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Habsburg Sons Jews in the Austro-Hungarian Army 1788-1918 Publication of this book is supported in part by grants from the Austrian Cultural Forum New York and the University of Graz. Habsburg Sons Habsburg Sons Jews in the Austro-Hungarian Jews in the Austro-Hungarian Army 1788-1918 Army 1788-1918 Pe C . Appe l baum P e t e r C . A p p e l b a u m S O N B O S T ON 2 1 2 2 02 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Appelbaum, Peter C., author. Title: Habsburg sons : Jews in the Austro-Hungarian Army, 1788-1918 / Peter C. Appelbaum. Other titles: Austro-Hungarian Army, 1788-1918 Description: Boston : Cherry Orchard Books, 2021. | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2021022360 (print) | LCCN 2021022361 (ebook) | ISBN 9781644696897 (hardback) | ISBN 9781644696903 (paperback) | ISBN 9781644696910 (adobe pdf) | ISBN 9781644696927 (epub) Subjects: LCSH: Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Heer--History--20th century. | World War, 1914-1918--Austria. | Jewish soldiers--Austria--History-20th century. | Jews--Austria--History--20th century. | Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Heer--Chaplains--History--20th century. | World War, 1914-1918--Chaplains. | Military chaplains--Austria--History--20th century. | Jews--Austria--History--19th century. | Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Heer-History--19th century. | Jewish soldiers--Austria--History--19th century. Classification: LCC D539 .A67 2021 (print) | LCC D539 (ebook) | DDC 940.4/13436089924--dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2021022360 LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2021022361 Copyright © 2021 Academic Studies Press All rights reserved ISBN 9781644696897 (hardback) ISBN 9781644696903 (paperback) ISBN 9781644696910 (adobe pdf) ISBN 9781644696927 (epub) Book design by Kryon Publishing Services, Ltd. Cover design by Ivan Grave Published by Cherry Orchard Books, an imprint of Academic Studies Press 1577 Beacon Street Brookline, MA 02446, USA press@academicstudiespress.com www.academicstudiespress.com For all those who wouldn’t or couldn’t leave and were murdered in cold blood. Contents Foreword: A History of a Bygone Era, by Manfried Rauchensteiner vii Foreword: Jewish Soldiers in Habsburg Austria, by Gerald Lamprecht xi Author's Introduction xxiv Plates xxx Chapter 1.  Setting the Stage 1 Chapter 2. #7;Jews in the Armies of Austro-Hungary before the Great War: A Comparative Framework 24 Chapter 3. #7;The Kaiser Needs You! Initial Reaction to the Declaration of War 49 Chapter 4.  Snapshots from the Eastern Front: Diaries, Memoirs, Reports 67 Chapter 5. #7;Snapshots from Other Fronts: The Balkans, Italy, and Palestine 127 Chapter 6.  Austro-Hungarian Feldrabbiner: Tallit, Torah, and Tobacco 172 Chapter 7. #7;Captives of the Tsar in European Russia, Siberia, and Central Asia 238 Chapter 8. #7;Epilogue. The Fate of Habsburg Jewish Veterans and Their Influence on Postwar Europe 290 Bibliography 307 Index 317 Praise 324 Foreword A History of a Bygone Era Manfried Rauchensteiner C onsulting the 1914 volume of one of the most helpful reference books of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy—the Schematismus für die k.u.k. Armee und Flotte (Schematics for the Imperial and Royal Army and Navy)—one finds not only a list of the regiments, garrisons, and the names of the officers on active duty and in the reserves, but also names of clergymen and their religions: Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Protestant (Augsburg Confession), Evangelical Reformed (Calvinists), “Israelitic” ( Jewish), and “Mohammedanic” (Muslim). The total of seven officially approved confessions mirrors the diversity of the army, which, for its part, was a replica of the construction of the polyglot Habsburg Empire, and therefore difficult to understand. In 1867, AustriaHungary was divided into two halves, each of which had its own government and parliament, with only three common ministers. Over all of this stood the emperor and king, until 1916 Franz Joseph I (Ferenc József in Hungary), and after him Emperor Karl I (Charles I)—in Hungary, King Károly IV. The Monarchy consisted of eleven nationalities, which had identical rights and obligations, but beyond that, they had very few similarities. The mention of eleven nationalities is misleading insofar as there existed an additional group of people, which had the qualities of a nationality but did not see itself as such: the Jews. The total number of Jews in the Habsburg Monarchy