The Jews who fought for Hitler
uk canada goose outlet In September 1941, a medical officer performed a deed so heroic he was awarded an Iron Cross by the German high command. With little regard for his own safety, and in the face of heavy Soviet canada goose store shelling, Major Leo Skurnik, a district doctor who had once fostered ambitions of becoming a concert pianist, organised the evacuation of a field hospital on canada goose coats on sale the Finnish Russian border, saving the lives of more than 600 men, including members of the SS. uk canada goose outlet
canada goose Skurnik was far from the only soldier to be awarded the Iron Cross during the Second World War. More than four million people received the decoration. But there was one fact about him that makes the recommendation remarkable: he was Jewish. And Skurnik was not the only Jew fighting on the side of the Germans. More than 300 found themselves in league with the Nazis when Finland, who had a mutual enemy in canada goose coats the Soviet Union, joined the war in June 1941. canada goose
canada goose coats The alliance between Hitler and the race he vowed to annihilate the only instance of Jews fighting for Germany allies is one of the most extraordinary aspects of the Second World War, and yet hardly Canada Goose online anyone, including many Finns, know anything about it. canada goose coats
canada goose coats on sale lived here for 25 years before I heard about it, and I Jewish, says John Simon, a New Yorker who moved to Helsinki in 1982. not a story that told very much. canada goose coats on sale
Canada Goose Online The reasons why it rarely told go right to the heart of what it means to be Jewish and that race quest to be accepted by a long list of unenthusiastic host nations. The Jewish veterans a handful of whom are still alive today insist they not ashamed of what they did. But spend an evening in their company and talk to other members of the community who have examined the events in detail, and you cheap Canada Goose soon realise the a battlefield Sophie Choice, has left deep psychological scars. Canada Goose Online
Aron Livson first taste of military action came in 1939. A 23 year old son of a milliner from the city of Vyborg, he was drafted into the army when the Soviet canada goose clearance sale Union invaded Finland. In common with many Jews, he was determined to do his duty to the best of his ability, laying down his life for his country if necessary.
Almost without Canada Goose Outlet exception, the Jews of Finland descended from Russian soldiers who had been posted to the region during their military service. (Under Russian rule, Jews had been forced into the army at the age of 10 and made to serve for up to 25 years.) They were viewed with some suspicion by the rest of Finland, which itself had been ruled by Russia until its independence in 1917, and the war that broke out in 1939, known in Finland as the Winter War, was regarded by the small Jewish population as a chance to prove they were loyal Finnish citizens.
canada goose uk black friday Livson fought in the Karelian Isthmus and, although the army was eventually forced to retreat by the far canadian goose jacket larger Russian force, he fought so valiantly, demonstrating such great skill and initiative, that he was promoted to sergeant. canada goose uk black friday
canada goose clearance For a while, an uneasy peace reigned between Finland and the Soviet Union, but, when Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa, his surprise invasion of the communist state, Canada Goose sale Finland saw an opportunity to regain the territory it had lost in the Winter War and joined forces with Germany. canada goose clearance
buy canada goose jacket cheap Like all Jews, Livson had heard Hitler venomous canada goose tirades against his people. He knew something about Kristallnacht, the attacks against German Jewish homes, businesses, schools and synagogues in November 1938. But, when the orders arrived to rejoin the fight against Russia, he didn for one minute consider disobeying. buy canada goose jacket cheap
Livson is 97 now and canada goose deals a frailer version of the tough soldier he once was, but his voice remains loud and clear, his handshake firm and his opinions unwavering.
had to do my duty, like everyone, he says. weren Jews fighting in a Finnish army we were Finnish people, Finnish soldiers, fighting for our country. We have met in the cafeteria in the basement of Helsinki synagogue, alongside Livson wife and other members of the Finnish Jewish Veterans Society. The atmosphere is friendly, jovial even, in the way conversations among veterans sometimes are, but there is no mistaking Livson serious intent. When he making an important point, he bangs a walking stick on the floor in unison with each word for emphasis.
