When I say Unlikely Allies I am not referring to the German.Italian,Japanese pack nor the US,Canada,British,Russian alliance but something more surprising. The Jews who fought along the Germans.
In 1941 Finland was still allied to Nazi Germany. The picture above is that of Major Leo Skurnik a soldier/medical officer
In September 1941, he 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 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 the Finnish-Russian border, saving the lives of more than 600 men, including members of the SS. Now Major Skurnik wasn’t the only soldier rewarded an Iron Cross but what makes his case different he was Jewish.
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 the Soviet Union, joined the war in June 1941.
Despite Germany demanding that Finland introduce anti-Semitic laws like in the rest of Nazi-controlled Europe, the Finns refused, treating their Jewish soldiers with respect. When Heinrich Himmler visited Finland in August 1942, he asked the Finnish Prime Minister, Jukka Rangell, about the “Jewish question.” Jukka’s reply was brief; “We do not have a ‘Jewish Question.’ ” There was even a field synagogue for the Jewish soldiers, with some Germans actually visiting the synagogue and showing respect for the Jews who prayed there, despite the propaganda they had been shown for years.
For the Finnish Jews it was more a case of my enemy’s enemy is my friend. They allied themselves with the Germans to fight a common enemy, the Soviet Union.
It wasn’t only Finnish Jews that served in the Nazi regime, in Germany there also had been Jews who were active in the Wehrmacht.Below is a picture of Werner Goldberg whose image appeared in the Berliner Tageblatt as “The Ideal German Soldier” Werner’s father was Jewish even though he had converted to Christianity so he could marry his Lutheran girlfriend.
Werner had saved his Father twice from the Gestapo.Werner died in 2004.
This picture shows ‘Jewish’ Senior Officers In Hitler’s Army: Erhard Milch, Wilhelm Keitel, Walther von Brauchitsch, Erich Raeder, and Maximilian von Weichs during a Nazi rally in Nuremberg, Germany, 12 Sep 1938. They served in the German military with Adolf Hitler’s knowledge and approval.
Although these men weren’t 1st generation Jewish, according to the Nazi doctrine they were still considered Jewish.
In relation to the Finnish soldiers, some of them are still alive, they all said they had no regrets, I suppose it was their way to survive, deep down inside I reckon they must have felt at least uncomfortable about it.
It is believed that in total 150.000 Jews fought either in the Germany army or with them.
20 of them received the highest German military order the Knight’s cross.