was approximately four percent of its total population of fifty-two million; therefore, the number of Jews was more than the percentage of Italians, Romanians, and Austrian Serbs put together. Compared to other nationalities, who settled in wide but definable regions, the Jews were scattered over the entire Monarchy; thus, one could not count them exclusively as part of one or the other kingdom, principality, or county. And there was yet another problem: Most Austrian Jews viii Foreword counted themselves as being of German nationality, notwithstanding the fact that approximately half of them lived in Galicia—today part of Poland and the Ukraine—and in Bukowina—which today is divided between Ukraine and Romania. Their spiritual capital was not L′viv (Lemberg) or Černivci (Czernowitz), but Vienna, where the percentage of Jews was about eight percent of the population. In Budapest, the percentage was slightly higher. Jews played an important role in the politics, administration, economy, science, and especially in the culture of the Habsburg Empire—but they also played a significant role in the army, Most people, even in Austria and Poland, may be surprised to know that Austrian emperors proudly held the title of Duke of Auschwitz and Sator. This fact should be emphasized, since it was ignored and suppressed during the Nazi period in Austria. Long before the implementation of compulsory military service in the Habsburg Monarchy in 1868, the Jews of Galicia, like German-Austrians, were liable for the draft and military service. This was one of the consequences of the annexation of the southern parts of Poland by Austria in 1772. Jews regarded compulsory military service with mixed feelings: some looked on it as an unpleasant obligation, but others as a great opportunity. Austria was a much more modern and liberal state than Poland or Russia; it opened up all sorts of possibilities for a career and, in the case of the Jews, for emancipation. Religious tolerance, beginning with the Toleranzpatent of Emperor Joseph II (1780–1790), also enlarged the scope of religious freedom. The military also opened up opportunities for social advancement. Jewish officers could attain the ranks of staff officers and generals. Of course, the journey was painstaking, for the mass of professional officers were Roman Catholics, as was the emperor and king. Still, opportunities for promotion were available. By contrast, in Prussia Jews were not allowed to become reserve officers and not permitted into the Prussian officers’ corps; thus, Germany entered World War I without a single Jewish officer. Since Austria-Hungary was not involved in great military conflicts in the years between 1866 and 1914, service in the army as well as in the navy was comparatively comfortable. Every male Austrian able to serve in the military was obliged to serve for twelve years, three years on active duty and nine in the reserves. In 1912, the period for active duty was reduced to two years. Then, World War I broke out, changing everything. Like most other European countries, a euphoric atmosphere reigned in most parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and reserve soldiers were keen to join up for active service. Tumultuous scenes occurred in many parts of the Foreword ix country; nobody wanted the be absent when the most important event of the twentieth century thus far took place. At the end of July and in early August 1914, two million Austro-Hungarian soldiers were sent to war against Serbia and Russia, a war whose reality proved to be completely different from the one expected. Nevertheless, the soldiers did not hesitate and went off to fight for God, emperor, and fatherland. Jewish soldiers were no exception. They fought in the lines of the Habsburg armies in Serbia, Poland, Russia, Montenegro, Albania, and Italy. They were part of the Austro-Hungarian Expeditionary Corps, which was sent to the Ottoman Empire in the Near and Middle East, and some of the most haunting and touching photos of the war show Austro-Hungarian Jewish soldiers praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem in the midst of the Great War. During the war, 5,091 Jewish Austro-Hungarian officers were killed in action or died from wounds or illness. This made up 6.78 percent of all officer losses and lay far beyond expectation, given that Jews comprised 4 percent of the population. Officer losses of the Honvéd (Royal Hungarian), one of the three parts of the Austro-Hungarian Army, were even higher: One third of the Honvéd officers killed in the numerous battles were Jews. The