Pioneers and the Jewish Brigade #general


Carlos Glikson
 

Michael Bernet clarified that the "Pioneer" in Pioneer David SHITRIT was
not part of the name, "but referred to his military status as part of the
Pioneer Corps of the British army, a group that was expected to do the
heavy laboring for the "real" soldiers". Michael wrote that "In WW 2, the
British long relegated many Jews (including volunteering European Jews who
had found refuge in England) to this function."

I recently enjoyed "In our Own Hands: The Hidden Story of the Jewish
Brigade in World War II" - a wonderful documentary about the Jewish
Brigade, the all-Jewish fighting unit in the British Army in the Second
World War, and about its activities immediately after the war

I was wondering - without checking it out - if this relegation of Jewish
volunteers to Pioneer activities defined in an American dictionary as
"making roads, dig intrenchments, etc., in advance of the main body" was
connected to the attitude of the British command towards the Jewish
Brigade.

There was a three year postergation in the case of the members of the
Jewish Brigade, late to receive weapons training as well as delayed in
going into action.

In an on-line review of the documentary it is said that for three years,
the Jews of Palestine were not granted permission by the British
Government to form a Jewish unit, until in 1944, Churchill overrode the
War Office's objections. It was established only in Sept. 1944. The
Brigade saw action against the Germans in Italy when the war was nearing
its end - its members returning to Europe, to fight and to save.

The script of this documentary can be found at director Chuck Olin's
company website
http://www.olinfilms.com/brigade

With a resource center online, the website includes the very interesting
script, where one of the interviewed veterans explains, for example, that
they didn't have a chance to train proper soldiers. It was illegal, and
they were not supposed to carry weapons, so if they wanted to drill
themselves, they had to do it undercover. Things changed in 1944, when
they were finally treated as a combat unit. In 1945, the Jewish Brigade
disembarked in Italy and entered combat against the Nazi troops in the
late battle of the Senio River in Northern Italy, under the flag that
later became the Israeli flag.

A covert part of the Brigade made incredible efforts to help displaced
persons after the war to reach Mediterranean ports and sail to Palestine,
while the visible part kept going with the "official" activities. They
forged orders and papers and arranged the logistics to "dissappear" trucks
from their official missions and help survivors reach the ports and cross
the closed gates in Palestine. They evaded controls in a hurry before the
survivors were forced back by the Allied decision to their destroyed towns,
and also mounted covert operations to smuggle weapons to Palestine.

Many veterans later utilized the British training in Israel's War of
Independence and started building the Israeli Defence Forces.

A search for "Jewish Brigade" will help you learn more.

Purchasing the documentary at JewishGenMall, as announced in Sandra and
Donald Hirschhorn's Jan 13 mail, you will own a very interesting
documentary and will help support JewishGen!

http://www.jewishgenmall.org

Carlos GLIKSON
Buenos Aires, Argentina
e-Mail cglikson@ciudad.com.ar

Searching for

GLIKSON, GLICKSON, GLUCKSOHN, GLUECKSOHN: Marijampole, Suwalki, Augustow,
Sejny,Sopotkin,Koenigsberg. POKROISKY, POKROJSKI, POKROY: Suwalki,
Seirijai. Lomza. ALPEROVICH, ALPEROWICZ: Kremenchug, Vilnius. HOLLANDERSKY,
HOLLENDERSKI, HOLLANDER: Suwalki, Seirijai, Lomza. TARNOPOLSKY, TARNOPOL:
Kremenchug, Kharkov. FELCHINSKY: Kremenchug, Vilnius, Felschtin?. KARP:
Grodno.SMELIENSKY(?),KRASNAPOLSKY(?), BLUMIGDAL (?),GOLUMBIEWSKY,GOLOMB(?)


MBernet@...
 

In a message dated 1/21/2003 10:36:03 PM Eastern Standard Time,
cglikson@ciudad.com.ar writes:

<< A covert part of the Brigade made incredible efforts to help displaced
persons after the war to reach Mediterranean ports and sail to Palestine,
while the visible part kept going with the "official" activities. They
forged orders and papers and arranged the logistics to "dissappear" trucks
>from their official missions and help survivors reach the ports and cross
the closed gates in Palestine. They evaded controls in a hurry before the
survivors were forced back by the Allied decision to their destroyed towns,
and also mounted covert operations to smuggle weapons to Palestine. >>

==Im my book on the Six Day War, "The Time of the Burning Sun," I gave
intensive space to the exploits of one such hero of the Brigade, Capt. Jonah
Hatsor (originally Koenigshoefer, >from Cologne, Germany) and his endeavors to
help Jews escape >from Europe to British-occupied Palestine. He later became
military adjutant to President Chaim Weizmann and sergeant-at-arms of the
Parliament. He is also a keen genealogist.

Michael Bernet,
New York


CharlesPottins
 

Concerning the Pioneer Corps, it was not specifically Jews that were assigned
to it, but generally non-British volunteers as well as regular soldiers
considered unfit for combat (though in fact units did fight alongside the
infantry later) or "undesirables".
Harry Ratner, who served in the Pioneer Corps, says it was virtually a "foreign
legion", or "International Brigade" with even a Spanish Republican company,
Palestinian companies comprising both Jews and Arabs though these were later
segregated, Cypriots, Africans, and some German and Austrian refugees
(otherwise considered "enemy aliens"!)
The officers were all British though.
Harry also mentions that many intellectuals including Arthur Koestler served
with the Pioneers.
("Reluctant Revolutionary", by Harry Ratner, 1994, ISBN 0 9508423 9 7) During
the liberation of Paris Harry, who was of French background, managed to hitch a
ride in with a Free French unit and reach his mother's house, a nice surprise
for her, son Harry arriving in British uniform!

Other Jews served right across the British forces, of course. My Dad was in the
Signal Corps and tended to look down on his brother who served in the Pioneers,
probably through defective eyesight. But this was plainly unfair, especially
as Pioneer units were in the frontline.

Charlie Pottins