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Jewish Soldiers and Prisoners of War during World War II

by Serah Beizer

  • Aims
  • Age Group
  • Rationale and Introduction
  • Points to Ponder
  • Sources
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Ideas for Assignment
  • Articles
  • Appendices

Aims

To teach about the participation of Jewish soldiers and the fate of Jewish prisoners-of-war during the Second World War;

To encourage students to undertake individual/group research, interviewing survivors and learning history; 

To try to feel what it is like to be imprisoned versus free;

To learn why the mitzvah of Pidyon Shvuim (redemption of captives) is so important and how hard it was to even begin to keep it at all during WWII.

Age Group

Suitable for high-school and college students, as a class assignment, or informal settings with older teenagers.

Rationale and Introduction

"The Second World War was among the most destructive conflicts in human history: more than forty million soldiers and civilians perished, many in circumstances of terrible cruelty.  During the 2,174 days of war between the German attack on Poland in September 1939 and the surrender of  Japan in August 1945, by far the largest number of those killed, whether in battle or behind the lines, had no name or face except to those who knew or loved them."

Martin Gilbert, Second World War, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1989, p.1 (highlights added (by Serah Beizer)).

When we, as Jews, relate to the Second World War, we mainly relate to the Shoah. It sometimes goes unnoticed that Jews fought as soldiers in many regular armies, in armies established by the governments-in-exile of countries which had been overrun by the Nazis, and as partisans in various occupied countries.

It is estimated that up to 1.4 million Jews fought in Allied armies; 40% of them in the Red Army. [1] When they fell, far from home, many a relative never discovered, up to this very day where, and in what cruel circumstances their beloved one was killed.

As a prisoner-of- war, the soldier lost his identity, was tagged or numbered and had no idea what the future held.

"We feared the very thought of being taken prisoner! We were sure that they would kill us right away…Who needs a prisoner's life, especially when it is not worth a penny." [2]

Very minimal research has been conducted on the fate of Jewish soldiers and POWs in WWII.

We hereby invite the students to take part in research.  Through their direct involvement, as they gather information that has not been assembled before, they can act as junior historians.  Thereafter, history comes alive and becomes real for today's students.

We encourage you to interview survivors, find information in archives and the local library. Insufficient statistics exist on Jewish participation in the war and on the number of Jews captured as POWs[3] . In most of the Allied armed forces Jews were not counted as Jews, but as soldiers of that particular army. It was also common for Jewish POWs to conceal their Jewish identity, especially when falling in Nazi-German captivity.  These facts make the task of the researcher even more complicated than the already difficult task of understanding who fought against whom and when.

Assignments and research questions appear below.  These have been constructed to aid the students in their research work.

We will be happy to assist in any research questions, read the assignments and offer other help.

Please write to Serah Beizer at serahb@jafi.org or to our webmaster.

As a Jew you are redeeming captives – at least theoretically.

The Jewish POWs during WWII could in most cases neither be redeemed nor ransomed. Today we can learn about them, record their testimonies and tell others their stories.

Points to Ponder

Do International Treaties defend soldiers and civilians captured as POWs in a  war situation – the Second World War?

Introduce the subject to the students (Use the introduction, sources, bibliography and links).

Divide your students into small groups of 4-5. 

  1. Print out and copy the sources presented below: testimonies, the Geneva conventions, quotes from Lador-Lederer and A.J.Barker, facts and figures, Jewish values.

           You might also use the Table in Appendix 1.

Distribute copies of the sources to the various groups.

Divide the questions between each group.  Ask them to read about and discuss the subject (at least half an hour).

Ask each group to reach a conclusion and present it.

Was there then, and is there today, any value in the Geneva Conventions? Note the differences between the two Geneva Conventions.

How, in general, were the POWs treated during WWII on the European war theatre?

What can we learn about the differences between how the Germans treated Soviet prisoners of war compared to their treatment of American and British POWs?

How were the Jewish POWs treated during WWII?

Would you consider Jewish soldiers – killed while in captivity- as Holocaust victims?  Would you differentiate between Western POWs (Canadian, Australian etc.) as compared to Eastern POWs (Polish, Russian etc)?

  • Ask each group to present their findings and conclusions.

You might use the blackboard and columns/tables to present the differences between the German treatment of Soviet POWs and Western POWs or between the treatment of a POW in general versus the treatment of a Jewish POW.