fact that the overall number of Jewish soldiers killed remained below the estimated number gave rise to derogatory comments, but did not reflect the true situation. Altogether, more than 300,000 Jewish soldiers served in the infantry and other branches. They fought, were decorated, suffered, and died like their comrades from other nationalities. One additional fact should also to be mentioned: Tens of thousands of Jewish soldiers were taken as prisoners of war and became part of the 1.5 million prisoners that the Austro-Hungarian Army lost to the Russians. Because they viewed themselves as German-Austrians or Hungarians, most were brought to the prisoner of war camps beyond the Ural Mountains and to the Asiatic provinces of the Russian Empire. There, they had to remain until the Russian Revolutions and the peace treaty with Bolshevik Russia in 1918. One of the chapters in this book stands out as especially significant.to the history of the Austro-Hungarian War. It is the history of the Jewish chaplains (Feldrabbiner) who accompanied Jewish soldiers during both the good and the bad days of the war. The importance of the role and history of the Feldrabbiner Feldrabbiner cannot be overestimated. It was the who supported the faith of the soldiers in their prosecution of a “just” war. It was the Feldrabbiner who supported the religious conviction of the Jewish soldiers, explained the Holy Scriptures, and gave the soldiers the feeling of some normality, whi d., 236f. Foreword xxi 8 See Anne Külow, “Jüdische Soldaten in der Französischen Armee—Ein Erfolgsmodell für Integration?,” in Jüdische Soldaten: Jüdischer Widerstand in Deutschland und Frankreich, ed. Michael Berger and Gideon Römer-Hillebrecht (Paderborn, Munich, Vienna, and Zürich: Verlag Ferdinand Schöningh, 2012), 145–148. 9 Detlev Zimmermann, “Eine Bewährungsprobe für die Republik. Frankreich und die Dreyfus-Affäre,” in J’Accuse . . . ! . . . ich klage an! Zur Affäre Dreyfus. Eine Dokumentation, ed. Elke-Vera Kotowski and Julius H. Schoeps (Berlin: Verlag für Berlin-Brandenburg, 2005), 33–46. 10 See Martin Watts, The Jewish Legion and the First World War (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005). 11 Military service in the Russian Empire also triggered migration. See, for example, the biography of the Hebrew author Gershon Shoffmann: Gerald Lamprecht, “Gerschon Schoffmann—eine biographische Annäherung,” in Gerschon Schoffmann, Nicht für immer. Erzählungen (Graz and Vienna: Literaturverlag Droschl, 2016), 337–350, here 339. 12 “Militärdienst der Juden,” in Jüdisches Lexikon. Ein enzyklopädisches Handbuch des jüdischen Wissens in vier Bänden, vol. 4, part 1: Me–R (Berlin: Jüdischer Verlag, 1930), 182–191, here 188–191; Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern, “Military Service in Russia,” in The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe, vol. 2, ed. Gershon David Hundert (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2008), 1170–1174. 13 See “Militärdienst der Juden,” 183. 14 See Christine G. Krüger, “Sind wir denn nicht Brüder?” Deutsche Juden im nationalen Krieg 1870/1871, vol. 31 of Krieg in der Geschichte (Paderborn, Munich, Vienna, and Zürich: Verlag Ferdinand Schöningh, 2006), 191–297. 15 See Michael Berger, Eisernes Kreuz—Doppeladler—Davidstern. Juden in deutschen und österreichisch-ungarischen Armeen. Der Militärdienst jüdischer Soldaten durch zwei Jahrhunderte (Berlin: Trafo Wissenschaftsverlag, 2010), 27–47; idem., Für Kaiser, Reich und Vaterland. Jüdische Soldaten. Eine Geschichte vom 19. Jahrhundert bis heute (Zürich: Orell Füssli, 2015). 16 Walter Rathenau, quoted in Shulamit Volkov, Walther Rathenau. Ein jüdisches Leben in Deutschland 1867–1922 (Munich: C.H. Beck, 2012), 33. 17 See Berger, Eisernes Kreuz, 50. 18 See Erwin A. Schmidl, Habsburgs jüdische Soldaten 1788–1918 (Vienna, Cologne, and Weimar: Böhlau Verlag, 2014), 29–32. 19 See Michael K. Silber, “From Tolerated Aliens to Citizen-Soldiers. Jewish Military Service Austrian Studies Constructing Nationalities in East Central in the Era of Joseph II,” 6 (2005): Europe, ed. Pieter M. Judson and Marsha L. Rozenblit (New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2004) 19–36, here 27–29. 20 “Militärdienst der Juden,” 186. 21 See István Deák, Der k.(u.)k. Offizier 1848–1918 (Vienna: Böhlau Verlag, 1995), 206, 208. 22 Ibid., 211. 