Brothers for Resistance and Rescue
The Underground Zionist Youth Movement in Hungary during World War II
By David Gur
Gefen Publishing House, 2004, 270 pages
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - November 10, 2010
It is good to see that this book was published. There is nothing better in this world than to thank people for what they did. Judaism calls it hakorat hatov, "recognizing the good." David Gurís book identifies the people who were involved in the underground Zionist Youth Movements in Hungary during World War Two, men and women who put their lives in danger to save fellow Jews, heroes who deserve to be recognized.
The vast majority of Jews in Hungary, the birthplace of Theodore Herzl, the founder of political Zionism, were assimilated and opposed to Zionism. Encouraged by the liberal speeches and behaviors of the Hungarian government, these Jews considered themselves Hungarians. They immersed themselves in the Hungarian culture and saw little value in things Jewish. They mocked the idea of a Jewish state. They didnít abandon their misguided views, despite warnings by Herzl, in 1918 when an anti-Semitic regime came to power and when anti-Jewish legislation was enacted, nor in 1938 when harsher anti-Jewish laws were passed paralleling the restrictive laws of Nazi Germany.
Matters changed shortly after 1938 when Jews fled into Hungary from many countries. A Budapest-based Relief and Rescue Committee was formed in 1943 to help the refugees. But this group thought that since Hungary was part of the German Axis Alliance they could protect the Jews in Hungary. But they were wrong.
Fortunately, young men and women in Zionist groups saw the truth. The several hundred members went underground and engaged in illegal heroic activities to rescue Jews. Among many other activities, they rescued their coreligionists from dangerous situations, protected them, secured identification papers for them, and fed them, adults and children, sick and healthy. David Gur, the author of this volume, was one of the courageous leaders.
Gur came to Israel after the war and published many books and articles about the war. This remarkable volume has a history of Hungarian Jewry. It chronicles the underground movement in Hungary during World War Two, including a description of nine activities that helped save some Jews from the 575,000 that the Nazis butchered, 60 percent of the Jewish population. It describes fourteen different Zionist organizations that took part in the Hungarian Jewish underground work. It tells interesting details of three joint operations of these Zionist groups.
But, primarily, Gurís book contains the pictures and short biographies of 420 heroic men and women who took part in Hungary Jewryís finest moment. It relates facts about each of them, including summaries of their lives and their underground activities. There is no doubt that reading many of these biographies will send shivers up readersí spines and make them feel they want to rise and offer a well-deserved salute