Try to find an answer to the main point posed;  Did international treaties defend soldiers and civilians caught as POWs in the Second World War?

Now ask the whole group how the Geneva Conventions apply in the Middle-East today.  Do countries adhere to the treaties?

What did the relatives of POWs know about their fate during WWII and in the Middle-East today? Were the lessons of WWII learned?

Sources:

I   Testimonies by Jewish POWs (WW II)

Testimony of former Soviet POW Mikhail Yakushev

 (Yad Vashem Archives, file M-33/479):

I arrived at the POW-camp in Homel (Gomel) at the end of October, 1941… some 600-800 people died of hunger and disease daily… apart from one bowl of bran porridge (a day) and 100-150 gram of bread a week, we got nothing… things got to the point that they (some other POWs) began cutting loose meat from corpses and eat it. The POWs caught dysentery from eating such meat. They could not cope, screamed from pain and the Germans shot with machine-guns into the lavatories and killed the POWs who were there.

See Yitzhak Arad, History of the Holocaust: Soviet Union, pp. 651-652, translation by Serah Beizer.

We feared the very thought of being taken prisoner! We were sure that they would kill us right away…Who needs a prisoner's life, especially when it is not worth a penny.

Shimon Yantovsky, To Where We Belong, (Memoirs), Jerusalem, 2000, p.25

Much less lucky was Engineer Vladislav Geiger. He was quietly conversing with A. Epstein in the camp compound. Suddenly shots were fired from the sentries' tower. Geiger was hit in the buttock… The Germans then took him to the hospital but Geiger died shortly afterwards. We buried him on the new Jewish burial ground between Zhenya Kozinsky and Jacob Aruetti. Many of us lost faith in people and turned to the Almighty. We had an oratorio, a sort of mini-synagogue, in room 4 of barrack 16. This was possibly the only working synagogue on the entire territory of the Reich.

See: Jennie Lebel, A Memorial of Yugoslavian Jewish POWs, pp. 51-52. 

(The Jewish soldiers in the Finnish Army also built a synagogue on the Karelian Isthmus during the Continuation War (1941-1944) against the Soviet Union, Serah Beizer.)

The prisoners talked much about escaping. It was just talk – there was no real chance of breaking out… Again I was put in the middle of a parade ground with all the camp ranked around me. I was taken forward again. The sergeant spoke in broken Russian: "You see before you a Kike, a rioter, he wants you to run from the camp.  Don't believe him. You have punishment, you forget about escape!"
I was thrown into a cell. And they stuck two extra stripes on my shirt and coat… The stripes were V-shaped from the Finnish word vanki (prisoner).

See: Shimon Yantovsky, To Where We Belong, (Memoirs), Jerusalem, 2000, p. 35

Once a Ukrainian policeman approached me and told me that the officer in charge of the prisoners of war wants to see me. He was a Red Army officer called Grigori. When I entered his room he immediately asked me: "What is your nationality?" "I'm Russian," I answered. He was surprised, but said: "That's good for you". Seemingly somebody suspected (I was Jewish) and informed on me. Luckily the officer was a very honest man and did not harm me.

See Yitzhak Arad, History of the Holocaust: Soviet Union, p. 657, translation by SB.

II    The Geneva Conventions

Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War. Geneva, 27 July 1929:

http://www.icrc.org/IHL.nsf/52d68d14de6160e0c12563da005fdb1b/
eb1571b00daec90ec125641e00402aa6?OpenDocument

"The 1949 Convention, like its predecessors, provides a set of rules protecting prisoners of war. Staggered by (what happened in WWII) the representatives of 57 nations met in Geneva to revise the (1929) convention and to hammer out higher standards for POWs":

Convention (III) relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949.

http://www.icrc.org/IHL.nsf/1595a804df7efd6bc125641400640d89/
6fef854a3517b75ac125641e004a9e68?OpenDocument

III  Quotes from Articles by Joseph Lador-Lederer and Shmuel Krakowski:

"For the Jewish POW, from a country, who benefited from the provisions of the Geneva Convention of 1929, his sufferings, measured against the yardsticks of Jewish martyrology, were (minor)."

(What does Joseph Lador-Lederer mean by his sentence: "measured against the yardsticks of Jewish martyrology?")