23 Felix Aron Teilhaber, “Der Weltkrieg und die Juden,” in Jüdisches Lexikon. Ein enzyklopädisches Handbuch des jüdischen Wissens in vier Bänden, vol. 4, part 2: S–Z (Berlin: Jüdischer Verlag, 1930), 1379–1381, here 1380. Current data put the number of Russian Jewish soldiers at c. 180,000. No accurate fatality statistics are available (Yohanan Petrovsky Shtern, personal communication). Thus, the total of Jews serving in all armies was nearer to one million. 24 See Jay Winter, “Jüdische Erinnerung und Erster Weltkrieg: Zwischen Geschichte und Gedächtnis,” in Jahrbuch des Simon-Dubnow-Instituts 13 (2014): 111–129, here 117f. xxii Foreword 25 David Rechter, “Die große Katastrophe: die österreichischen Juden und der Krieg,” in Weltuntergang. Leben und Sterben im Ersten Weltkrieg, ed. Marcus G. Patka (Vienna, Graz, and Klagenfurt: Styria Premium, 2014), 14; Timothy Snyder, Bloodlands. Europe between Hitler and Stalin (New York: Basic Books, 2010). 26 See Jörg Rogge, “Kriegserfahrungen erzählen—Einleitung,” in Kriegserfahrungen erzählen. Geschichts- und literaturwissenschaftliche Perspektiven, ed. Jörg Rogge (Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag, 2016), 9–30, here 13f. 27 See Jay Winter, Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning. The Great War in European Cultural History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995); Reinhart Koselleck, “Einleitung,” in Der politische Totenkult. Kriegerdenkmäler in der Moderne, ed. Reinhart Koselleck and Michael Jeismann (Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 1994), 9–20. 28 See Gerald Lamprecht, “Erinnern an den Ersten Weltkrieg aus jüdischer Perspektive 1914– 1938,” Zeitgeschichte 41 (2014): 242–266; idem, “Jewish Soldiers in the Austrian Collective Memory 1914 to 1938,” in Jewish Soldiers in the Collective Memory of Central Europe. The Remembrance of World War I from a Jewish Perspective, ed. Gerald Lamprecht, Eleonore Lappin-Eppel, and Ulrich Wyrwa, vol. 28 of Schriften des Centrums für Jüdische Studien (Vienna, Cologne, and Weimar: Böhlau Verlag, 2019), 311–330. 29 See “Protocol of the meeting of the committee for the erection of the war memorial on the central cemetery,” April 4, 1926 and the “Program of the call for bids,” August 1926, Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People; Archiv der IKG Wien, A/W 1176 a–d. 30 See Gerald Lamprecht, “The Remembrance of World War One and the Austrian Federation of Jewish War Veterans,” Quest. Issues in Contemporary Jewish History. Journal of Fondazione CDEC 9 (October 2016): The Great War. Reflections, Experiences and Memories of German and Habsburg Jews (1914–1918), ed. Petra Ernst, Jeffrey Grossman, and Ulrich Wyrwa, accessed October 13, 2018, www.quest-cdecjournal.it/focus.php?id=381, accessed April 4, 2021. 31 “Aufruf zur Gründungsversammlung des Bundes Jüdischer Frontsoldaten im Juli 1932,” in Drei Jahre Bund jüdischer Frontsoldaten Österreichs (Vienna, n.d.), 18. 32 Drei Jahre Bund jüdischer Frontsoldaten Österreichs, 54. 33 This can also be seen, for example, in the failure of the reactivation attempts of the Austrian Federation of Jewish Front Soldiers after 1945. See, for example, Wiener Stadt- und Landesarchiv (WStLA), 34 See Derek J. Penslar, Jews and the Military. A History (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton Jüdische Erfahrungen und Loyalitätskonflikte im Ersten University Press, 2013); Sarah Panter, Weltkrieg, vol. 235 of Veröffentlichungen des Instituts für Europäische Geschichte Mainz (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2014); Ulrich Sieg, Jüdische Intellektuelle im Ersten Weltkrieg. Kriegserfahrungen, weltanschauliche Debatten und kulturelle Neuentwürfe (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2001). Die Juden in der Armee Österreich-Ungarns 35 Wolfgang von Weisl, (Tel Aviv: Olamenu, 1971). 36 Erwin A. Schmidl, Juden in der k.(u.)k. Armee 1788–1918 (Eisenstadt: Österreichisches Jüdisches Museum, 1989). 37 István Déak, Beyond Nationalism. A Social and Political History of the Habsburg Officer Corps (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990). Ein ungewöhnliches Kriegerdenkmal. Das jüdische Heldendenkmal am 38 Martin Senekowitsch, Wiener Zentralfriedhof (Vienna: Militärkommando Wien, 1994); idem, Verbunden mit diesem Lande. Das jüdische Kriegerdenkmal in Graz (Graz: Militärkommando Steiermark, 1995). 