The Long Range Desert Group

Commentary by Dr. Gerhard Falk


German Jews


In March of 1942, the British army recruited a small force of twenty to thirty-eight German Jews living in Israel to serve as a special intelligence unit to perform commando and sabotage operations behind enemy lines in North Africa. The enemy was the German army commanded by General Rommel, who led the so-called “Afrika Korps.”

The idea to do this had come from Herbert Cecil Buck, an officer in the Scots Guards. Buck spoke German and knew that German Jews were living in British occupied Israel. A number of those so recruited had already had experience as commandos in the British armed forces. Others had served in the Hagana, Irgun  or Palmach, all three Israeli units. Even former members of the French foreign legion who had come from Germany were recruited.

These men were trained near the Suez canal, then in British hands. They learned desert navigation, hand-to-hand combat, handling of German weapons and explosives. They carried fake German identities, learned German marching songs, and were supplied with German pay books, cigarettes, chocolates, and fake love letters from German “Fräuleins” at home.

All this was carefully planned and seemed to point to success. To enhance the preparations, the British conscripted two German prisoners of war from a detention camp to train the Jewish platoon. Their names were Walter Essner and Herbert Brueckner. They had been captured by the British and were to be used as “double agents.”

Once the unit had captured some German vehicles, they set up roadblocks in German areas of north Africa and sabotaged a German airfield. These airfields were used by the Germans to attack Malta, a British base in the Mediterranean. The airfields were located in the Italian colony of Libya. These methods seem to have succeeded until Brueckner, who was embedded in the Jewish unit,  escaped from the British-German-Jews and betrayed them to nearby Nazi troops. As a result, nearly all of the Jews were captured and killed. Only a few survived, among them Maurice Tiefenbrunner, who was the only witness to these events capable of recording them after the war. In September of 1942, the unit was disbanded by the British and the few survivors assigned to another fighting unit. 

Much later, in 1999, Maurice Tiefenbrunner recorded his experiences in this connection and produced a booklet called “The Long Journey Home.”

This shows that Tiefenbrunner was captured by the Italian allies of Germany. He was later transferred to a German P.O.W. camp, which he survived to help in making the film Tobruk, which is based on the experiences of the “Long Range Desert Group,” as they were finally called. The actors were Rock Hudson and George Peppard.

The lesson. We Jews are no slouches. We can fight and defend ourselves, even if Obama wants to see the end of Israel.

Shalom u’vracha.

Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of numerous publications, including Assassination, Anarchy, & Terrorism (2012).

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