"On the other hand, the Jewish POWs who were members of the Polish and Russian armies were killed in order to prevent them benefiting from any protection international law provides for captive combatants…"
"It is a prime premise that politically the Jews were treated as an enemy as of 1933, those of Germany and Austria included. None of them was even given the protection due to enemies."
"Whenever the Germans confronted the Red Army, they saw in it the satanic adversary which it had been indoctrinated to combat: the personification of "Jewish Bolshevism".
 "…the Soviet Union was not a party to the Geneva Convention, a fact Germany later used as a pretext, but…the Soviet Union had declared itself bound by the provisions of the Hague Regulations on War and Land, which  contain basic provisions regarding POWs and the regime which may be imposed on occupied enemy territory."[4]
"The Germans treated all prisoners of war brutally in flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention, but their abuse of the Jewish prisoners of war was especially cruel."[5]

IV  Quote from Book by A.J.Barker:

"Like other international agreements, (the Geneva convention) is one of the fruits of the civilized world. And if there are wars in which some of the participants have refused to acknowledge this civilization, or seceded from it, prisoners may not derive much benefit from the rules followed by their own side.  In the past they may have profited from the reluctance of nations to behave badly towards prisoners in their hands because they are concerned about what happens to their fighting men in the enemy's hands." [6]

V  Some Facts and Figures

The death toll among POWs in general is estimated at between six and ten million.

Estimates:

Up to 60% of the Russians in German custody did not live to return home.

Some 45% of the Germans in Russian captivity perished.

Of all British and American prisoners approximately 11% died in captivity.

Jews fought in the armies of the following countries: The Soviet Union, USA, Poland, Great Britain (including the Jewish Brigade), Australia, New-Zealand, Canada, France, Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, South-Africa, Czechoslovakia, Greece and Yugoslavia.

·        About 250.000 Jewish soldiers were killed in the war.

·        About 200.000 Jewish soldiers were taken as POWs by the Germans.

·        Some 100,000 Jewish soldiers (exact number not known) of the Red Army were taken as POWs and almost no one remained alive.

VI  Jewish Values

Rava asked Rabbah b. Mari:
From where is the maxim of the Rabbis derived that the redemption of captives is a religious duty of great importance? - He replied: "from the verse, and it shall come to pass if they ask, "Where shall we go forth:, then you shall tell them, "Thus said the Lord: Such are for death, to death, and such as are for the sword, to the sword, and such as are to the famine, to the famine, and such as are for captivity, to captivity."
(Jeremiah, 15:2)."
R. Yochanan comments on this:
Each punishment mentioned in this verse is more severe than the one before. Captivity is harder than all, because it includes the sufferings of all." (Talmud Baba Batra 8a-8b).

Additional Sources

Sections from "Forgotten Victims, the Abandonment of Americans in Hitler's Camps" can be read, see bibliography.

Roger Cohen: Soldiers and Slaves, American POWs Trapped by the Nazis' Final Gamble, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2005.

The following film is also recommended:

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/berga/

see:
www.aiipowmia.com/wwii/wwiiwkgrp.html

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4672288

Ideas for Assignments

Assignment I

 Ask your students to conduct a small research in your country exploring the fate of Jewish soldiers and Jewish POWs during WWII. They can work in groups of 3-4 or individually.

When they find information, ask them to present their findings to the class. They might now be able to add testimonies, facts and figures that have not been researched or published before.

If and when reliable statistics, names and numbers on Jewish soldiers and POWs are found, please site the source and add your findings to our list by writing to serahb@jafi.org or to our webmaster.

Useful links and sources:

The commemorative volume on Yugoslavian Jewish POWs prepared by Ms Jennie Lebel can serve as an excellent example, see:

Jennie Lebel, A Memorial of Yugoslavian Prisoners of War, Half a Century after Liberation, Tel-Aviv, 1995.

