Article from CHICAGO TRIBUNE MAGAZINE, April 5, 1998

"We came as an angel"
by Rick Kogan

So many great stories are hidden under history's dust, and one of them comes to vivid life in a new documentary called "IN OUR OWN HANDS: The Hidden Story of the Jewish Brigade in World War II."

This project started to take shape more than three years ago, when retired Helene Curtis executive Chuck Cooper met Chuck Olin.

Cooper's interest in the Jewish Brigade had been planted years earlier by a cousin who had been a member of the unit. Olin has long been one of the city's best and brightest documentary filmmakers.

They, along with producer Matthew Palm (who shares writing credit with Olin) and cinematographer Steve Rosofsky, have created a captivating and important document, a story told through rare archival footage and the remembrances - some shocking, some sad, but almost all of them exciting - of now-aged brigade veterans.

The Jewish Brigade was a group of volunteers whose first fight was with the British government to become an official unit of that country's army. That didn't happen until 1944, and the brigade was dispatched to fight in the final Allied offensive in Italy in April 1945.

The story doesn not end there. In fact, its most dramatic moments occurred after the war, as members tracked down and executed former Gestapo and SS members; found Jewish survivors of concentration camps and transported them safely to Palestine; and stole the weapons and ammunition that would eventually be used in the 1948 war that established the state of Israel.

The 85-minute film, which has generated much talk on the film festival circuit, can be seen at 4 and 6 p.m. May 3rd at the Film Center of the School of the Art Institute.

You should enjoy it, for it is accurately described by Olin as "a subtle blend of 'Schindler's List' and 'The Dirty Dozen.'"

It's got all the necessary elements of great drama, but its potency - the reason that most viewers will find it all but unforgettable - comes primarily from spoken words, such as these from brigade veteran Hanoch Bartov: "We came as an angel, I would say, to the Jewish people. Soldiers are supposed to fight, to kill or be killed. What we did as soldiers - we found dead people, and helped them get back to life."

reprinted from The CHICAGO TRIBUNE, The Chicago Tribune Magazine, April 5, 1998



Article from the Toronto Jewish Film Festival Web Site, 1998

One of the most inspirational films you will ever see, In Our Own Hands reveals the amazing true life exploits of The Jewish Brigade, some 5,500 Palestinian Jews who prevailed upon Winston Churchill to let them fight the Nazis in their own Jewish unit during the war. Afterwards, they defied their British commanders by doing their utmost to help the Jewish refugees who survived Hitler and secretly ferried them to Palestine. With their feats of daring, necessary ruthlessness and heroic endeavours, these modern day Maccabees truly defined what it meant to be courageous. In Our Own Hands is their long overdue recognition. It will make you stand up and cheer!
Chuck Olin will be in attendance.
Johanan Peltz, a member of The Jewish Brigade, will be in attendance.
The Consul General of Israel, Jehudi Kinar, will make opening remarks.

reprinted from The Toronto Jewish Film Festival Web Site, 1998

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