Category Archives: Military

Joselovich, Berek – Polish Jewish Colonel who fought the Russians

Berek Joselewicz

Berek Joselewicz


In 1794 Colonel Berek Joselovich was commisioned by Kosciusko to form a light horse regiment from among the Jews of Warsaw, Poland, to fight the Russians. (It was Berek’s idea to have a all Jewish unit). Joselewicz, along with another Jew named Joseph Aronowicz, issued a patriotic call-to-arms in Yiddish denouncing Russia and Prussia, eliciting hundreds of volunteers, mostly poor tradeworkers and artisans. His men were popularly known as the ‘beardings’ because they obeyed the religious custom of growning a beard. He and his 500 men fought bravely, especially in the defense of Warsaw. But in the siege of a suburb of warsaw called Praga, he lost almost all his soldiers.
Then when Napoleon took on Russia, Joselovich served under Napoleon in the Polish Legion. He was killed in an encounter with Austrian hussars near Kotzk. There the people raised a mound to his memory.
Berek was a knight of the Polish Gold Cross and the Virtuti Militari.
Berek’s son was Josef Berkowicz, and he was in the same battle where his father was killed. He quitted the military service in 1815, and was appointed forester of the government forests of Troki, and later elsewhere as well.
He also served in the Polish revolution and ended up in England, where he wrote a novel “Stanislaus, or the Polish Lancer in the Suite of Napoleon from the Island of Elba.” This book was published after his death by his family.

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Rose, Maurice (Jewish WWII General)

Maurice Rose

General Maurice Rose was an officer in WWI and WWII. The son and grandson of Rabbis, he was at the time the highest ranking person of Jewish descent in the US Army. He first enlisted in the Colorado National Guard as a Private in 1915 hoping to serve with General John Pershing’s expedition into Mexico. He was discharged when it was found out that Rose falsified his age.
During WWII he served in three armored divisions. In Tunisia, General Rose was the first officer to accept the unconditional surrender of a large Nazi unit. After assuming command of the 3rd Armored Division, he became known for his aggressive style of leadership, and his division was the first unit to penetrate the Siegfried Line.
On March 31, 1945, he rounded a corner in his jeep and found himself surrounded by several German tanks. As he withdrew his pistol to surrender, a young German tank commander, apparently misunderstanding Rose’s intentions, shot the General. In retaliation, 110 Germans not involved in the incident were murdered by the Americans.

Monash, John (Australian Jewish General Praised By Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery as the best general in the Western Front)

General John Monash

John was born on 27 June 1865 to parents of Prussian-Jewish origin. In 1915 he was sent with the 4th Brigade (1,000 men) to Gallipoli, where he made a name for himself despite the fact that the campaign was a disaster. By June 1916 he was in France, as a major-general. Here he used raiding techniques frowned on by the British High Command, but they were impressed by his detail and precision in a war that was going very badly. He believed that: "the true role of infantry was not to expend itself upon heroic physical effort, not to wither away under merciless machine-gun fire, not to impale itself on hostile bayonets, but on the contrary, to advance under the maximum possible protection of the maximum possible array of mechanical resources, in the form of guns, machine-guns, tanks, mortars and aeroplanes; to advance with as little impediment as possible; to be relieved as far as possible of the obligation to fight their way forward."

At the Battle of Hamel Hill on 4-July-1918 his tactics won a well needed victory for the allies. Thereafter the A.I.F smashed its way through France, used as shock troops in an amazing serics of victories against the Germans.

He was often reminded that he was a Jewish colonel with no formal army background by many members of the British High Command. But he won the respect of his troops, and was knighted on the field by King George V.
He died on October 1931.

Jacobs, Jack (Jewish medal of honor recipient in Vietnam)

Jack Jacobs

Col Jack H. Jacobs was awarded the medal of honor for his Vietnam War Service.

Col. Jack Jacobs, who entered military service through Rutgers ROTC, earned the Medal of Honor in 1969 for exceptional heroism on the battlefields of Vietnam.
Jacobs was an advisor to a Vietnamese infantry battalion when it came under a devastating fire that disabled the commander. Although bleeding from severe head wounds, 1st Lt. Jacobs took command, withdrew the unit to safety, and returned again and again under intense fire to rescue the wounded and perform life-saving first aid. He saved the lives of a U.S. advisor and 13 allied soldiers.

