Hitlerist Attack on British Jewry’s Part in Great War Repulsed by Rev. Michael Adler Senior Jewish C
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Hitlerist Attack on British Jewry’s Part in Great War Repulsed by Rev. Michael Adler Senior Jewish C

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The “Voelkischer Beobachter”, the chief Hitlerist organ, published an article some time back by a certain S. H. Wrigley, described as a British ex-soldier, alleging that the Jews in England had got out of fighting during the war by obtaining jobs in the administrative services and the labour battalions.

The Union of Jewish ex-Soldiers in Germany asked the Rev. Michael Adler, who was the Senior Jewish Chaplain to the British Forces in the war, for the facts, and the official organ of the Union, the “Schild”, publishes now a statement from Mr. Adler, in which he declares the Wrigley article to be typical of all antisemitic polemics, which are always based on suppressio veri or suggestio falst. The chief line of attack, he says, is that the Jews of the British Empire, did not go to the front, but evaded the fighting line by joining those military units which were not called upon to go into battle. This is entirely untrue. The Jewish soldiers fought side by side with their non-Jewish comrades and shared all the perils of active service. The administrative service contained only a handful of Jews, and in the Army Pay Corps there were altogether two officers and 176 men who were Jews, out of the total number of 50,000 Jews in the army. These figures give us an idea, Mr. Adler writes, of the number of Jews who were on active service. The Jewish population of the British Empire was in 1914 estimated at 420,000, of whom 275,000 were in the United Kingdom and the rest in the Dominions and India. The 50,000 Jews who joined up constituted, therefore, 11.91 per cent. of the total number of Jews who were British citizens. 11,000 men – about 20 per cent. – were in the non-combatant forces. 2,190 officers and men were in the Royal Army Service Corps, 360 in the Ordnance Corps, 1,400 in the Royal Army Medical Corps, many of whom were killed while attending the wounded in the front line, and 2,300 were in the Royal Flying Corps. Of the 260 Jewish flying officers, 29, which is 11 per cent. were killed in action and 11 obtained the Distinguished Flying Cross. To this number we must add the 5,000 who were in the labour battalions. Two-thirds of those in the labour battalions were Jews who were born in Russia and who in the last 18 months of the war were sent to France and Belgium. In this way we see that 39,000 Jewish men – 80 per cent. of the total number of Jews in the army, were front-line soldiers.

Of the total number of 650 Victoria Crosses, the highest British award for valour, five were won by Jews. 49 Jews won Distinguished Service Orders, 263 Military Crosses, and hundreds were awarded military medals and other distinctions. These awards were certainly not won by men who did not take part in the fighting. The details of the deeds of bravery done by the Jews at the front fill pages 127 to 156 of my book, “British Jewry’s Book of Honour”, which can be read by anyone who doubts the courage of the Jewish soldiers. 334 Jewish officers and 2,091 Jewish men, a total of 2,425, which is 6 per cent. of the 39,000 Jewish soldiers who were in the fighting line, fell in battle, and certainly 200 or 300 among the missing should be added to this list of dead. In addition, there were 500 wounded, which is 18 per cent. of the 39,000 Jews who were in the fighting line. I believe that these figures of the Jewish dead and wounded is people proof of the fact that the Jews played their part in the war the Rev. Adler concludes.

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