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The Jewish Brigade

Discussion in 'Italy, Sicily & Greece' started by Mahross, Jan 1, 2004.

  1. Mahross

    Mahross Ace

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    The Jewish Brigade was raised in Egypt from settlers recruited in Palestine in 1944 and moved to Italy at the end of the year. The brigade served with British 8th Army, initially attached to 8th Indian Division and then under 10th Corps. It made diversionary attacks during the opening of the final Allied offensive in Italy and advanced toward Imola before being pinched out of the line. By the end of April it had been grounded to provide additional transport for the Allied pursuit.

    Organization:

    1st Palestine Regiment
    2nd Palestine Regiment
    3rd Palestine Regiment
    200th Field Regiment (Royal Artillery)

    -------------------------------------------------

    The only military unit to serve in World War II in the British Army — and, in fact — in all the Allied forces — as an independent, national Jewish military formation, the Jewish Brigade Group comprised mainly of Jews from Eretz Yisrael and had its own emblem. The establishment of the Brigade was the final outcome of prolonged efforts by the yishuv and the Zionist Movement to achieve recognized participation and representation of the Jewish people in the war against Nazi Germany.

    In 1940, the Jews of Palestine were permitted to enlist in Jewish companies attached to the East Kent Regiment (the “Buffs”). These companies were formed into three infantry battalions of a newly-established “Palestine Regiment.” The battalions were moved to Cyrenaica and Egypt, but there, too, as in Palestine, they continued to be engaged primarily in guard duties. The Jewish soldiers demanded to participate in the fighting and the right to display the Jewish flag.

    In a letter to Chaim Weizmann in 1944, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill stated that his government was prepared "to discuss concrete proposals" in the matter of the formation of a Jewish Fighting Force. While Jews were dispersed throughout the British army, the Jewish Agency wished to concentrate them into one unit, flying the Jewish national flag.

    Churchill was much more receptive to the idea than his predecessor, Neville Chamberlain. Chamberlain disapproved of an all-Jewish Brigade, fearing that it would give more legitimacy to the Jewish yearning for national independence. British policy since the White Paper of 1939 no longer favored partition, and therefore symbols of Jewish independence were not encouraged. As more and more information came to light over the tragedy in Europe, however, the British bowed to Zionist demands for a Jewish military unit.

    It was not until September 1944, after six years of prolonged negotiations, that the British government agreed to the establishment of a Jewish Brigade. It consisted of Jewish infantry, artillery, and service units. After a period of training in Egypt, the Jewish Brigade Group — approximately 5,000 soldiers — took part in the final battles of the war on the Italian front under the command of the Canadian-born Jew, Brigadier Ernest Benjamin. In May 1945, the Brigade was moved to North East Italy where, for the first time, it encountered survivors of the Holocaust. In the summer of 1946, the British authorities decided to disband the Brigade.

    Skills gained in the Jewish Brigade and in the British army in general was experience that would be put to use again during Israel's War of Independence. More than its military value, however, the Jewish Brigade served as a symbol of hope for renewed Jewish life in Eretz Israel. The soldiers of the Jewish Brigade met with survivors of the Holocaust in Displaced Persons camps, bringing them Jewish and Zionist culture. The Jewish Brigade was also instrumental in bringing many of the survivors to Palestine, by Bericha and “illegal immigration.”
     
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  2. Gerry Chester

    Gerry Chester WWII Veteran

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  3. Gerry Chester

    Gerry Chester WWII Veteran

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    [QB]
    The Regiment in which I served, the North Irish Horse, supported the Jewish Brigade in their first action. They fought well and bravely. There is an excellent book about them.

    Extract from my bibliography:
    "The Brigade"
    Author: Howard Blum
    Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers, New York
    Copyright: 2001, 326 pp.
    The story of the formation of the Jewish Brigade leading up to its going into action in Northern Italy. The support given to the Brigade, by the tanks of North Irish Horse, is documented.
     
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  4. Military History Network

    Military History Network Registered Member

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    just to keep my hand in ...

