web analytics
August 28, 2014 / 2 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



A Profile In Jewish Courage For D-Day’s 70th Anniversary

By:
Roy Rogers in 1942 shortly before joining the Royal Armored (tank) Corps.

Roy Rogers in 1942 shortly before joining the Royal Armored (tank) Corps.

In childhood I often played soldier with my friend Gary, not realizing his Vienna-born father was a genuine D-Day hero, a Jewish refugee soldier who stormed onto a Normandy beach in a British army tank.

At the time, Gary’s father, Randolph “Roy” Rogers of blessed memory, was 23 years old and had lost his parents and many relatives to the Nazis. He remembered landing on the beach as a moment of exhilaration.

But Rogers’s path to Normandy was not straightforward. He had fled from Austria to England but, considered an “enemy alien” by the British, was exiled to Australia with 2,000 other Jewish refugees in the anti-Semitic-tinged Dunera affair. Rogers, along with an estimated 500 other “Dunera Boys,” returned to England to fight in the final onslaught against the Nazis and it is his courageous story I remember as we approach the 70th anniversary of D-Day on June 6.

Sadly, Rogers died at age 93 about six months short of this landmark date. But he had already retraced his trek through Normandy with Gary and wrote a memoir of his wartime experience. It shows how utterly alone we Jews were during those years, with no state of our own and facing extermination as most nations closed their doors to us.

* * * * *

Roy Rogers, whose original surname was Rosenthal, was born in 1920. He lived with his parents and younger sister, Marianne, in an apartment in Vienna where he enjoyed a comfortable childhood. But when Hitler ascended to power in neighboring Germany, he saw Austrian anti-Semitism rear its vicious head.

During his teens Rogers worked as an apprentice at an optometry firm with the hope of becoming an optometrist but his plans were dashed when Hitler annexed Austria to the Reich in March 1938. With uniformed Nazis swaggering in the streets, Rogers realized that “for the Jews there was no future here” and that he’d better get out.

Previously he’d joined a youth organization that operated a training farm outside Vienna for young Jews intending to settle in Palestine. There he learned how to farm while still living part of the time in his parents’ apartment.

He was in Vienna on November 9, 1938, when Kristallnacht erupted. He heard shouts outside the apartment, then a sharp rap on the door. His mother opened it. Two Gestapo officers stood outside. Knowing better than to resist them, she invited them in. They looked around the apartment and asked for her husband. He had gone on an errand, she said, and she didn’t know his whereabouts.

Their eyes rested on the younger Rogers and they asked his age. Instinctively he replied “fifteen” though he was actually seventeen.

“I was lucky that I looked young for my age,” Rogers wrote. “I later found out they arrested all Jewish males sixteen or older and took them to camps.” Sometime later Roy’s father returned home breathless, saying their synagogue had been torched while a mob cheered and police did nothing. He had melted into the crowd for anonymity and in doing so had avoided the Gestapo who had come to his apartment. In this manner Rogers and his father had been spared the Kristallnacht roundup that netted some 30,000 German and Austrian Jewish men.

Rogers redoubled his efforts to flee Austria. He continued his agricultural training but also tapped into the “grapevine,” searching for any means to escape. In his desperation he even combed through American telephone directories, writing blindly to several people who shared his surname of Rosenthal asking if they could somehow help. No one ever responded.

* * * * *

Early in 1939, Rogers got a break. The British government was offering conditional entry visas for young people; thanks to his agricultural training, Roy qualified. A month later, with only a suitcase in hand, he went to Vienna’s central train station and there bid an emotional goodbye to his parents and younger sister. The scene would be etched in his memory for the rest of his life: his father’s somber, almost dazed, face; his mother weeping openly; his sister quietly standing by. He would never see his parents again. His father died shortly afterward of a heart attack and his mother perished in a concentration camp. His sister managed to emigrate to Palestine but it would take 27 years for them reunite.

About the Author: Ed Lion is a former reporter for United Press International now living in the Poconos.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “A Profile In Jewish Courage For D-Day’s 70th Anniversary”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Baby wearing a Hamas head band attends a Hamas "victory" rally in central Gaza City, on August 27, 2014, following the latest cease-fire.
Vast Majority of Gazan Arabs Support Terror Against Israel
Latest Indepth Stories
Eisenstock-082914

But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.

MK Moshe-Feiglin

If this is how we play the game, we will lose. By that I mean we will lose everything.

Reportedly, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have formed a bloc that seeks to counter Islamist influence in the Middle East.

One wonders how the IDF could be expected to so quickly determine the facts.

While there is no formula that will work for everyone, there are some strategies that if followed carefully and consistently can help our children – and us – gain the most from the upcoming school year.

We risk our lives to help those who do what they can to kill to our people .

Twain grasped amazingly well the pulse of the Jewish people.

The entertainment industry appears divided about the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Israelis in Gaza border communities need to get out; who will help them?

The contrast between the mentality of Israel and the mentality of Hamas was never so loudly expressed as when the Arab killers became heroes and the Jewish killers became prisoners.

There is a threat today representing a new category of missionary:They call themselves “Hayovel.”

Just as we would never grant legitimacy to ISIS, we should not grant legitimacy to Hamas.

Is Woodstock still leading the world to destruction?

Wye would be seen to have set the groundwork for the creation of a Palestinian state

More Articles from Ed Lion
Sigmar Guggenheimer

The world wars caused unimaginable anguish for the Jews but God also scripted a great glory for our people.

Bar mitzvah boy Ed Lion, flanked by his parents.

The risks were great, but certain death awaited them if they remained. The gamble paid off, though the family was separated for the next four years of the war.

Beyond the severe discomfort there was also the danger of getting sunk by enemy submarines prowling the seas.

As his bomber lost altitude with the ground rushing up, my father remembered his last thought: “How am I going to get out of this?

Seventy-five years ago on November 10 the Nazis unleashed a wave of terror, destruction and death known as Kristallnacht upon Germany’s Jews, a fearsome presage of the Holocaust. On that day, the childhood of my then-12-year-old father, Kurt Lion, of blessed memory, was abruptly and savagely ended.

Forty years ago this week, Jews the world over watched in agony as Arab terrorists kidnapped and eventually massacred eleven Israeli Olympic athletes. The International Olympic Committee, bowing to Arab pressure, has repeatedly refused these Israelis a proper commemoration. But we as Jews ought to pay them the tribute of remembering their individual lives, deeds, and accomplishments.

Half a century ago in May, Israel hanged Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann for overseeing Germany’s extermination of six million European Jews, fully one-third of the world’s prewar Jewish population. The murder of the six million staggers the mind. Such a vast breadth of our people, each of them with his own individual dreams, loves and aspirations, exterminated.

Judaism holds that nothing happens by chance, that everything is orchestrated by Hashem. And so it was long ago on a Sunday morning, about a month after Pesach when my father ran an errand for his parents.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/a-profile-in-jewish-courage-for-d-days-70th-anniversary/2014/05/28/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: