How Hitler's World War II Weapons Helped Israel Win IndependenceHistorians in the News
tags: Israel, military history, Zionism, weapons
When Israel declared its independence as a sovereign state on May 14, 1948 it faced enemies on all fronts. A day later the forces of the Arab League, which included Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Transjordan, mobilized their sizable armies and invaded their smaller neighbor thus beginning the First Arab-Israeli War.
While nearly every one of the 600,000 Israelis now in their new homeland were ready to fight, one problem was that there wasn't really a single fighting force. The new government instead called upon members of the older independence groups, notably the Haganah ("The Defense") to help fend off the invasion. Needed as much as fighters were weapons, and in a strange twist of fate mass amounts of World War II surplus firearms from Nazi Germany were thus sent to help ensure the future of a Jewish state.
Following the Second World War Germany was defeated and more importantly disarmed. Much of the material, which include vast amounts of K98 Mauser rifles, Luger and P38 pistols, MG34 machine guns and other equipment was stockpiled in formerly occupied lands, notably Czechoslovakia.
And here is where the other odd twist of fate happened, Soviet dictator, Joseph Stalin provided the arms. Today it might seem odd that the Soviet Union would supply Israel with the weapons, given the close ties the country now has to the west, but it should be remembered that the Zionists who set up with communes in Palestine prior to World War II based these on the Soviet model.
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