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Zionist Parachutists Definition

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Zionist Parachutists - Between 1943 and 1945, the British army Special Operations Executive, in collaboration with the Jewish Agency, sent about 37 specially trained volunteer commandos, mainly Kibbutz and Palmach members into German occupied Europe and Axis satellite states. The Jewish Agency had requested organization of such a force beginning in 1942, but the British only consented to implement the plan in 1943.. The Jewish Agency had envisioned hundreds of air-borne commandos, but the British trained only about 110 and ultimately only about 37 were parachuted into Europe or infiltrated by other means. By the time the British had approved the scheme and implemented it, it was too late to save most of European Jewry, which had been exterminated in the Holocaust. Most of those selected for training had come on Aliya (immigration to Palestine) from the countries they were infiltrating and had intimate knowledge of the area.

Zionist parachutists: Haviva Reik and her comrades in Slovakia 1944
Left to right: Haim Hermesh, Haviva Reik, Rafi Reiss, Abba Berdichev, and Zvi Ben-Yaakov on their way to liaison with Slovak Partisans. Tri Duby air base, near Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, September 1944. Haim Hermesh was the only one of the five to evade capture and survive the war.
Photo - Moreshet Mordechai Anilewicz

Three of the parachutists infiltrated Hungary including the famous Hannah Senesh, who was caught and shot. Five were parachuted into Axis Slovakia to aid the Slovak national uprising in September 1944. These included Haviva Reik (Chaviva Reich) and four others. Four of these were caught and executed including Haviva Reik. Six operated in northern Italy, including Enzo Sereni who was caught and executed. Ten parachutists served with British liaison missions to the Yugoslav partisans. Nine operated in Rumania, two others in Bulgaria, one in France and another in Austria. The French operative was captured on his seventh mission.

In all, the Germans captured 12 and executed 7 of the 37 parachutists sent into occupied Europe.

Following the establishment of the State of Israel, remains of the seven parachutists who lost their lives during the war were interred in the National Military Cemetery on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem.

Synonyms and alternate spellings: SOE Special Operations Executive, Jewish Parachutists

Further Information: Hannah Senesh Haviva Reik Enzo Sereni

Hebrew/Arabic pronunciation and transliteration conventions:

'H - ('het) a guttural sound made deep in the throat. To Western ears it may sound like the "ch" in loch. In Arabic there are several letters that have similar sounds. Examples: 'hanukah, 'hamas, 'haredi. Formerly, this sound was often represented by ch, especially in German transliterations of Hebrew. Thus, 'hanukah is often rendered as Chanuka for example.

ch - (chaf) a sound like "ch" in loch or the Russian Kh as in Khruschev or German Ach, made by putting the tongue against the roof of the mouth. In Hebrew, a chaf can never occur at the beginning of a word. At the beginning of a word, it has a dot in it and is pronounced "Kaf."

u - usually between oo as in spoon and u as in put.

a- sounded like a in arm

ah- used to represent an a sound made by the letter hey at the end of a word. It is the same sound as a. Haganah and Hagana are alternative acceptable transliterations.

'a-notation used for Hebrew and Arabic ayin, a guttural ah sound.

o - close to the French o as in homme.

th - (taf without a dot) - Th was formerly used to transliterate the Hebrew taf sound for taf without a dot. However in modern Hebrew there is no detectable difference in standard pronunciation of taf with or without a dot, and therefore Histadruth and Histadrut, Rehovoth and Rehovot are all acceptable.

q- (quf) - In transliteration of Hebrew and Arabic, it is best to consistently use the letter q for the quf, to avoid confusion with similar sounding words that might be spelled with a kaf, which should be transliterated as K. Thus, Hatiqva is preferable to Hatikva for example.

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This work and individual entries are copyright 2005 by Ami Isseroff and Zionism and Israel Information Center and may not reproduced in any form without permission unless explicitly noted otherwise. Individual entries may be cited with credit to The Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Zionism and Israel

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