Book presentation: Erwin A. Schmidl Habsburgs jüdische Rekruten 1788–1918
Jews were enlisted in the army for the first time in Austria in 1788. In World War I there were around 300,000 Jewish soldiers in the Austro-Hungarian army. Contrary to the cliché of Jews working in the medical corps or behind the lines, most of them were combat troops. There were fewer professional officers, but almost one fifth of the reserve officers were Jews. Several Jewish officers became generals. Although the Austro-Hungarian army had its traditional anti-Jewish prejudices, accompanied by the ‘racial’ anti-Semitism that had emerged in the nineteenth century, it was nevertheless a supranational force; its loyalty was to the imperial household not to a particular ethnic group.
The book offers a comprehensive and clear account of this important aspect of Austrian and Jewish history.
Erwin A. Schmidl is head of the Department of Contemporary History at the Institute for Strategy and Security Policy at the National Defense Academy in Vienna.
Entry free of charge