An American Jewish Soldier Who Was Buried among Germans Has Been Finally Given a Proper Resting Place

Tomorrow is another important anniversary, also tied to a military victory: the 80th anniversary of D-Day, when Allied forces made their heroic landing on the beaches of Normandy. David Spector recounts the remarkable and moving story of Nathan Baskind, one of many American Jewish soldiers who lost their lives in that massive and bloody effort—and his recent Jewish burial:

Now, eight decades after his death on June 23, 1944, Lieutenant Nathan Baskind will finally receive a proper burial. Baskind, the son of Lithuanian and Russian immigrants who settled in Pittsburgh and owned a wallpaper business, was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1942 at the age of twenty-six. . . . “He came from a successful family, he could have gotten out of [the war] if he wanted to,” said Shalom Lamm, co-founder of Operation Benjamin, a non-profit that identifies Jewish U.S. war veterans buried under mistaken religious designations at American military cemeteries.

Baskind commanded four M-10 tank destroyers—modified Sherman tanks—in the U.S. army’s 899th tank-destroyer battalion during the bloody D-Day invasion. . . . As U.S. troops engaged in fierce battles with Nazi soldiers, who were ordered by Adolf Hitler to hold the city at all costs, Baskind went behind enemy lines accompanied only by his driver on a reconnaissance mission. They were ambushed.

In 2022, a U.S. genealogist touring the German Marigny cemetery happened to notice that among the names of seventeen German soldiers on a plaque at a burial mound was one name that didn’t seem to belong—Baskind’s.

Read more at David Spector

More about: Jewish cemeteries, Jews in the military, World War II

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7