Jewish Parachutists of Mandate Palestine
Jewish Parachutists of Mandate Palestine were a group of 250 Jewish men and women in Mandate Palestine who volunteered to join the British army and parachute into German-occupied Europe between 1943 and 1945. Their mission was to organize resistance to the Germans and aid in the rescue of Allied personnel.
Of the 250 original volunteers, 110 underwent training. Thirty-two eventually parachuted into Europe and five infiltrated the target countries by other routes. Most of those selected for training were emigres from Europe, with intimate knowledge of the countries to which they would be sent. Three of the parachutists infiltrated Hungary, five participated in the Slovak National Uprising in October 1944, and six operated in northern Italy. Ten parachutists served with British liaison missions to the Yugoslav partisans. Nine parachutists operated in Romania. Two others entered Bulgaria, and one each operated in France and Austria.
The Germans captured twelve and executed seven of the 37 parachutists sent into occupied Europe. Three of those executed were captured in Slovakia. Two were captured in Hungary and one in northern Italy. After seven missions the parachutist who entered France was captured and killed.
Hannah Szenes, one of the best-known of the parachutists, was seized in German-occupied Hungary and executed in Budapest on November 7, 1944, at the age of 23. Szenes was a talented poet and her songs are still sung in Israel.
After the war, remains of three of the seven parachutists killed in the war, including Szenes, were interred on the National Military and Police cemetery in Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem. Memorials for the other four are also at Mount Herzl Cemetery.
Mount Herzl burials
- Sergeant Haviva Reik, Woman's Auxiliary Air Force H.Q. and SOE. Died 20 November 1944, age 30. AKA Ada Robinson and Martha Marinovic.
- Sergeant Stephan Rafael Reisz, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 159 G.H.Q. (Middle East) and SOE. Died 20 November 1944, age 30. AKA S. Rice.
- Aircraftwoman 2nd Class Hannah Szenes, Woman Auxiliary Air Force and SOE. Died 16 May 1944, age 23.
- "JERUSALEM MOUNT HERTZEL CEMETERY". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. 2013. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- "Casualty Details : REIK, CHAVIVA". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. 2013. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- "Casualty Details : REISZ, STEPHAN RAFAEL". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. 2013. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- "Casualty Details : SZENES, HANNAH (Anna/Chana)". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. 2013. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- Jewish Parachutists of Mandate Palestine in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site
- Combat and Resistance: Jewish Soldiers in the Allied Armies on the Yad Vashem website
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum - Jewish Parachutists from Palestine