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Jews on the fronts of the First World War. On the centenary of the beginning of the war

Installation of French 120-mm guns near Verdun, 1916 year

Installation of French 120-mm guns near Verdun, 1916 year

World War 1914 – 1918 was truly the first such planetary battle, when two opposing coalitions included the majority of the developed nations of the Earth.

Starting in the center of Europe, in Sarajevo, where the shot of the Serbian terrorist Gavrila Préfré served as a signal for its beginning, this war gradually spread to distant Asian, American countries and even Australia. The main role in it was played by two coalitions - the Entente and the Central European Union.

The Entente united Britain with the dominions, France, Russia, Belgium, Italy, the United States of America and a number of other states that played a secondary role. The Central European Union included Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey.

World history has not yet known wars of this magnitude. Millions of armies were involved in it, for the first time massive use was made of automatic weapons, aircraft, armored vehicles and chemical weapons of mass destruction. For the first time, combat operations were conducted on such vast spaces of land, the ocean and in the skies.

Without having their own state, the Jews took, however, an active part on the side of the countries in which they lived, and thus, in fact, often fought against each other. They were part of all types of armed forces, all types of troops, occupying various posts and having various ranks and ranks: from ordinary soldiers and sailors to generals and admirals. If we talk about Europe, then practically only in Germany, Russia and Romania there were no Jewish officers. But even in these countries there were ethnic Jews - Christianity, who had officers and generals.

Russian empire

About 400 thousands of Jews were mobilized into the Russian armed forces, and by 1917 their number had risen to half a million. The “Alef” magazine for 1981 for the year in the article “What Does a Jewish Soldier Feel?” Reports that State Duma member N. M. Friedman stated at the July 19 meeting of 1916 of the year: “Newspapers recorded a significant number of Jewish volunteers at the beginning of the war. Gentlemen, these were volunteers who, by their educational qualifications, were eligible for an officer's rank. They knew that they would not receive this rank, and they still went to war. Jewish youth, driven out of their homeland due to the percentage rate, who studied abroad, returned to Russia when the war began. ” For bravery in battles, over three thousand Jews were awarded with St. George's crosses, among them were the cavaliers of the so-called full bow, who had four St. George's crosses.

In the Jewish Week review, selections were published with the names of Jews awarded with St. George's crosses. Here are excerpts from several such collections: Rafail Baum, Shmul Rosengarten, Issel Lifshits hussars, corporal Haim Prityk, paramedic Haikin were awarded with crosses. Other selection: Michael Gutman, Solomon Glotman, Yankel Zelichenok, Pinkus Aizen, Moses Janowitz, Isaac Sapershtein, Isaac Kanter. That's why Isaac Kanter was awarded - an extract from the official document: “Kanter, Isaac Davidovich, from Mogilny (Minsk Province), was presented to the medal on the St. George ribbon and received George the 4 and 3 degrees. The medal is presented for the delivery of the order of the battery commander under heavy fire. George 4 degree - for successful reconnaissance, which had to cross the German river and, finally, George 3 degree - for having passed through wire barriers under strong enemy fire for three days to attack. ”

There were Jewish officers, baptized, of course. Among the Soviet Jewish generals who participated in the Second World War were six who graduated from the school of warrant officers in 1914-1915 and took part in the battles of the First World War. They are David Veniaminovich Vasilevsky, Genrikh Aleksandrovich Leikin, Yuri Ilich Rabiner, Mikhail Pavlovich Safir, Lev Borisovich Sosedov, Alexey Germanovich Elsnits and Rear Admiral Pavel Semenovich Trainin. There were officers of a higher rank, but only one information was found - about a lieutenant colonel who graduated from the General Staff Academy, Vladimir Solomonovich Lazarevich, who during the Civil War held very high positions in the Red Army up to the front commander.

After the February Revolution, when the Jews in Russia were equalized with the rest of the population, before 200, the Jews, who were freed, were sent to the schools of ensigns. However, their production as an officer fell on the autumn of 1917, when, after the Bolshevik October Revolution, Russia practically interrupted military operations against Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey, and soon officially withdrew from the war after the conclusion of the Brest Peace. Thus, it is obvious, and it turned out that very little information remained about the participation of Russian Jews in the First World War. I, in particular, have so far managed to collect only these meager figures and facts.


In the French armed forces, the Jews were ten times less than in the Russians - 50 thousands of people and, moreover, even more 4 thousands of Jews, not French, but volunteers from Eastern European countries. On the battlefields, more than 8 thousands of Jews fell, three times more were seriously injured or were gassed. Military orders of France and its allies awarded more than 4 thousands of Jews. There were 3104 men in the ranks of the French army, including Jewish officers of Jewish origin, Jewish religion, and baptized, including the famous Dreyfus, who fought with the rank of lieutenant colonel. Only four Jewish generals entered the war on the side of France, and at the end there were already ten of them in the French army.

