jewish Brigade's contribution to the war and the contribution of Jews who fought for the Allies' armies.

"The Brits didn't want to train an army which would act against them in the Land of Israel later on," she says. "That's the reason why even after agreeing to create the Brigade, they only did it in September 1944, nearly at the end of the war, and sent the soldiers to fight in just one battle or two.


"But the Brigade's contribution was particularly significant in caring for the Holocaust survivors and bringing them to Israel. The fighters stole food and clothes for them from the British Army's warehouses, got hold of fuel and trucks to drive them and played a significant part in the establishment of the Israel Defense Forces and in turning it from an underground organization into a regular, trained army."


In the same breath, Prof. Porat agrees that the Jewish fighters in the Allies' armies have yet to receive the honor they deserve and provides some amazing figures: "Of the one and a half million Jewish soldiers, half a million were in the US Army and 36,000 of them received awards of excellence.

"Half a million Jews served in the Red Army, 120,000 of them were killed in action and 80,000 were taken captive by the Nazis and murdered.
"Of all the Jewish soldiers in the Red Army, 300 were generals, 160,000 received citations, and 150 of them were awarded the prestigious title "Hero of the Soviet Union."
'Some concealed the fact that they were Jewish'
If you were wondering how the Jews managed to stand out in the anti-Semitic Russian army compared to the American army, Dr. Goldin explains that in the 1930s many Jews enlisted for regular service in the Red Army and were promoted.
They worked as professionals in all of the army's branches, including combat service for women who worked as flight physicians, nurses on the front and combat pilots.
Jews in the US, on the other hand, did not see the army as a professional field.
"But Jews did stand out in the rest of the armies and among the partisans. As the extent of the Holocaust was revealed, they sought to prove to their colleagues that Jews don’t go like lambs to the slaughter. So they volunteered for any dangerous mission and made double the effort.
"Some concealed the fact that they were Jewish, and that's why the extent of their contribution was only revealed later on. When at the end of the war, the Soviets learned of the huge number of Jews among the soldiers who received citations, they decided not to award the medals to the all the Jewish fighters who were entitled to them, as they were afraid of the implications in the Soviet Union." 


Dr. Goldin, who also served as chairman of the History Committee for the state education system at the Education Ministry, says the issue of Jewish soldiers' contribution has already been added to the curriculum.


"In my opinion, however, it's more important for every group of students visiting Yad Vashem in Jerusalem to go down to Latrun and visit the Museum of the Jewish Soldier in World War II as well. That's an essential and important way to complete the visit."

On the 70th anniversary of their liberation, no word about Dutch sympathies with the Nazis, their COLLABORATION with the Holocaust, and ongoing anti-Semitism, which leads the government to cut the pension of a Holocaust Dutch survivor because she lives on ancient Jewish Biblical land the Dutch says belongs to Muslim invaders
Read more

Interesting websites 

American Jews in the US Army
Read their stories

Passover Latkes in Goebbels’ Castle

The American Jewish Soldier Who Brought Democracy to Japan

Isadore Zaritsky Recalls Liberating Ebensee Concentration Camp

Guard of Israel – Bencin Riseman and Family in WWI

(This is a fascinating website dedicated to publishing archival photos.)

Why Was a Ton of Matza Delivered to the US Army's 77th Division in France during World War I?
 Original caption: "Packing shipment of Matzoths [i.e. matzos] for the 77th Division for
men of Jewish faith in the A.E.F. [American Expeditionary Force] for the Passover Holiday,
 at Warehouse #40, Q.M.C. Depot, St. Denis  [France] / Signal Corps. U.S.A."
(April 9, 1919, Library of Congress)

See more pictures from World War I Jewish soldiers serving with Western armies.


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