“Jewish resistance during the Holocaust is an important story and one, I believe, that has not been accurately told.”

- Richard Rhodes, Pulitzer Prize winning author and member of Butterflies in the Storm advisory board

 

ALGERIA, November 1942

The story of the Jewish Algerian resistance movement has been largely neglected by history and was an incredible triumph for a small group of largely non-combatant young Jewish men and women. The success of the resistance was instrumental in saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of Jews in North Africa, who were targeted as the next victims of Hitler’s “Final Solution”. Jewish Algerian resistance changed the course of the war and had a major impact on its final outcome, for both the Allies and the Third Reich.

November 8th, 1942 was the fateful day that an overwhelmingly Jewish force, led by José Aboulker, Bernard Karsenty and Roger Carcassonne, staged a coup in the capital of Algiers. This coup had been planned in conjunction with the Allies to help launch “Operation Torch”, the Allied invasion of North Africa. Surprise was the single most crucial condition of success. Surprise for the pro-Nazi French leaders, the Vichy generals, and the leaders of the pro-Nazi militias arrested in their beds as well as the chief of police incarcerated in his own jail.  Incredibly, the resistors were able to neutralize a whole battalion in order to allow the Allies to invade Algiers and demand a cease fire from the French who grossly overestimated their numbers. For two years, these young men risked their lives, because some collaborators, caught before the invasion, were executed on the spot. “Operation Torch” was an extraordinary success whose tremendous importance was commented on by Eisenhower and Nazi officers alike.