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A member of the Frankfurt Jewish GI Council, wearing a tallit over his uniform, drives a tractor in a hchshara in Namur, Belgium.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 67396

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    A member of the Frankfurt Jewish GI Council, wearing a tallit over his uniform, drives a tractor in a hchshara in Namur, Belgium.
    A member of the Frankfurt Jewish GI Council, wearing a tallit over his uniform, drives a tractor in a hchshara in Namur, Belgium.

    Overview

    Caption
    A member of the Frankfurt Jewish GI Council, wearing a tallit over his uniform, drives a tractor in a hchshara in Namur, Belgium.
    Photographer
    David Marcus
    Date
    April 1947
    Locale
    Namur, Belgium
    Variant Locale
    Namen
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of David and Tamara Marcus

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: David and Tamara Marcus

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Biography
    David Marcus was the son of Chaim and Jennie Marcus, both born in Poland. He was born on March 16, 1927, in Clifton, NJ, and passed away on June 17, 2011. David graduated from the Bronx High School of Science and finished one year of college before being inducted into the U.S. Army. After completing his infantry training, he was sent to Europe in early 1946 where he joined the replacement depot in Namur, Belgium. There he was selected by Chaplain Joseph Miller to serve as his typist and driver, and to assist with his chief priority -- finding ways to help Jewish DPs (displaced persons), most of them survivors of Hitler's concentration camps. When Chaplain Miller was posted in Frankfurt Germany, Marcus accompanied him. In short order they established the Frankfurt G.I. Council -- made up of Jewish soldiers, both male and female, including three Palestinian Jews serving in the U.S. Army. Several army civilian staff members also participated, including employees of the Civil Censorship Division who were themselves refugees from Nazi Germany. The Council met weekly at the Frankfurt Jewish Welfare Board. Its staff paid weekly visits to Jewish DP camps in the Frankfurt area and regularly organized field trips and provided treats for the children to raise their morale. Members of the Council also helped displaced persons find relatives in the United States and wrote letters on their behalf to seek resources and reunite families. To highlight its activities, the Council published a newsletter, "The Liberator." David Marcus served as production manager and photographer.

    Due to restrictive regulations and red tape, the G.I. Council at times had to bend the rules to accomplish its aims. For example, one of the Council's programs involved distributing much-needed articles of clothing to the refugees. These were collected by the mother of one of its members from congregants of her synagogue in New York. Her rabbi's wife would then ship the clothing to Marcus under the pretense that he was her brother. This went on for some time until the army discovered the ruse. Marcus was informed in no uncertain terms that he was making improper use of the military postal system and faced court martial if he persisted. On another occasion, Marcus accompanied a former member of the Jewish Brigade, a Palestinian Jew, on a daring operation that ostensibly involved transporting the contents of a library from Antwerp to Frankfurt in a U.S. army truck. The mission was so sensitive that even Marcus was unaware of its true purpose. He finally learned sixteen years later during a visit to Israel that the boxes contained, not books, but between one third and one half of the Brigade's entire gold supply in Europe - used to fund operations and pay bribes when necessary to facilitate the relocation of displaced persons.

    The G.I. Council had many informal ties to Brichah (Hebrew for "flight"), the Jewish underground. Chaplain Miller and his wife accompanied a train of Polish Jews fleeing to the West after the Kielce pogrom, and David Marcus helped load children into buses to take them to France where they would board the Exodus, the storied ship that transported many Jewish survivors from Europe to a new home in Palestine.

    Marcus was honorably discharged from the army in January 1947 but remained in Germany for an additional eight months to continue his work with the Council. Upon returning to the United States in August 1947 he resumed his studies, earning a bachelor's degree from the City College of New York and a master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He worked as a mechanical engineer for the Department of Defense and later as a safety engineer for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In 1950, he married a young woman from Philadelphia named Tamara who had come with her family to the United States at the age of nine from pre-Israel Palestine. Together they had three sons.
    Record last modified:
    2014-01-29 00:00:00
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