Thursday, January 24, 2008

Interned Jews befriended Muslim Brothers in 1948

This account of Albert Oudiz's eight-month internment in 1948 at the Egyptian camp of Huckstep was given in October 2007 in London. Oudiz had been accused of political activities before being expelled from his beloved Egypt. Reproduced from the January 2008 AJE newsletter. (With thanks: Maurice)

"The 1948 war with Israel had given the Egyptian government the pretext to arrest anyone suspected of activities threatening the State. The arrests came out of the blue and had a marked effect on the young man Oudiz (then aged 26), although he was an active Communist at the time, driven by a deep sympathy for the poor and suffering in the world.

"On his arrival in prison he met up with his Communist group, including some hitherto unknown comrades. The group was swiftly depleted by transfer to other camps for security reasons, but a good number remained. There were other Communists in the camp and Zionists awaiting expulsion. Also, Jews from ex-German concentration camps later arrived. The camp was a fascinating mix of nationalities.

"After the defeat of the Arab armies, the Muslim Brotherhood laid siege to the camp with the clear intention of cutting the throats of the interned Jews (by then calling themselves Gama’ah). On seeing the Muslim Brotherhood, the prison guards fled the camp, led by the commanding officer, leaving the Jews defenceless. Always resourceful, the Jews set about collecting floor boards and other materials to protect their hut against attack. Meanwhile, one of their group attempted, successfully, to make contact with the Army using the deserted guard house. Rescue then came quickly. Muslim Brotherhood prisoners were later interned in the camp. After a period of hostility, eventually a friendly rapport developed with Gama’ah. The real enemy became boredom and laziness. The Jewish inmates organised all sorts of activities including sport, gardening, improvised orchestras etc."

2 comments:

Oudiz follower said...

It would be great if we could have a version of Oudiz' book translated into English!

Ilana said...

My father was interned at Huckstep in 1948. His name was Shlomo Castel or Moni Castel. He passed away three years ago. I wonder if anyone knew him?