39 Beatrix Hoffmann-Holter, “Abreisendmachung” Jüdische Kriegsflüchtlinge in Wien 1914 bis 1923 (Vienna, Cologne, and Weimar: Böhlau Verl and Jews 6 Habsburg Sons were at the forefront of the Kossuth rebellion (chapter 2). The lingua franca of educated Czech Jews was German, not Czech; problems of Czech loyalty have been discussed. Poland ceased to exist as a nation with its third partition in 1795, and nationalist feelings simmered during the approximately 120 years 29 before the war began. Portions of Austro-Hungarian Poland like Galicia and Bukowina contained large Jewish populations, many Orthodox, whose loyalty to the supranational Habsburg monarchy was bolstered by antipathy to the oppressive Tsarist regime with its Pale of Jewish Settlement, pogroms, and persecutions. In the case of Christian Southern Slavs, loyalties were complicated. Croats were more loyal to the empire than Habsburg Serbs, and portions of Slovenia and the Tyrol had strong Italian influences. Lavoslav Kraus, a Croatian Jew from Osijek, doubted the moral underpinning of the war, but 30 nevertheless fought bravely, with medals to prove it (chapter 4). The composition of the Austro-Hungarian Army reflected the empire’s ethnic and linguistic composition. For every 1,000 soldiers, 267 spoke German, 223 Hungarian, 135 Czech, eighty-five Polish, eighty-one Ukrainian, sixty-seven Serbo-Croatian, sixty-four Romanian, thirty-eight Slovakian, twen31 Slovenian, and fourteen Italian. Deák has reported that, at the start of the war, 142 units in the Habsburg Army were monolingual, 162 bilingual, and twenty-four trilingual, with a handful of units in which four or more lan32 were spoken. Engle has asserted that language barrier was a significant cause of miscommunications and misunderstandings amongst polyglot 33 Habsburg nationalities, especially Hungarians and Slavs. I argue that Jews in the Habsburg Army were more capable of communicating with military authorities than Slavic or Hungarian soldiers. Jewish educated classes throughout the empire used German as lingua franca, or were well conversant with the language. Additionally, Orthodox Jewish soldiers from regions like Galicia, Bukowina, and Poland spoke Yiddish, a descendant of Mittelhochdeutsch, comprehensible (although looked down upon) by German-speakers, allowing soldiers to follow orders more easily. Yiddish also allowed easier communication with civilian Ostjuden. The above did not apply to Sephardic Jews from the Balkans and Italy, whose mother tongue was Ladino ( Judeo-Spanish). I also argue that postwar experiences of different nationalities differed, with Jewish veterans often playing an important part in political developments. The Hungarian Communist party was founded by Béla Kun (who became a Russian prisoner of war in 1916 and was sent to a camp in the Urals, where he first became interested in communism). After overthrow of the immediate postwar Social Democratic Károlyi government, the short-lived 1919 Setting the Stage 7 Hungarian Soviet Republic—led by the Garbai government—comprised a majority of Jewish veterans and non-veterans such as Béla Kun, Vilmos Böhm, Tibor Szamuely, Jenő Varga, Zsigmond Kunfi, József Pogány, Jenő Landler, 34 György Lukács, and others. Lavoslav Kraus became a Communist during the war and fought with Béla Kun to defend the 1919 Hungarian Communist 35 Revolution. Josip Broz Tito, future postwar leader of Yugoslavia, spent his formative years as a Habsburg soldier. The role of Jewish veterans in antidemocratic political activities in postwar Poland and Czechoslovakia was less marked. In Czechoslovakia, the enlightened, democratic leadership of Tomáš Masaryk prevented postwar bloodshed and revolution. Jewish veterans in regions such as Transylvania that were annexed by Romania found themselves living under increased antisemitic conditions which affected loyalty to the newly enlarged Romanian state. CarpathoRuthenian Jews were absorbed into the eastern portion of Czechoslovakia under Masaryk’s benign rule. In the newly created Polish state, immediate postwar years saw horrific pogroms (especially in Lemberg, Pinsk [Belarus], 36 Vilna) against Jewish veterans and non-veterans alike, with wars between Poland and Ukraine/Russia, until Marshal Józef Piłsudski (1867–1935) stabilized the government in the early 1920s; however, a degree of antisemitism remained. In postwar Italy, Mussolini’s black shirts held the appeal of order, but its authoritarianism left most Italian Jews (including veterans) feeling uneasy. The situation of the Austro-Hungarian Army was unique in that, according to Rachamimow, as many as 2.77 million Austro-Hungarian soldiers became Russian prisoners of war. This occurred in large “catches,” for example the surrender of Przemyśl on March 22, 1915, the “Black and Yellow Offensive” of September 1915, and the Brusilov Offensive starting in June 1916, which saw approximately 750,000 Austro-Hungarian soldiers killed, wounded, missing, or captive. Entire regiments refused to fight, and