Howard Blum’s latest book is about many things as the sub-title implies: Vengeance, Salvation and World War II. Palestine was under British control and in November 1944 the British finally agreed to send five thousand Jewish soldiers to fight the Nazis. This may be surprising to some people who assumed Jews weren’t allowed to fight back against Nazi tyranny and the horrors of the Holocaust.
While the brigade’s contributions had very little influence on the eventual outcome, still they were extremely proud to have been allowed to serve. In fact, at times it was downright frustrating to be held back to participate in only minor operations. Yet, when given the chance to fight the Jewish Brigade proved themselves more than adequate to the task at hand. Of course, by the time the brigade was sent to Europe the war was winding down. Five months later Hitler and the Germans were soundly defeated.
The men chosen to serve in the brigade had been living in Palestine, having migrated there from various parts of the world. At this time, of course, the State of Israel was non-existent. It was extremely heart-wrenching for the brigade to witness first-hand the persecution of their brethren at the hands of the Nazis. That’s when things got rather interesting.
As one reads the book it sounds much like a novel. However, this is a true story of how this group not only ably served, but once the war had ended remained “on duty” while pillaging the enemy and exacting vengeance. It’s quite an interesting story full of details of exploits these fiercely and proudly Jewish men undertook not only for revenge, but ultimately to be able to return to Palestine and someday have a country of their own.
They smuggled refugees, food, weapons – you name it – to Palestine. Although this was never mentioned in the book, just a short time later the State of Israel was born. I can’t help but think that the actions of these men were vitally significant in laying the groundwork, not only for the State of Israel, but for what became one of the world’s most elite and well-trained military.
It’s a fascinating read about a part of World War II history which perhaps few are aware of. The book is less about the war itself and more about the lives and struggles of some members of the Brigade. Though it is about war the story itself is uplifting and well worth your time to read. Another Howard Blum (one of my favorite authors) gem!
Have a GREAT day . . . someday it will be HISTORY!