In the Austro-Hungarian Army there were around , Jews.
Can we really trust them to be patriots? There had been the Franco-Prussian war of In the American Civil War, Jews fought for both sides, as they did early in the 19th century in the various Napoleonic Wars. But nothing approaching this scale. World War I is absolutely a turning point.
By the second decade of the 20th century, modern anti-Semitism, which had emerged in the late 19 th century, seemed, for the most part, to have petered out as a political movement. But World War I gave it new life. The German experience in the First World War — its defeat, its humiliation by the Allies, and the scapegoating of Jews for the economic, social and political turmoil that followed — set in motion the events leading to Holocaust. Similarly, Zionism also is a late 19th century movement that as of seems to have run into a brick wall.
The Ottomans are implacably opposed to Zionism, basically preventing Zionists from immigrating, at least from purchasing land.
Even though the war itself is initially damaging to Zionism and to the Yishuv [early Jewish settlers of Palestine] , the alliance and the Balfour Declaration that comes from it enable the movement to develop. This is something that could not have been anticipated in This is quite astonishing.
The German Military and the Holocaust | The Holocaust Encyclopedia
The war was an absolute catastrophe for the Jews of Eastern Europe. The total death toll for Jewish civilians in Eastern Europe between and was more than ,, and I have seen estimates that as many , Jews who lived in the Russian Pale of Settlement or Austrian Galicia were uprooted. Ansky, the famous Russian-Jewish writer who toured through Galicia during the war, wrote a book after the war called Churban Galicia.
People often recall that in there were major pogroms in Eastern Europe after the assassination of Czar Alexander II. And then of course, the Holocaust. And it is not remembered to the same extent. On the Eastern Front, one moment the Russians are invading, then the Germans or the Austro-Hungarians are successfully counter-attacking.
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And it goes back and forth. This is critical because the Eastern Front was basically located right smack in the heartland of East European Jewry. You have millions of Jews living in these areas who are immediately and direly affected by the war. Whole communities were destroyed and never reconstituted. As the Russian soldiers attacked — or retreated, for that matter — they created tremendous refugee crises.
They often would expel Jews.
The German Military and the Holocaust
There was this fear that the Jews were not loyal. Or Jewish populations would attempt to escape to the west because they heard about all the brutality — both deportations and massacres. My paternal grandmother, who died earlier this year at the age of , was from Eastern Galicia and remembered having to leave her home with her mother and her grandparents and take shelter in refugee camps, as did thousands of Jews.
They were running away from the Russians. And during these civil wars, tens of thousands of Jews are killed in pogroms, between and One of the canards that emerges in the aftermath of World War I that contributes to the surge of anti-Semitism is the idea of the Jew as Bolshevik. Jews were over-represented among the Bolshevik leadership. And there were other communist revolutions that occurred in Central Europe in the wake of World War I.
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In Hungary, for example, Bela Kun, who was the leader of the revolution, was Jewish. Ironically, these Bolsheviks had renounced their Jewishness. But it certainly was not the case that most Jews were sympathetic to Bolsheviks before the revolution. They would have had no reason to be, given the fact that traditional Judaism was still strong there. Also, Jews had long been heavily mercantile people. The impacts were mixed. With similar comprehensiveness, Penslar enriches our understanding of how in premodern times Jews were ready and able to take up arms to defend their own communities and even defended the lands within which they lived.
Penslar argues alternatively that many of these stalwart fighters learned their military arts abroad in Europe during the First World War and the Bolshevik Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide.
LOG IN. The French counterattacked in the summer, and by September the jig was up. When news of the armistice broke in November, Joseph Levy, an orthodox Frankfurt cantor who led services in full military uniform, was like most Germans deeply shocked.
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A few years later, the idea of Jewish betrayal during and after the war paved the way for a political party that saw Jews as not merely traitors, but a poisonous, subhuman riff-raff. Like this article? Click here for access to comments. Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge.
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