In July 1941, the Soviet Union formed the Anders Army after an attack by Germany. Named after its commander, General Władysław Anders, the Anders Army had 70,000 soldiers, including 5,000 Jews. In January 1942, Menachem Begin was recruited into one of the army's four brigades. Later that year, the army joined the British forces in the Middle East and marched toward the Western Desert to invade Sicily before joining the Allied forces in the battle of Monte Cassino and other battles on the Adriatic coast. The Anders Army provided an opportunity for many Jews not only to fight the Nazis but also to leave the army and assimilate into the local population. The army was also used by Revisionist activists in Israel initially to free Begin from prison and then to bring him to Israel. Seventeen months after he arrived in Palestine, Begin was appointed as commander of Etzel. Britain did not allow the Jewish refugees of the Holocaust to enter Palestine, a move that Begin saw as a reason for intensifying the struggle against the British.
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