Of the officers in that war, Raymond Eli Nacket-Larok, who was first a captain of the engineering troops, served in the headquarters of the 1 Army, but was already appointed Chief of Staff of the 1916 Infantry Division in 132. The orders on the army emphasize "an excellent knowledge of the nature of a defensive battle, the ability to organize repulse to the enemy and the personal courage of Major Naket-Larok." In 1917, he is already a lieutenant colonel, deputy chief of staff of the Eastern Army. Then he commanded an engineering regiment, in 1931, he became a brigadier general, and in 1935, a divisional one. For military merit Naket-Larok was awarded the Commander's Cross of the Legion of Honor, the Military Cross and other military orders.

The remarkable bravery and military skill displayed in battles by Major Henri Weiler, by the end of the war he had become a colonel, commander of an infantry brigade. In 1919, he was promoted to brigadier general, and completed his service as a full general.

The chief of staff of the 3 Army Corps, Gedeon Gheismar, was a lieutenant colonel at the beginning of the war, but soon he showed himself to be a brilliant gunner and became the commander of the artillery of his corps. Goyzmar became famous for the successful military operations of the artillery regiments under his command in the battle of the Somme, he was soon promoted to brigadier general and awarded the Order of the Legion of Honor. After the war, General Gedeon Goyzmar was the author of the famous work “What we need to know about the German army”, in which he first drew the attention of the world community to the danger lurking in the unprecedented growth of the German armed forces before the 1939 year. In addition, after his resignation, he became an outstanding Zionist leader, chairman of the Paris branch of the Jewish National Fund.

At the beginning of the war, Colonel Lucien Levy commanded the 8 th sapper regiment. His regiment in all the hostilities showed excellent training, skillfully performing complex engineering tasks. Soon, Colonel Levy led the engineering troops of the 4 Army. In one of the biggest battles of the First World War - the Battle of the Somme - he successfully and on time organized the execution of fortification works, which allowed the infantry to hold their positions and repel German attacks. In 1917, Lucien Levy becomes a brigadier general and takes command of all the engineering forces of the French army and leads them until the victorious end of hostilities. General Levi was awarded the highest French orders, the British Order of the Bath, the Serbian - the White Eagle and others.

Since the beginning of the war, the commander of the 45 Infantry Regiment, Colonel Paul Emil Krambach, did not leave the battles. The commander-in-chief of the French troops, Marshal of France Foch, in his order specifically noted Crambach as the most experienced and courageous infantry commander. At the end of the war, Krambach was promoted to brigadier general, became commander of a brigade and division, and was awarded the highest military orders of France and its allies.

Colonel Kamil Baruch Levy at the beginning of the war commanded the 1-m infantry regiment, then a brigade. At the end of the war, he was the commander of the 25 and 46 infantry divisions with the rank of brigadier general. Marshal Petain, who wrote in 1918, gave an assessment of his military achievements: “You wrote nice pages in the military history of France ...” After the war, Baruch Levi became a divisional general.

George Rene Alexander began the war as a colonel in the post of Chief of Staff of the 5 Army. He then commanded the artillery of the 8 Army near Verdun and in many respects contributed to repelling the German offensive. In 1917, he was assigned the rank of brigadier general, and in 1922, the divisional one. He highly appreciated the military activity of General Alexander, his chief Marshal of France Joffre: "... His guns crushed boshey near Verdun and stopped their pressure."

The same Joffre said about another Jewish officer, Andre Boris: “From the very beginning of the war, he was a model of high activity and initiative in the face of danger. In the fierce battles of 1915, Boris became the most valuable assistant to the army commander. ” Subsequently, Andre Boris became a corps general, chief inspector of the French army.

At the beginning of the war, Brigadier General Jules Heyman commanded the 15 Army Corps and with this unit went through the entire war, remaining its commander. At the head of the corps, he was in the battles of Wavre and in the Argons, where his divisions stopped the German offensive. In 1916, Heiman was given the rank of divisional general, he was awarded the highest military orders of France and her allies.

One of the oldest generals of the French army, Justine Dennery at the beginning of the war, commanded a division of colonial troops on the Belgian front. Then his units fought with the Germans at the Battle of Crécy, near La Courtenay. After assigning the rank of divisional general, he was recalled to the general staff, where he headed one of the leading directorates. After the war as a full general, Justine Dennery led military research and was the author of many works on military history.

Among the leaders of the French General Staff during the war years was also General Albert Bauman. At the beginning of the war, he commanded the 6 Army Corps artillery, was awarded the Order of the Legion of Honor for the skillful leadership of divisions and personal courage. Recalled to the General Staff, General Bauman led an artillery command there and was promoted to the rank of divisional general.

Finally, divisional general Mordechai George Valabreg, director of the cabinet of the two military ministers before World War I, was the inspector general of the French armed forces during the war and made a considerable contribution to the victory over Germany, as evidenced by his numerous military awards.

From this brief essay on the combat activities of French high-ranking officers-Jews during the First World War, it is clear that they and the other Italian military commanders-Jews especially distinguished themselves in its battles. They commanded regiments and divisions, corps and armies. Led the actions of the sappers and the fire of artillery units, occupied key positions in the General Staff. And everywhere they demonstrated outstanding military qualities - competence and courage, valor and endurance, without dropping in this war the honor of their rank, the glory of French weapons and the name of a Jewish warrior.

To be continued

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