were captured. Germany, the other major member of the Central Powers fighting on the Eastern Front, sent troops only when the Austro-Hungarian Army failed, or to bolster a large 37 offensive, and had approximately 167,000 soldiers captured by the Russians. Russian imprisonment was unique, in that large numbers of civilians—many Jewish—from occupied cities such as Przemyśl were sent into captivity, many in Central Asia. Before the Russian Revolution, treatment of officer prisoners was remarkably benign; monthly allowances of fifty rubles bought a comfortable standard of living (with exemption from work), better than in prisoner-of-war camps of other Entente members (chapter 7). At large assembly camps near Moscow and Kiev, prisoners were separated by ethnicity. In general 145–152. Setting the Stage 21 34 B. Menczer, “Bela Kun and the Hungarian Revolution of 1919,” History Today 19, no. 5 (May 1969): 299–309; P. Pastor, Hungary between Wilson and Lenin: The Hungarian Revolution of 1918–1919 and the Big Three (Boulder, CO: East European Quarterly, 1976); F. P. Zsuppán, “The Early Activities of the Hungarian Communist Party, 1918–19,” Slavonic and East European Review 43, no. 101 ( June 1965): 314–334. 35 Hameršak and Dobrovšac, “Croatian-Slavonian Jews in the First World War,” 110–111. 36 F. M. Schuster, Zwischen allen Fronten. Osteuropäische Juden während des ersten Weltkrieges (1914–1919) (Cologne, Weimar, and Vienna: Böhlau Verlag, 2004), 427–437. Lviv (Ukraine), Vilnius (Lithuania). 37 A. Rachamimow, POWs and the Great War. Captivity on the Eastern Front. (Oxford and New York: Berg, 2002), 31–33. 38 Ibid., 54–58. 39 H. Kohn, Living in a World Revolution. My Encounters with History (New York: Pocket Books, 1964), 95–96. Originally published New York: Simon and Schuster, 1964. 40 A. Epstein, Kriegsgefangenen in Turkestan. Erinnerungen von Georg Popper und Adolf Epstein (Vienna: Selbstverlag, 1935), 17–37. 41 K. Blond, “Ein unbekannter Krieg. Persönliche Aufzeichnungen als k.u.k. Sanitätsfähnrich in Persien während der Jahre 1915/16,” in Österreichische Militärgeschichte 5 (1997): Ein unbekannter Krieg 1914-1916. Das k.u.k. Gesandtschaftsdetachement Teheran von Persien bis nach Wien (Vienna: Verlagsbuchhandlung Stöhr), 33–93. 42 Rachamimow, POWs and the Great War, 50. 43 G. Breithaupt, Der Kampf ums Dasein. Ein Ausschnitt aus der sibirischen Gefangenschaft’ (Berlin: Verlag Carl Curtius, 1919). 44 T. Scheer, “Habsburg Jews and the Imperial Army before and during the First World War,” in Beyond Inclusion and Exclusion. Jewish Experience of the First World War in Central Europe, ed. J. Crouthamel, M. Geheran, T. Grady, and J. B. Köhne (New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2018), 55–62. 45 Ibid., 59–60; D. Rechter, The Jews of Vienna and the First World War (Oxford and Portland, OR: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2008), 187. 46 The setting is Vienna, 1900. Professor Bernhardi is a Jewish physician, director of the Elizabethinum. A young woman in his care is dying of sepsis following an abortion. Unaware that she is on the brink of death, she is happy and believes herself to be recovering. Father Reder, a priest summoned by a nurse, arrives to give the patient the last rites but Bernhardi refuses him admission. He wants to spare her the anguish she would suffer were she to realize that she is about to die. The priest argues that she must be absolved of sin before she dies, especially since she has undergone an abortion. While Bernhardi and Father Reder are arguing, the girl dies, having been told by the nurse that the priest arrived. Her death was hastened by the realization that her condition was terminal, and she died in a state of fear. A press campaign causes public outcry. False testimony and fabrications about Bernhardi striking the priest inflame endemic Viennese antisemitism. Bernhardi faces trial. He loses his post in the clinic he helped found, is sentenced to two months in prison, and loses his medical license. He refuses to appeal the decision. The play ends with a philosophical discussion on Jewish identity. War Land on the Eastern Front: Culture, National Identity, and German 47 V. G. Liulevicius, Occupation in World War I. Studies in the Social and Cultural History of Modern Warfare (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 151–175. 48 Bardach, Carnage and Care. 49 Appelbaum, Loyal Sons, 159–206. 22 Habsburg Sons 50 Bardach, Carnage and Care, 127–166. 51 A historic region in Central and Eastern Europe, situated between south-eastern Poland, south-western Belarus, and western Ukraine. 