General Links:
http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/imt/proc/judwarcr.htm
http://www.ericdigests.org/2002-1/ww2.html

POW camps  see:
http://www.moosburg.org/info/stalag/laglinks.html

Bulgaria USABritain, see:
http://www.shumenpowcamp.20fr.com

Canada:
http://search.civilization.ca/dwesearch.asp?showDoc=63168&page=1
&resultsetToken=IKT000010469.1115228850&Lang=en&docType
=

Australia  see:

Australian Jewish Historical Society: ajhsinc@bigpond.net.au
http://www.awn.gov.au/
http://www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/pow/ww2/index.htm
http://www.awm.gov.au/research/infosheets/pow_europe/europe.asp

USA  see:

The Jewish War Veterans of the USA
http://www.jwv.org/

Jewish Chaplains Council
http://www.jcca.org/jwb/

Jews in Green
http://www.jewsingreen.com

American Ex-Prisoners of War
http://www.powfoundation.org

Jewish Welfare Board
http://www.jcca.org/jwb/

United Service Organizations, A bridge between the American People and the US military
http://www.uso.org

National Cemetary Administration
http://www.cem.va.gov/

Britain  see:

Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women
http://www.ajex.org.uk/

http://www.catalogue.nationalarchives.gov.uk/searchresults.asp?
SearchInit=0&txtsearchterm=jewish+prisoners+of+war&txtfirstdate=1939
&txtlastdate=1946&txtrestriction=&hdnsorttype=Reference&image1.x=35&image1.y=5

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/ww2/sugar4.html

The Jewish Brigade:
http://www1.yadvashem.org.il/about_holocaust/index_about_holocaust.html

http://www.rafinfo.org.uk/rafexpow/

Norway see:

Other countries could learn from Norway:

The national archives in Norway have prepared an alphabetic list of all

Soviet prisoners of war and forced laborers held in German captivity in Norway between1941-1945 (about whom information could be obtained). A few Jewish POWs are included among them.

http://www.arkivverket.no/riksarkivet/kilder/nett/krigsfang.html

see also:

http://articwar.pomorsu.ru/sea/articwar2000/soleim.html

Canada
http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/cdnpows/

POWS there, see:
http://members.memlane.com/djcarter/pow.htm

France see:
http://perso.wanadoo.fr/aetius/kg/KGStalag.htm

http://www.ihtp.cnrs.fr/cih2gm/cih2gm_hamburg_2002_cr_fr.html

http://perso.wanadoo.fr/bastas/pga/index.htm

Italy see:

Italian POWs in South-Africa:
http://www.rapidttp.com/milhist/vol014lb.html

The Soviet Union see:

Most extensive research work on POWs and especially on Jewish POWs, in Russian:
http://www.jewniverse.ru/RED/Shneyer/index.htm

Assignment II

Ask the students:

·        to compare Israel's POWs and MIA's– dilemmas and actions,  with the dilemmas and actions taken by your Jewish community during the Shoah and/or Second World War –find similarities and differences.

·        to find out how Israel sees its prisoners of war, takes actions to free them, highlights their situation.

Sources:   

1.      See Points to Ponder and the sources to Points to Ponder (Above)

2.      http://www.jafi.org.il/education/news/mias/00.html

3.      http://www.jafi.org.il/education/news/mias/02.html

4.      http://www.jafi.org.il/education/news/mias/02a.html

·        Find out about your local history by using links and sources from Assignment I.

·        Go to the Jewish Archives, Jewish Museum and/or Jewish community in your hometown and find more about what went on during the Second World War.

When the students have collected enough information to conduct a comparison, prepare a table for comparison and let the pupils fill it in.

Discuss you conclusions with the whole group.

Assignment III

Print the text of "The  Prayer for the Missing in Action Israeli Soldiers":
http://www.mia.org.il/prayer/

Give each student a copy.

Tell them also about the Prayer for the Welfare of the State of Israel.  Why are such new prayers added to the Jewish liturgy?  Why and how have days such as Holocaust Remembrance Day, Jerusalem Day, Israel Independence Day been added to the Israeli – and Jewish Calendar?

Ask your students to find out (archives, synagogues, Jewish museums) if similar prayers were written, read or printed during World War II in their own communities? How did the religious establishment react?

After gathering the relevant materials, ask them to present them and their findings/conclusions.

Use the Sources, including the Jewish sources, below.

Find out, if and how the reactions and actions towards Jewish prisoners of war differ between the Diaspora and Israel.  Can you find a different meaning to the concept "Klal Yisrael"?  Did Zionism as an ideology influence the State of Israel of today?

Some Links and Sources:

http://www.jwv.org/communication/detailart.cfm?ID=254

Efraim Zuroff,  Response of Orthodox Jewry in the United States: The Activities of the Vaad Ha-Hatzala Rescue Committee, 1939-1945, Ktav, 200.

