Jews in Germany Subject to Service in New Army; Also Displaced Persons

Jews of German citizenship or nationality are subject to military service in the new West German army under the draft law approved by Parliament, it was learned here today. No matter how strongly Jews may recoil from the thought of serving in German uniform, they cannot seek exemption because of events during the Nazi era, it was indicated.

The only allowance made with respect to the legacy of Nazism is contained in a clause not in the government draft of the law, but introduced into the text by a majority vote of the Bundestag. This clause stipulates that someone liable for the draft is to be exempted if all his brothers were killed through Nazi persecution. Provided that the draftee was an only son, but had sisters who all fell victim to Nazi persecution, he is also entitled to an exemption.

The law authorizes the drafting into the German army of stateless and alien residents of West Germany, but a special Federal Government directive is necessary for the purpose. By the terms of the law, stateless residents–who in the case of Jews are mostly former DP’s-are to become eligible for naturalization through service in the German army. If German citizens residing in another country are subject to the draft there, the nationals of that country residing in Germany can be drafted on a reciprocal basis.

While the problem of Jewish draftees in the German army is an issue fraught with quandries and psychological difficulties, it does not at this time attain numerical significance. German Jews who make their homes in Germany are for the most part elderly, while Jewish youngsters are almost all below the age of 10. Berlin, which has the only substantial Jewish group in the age bracket concerned, is outside the purview of this West German draft law. Those familiar with the situation believe that, for the next eight years at least, it will be possible to count on the fingers of one hand the number of Jewish conscripts serving in the German army at any one time.

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