The Jewish Brigade soldiers When the Jewish survivors met Hebrew-speaking soldiers in uniforms, with the patch of the David Star on their arms, and above it another patch of the Jewish Brigade, their hope was restored. These soldiers gave them food and shelter, they led them across mountains and borders as part of the Bricha movement. Here is the story of these soldiers. An article by Rami Litani. My name is Rami Litani. I am an Israeli, born in Israel, just like my parents (even though the country then was still called Palestine), and I grew up learning about the creation of the Israeli state from them. My father, Eliyahu Litani (Alterman), was a company sergeant major in the first battalion of the Jewish Brigade. I took it upon myself to study their story, to collect relevant material, such as pictures, documents, letters and medals; to find their descendants and to urge them to look for what their parents left behind – their brave and heroic story. I am an active member of the Habricha Association. The Jewish Brigade The Jewish Brigade was formed by the British late within the Second World War, in September 1944. The idea of having a brigade from Palestine actually began quite early and Jewish soldiers volunteered to the British Army already in 1939. It took that long because of Arab pressure that opposed the idea. The Jewish Brigade included more than 5,000 Jewish volunteers living in Palestine and was the only independent national Jewish unit to serve in WWII. The Jewish Brigade soldiers wore a very symbolic arm patch – its colours were the Zionist flag of blue, white and blue stripes and a yellow Star of David. Under the lead-
ership of Brigadier Ernest F. Benjamin, they were shipped to Italy in October 1944, and took part in the battle for the liberation of Italy against the Nazis at the Senio River front, south of Venice, in the winter of 1945.
Several Jewish Brigade soldiers stayed in Europe after the Brigade was disassembled, using false identities, and were of great importance in the Bricha movement and the illegal immigration move-
Involvement in the Bricha Following the end of the war, stationed in northern Italy and later in Belgium and the Netherlands, the soldiers of the Jewish Brigade facilitated the illegal immigration of Holocaust survivors to Mandatory Palestine, known as the Bricha. They did it under the cover of what they called by its initials TTG, Tilhas Tizi Gesheften, translated as “kiss my ass business”. They supplied the survivors with food, blankets, clothes, and petrol. Taking advantage of the chaotic situation in post-war Europe, they moved Holocaust survivors between countries and across borders. For many Jewish soldiers, this new mission justified their previous service in the British forces that had preceded the creation of the Jewish Brigade.
Taking advantage of the chaotic situation in post-war Europe, they moved Holocaust survivors between countries and across borders.
My father, who as aforementioned was a company sergeant major in the 1st battalion of the Jewish Brigade, described in a very emotional letter to his parents, his meeting with the survivors.
Arm patches of Eliyahu Litani, company sergeant major of the Jewish Brigade