Palestinian POWs in German Captivity
Over 1,500 Jewish volunteers from Palestine were captured as POWs, the majority while fighting with the British forces in Greece and Crete. The British surrendered prematurely to German paratroopers whose numbers were far fewer than their own. An additional 169 Jewish Palestinians are recorded as missing and twelve were killed in captivity. In general the Jewish POWs received the same treatment as the British, whose officers treated them in similar fashion to that meted out to non-Jewish POWs. The British demanded that the Germans handle the British and Palestinian prisoners equally. They were not ordered to wear a Star of David. The Germans were particularly interested in Palestinians who had emigrated from Germany and Austria. Most of the British and nearly all of Palestinians were transferred to POW camps in Germany, where they were interned throughout the war. Conditions in the trains and the camps en route to Germany were harsh. In some instances the Jews were segregated. Some 400 Palestinian Arabs serving in the British forces were also captured and sent to camps in Germany. In the German labor camps the Jewish POWs came across Jewish forced laborers and even met with inmates from Auschwitz. In some instances they were able to pass to them part of their rations. Over 150 prisoners (ten percent of all POWs) escaped and many other attempted and failed. Greek Jews were reluctant to help the escapees. However, Greeks assisted considerably. Some Jews joined the Greek partisans. At the end of the war, the British regrouped some 900 liberated Jewish POWs in Newcastle. From there, most of them sailed home to the Middle East.