Jacobs served on the faculty of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the National War College in Washington, D.C. After retirement, he founded and was chief operating officer of Auto Finance Group. As a managing director of Bankers Trust Co., he led Global Investment Management to $2.2 billion in assets and later co-founded a similar business for Lehman Brothers.

Rubin, Tibor (Concentration Camp Survivor, Korean War Hero, Medal of Honor Winner)

Tibor (Ted) Rubin

On the evening of October 30, 1950, in the dark, early days of the Cold War, Red Chinese forces mounted a massive nighttime assault on American troops at Unsan, North Korea. As overwhelming numbers of communist soldiers attacked Americans throughout the night and into the next day, a rifleman with the Army’s 8th Cavalry Regiment took up a 30-caliber machine gun at the south end of his unit’s line, following in the footsteps of three other soldiers – all of whom had been killed at the post.

When the rest of the American troops were told to withdraw, the rifleman never received the order, and continued "steadfastly manning" the machine gun until his ammunition was exhausted, according to Army records. The brave soldier’s "determined stand" single-handedly slowed the advance of the enemy in his sector, allowing the remnants of his unit to retreat southward, and to safety.

The brave acts that saved his fellow soldiers that October day represent only a small portion of the heroism symbolized by Corporal Rubin. On one occasion, Corporal Rubin "single handedly captured several hundred North Korean soldiers" after the breakup of the Pusan perimeter. Sworn affidavits from Corporal Rubin’s fellow soldiers document how, in another battle, when his unit was retreating, Corporal Rubin stayed behind to protect the "vital Taegu-Pusan road link" his unit would use to escape. According to his medal citation, during a 24 hour battle, Corporal Rubin "inflicted a staggering number of casualties" on the "overwhelming numbers of North Korean troops" assaulting the hill where he was stationed.

Yet, despite his glory on the battlefield, Corporal Rubin’s bravest deeds are generally considered to be his quietest. In the degrading, brutal confines of Korean prisoner-of-war camps, Corporal Rubin – a Hungarian-born Jew who survived the Mauthausen death camp in Austria – applied the survival lessons gleaned from his 14-month imprisonment at the hands of the Nazis to save the lives of some 40 fellow soldiers.

After receiving a serious leg wound during a battle in October 30, 1950, he was captured by the North Koreans and taken to the Pukchin POW camp, known to history as "Death Valley," and later to Pyoktong.

In the camps, Corporal Rubin recalled that "the biggest killer was dysentery." He and his fellow soldiers had been captured in their summer uniforms, he said, and the winter cold was unbearable. One of Corporal Rubin’s fellow prisoners, Sergeant Leo Cormier, described in a phone interview with the New York Sun, sleeping among 50 men in a 9 by 12 foot cell. "You wake up in the morning, and you reach up, and the body next to you was stiff as a board," he said. He added "If Ted wasn’t there, none of us would’ve made it out." Ted stole from the guards and made little cakes with leftover grain that he hid in his pants legs. Sergeant Cormier, who weighed 80 pounds upon his release from the camp, recalled "It tasted like manna from heaven." Tibor also force-fed soldiers who no longer had the will to eat and did more that we lack room for. He is a recipient of the Medal of Honor and two Purple Hearts.

Jacabowitz, Martin (German WWI aviator)

From June 1916 Martin became part of Fighter Squadron I of the German high command. He was repeatedly shot down at the battle of the Somme. In the fall, his squadron participated in the offensive against Rumania, and Jan 1917 in the battles over Macedonia where he was badly wounded in a dogfight. His leg was amputated. In spite of his wound, he still succeeded to shoot down the opposing British fighter.

Another German Jewish pilot of note was Leopold Ballin who shot down 3 allied planes. It should be mentioned that there were commanders who demanded photos of the shot-down planes. You can imagine the chutzpah of such demands given that Ballin’s plane had been hit 23 times, had lost its flaps for gaining altitude, and had other parts demolished as well. On the 22nd of April 1918, he was awarded the Iron Cross first class. The medal was awarded because he had distinguished himself in more than 41 flights above the enemy (our good guys) in the "defensive battle" in Flanders and in later battles. He accompanied infantry flying 30 meters above them.

Fritz Beckhardt

Of particular interest as a relative of mine (the blog author) from Wallertheim, Fritz Beckhardt, who had a swastika on his plane (before the swastika had its current connotations). He couldn’t imagine that his popular emblem would symbolize evil. It adorned his plane as he acquired the Iron Cross I, the Hohenzollern with swords, the Hessian medal for courage, the Hessian Ernst Ludwigs order, and the equivalent of our purple heart, as well as a silver chalice for bravery in air battle. He was in France at the beginning of the war, and fled back to Germany to participate in WWI, joining as a volunteer to take part on the Western Front among the infantry. Later he joined the air force.

Jacob Wolff


Aviator Jacob Wolff sent a circular which he called his justification to friends and relatives in Jan 10, 1916. "It didn’t want to get to my head that European governments so lacking in culture and so helpless to strike because of a triviality which three smart people could have solved in one day…. On the 2nd August I appeared at the district headquarters in Hamburg for service. I have to admit that this matter of unquestionable duty was very hard for me." Jacob was 46 years old at the beginning of the war, and so did not have to serve. He had 4000 employees in his factory in Hamburg, a fact which also would have freed him from military service. It was believed that good fighter pilots had to be between 19 and 22, and in fact the ages of 2 German air aces Immelmann and Bolke added up were less than his. By the war’s end he had a medal for saving somebody from drowning, and also got the pilots decoration, the Iron Cross first class, etc.
(Source – Judische Flieger by Felix Theilhaber (1924))

It’s hard to swallow for me that Jews fought on the side of the Germans and killed the good guys, but they thought they were fighting for their country, and were no worse in that respect than tens of millions of their fellow German citizens.

Jacob, Jack – Jewish general who led India to victory over Pakistan

Jack Jacob

In the annals of modern warfare, the 1971 war between India and Pakistan is regarded as a template of brilliance. Within 13 days, the Indian army routed Pakistan in one of the swiftest campaigns of the 20th century.
The major-general who masterminded and spearheaded India’s offensive, and who accepted Pakistan’s surrender, was Jack Frederick Ralph Jacob, the scion of an old Jewish family from Calcutta. A spry bachelor of 81 who retired in 1978, he considers that war the highlight of a long career as a soldier. Jacob joined the British army in the summer of 1941 while at university and when India was still a British colony. He did so, he said, "to fight the Nazis". He trained with Jordan’s Arab Legion. He returned to an independent India after taking a gunnery course in Britain, and then artillery and missile courses in the United States. "I didn’t plan to be a career officer," he said. "I like the army and stayed on."
He wrote a much-praised manual on desert warfare.
Looking back, he described his 37-year in the army as "the happiest and most enjoyable period of my life." Never once did he feel the sting of anti-Semitism in the Indian army. "But I had some problems with the British," he said. "I don’t like to talk about it."

Bernheim, Louis (A Jewish Belgian general in WWI)

Louis Bernheim

General Louis Bernheim was born Sept 1, 1861 in a suburb of Brussels, Belgium. By the age of 19, he had become a second lieutenant in the grenadier guards. Before he was 30, he was appointed to the chairs of military history and geography in the Royal military academy.

He wanted to be in active service, not teaching, and so in 1901 he left teaching and went back to active service. In 1904 he was promoted to major.

When WWI broke out in 1914, he was a colonel, and commanded the 4th infantry regiment based in Antwerp. In Nov 1914 he was appointed as commander of the third brigade group.

He commanded on the frontline, which was unusual in WWI, since most leaders stayed in the rear.

He and his entire units were so distinguished in those battles that the king awarded both to him and to the regiment the Leopold order.

In one of the trenches he was terribly wounded by shrapnel which exploded near him, a splinter of which penetrated his back near his spine. He was so eager to serve that 2 months after this he returned to active service.

This led to his being appointed to general and commander of the Belgian first army.

He helped the allied attack breaking through the forest of Houthulst, which until those days was considered impassible.

When Louis died, the cortege was followed by King Albert, his son Leopold, and all the ministers of the country as well as the elites of the country.

The final speech at his grave was by Count de Brockeville, the minister of war who said “his service to the fatherland, and his high abilities will survive for all eternity.”