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/march.html

Present the students with Jewish Sources on the Ransom of Prisoners/Captives:

The laws pertaining to ransoming captives are codified in the SHULCHAN ARUCH (Code of Jewish Law) in a chapter all to themselves.

See Yorah De'ah, Chapter 252: The Laws of Ransoming Captives and how the ransom is to be affected:

Ransoming Captives takes precedence over feeding and clothing the poor, and no mitzvah is as great as ransoming captives. Therefore, any money which is collected, even for a religious purpose, may be diverted to ransom captives even if it is raised for the purpose of building a synagogue...
Rava asked Rabbah b. Mari:
From where is the maxim of the Rabbis derived that the redemption of captives is a religious duty of great importance? - He replied: "from the verse, and it shall come to pass if they ask, "Where shall we go forth:, then you shall tell them, "Thus said the Lord: Such are for death, to death, and such as are for the sword, to the sword, and such as are to the famine, to the famine, and such as are for captivity, to captivity."
(Jeremiah, 15:2)."
R. Yochanan comments on this:
Each punishment mentioned in this verse is more severe than the one before. Captivity is harder than all, because it includes the sufferings of all." (Talmud Baba Batra 8a-8b). [7]

Selected Bibliography

Altshuler, Mordechai. Soviet Jewry at the Eve of the Holocaust, a  Social and Demographic Profile, The Centre for Research of East European Jewry, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 1998.

Arad, Yitzhak:  History of the Holocaust, Soviet Union and Annexed Territories, 2 vols, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 2004, 1066 pp (in Hebrew).

Bard, Mitchell G.  Forgotten Victims; The Abandonment of Americans in Hitler’s Camps, Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado, 1994

Brahm, Randolph L. (ed.) The Wartime System of Labor Service in Hungary; Varieties of Experiences, Holocaust Studies Series, Columbia University Press, NY, USA, 1995.

Cecil, Robert. Hitler’s Decision to Invade Russia 1941, Davis-Poynter, London, 1975.

Cohen, Roger.Soldiers and Slaves, American POWs Trapped by the Nazis' Final Gamble, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2005.

Cook, Chris & Stevenson, John . The Longman Handbook of Modern European History 1763-1985, Longman, New York and London, 1987. pp. 166-167.

De Lannoy, Francois. La Liberation Des Camps Mai 1945: Un Million De Prisonniers De Guerre Francais

Dobroszyki, Lucjan; Gurock, Jeffrey S.(eds). The Holocaust in the Soviet Union, Studies and Sources on the Destruction of the Jews in the Nazi-Occupied Territories of the USSR, 1941-1945, M.E.Sharpe, New York, 1993.

Gilbert, Martin.  Second World War, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1989.

Kulka, Erich. Jews in Svoboda's Army in the Soviet Union, Chechoslovak Jewry's Fight against the Nazis during World War II, Institute of  Contemporary Jewry and University Press of America, USA, 1987.

Lebel, Jennie. A Memorial of Yugoslavian Prisoners of War, Half a Century after Liberation, Tel-Aviv, 1995.

Moore, Bob; Fedorowich, Kent. (eds)  Prisoners of  War and Their Captors in World War II, Berg, Oxford, 1996.

Rigg, Bryan Mark. Hitler's Jewish Soldiers, The Untold Story of Nazi Racial Laws and Men of Jewish Descent in the German Military, Kansas University Press, September 2004 (paperback).

Stark, Tamas. Hungary's Human Losses in World War II, Upsalla University, Sweden, 1995.

Yantovsky, Shimon. To Where We Belong, (Memoirs), Jerusalem, 2000.

Articles

Arad, Yitzhak. Alfred Rosenberg and the “Final Solution” in the Occupied Territories. Yad Vashem Studies, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 1979. pp. 263-286.

Beizer, Serah. The Treatment of Soviet Prisoners of War in Finland 1941-1944, Jews in Eastern Europe, 1(26), Jerusalem, Spring 1995, pp. 11-24.

Krakowski, Shmuel.  The Fate of Jewish Prisoners of War in the September 1939 Campaign, Yad Vashem Studies, vol. XII, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 1977. pp. 297-333.

Lador-Lederer, Joseph. World War II: Jews as Prisoners of War, Israel Yearbook on Human Rights, vol.10, Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, 1980, pp. 70-89.

