Rudolf Friedlander – an unsung Jewish hero

During the Second World War many German Jews fought for the allied powers. There are many unsung heroes whose valour went unnoticed all these years. Now, these stories of bravery of soldiers are surfacing. One such hero was Rudolf Friedlander, who escaped from Germany in 1933. He arrived in Britain three years after leaving Germany. He took up British citizenship and joined the army to fight against the Axis powers.

Rudolf Friedlander joined the Royal Ordinance Corps but was soon seconded as a Commando on special duty with the elite SAS unit. He was inspired to fight against the Nazi tyranny because of the injustice done to his family, who had to leave Germany, and also those Jews who were left behind to face the wrath of evil Nazis.

He fought on the enemy lines in North Africa and Italy. He was captured in Italy but he managed to escape after five months as a prisoner of war. He returned to Britain and resumed his job as a Commando. Rudolf is often remembered for “the most astonishing courage” that he exhibited during his services in the British army.

During his final assignment he wrote to his father saying, “I am happy to be able to fight for my principles and for Britain, the nation which now champions these principles and has become a second home to me.” “If I survive, there will be only one ambition left: to be able to continue the fight for freedom and peace as a British citizen”

Rudolf Friedlander who was a sergeant at the time of his death was known as Robert Lodge by his peers. He was given this pseudonym to protect his Jewish identity. His peers remember him as a man of high beliefs, someone who wanted to devote his life to fight against the Nazis, The reports.

Special Ops Heros, a book by Lord Ascroft featuring stories of war heroes mentions the story of Rudolf Friedlander.  He has been portrayed as an exceptional character with gallantry. The book talks about how he parachuted in north France to support the American troops and about his life’s last combat. The book describes how, “in the face of intense… fire, he stood up and emptied a Bren magazine into the enemy at a range of about 30 yards. This allowed the rest of the detachment to escape to temporary safety”. Later in the day he repeated his heroics and allowed his troops to escape the heavy firing by Germans. However, during the combat he got separated and was murdered by the Germans. The book describes the extraordinary valour shown by Rudolf during his last mission in France.

Rudolf’s gravestone in France has an excerpt from his last letter to this father and it reads – “Our sacrifices will not be futile if the survivors have learned the lessons of this disastrous war.”

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE