Historian: WWII Battle Averted Mideast Holocaust

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- A famous World War II battle that turned the tide for the allies in North Africa also helped save Jews in the Middle East. A recently released book reveals this little known fact.

Egypt 1942 -- The Battle of El Alamein

British Gen. Bernard Montgomery's Allied forces stopped the Nazi advance in Egypt and North Africa.

While that's the headline in history, historian and author Kelvin Crombie's book, El Alamein, Halting a Possible Holocaust in the Middle East, tells how God used that battle to save the Jewish people.

"Twenty-four soldiers from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India and Britain, halted the combined army coming from Germany and Italy," Crombie told CBN News. "But really it is a story about a much bigger dimension than just a military conflict."

Waiting behind the German troops was a specialized murder squad used by the SS, the Nazi Gestapo -- its secret police.

"One of the groups, the Einsatzkommando Egypt, was sent to North Africa to go in behind the German forces and to begin to annihilate, to kill, to murder, Jewish people who lived in Egypt and Palestine," Crombie explained.

At the same time, certain Arab leaders such as Haj Amin al-Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem, also wanted to get rid of the Jews.

"So it was fulfilling Hitler's desire, which was to destroy all the Jewish people and, at the same time, it would also fulfill the desires of Hajj Amin and other Arab nationalists, which was to destroy the Jewish national home in the land of Israel.

The victory at El Alamein thwarted that plan. Jewish leadership there recognized the significance.

"They just knew deep down what awaited them as Jewish people in Palestine at the time if the German-led army had won," Crombie continued.

They showed their deep appreciation with a special gift to Montgomery.

"The Jewish leadership itself in the Land of Israel…at the conclusion of the Battle of El Alamein, sometime, they presented the British commander, Field Marshall Montgomery, a gift of gratitude that was a Bible and with it were these words: 'To field Marshall Viscount Montgomery, the gallant leader of the victorious British forces by whose hand God has placed salvation in Zion in the days of El Alamein.' So they understood the significance," he said.

Crombie came across the Bible, stored in a cupboard in England, and brought it to Israel, where it's displayed at Christ Church in Jerusalem's Old City.

"For them it was just a Bible," he said. "But having lived here, having interviewed and spoken to so many people, I was very, very aware of the significance, the historical and contemporary significance of that Bible."

Crombie said it's important for Christians to remember history.

"It's another part of the jigsaw puzzle how gentile Christians and gentile nations, imperfect as they were -- not even saying that they were Bible-believing believers interested in the Scriptures -- but somehow [in] God's sovereign purposes, He still used them to bring about the fulfillment of His wonderful purposes," Crombie concluded.

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CBN News
Julie Stahl and John Waage

Julie Stahl and John Waage

CBN News Jerusalem Bureau

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