canada goose uk outlet As well as doing their duty as soldiers and proving their loyalty to their country, the veterans insist they were happy to fight for another reason: as far as they were concerned Finland and Germany were fighting separate wars, they say; one, a war of self defence and one a war of conquest. had nothing to do with the Germans, says Livson. were no Germans where I was serving. They were 200km north of my regiment. canada goose uk outlet
cheap Canada Goose But not every Jew was hotcanadagoose so lucky. On the border with Russia, in the region of Karelia, Finnish and German troops fought side by side and Jews had to contend buy canada goose jacket with two enemies: one in front of them and one within their ranks. cheap Canada Goose
canada goose black friday sale They lived in permanent fear of their identity being revealed, but, incredibly, on the occasions that it was, the German soldiers took the matter no further. In fact, where they found themselves outranked by a Jewish officer, they were forced to salute. canada goose black friday sale
canada goose factory sale The Jewish Blankett brothers, who all fought for buy canada goose jacket cheap Finland canada goose factory sale
There may have been German troops in Canada Goose Parka Finland and the German command and Gestapo in Helsinki, but Finland rejected Hitler demands to introduce anti Jewish laws. When Heinrich Himmler, the architect of the Final Solution, visited Finland in August 1942 and asked the prime minister Jukka Rangell about the Question Rangell replied: do not have a Jewish Question.
have to remember, says John Simon, who has been interviewing veterans about the war for several years, only 20 years beforehand, Finland had gone through an ugly, brutal civil war which had split society in half. Ever since, there had been a concerted effort, led by a few brilliant politicians, to unite the country to get the Reds and the Whites together. Jews were part of this act of bringing everybody together.
were determined to protect every citizen, even former communists. If they had broken ranks, even for the Jews, it would have annihilated that Canada Goose Jackets argument.
One general, Hjalmar Siilasvuo, was positively proud of his soldiers Jewish ancestry. In the memoirs of Salomon Klass, another Jewish soldier who was offered the Iron Cross, Klass, who had lost an eye in the Winter War, tells a story about the general calling him into a meeting and introducing him to German officers present as of my best company commanders Siilasvuo knew full well who I was and what segment of the population I belonged to Klass wrote. The Germans said nothing.
Canada Goose sale Perhaps more uncomfortable are incidents, revealed by the Finnish historian Hannu Rautkallio, of friendships struck up between Jews and ordinary Wehrmacht soldiers. Canada Goose sale
have heard a story about one Jewish soldier who was making his way back to canada goose outlet camp with a German of a similar rank, says Simon. Jew said to the German, we get back to camp, don tell people I Jewish. The German replied, nothing would happen to you you a Finnish soldier. It me who would get into trouble.
Feelings ran particularly high among the injured. A scrapbook that belonged to Chaje Steinbock, a Jewish nurse in the main hospital in Oulu, 370 miles north of Helsinki, contains several heartfelt messages from German patients. my darling, what you are to me I have told you, begins one from a soldier calling himself Rudy. I am to you, I have never asked. I do not want to know it, I do not want to hear it, because to know too much may destroy happiness. I will tell you just one thing: I would give you everything your heart desires. You are the woman I have loved over everything else. Until now, I had never believed that anything like this existed.
canada goose clearance sale Chaje Steinbock, a Jewish nurse, kept a scrapbook containing heartfelt messages from German soldiers (Aleksi Poutanen) canada goose clearance sale
Another woman, Dina Poljakoff, who worked as a nursing assistant, is believed to have made such an impression on her German patients that, like Skurnik and Klass, she was awarded the Iron Cross (the third and final Finnish Jew to have been offered the medal). women were not meant to tend to Aryan men and the Germans knew my mother was Jewish, but despite all this, they liked her, says Aviva Nemes Jalkanen, the daughter of Steinbock.
Germans are even reported to have visited a field synagogue that was erected near the front line. was an unbelievable picture, Rony Smolar, the son of Isak Smolar, the man who founded the synagogue, told a conference in the United States in 2008. soldiers in their uniforms, sat shoulder to shoulder with praying Jewish men. The Jewish worshippers noticed that some of the Germans even showed a certain respect for the Jewish service.
Finnish Jewish soldiers outside a field synagogue a few miles from German troops
Of course, many of the details of the Holocaust were still secret at this point. The Jewish soldiers didn know about the gas chambers and the horrors of Auschwitz, Dachau and Bergen Belsen. But most were in contact with relatives in Poland and other countries in Eastern Europe.
Canada Goose Jackets got letters, says Simo Muir, adjunct professor of Jewish Studies at Helsinki University. knew about the deportations Canada Goose Jackets.