See: Soleim, Marianne.  http://articwar.pomorsu.ru/sea/articwar2000/soleim.html


Appendices

Appendix 1

Here we present statistics on the size of armies take fought on European ground, on the participation of Jews in the various armies on the European war stage, on the total number of prisoners-of-war caught and by which enemy and estimates on Jewish POWs- if available. You are invited to add new information!

?  = exact or approximate number not known to us.

Army

Soldiers mobilized
Total Number

Jewish Soldiers in local Army

Local soldiers caught as POWs
Total Number

Jewish POWs Captured by

I

II

III

IV

V

VI

Australia

1,000,000

?

8,591[8]

2,065

?

Germany (also moved to Austria, Poland)

Italy

Greece

Austria

 

none

 

none

 

Belgium

625,000

?

?

?

Germany

Britain (UK)

5,896,000

60,000[9]

185,000 POWs altogether [10]

?

Germany

Bulgaria

Bulgaria

340.000-450,000

?

?

?

 

Canada

1944-

1,086,343

?

9724[11]

?

Germany

Chechoslovakia

150,000

Jews fought in Svoboda's army[12]

?

?

 

Finland 

1939-1940

1941-1944 

500,000[13]

~300 Jewish soldiers participated[14]

900[15]

3,400-3,500

No Finnish Jewish soldier caught

Soviet Union

France

5,000,000

?

1,538,000-

1,845,000[16]

?

Germany

Germany

1945-

10,200,000-

20,000,000[17]

See book by BM Rigg[18]

11,000,000 in Allied custody- by end of war[19]

40,000 in Canada[20]

394,000 in Britain in 1945[21]

64,000 in Belgium transferred from Britain to USA[22]

None (?)

Soviet Union,

Britain,

(Canada)

USA, Australia,

NZealand

S Africa

Belgium

Etc.

Greece

1941-44
1944-

414,000

?

400[23]

?

Germans

Hungary   Labor Service System, up to 100,000 Jewish servicemen (1939-1945)     Soviet Union (Serbia, France)

Italy

-1943

1943-

3,100,000

Probably none

268,000[24]

51,000[25]

100,000 Italian soldiers from Greece to Germany [26]

Probably none

Greece

USA

Britain

Germany

Netherlands

280,000-

410,000

?

 

?

Germany

New Zealand

194,000

?

?

?

Germany

Poland

1939-1941

1,000,000[27]

8-10%

~ 80,000-

100,000

420,000-

694,000

64,000

Germans

Romania

1941-1944

1,136,000

?

?

?

Soviet Union

South Africa

410,000

?

65,000[28]

?

Germany

Soviet Union

Size of army

1939

After 6/1941-

2,107,822

22,000,000[29]

34,525 (1.64%)[30]

525,000[31]

5,400,000-

5,754,000[32]

64,000[33]

80,000-85,000[34]

more exact statistics

required

400-600 Jews - some 300 accounted for [35]

Germans

Romania

Finland

USA

16,113,000

?

130,201 POWs altogether[36]

?

Germany

Yugoslavia

1941-1945

3,741,000[37]

?

?

650[38]

Germany

Appendix 2

Jewish Soldiers Participation in World War II Summary (from the Knesset website)

Ms. Yaffa Nakar draws her statistics from The Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, the Yad Vashem internet site and "the press".

This is a summary in English of statistics relevant to our topic:

  • About one million and a half million Jewish soldiers fought in the Allied Forces.
  • Jews fought in the following armies: The Soviet Union, USA, Poland, Great Britain (including the Jewish Brigade), Australia, New-Zealand, Canada, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, South-Africa, Czechoslovakia, Greece and Yugoslavia
  • Between 30- 40.000 Jews fought as partisans or in the underground.
  • About 250.000 Jewish soldiers were killed in the war.
  • 200.000 Jewish soldiers were taken as POWs by the Germans.
  • Over 100,000 Jewish soldiers of the Red Army were taken as POWs and almost no one remained alive.
  • 40,000 Jews from Eretz Yisrael were drafted into the British Army – 5,000 of them into the Jewish Brigade.  All and all, 668 of them died in the war.

Notes

[1]   Lador-Lederer, Joseph. World War II: Jews as Prisoners of War, Israel Yearbook on Human Rights, vol.10, Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, 1980, pp. 70-89, p. 75, footnote 15.