52 Bardach, Carnage and Care, 236, 250. 53 Ibid., 249, 257, 260–261. 54 Ibid., xii–xiii. 55 T. Reiss, Tagebuch eines jüdischen Soldaten, Leo Baeck Institute, DS 135 A93 R45 [1919]; idem, In the Line of Fire: A Soldier’s Story 1914–1918, trans. T. Erez (n.p.: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016). The comment on Tarnów appears in his entry of June 25, 1915. 56 Kaunas (Lithuania). 57 Vitebsk (Belarus), Kyiv (Ukraine). 58 Ukmergė (Lithuania) 59 GARF, fond 9458, opis 1, delo 168, Arkhiv chlena Gosudarstvennoi Dumy Bomasha Meera Khaimovicha (Archive of the member of the State Duma, Meer Khaimovich Bomash); “Bomash, Meer Khaimovich,” accessed March 8, 2021, https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Бомаш,_Меер_Хаимович. 60 Schuster, Zwischen allen Fronten, 125; R. Klein-Pejšová, “The Budapest Jewish Community’s Galician October,” in World War I and the Jews. Conflict and Transformation in Europe, the Middle East, and America, ed. M. L. Rozenblit and J. Karp (New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2017), 113; P. Ernst, “Der erste Weltkrieg in deutschsprachig-jüdischer Literatur und Publizistik in Österreich,” in Krieg. Erinnerung. Geschichtswissenschaft, ed. S. Mattl, G. Botz, S. Karnern, and H. Konrad (Vienna, Cologne, and Weimar: Böhlau Verlag, 2009), 68–72. 61 Michael Freund, “Fundamentally Freund: What American Jewry can learn from Emperor Franz Joseph,” Jerusalem Post, November 23, 2016, accessed March 8, 2021, https:// www.jpost.com/Opinion/Fundamentally-Freund-What-American-Jewry-can-learn-fromEmperor-Franz-Joseph-473487. Appelbaum, Loyal Sons, 239–283. 63 Ősterreichisches Staatsarchiv/Kriegsarchiv, KM Präs. 1616, 34–17/3. 64 Bardach, Carnage and Care, 3,6, 93. 65 M. Saperstein, Preaching in Times of War 1800–2001 (Oxford and Liverpool: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2012), 303–304. 66 A. Hameiri, The Great Madness, trans. Yael Lotan (Haifa: Or Ron Publishing House, Ltd., Hashiga’on Hagadol. The Great Madness, 1984). Original published in 1930 as See also idem, ed. P. C. Appelbaum (Middletown, RI: Stone Tower Press, and Boston, MA: Black Widow Press, 2021). 67 M. Paul-Schiff, “Teilnahme der österreichisch-ungarischen Juden am Weltkrieg. Eine statistische Studie,” in Mitteilungen zur jüdischen Volkskunde. Jahrbuch für jüdische Volkskunde, new Juden in der k.(u.)k. Armee 1788–1918. series, 26/27 (1924/1925): 153–154; E. A. Schmidl, Jews in the Habsburg Armed Forces (Eisenstadt: Eisenstadt Jewish Museum, 1989), 144; M. Berger, Eisernes Kreuz, Doppeladler, Davidstern. Juden in deutschen und österreichisch-ungarischen Armeen. Der Militärdienst jüdischer Soldaten durch zwei Jahrhunderte (Berlin: Trafo Verlag, 2010), 113; Schmidl, Habsburgs Jüdische Soldaten, 115; idem., “Jüdische Soldaten in Weltuntergang. Jüdisches Leben und Sterben im ersten Weltkrieg, der k.u.k. Armee,” in ed. M. G. Patka (Vienna, Graz, and Klagenfurt: Styria Premium, 2014), 46. 68 L. Dobrovšak, “Fallen Jewish Soldiers in Croatia during the First World War,” in Jewish Soldiers in the Collective Memory of Central Europe. The Remembrance of World Wa d waiting Snapshots from the Eastern Front 81 most of the night in an empty train, he arrived in Krasne (Poland) on January 7. “Only German soldiers can travel in carriages; I have to travel in a cattle car.” Reiss travelled to Lemberg for written leave approval, and spent January 9 through 18 at the Sauers. Reiss explained to Sabine that marriage was impossible: he loved her platonically but any effort for a closer relationship was pointless. He left, travelling via Cracow to Vienna, where he felt like a burden. He was welcomed warmly by the Aufgebauers, and slept at their home. “I’m lucky that I have such good acquaintances.” On January 23, he left “Vienna city of my dreams. . . . It’s hard for me: I have parents and siblings, but am alone in the world.” Yet another young lady, Anna Uhl, accompanied him to the station. On the way back to Enying, Reiss developed toothache. The local veterinarian, who also pulled human teeth, broke the tooth, exacerbating the toothache. He had the tooth extracted by a dentist, but it cost him six crowns. He arrived in Enying on January 27, and immediately took up his duties. That evening, Reiss was informed that he had been sentenced to fourteen days’ imprisonment, strict regime. The unfair reason for this was “a recent incident” of January 12, 1915, when he did not allow an ensign to throw the sick and the wounded out of their quarters in an inn. Reiss did not protest, and began his sentence on January 