British Army paratrooper's jacket worn in combat by a German Jewish refugee
Clothing and Dress
- Object Type
Blouses (military jackets) (aat)
- Credit Line
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Daniel Gans and Aviva Gans-Rosenberg
British Airborne paratrooper's Denison jacket with a camouflage pattern worn by 22 year old Manfred Gans, a Jewish refugee from Germany, while serving as a Marine Commando for the British Army from May 1944 to May 1945. The Denison smock was designed with an adjustable tail flap, and worn over standard battle dress to keep gear secured when a paratrooper deployed his parachute. Manfred was recruited for his language skills and served as a member of a Special Forces troop composed of fluent German speaking refugees. Each man in the unit was assigned a British alias: Manfred's was Fred Gray. In January 1933, Adolf Hitler became the chancellor of Germany and implemented anti-Jewish laws. In July 1938, Manfred went to England. On September 3, 1939, Great Britain declared war against Germany, and Manfred was classified as an enemy alien. In spring 1940, Germany invaded Western Europe. Manfred was arrested and sent to an internment camp on the Isle of Man. Manfred enlisted in the British Army, where he spent two years assigned to a labor unit. At the end of 1942, he was recruited for a Special Forces troop. On June 6, 1944, he participated in the invasion of Normandy. It was his mission to go out on every patrol and troop action and infiltrate German positions to convince soldiers to surrender, and to interrogate prisoners and gather intelligence as his unit advanced through France, Belgium, and northern Germany. Manfred learned from an American uncle that his parents had been imprisoned in Theresienstadt labor camp-ghetto in German occupied Czechoslovakia. In early May 1945, he drove across Germany, through enemy lines, to find his parents. He was reunited with them in Theresienstadt on May 11. His parents returned to the Netherlands in July. Manfred was demobilized in August 1945. He married Anita Lamm in 1948. She had fled Germany with her parents in 1938, assisted by Manfred's parents. He joined her in the US in 1950.
Record last modified: 2018-01-11 14:22:34
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn84572
Also in Manfred and Anita Lamm Gans family collection
The collection consists of a military jacket, scrip, correspondence, documents, and photographs relating to the experiences of Manfred Gans in Germany, Great Britain, the British Army, and the United States before, during, and after the Holocaust, his family in Germany, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Palestine, and Theresienstadt ghetto labor camp before, during, and after the Holocaust, and Anita Lamm and her family in Germany and the United States during and after the Holocaust.
The collection relates to the Gans family, originally of Borken, Germany. It includes photographs of pre-war life, including a photograph album depicting a day in the life of the three Gans boys. The majority of the collection consists of correspondence, mainly from Anita Lamm in the United States to Manfred Gans, then a member of the British military. Also includes documentation and correspondence related to the wartime experiences of Moritz and Else Gans, who were deported to Westerbork and Bergen-Belsen, and liberated from Theresienstadt. Includes Moritz’s diary, into which he made short entries throughout his internment experiences, ending when Manfred, as a member of the British military, found his parents in Theresienstadt. Additionally, there is a memoir by Manfred entitled “Live Gave Me a Chance.” The memoir describes his childhood in Borken, his departure for England for school in 1938, his internment on the Isle of Man as an enemy alien, his participation in the British Army as an interpreter and intelligence operative (including participation in the D-Day invasion), his trip to Theresienstadt in an attempt to locate his parents, and his post-war life.