Forget Marvel, Meet the Real Avengers
Some superheroes are fictional, these ones were real.
With The Avengers movie releasing this weekend, one could be excused to believe that these Avengers are the greatest superheroes created by Jews. While these characters were the brainchild of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Joe Simon – the Jewish pioneers behind superhero comic books, they aren’t the greatest group to carry the Avengers name.
Rewind the story about 65 years ago, a few years after Captain America first punched Hitler in the face. A group of Jews, organized after World War II, took on the moniker of The Avengers or the Jewish Avengers, with the sole reason of taking revenge against those responsible.
The dirty fact is that in western Germany alone 13.2 million men and women were identified as being a part of the Nazi apparatus and eligible for arrest. Of those, 3.5 million were charged, 2.5 million released without trial and of the remaining 1 million, most faced fines, confiscation of property which they had stolen or banishment from public office. Of the 13.2 million men and women, only 300 Nazis went to jail, and this was inexcusable to The Avengers and they wanted their revenge.
This group, founded by Abba Kovner, who would go on to become one of the great poets of modern Israel, included a mix of Holocaust survivors and members of the Jewish Brigade, a section of the British army which comprised of Jewish volunteers.
Included in the group were Israel Carmi, Robert Grossman, Dov Goren, Sheike Weinberger, Meir Zorea, Marcel Tubias, Shimon Avidan and others. Their stories have been well documented in several books, including “The Avengers” by Michael Bar-Zohar and Rich Cohen’s “The Avengers”.
The group would travel around Europe wearing British uniforms, identifying Nazis who had rejoined civilian life. As a British soldier they would pretend to arrest them, take them somewhere remote and kill them, usually by strangulation or hanging.
The killings were meant to look like suicides or accidents. Exact numbers and names of those killed are unknown, but estimates are that a few dozen were killed in the first year, and many more the following years. Their plans also went from individual kills to larger operations aimed at mass killings of SS men.
So when you take your kids to see The Avengers this weekend, remember that while those superheroes on the screen are make-believe and fairytales, some superheroes are real-life.