The Shmooze

Germany Honors Jews Who Fought in World War I

By Michael Kaminer

  • Print
  • Share Share

A historic ceremony at Frankfurt’s Jewish cemetery yesterday honored German Jews who gave their lives for their country in World War I. For the first time, according to news site TheLocal.de, representatives of the German government, as well as the German Bundeswehr and other national militaries, took part in the salute.

The memorial was also “the first public service at the site for as long as anyone can remember,” according to The New York Times, whose evocative report saw “German soldiers, including one wearing a skullcap with his uniform, [file] silently” through the cemetery to lay wreaths at a memorial to the fallen fighters. Battling for the kaiser during World War I claimed 467 Jewish lives from Frankfurt, and thousands from across Germany, TheLocal.de wrote.

The event was organized by Germany’s Association of Jewish Soldiers, according to the Times. Michael Berger, chairman of the group and a German Army captain, told the paper there was no exact count of the number of Jewish soldiers now in the Bundeswehr, as the force has been known since being reconstituted after World War II. But it is no more than about 200, he said.

A German Defense Ministry official told the Times that in 2008, “a few soldiers and a rabbi held a memorial at the site in Frankfurt, a semicircular stone marker erected in 1925. But there was no official event with wide participation before Sunday.” Gideon Roemer-Hillebrecht, another representative of the German Jewish soldiers’ association, told the Associated Press that because of the Holocaust “there are today barely any relatives who can honour the dead together with us.”

Throughout the First World War, Jews hoped that military service would promote their acceptance into German society, the Times wrote. Instead, after the war, Nazi “stab in the back” myths blamed Jewish treachery for Germany’s defeat. Today, though, even some Jews with links to the Holocaust have no issues serving in Germany’s army. “Ten years ago I would have given you a different answer,” Abraham Ben, son of a Holocaust survivor, told the Times. But, he said, “Jews in Germany are no longer sitting around with their bags packed. This is home.”


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Michael Berger, Frankfurt, Cemetery, Association of Jewish Soldiers, Soldiers

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.