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Were there Jewish generals in the Allied forces?

10/23/2012 • Ask Mr. History

Dear Mr. History,

I was wondering, since the Second World War meant a horrible time for European Jews, were any generals in the Allied forces Jewish? And I was wondering if there were any Jewish commanders in the First World War.

Thank you in advance,


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Dear Phil,

In spite of the promotion obstacles, some Jews rose to prominence during World War I, including 12 French generals and four major generals, 12 brigadier generals and five admirals in the Italian armed forces.  Most distinguished of all though, was Melbourne-born Lt. Gen. John Monash, Gallipoli veteran and commander of 1st Australian Corps in 1918.

During World War II, Canadian-born Brigadier Ernest Frank Benjamin commanded the Jewish Infantry Brigade. Major General Maurice Rose, one of Lt. Gen. George Patton’s fightingest division commanders, was born Jewish but as a result of marriage had converted to Christianity during World War I, so maybe he doesn’t count. Another, Brigadier General Julius Ochs Adler, commanded the 77th Infantry Division in Hawaii from 1941 to 1944. Rear Admiral Ben Moreel established the Construction Battalions (Seabees) and went on to be commander, Amphibious Force Pacific.

In spite of Josef Stalin’s on-and-off anti-Semitism and the tendency of Russians to regard its Jews as a second nationality, more than 100 Jews rose to general rank in all branches. Many were in the technical and engineering, and medical services, but among the fighters were General Iakob Kreiser, Lt. Gen. Israel Beskin and Maj. Gen. Matvey Weinrub, who distinguished themselves at Stalingrad, and Lt. Gen. David Dragunsky, who was awarded two Gold Stars of a Hero of the Soviet Union.



Jon Guttman
Research Director
World History Group
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