Cabinet okays memorial for 1.5m. Jewish WWII veterans

By
July 17, 2011 17:40

Jewish soldiers who fought with Allied forces to be honored with Latrun memorial; "It's due to their sacrifice that we're here," Netanyahu says.

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British soldiers advance on German position (1942)

British soldiers WWII 521. (photo credit:Courtesy of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holoc)

A NIS 32 million memorial to the 1.5 million Jews who fought with the Allied forces in World War II will be established near the Armored Corp’s museum in Latrun, the cabinet decided on Sunday.

According to the decision, half of the funds will come from the government, and the other half form private donors.

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The memorial is to be completed by the end of 2014. Minister Yossi Peled will chair a ministerial team – which will also include Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver – that will oversee the implementation of the project.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at Sunday’s meeting that he ascribed great importance to the proposed memorial and to another site in Netanya being built to commemorate the Red Army’s victory over the Nazis.

“Our people were in danger of annihilation. They were ready to sacrifice and indeed sacrificed much. We will commemorate and remember these people. It is due to their sacrifice that we are here,” Netanyahu said.

According to the website of the future museum, about 1.5 million Jews fought with the Allied Forces in all branches of the military, in all theaters of battle, and on all levels of command.

In addition, another 93,000 fought in various underground organizations.

About 250,000 Jews fell in battle.

The number of Jews fighting in World War II ranged from 550,000 Jews in the US Army, 500,000 in the Red Army, 62,000 British Jews, 12,898 Greek Jews, 3,854 Australian Jews and 40 Indian Jews.

40,000 Jewish volunteers from pre-state Palestine – out of a total Jewish population estimated at 450,000 – volunteered to fight.

Ariel Sharon’s government first decided to establish a committee to push forward with a plan to establish the memorial in May 2002. After no real progress on the project was made, Ehud Olmert’s government, in January 2007, set up a steering committee to push it forward.

This monument will be in addition to another one being built in Netanya to commemorate the Red Army’s victory over Germany in World War II.

Netanyahu announced plans to build that memorial during a meeting in Moscow in February 2010 with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

During that meeting, Netanyahu said the gesture was in honor of the 65th anniversary of the victory over the Third Reich. His announcement was made amid a growing concern in Russia that its role and enormous sacrifice in the victory over Nazism have been underplayed.

Approximately 25 million Soviets were killed during WWII, including 11 million Red Army soldiers, of which an estimated 200,000 were Jews.

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