Veteran Stories:
Israel Isidor Nutzati

Army

  • Israel Nutzati's enlistment photo, taken in Haifa, Palestine, 1944.

    Israel Nutzati
  • Contemporary photograph of Israel Nutzati. Date and location unknown.

    Israel Nutzati
  • Discharge papers issued to Israel Nutzati in 1946.

    Israel Nutzati
  • Cap badge of the Palestine Regiment, circa 1944-45.

    Israel Nutzati
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"I felt very good that I did something although I didn’t have a chance to fight the Germans."

Transcript

I was born in Haifa, Israel on 3 November 1927. I was raised in Haifa. I went to school in Israel and in 1945, 12 March, I was deciding to enlist with the British Army to the Jewish Brigade. The Jewish Brigade was formed two years before to have all the Israelis while joining to the British Army. I was in the [British] 8th Army, because the Jewish Brigade, which was formed with three [infantry] battalions: 1st Battalion, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Battalion. I was in the 3rd Battalion [The Palestine Regiment]. We had on our shoulder the Magen David [Shield of David] and underneath three stripes, red stripes which symbolized the 3rd Battalion. I served in Egypt, had my training there; moved to Italy, Taranto, south of Italy, waited to be transported to the north where the Jewish brigade was fighting the Nazis. Unfortunately, the roads were blocked and the railway was bombed, so they didn’t have any wagons or cars to take us up to the north. Once they had this transportation, we reached the city of Udine, north of Italy. I repeat, Udine, and there again, no transportation to go to Austria. We stayed in Udine for two months and then again, we got the transportation to a city in Austria called Villach. I repeat, Villach. We stayed in Villach another three months and then we moved to Germany, Holland, Belgium, again to Holland, again to Belgium and then France. I was released [from the British Army] the 11 August 1946. I did not fight during this time because, as I said, we have been delayed all the time by short[ages] of transportation. But our duties were to take care of prisoners of war, first in Egypt, Italian prisoners, and then we were transporting from Germany to the north, prisoners to another city in Germany in the north. I think it was Hamburg. Some feelings were good, some feeling were bad. Because when we were stationed in Germany, it was a huge camp. It used to be before a German camp and in the restaurants for the soldiers, I used to see every day ladies dressed very nicely with jewels and pearls and all kind of things that shows these ladies are not simple ladies. So I asked once, what those ladies are doing here. They said, these are the ladies of the rich ex-German officers and military people; and they are coming to take down all the, after the food was left by the soldier on the table, they were grabbing it in to bags to bring it home to have food for themselves. So at least it made me feel good that the [German] officers, they don’t have food to eat. So these ladies was coming to collect the food. We were moving from one place to another in trucks and some youngsters of us [in the Jewish Brigade], they took planks of wood, they kept it behind the truck and when they saw Germans walking on the street, they were putting the plank downstairs and to knock the Germans who were passing by. We didn’t know whether those Germans were dead or were injured only. This I could not accept, I said if we fight soldiers, that will be okay, but to kill innocent people, this I didn’t accept. Also, when we took in wagons German prisoners, on the way, they used to stop and they had to go to do their things in the forest. Some Israelis went down after them and a few of those Germans didn’t come back. That was again something. I think it was brutal to kill people in this way. In the front, it was for me okay, but not in such a way that they did. So those memories are still with me until today. I saw General [Charles] de Gaulle [leader of the Free French Forces] passing by on the victory day, V-E [Victory in Europe] Day and we felt very good that everything is over and that we don’t have to fight anymore. I felt very good that I did something although I didn’t have a chance to fight the Germans. Still, the idea that I joined the army; nobody knew at that time that the war will end at 1945. So it was a good feeling to go and do something.
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