As the heroes of yesteryear pass on to their reward, we must continue to listen to and then tell their stories, to inspire and to teach future generations. The Jerusalem Post’s Yonah Jeremy Bob tells us how the descendants of the pre-IDF Jewish Brigade are connecting with their own parents’ past — a past of fighting Nazis and bringing Jews home to Israel:
Tags: History Israel Jeremy Yonah Bob Jerusalem Post Jewish Brigade Jews Video
Before the establishment of the Mossad and the IDF in 1948, a unit of 5,500 Jews known as the Jewish Brigade fought the Nazis as part of the British Army, and carried out underground operations to smuggle Jews across Europe to sail to British-occupied Palestine.
While the activities of Aliyah Bet, the Bericha (Flight) and subsequently the Mossad are well-known, the Jewish Brigade preceded these efforts both in smuggling Jews to Israel – as well as providing food, necessities and preparation for aliyah – under the noses of the British, and in using wildly creative schemes to succeed in those efforts.
Put differently, the movie Exodus about the ship the SS Exodus 1947, which embarked from the port of Sète near Montpellier, France, en route to Palestine, is famous, but the brigade is the story about how Jews were smuggled to the docks to board ships like the Exodus.
The brigade is also distinguished from these other efforts as its establishment was critical in the success of the future IDF. Jewish volunteers in the British Army in general served as a pipeline for an estimated 721 of the IDF’s first 2,180 officers, and the brigade contained a sizable number of those 721.
Graduates of the brigade who took leadership positions in the IDF rose to the highest ranks, with Mordechai Makleff and Haim Laskov both becoming chiefs-of-staff.
Another interesting aspect of the brigade is the human story of the Jews themselves who were involved, or in some ways their descendants…