[2] Shimon Yantovsky, To Where We Belong, (Memoirs), Jerusalem, 2000, p. 25

[3] see Appendix 1.

[4] Lador-Lederer, Joseph. World War II: Jews as Prisoners of War, pp. 71-72.

[5] Shmuel Krakowski, Jewish Prisoners of War in the 1939 Campaign, p. 299

[6] A.J.Barker, Behind Barbed Wire, B.T.Batsford Ltd, London, 1974, p. 194

[7]

[8] see: http://www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/pow/ww2/index.htm

[9] http://www.ajex.org.uk/FRAME/museumframe.htm

according to the same source 2736 Jewish soldiers gave their lives or were casualties.

[10] Researcher Bob Moore, heard at POW seminar in Graz 2003.

[11]  See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/cdnpows/

[12]  Erich Kulka, Jews in Svoboda's Army in the Soviet Union, Chechoslovak Jewry's fight against the Nazis during World War II, Institute of  Contemporary Jewry and UP of America, USA, 1987.

[13] Chris Cook&John Stevenson. The Longman Handbook of Modern European History 1763-1985, Longman, New York and London, 1987. pp. 166-167.  This source has been used for all numbers of  mobilized soldiers, if no other source is provided.

[14] Rautkallio, Hannu, Suomen juutalaisten aseveljeys, Tammi, Helsinki, 1989.

[15]  http://www.veteraaniperinto.fi/suomi/t_pankki/ryhmat/sotavangit.htm, both figures: Winter War and the Continuation War.

[16] Martin Gilbert, op.cit. p.101.

[17] statistics vary according to different periods.

[18] Bryan Mark Rigg, Hitler's Jewish Soldiers, The Untold Story of Nazi Racial Laws and Men of Jewish Descent in the German Military, Kansas University Press, September 2004 (paperback).

[19]  Rudiger Overmans, German Prisoners of War in the Second World War = with a special focus on the transfers of German POWs, Paper presented at Seminar in Senne, Germany,4/2005.

[20] Martin Gilbert, Second World War, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1989, p. 460

[21] Martin Gilbert, Second World War,  p.721.

[23]  op. cit,  p. 534.

[24] Martin Gilbert, Second World War, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1989, p?

[26] Martin Gilbert, op.cit. pp.461-2.

[27] Krakowski, Shmuel.  The Fate of Jewish Prisoners of War in the September 1939 Campaign, Yad Vashem Studies, vol. XII, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 1977. pp. 297-333. all figures on Poland from here, pp. ?

"…five thousand former Jewish  soldiers of the Polish Army (were murdered at Majdanek in November 1943.) These soldiers had been held in a prisoner of war camp in Lublin for the previous four years – since October 1939. In a mocking imitation of a military operation, this mass killing was given the code name Harvest Festival."

[28] Martin Gilbert, Second World War, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1989, p.473

[29] Chris Cook&John Stevenson. The Longman Handbook of Modern European History 1763-1985, pp. 166-167

[30]  Mordechai Altshuler, Soviet Jewry at the Eve of the Holocaust, A Social and Demographic Profile, The Hebrew University, 1998, pp. 21 and 223.

[31]   Lador-Lederer, Joseph. World War II: Jews as Prisoners of War, Israel Yearbook on Human Rights, vol.10, Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, 1980, p. 75 footnote 15.  An estimate, not proved from sources. Soviet official figures still not available.

[32] Yitzhak Arad:  History of the Holocaust, Soviet Union and Annexed Territories, 2 vols., Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 2004, 1066 pp (in Hebrew), vol.2 p. 656.

[33] Serah Beizer, The Treatment of Soviet Prisoners of War in Finland 1941-1944, Jews in Eastern Europe, 1(26), Jerusalem, Spring 1995, pp. 11-24.

[34]  Yitzhak Arad:  History of the Holocaust, Soviet Union and Annexed Territories, p. 656.

[35]  Estimate by author and from information gathered by Shimon Yantovsky, see note 3. In

[37]  Chris Cook&John Stevenson. The Longman Handbook, op. cit., pp. 166-167.

[38] Lebel, Jennie. A Memorial of Yugoslavian Prisoners of War, Half a Century after Liberation, Tel-Aviv, 1995, p.6.


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