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Jews and the MilitaryA History$
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Derek J. Penslar

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691138879

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691138879.001.0001

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The Jewish Soldier of World War I: From Participant to Victim

The Jewish Soldier of World War I: From Participant to Victim

(p.166) Chapter Five The Jewish Soldier of World War I: From Participant to Victim
Jews and the Military

Derek J. Penslar

Princeton University Press

This chapter looks at the war experience of Jews in World War I and the toll the war inflicted on hundreds of thousands of Jews who fought as soldiers on all the war's fronts. Jewish sensibilities about the war shared much in common with those of non-Jews of a similar class and educational background. However, the war could be more meaningful for Jews than for most combatants, partly because of the ongoing sense of need to prove one's masculine and civic virtue in the face of antisemitic attacks, and partly because the Triple Alliance was arrayed against Russia—seen by most Ashkenazic Jews as their greatest oppressor in modern times. A specifically Jewish subculture that valorized the war was most prominent in Germany, where Jews did not allow themselves to grieve publicly over wounded Jewish soldiers and veterans, but rather commemorated only the Jewish dead, those who had made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation.

Keywords:   World War I, Jewish soldiers, masculinity, civic virtue, Ashkenazic Jews, antisemitic attacks, Triple Alliance

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