(JTA) — A French Jewish group is helping organize a special commemoration for 149 Jews who died during the U.S. invasion of Normandy 70 years ago.
The commemoration is planned for June 8 — two days after the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the first landing by American troops in France — and will feature a collective Kaddish prayer for 149 Jewish soldiers who died there, the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities said in a statement published Tuesday on its website.
“What would have become of us had the Allied forces not landed on June 6, 1944?” CRIF wrote in the statement. “We are organizing a day that will honor the memory of our brothers who fell in battle.”
Recent research by the U.S. National D-Day Memorial Foundation recorded 2,499 American D-Day fatalities and 1,914 from the other Allied nations. The invasion went on for weeks, exacting heavy casualties on all sides.
Today, 27 war cemeteries hold the remains of over 110,000 who died at Normandy: 77,866 soldiers who fought for Nazi Germany and 9,386 Americans along with 17,769 British, 5,002 Canadian and 650 Poles.
The Kaddish ceremony is planned for the American cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer. Participants of the memorial day advertised by CRIF will receive kosher meals, CRIF wrote.
The CRIF statement included a picture of the Star of David-shaped military headstone of the grave of Technical Sergeant Dave Kramer from Wisconsin, who died on D-Day at the age of 22 when German anti-aircraft guns brought down his plane at Bois de Limors, killing the paratroopers and crew instantly.
The Battle of Normandy was one of the largest amphibious landings in human history. As German counterattacks were thwarted, the Allies poured men and materiel into France through Normandy and later through additional beach heads. With the Red Army advancing from the east, Hitler’s armies were shoved back into Germany until their defeat almost a full year later.