Cover Osteuropa 2-4/2014

In Osteuropa 2-4/2014

Service in the Lion’s Den
Jews in the Russian Army in the First World War

Oleg Budnickij

Deutsche Fassung


Starting in 1827, Russia’s Jews were subject to general conscription. In the army, however, they were not welcome. Jews were considered unreliable and only limitedly combat worthy. With the start of the First World War, this prejudice became all the more evident. Numerous Jewish soldiers were executed as suspected saboteurs or spies. Many Jews nonetheless linked associated wartime deployment with hopes for an improvement in their social standing. However, the patriotic enthusiasm that had also embraced Jewish circles at the start of the war soon collapsed again. The officer’s career path and certain decorations continued to be denied to Jews, no matter how courageously they might have fought. This changed only after the October Revolution. During the Civil War, many leading positions in the Red Army were occupied by Jews who had been soldiers in the tsarist army.

(Osteuropa 2-4/2014, pp. 171–184)