    I recently found that the last 'attachment' of the Jewish Infantry Brigade in the Mediterranean Theater was to the US 34th Infantry Division, in the Italian - Jugoslavian - Austrian corner vic. Tarvisio. The details, though sparse, are at
    http://www.34infdiv.org/docs/34div/opinst85.html
     
  5. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    I finally manage to read this post, Ross and let me tell you that it was very interesting and that I enjoyed it very much. Thanks. ;)
     
  6. Mahross

    Mahross Ace

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  7. Gaius

    Gaius recruit

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    I'm actually doing a project about the Jewish Brigade and found this on Google when I did a search for it!
     
  8. Ali Morshead

    Ali Morshead Member

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    Just read "The Brigade" by Howard Blum.

    It follows the efforts of The Jewish Brigade through 3 of its members.

    IMHO it provided little to the Allied effort, 1 assault and some follow up. The Brits wouldnt allow them into Germany for fear of their revenge on the German peoples.

    However, the value to thwe Jewish Community was massive. Over 5000 trained soldiers would soon provide the core of Zahal, the countless Jewish refugees it helped move from Europe to Palestine and an early signal that the Jews would no longer quietly aquiesce to Genocide of their peoples.
     
  9. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WWII Veteran

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  10. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    Ron :

    welcome aboard the forums. hopeful we will hear more of your WW 2 career in time

    Erich ~
     
  11. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WWII Veteran

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  12. kerrd5

    kerrd5 Ace

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    This is a U.S. Army Signal Corps' photo I found and scanned
    at the NARA II, College Park, last Friday.

    [​IMG]

    The caption reads:

    "Infantrymen of the new Jewish Brigade pay homage to their first dead.

    "Fifth Army, Italy."

    Date: 24 March 1945.

    Photographer: Levine, 196th Signal Photo Company

    III-SC 203126, Credit NARA.

    Jewish Brigade - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    If anyone would like a high-res version of this photo, just let me
    know.


    Dave
     
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  13. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    Thanks, Dave, for posting this great photo and bringing this thread back to the surface of the forum. This is the first time I've seen it and am interested in following up on some of the links (as if I don't have enough reading to do already!).
     
  14. kerrd5

    kerrd5 Ace

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    Hi, Tom.

    I must admit I had never known of the Jewish Brigade until I found this print at the Archives.
    They do have a very interesting history.


    Dave
     
  15. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    I don't recall having heard about them before, either. I was interested to see that they were attached to the 34th ID. My son is currently with the 34th, so I have a natural interest in the history of the division. Also, one of my great uncles served with the 776th TD Bn which spent quite a bit of the War attache to the 34th, though I believe they had moved on to France by the time the Jewish Brigade was attached to the 34th.
     
  16. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    I never heard of the Jewish Brigade, either. My father was in the 473rd Infantry and the 505th Coast Artillery before that, both part of the 5th Army. Never part of the 34th.
     
  17. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I studied under a veteran of the Brigade, Gunther Rothenburg. He escaped from Nazi Germany with his family in 1937 and went to Palestine. When the war broke out he joined up and fought in North Africa and Italy. After the war he went to school and eventually became a history prof. at Sandhurst. John Keegan was one of his grad students.
     
  18. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    That had to look good on his resumé. :)
     
  19. theblackalchemist

    theblackalchemist Member

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    I'd suggest you read up on The Brigade by Howard Blum. a nice read.

    Regards,
    TBA
     
  20. crosbygirl

    crosbygirl Member

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    I am compiling memoirs from those Veterans who fought in Italy including members of the Jewish Brigade. Several of the Veterans reveal that they were UK residents and were called up and trained in Wales and then shipped out to Italy under varying Brigades or Regiments. One even said that if their name was or sounded Jewish they were singled out to join The Jewish Brigade here prior to shipping out to Italy!

    Found all your posts very helpful and gave me even more reading matter/research to do! Ho hum I was hoping to publish this year <lol>

    Best wishes to all
    Ann
     

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