30. His only complaint was that his room was cold, and wood for heating was not brought in. He was released early “because of my kind heart and faithful comradeship: perhaps my actions saved the life of this comrade or that. In this way I have atoned for my punishment with a clear conscience.” On the way back to his unit, he was ordered to take a deserter 46 to Lugusz via Budapest and Temesvár. In Temesvár, he spent time with a beautiful gypsy girl, Gundina Maria. Back at his unit in Enying on February 16, he demonstrated to his captain how mens’ food was being stolen and sold. Culprits were punished, and Reiss took over the soldiers’ mess: I will now make order without mercy. Woe to those who steal food! The men should eat as much as they want, and remember me for it. 47 Those who work should eat their fill: let the others peg out! When he took over the mess, Reiss found everything dirty: kitchen personnel filthy, utensils rusty and mildew-covered, mice ran over provisions. He was not surprised that all the men had belly aches. He made sure that the kitchen was washed, cleaned, and properly outfitted. Personnel were changed: two men were locked up for theft, new utensils received. Men were overjoyed at increased meat portions. There was enough for everybody, some men even 82 Habsburg Sons went back for seconds. For upcoming Pesach holiday, Reiss was granted permission to cook separately for Jewish soldiers. His captain praised him saying that he was a “different Jew from the others.” On March 24, he left for Vienna to purchase kosher provisions and matzot with money that his captain had given him. “Anna Uhl is a good young woman and her father is very friendly. She wants me to stay there until I leave.” He visited his parents, but felt estranged from them. He spent the rest of the time with Anna, and left with provisions three days later. The men were very pleased to see him, decorating the kitchen with flowers and placing a five-liter bottle of wine on the table. He himself brought a ten-liter bottle of wine to celebrate his return. The officers brought fifteen more liters as well as sausage for the feast, and were of course invited to participate, so they brought even more wine. Celebrations, with music, went on until midnight. Reiss was promoted master artillery sergeant, and another party was held in his honor: boozing went on until 1.00 am. The period from April 12 to 17 was Pesach. The hall was festively decorated, everyone was invited. Men sat together at a large table, officers on a platform of honor, and there was a separate table for the men. First they read the evening service and then recited kiddush (blessing) with best kosher wine, donated by the Enying Jewish community. Each participant received one cup of wine and two matzot, courtesy of Magdeburg and Budapest Jewish communities. Afterwards, he thanked non-Jewish officers and men for their participation, then heads of the Magdeburg, Budapest, and Enying Jewish communities for generous donations; the priest and mayor were both present. Reiss explained the Jews’ bondage and Exodus from Egypt, spoke about the current conditions of the Jews, and asked them all to join in swearing fealty to God, Kaiser, and Fatherland. All rose and swore: “We swear by God the Holy that we will defend the Kaiser, Fatherland and all its elected officials with our blood.” Then they 48 all sang Gott erhalte. “It was so solemn that all present were moved to tears.” The meal consisted of turnip soup, lamb purée, and apple sauce, all prepared by Jewish cooks. On May 11, Reiss obtained leave again, arriving in Vienna a day later. He spent time with Rosa and Mina (one of the Aufgebauers’ daughters), visited his parents and other friends, returning to Enying on May 19. “No one accompanied me: if it were not for my acquaintances, I would be alone like a dog.” On return, Reiss found that non-commissioned officers, even those whom he had called friends, were conducting “taste tests,” taking more food than was due, short-changing ordinary soldiers, who did not receive an addit 207–237. 126 Habsburg Sons 139 “Die Heldentat eines jüdischen Fliegeroffiziers,” Neue National Zeitung, October 30, 1914, 1–2; W. von Weisl, Die Juden in der Armee Österreich Ungarn. Illegale Transporte (Tel Aviv: Olamenu, 1971), 20. 140 “Der Tod des österreichischen Fliegers Rosenthal,” Dr. Blochs Österreichische Wochenschrift, April 2, 1915, 255; von Weisl, Die Juden in der Armee, 20. 141 “Flieger-Gefreiter Robert Fried,” Dr. Blochs Österreichische Wochenschrift, December 29, 1916, 846. 142 Spiegl, “Der Sch’ma Ruf im Feuer,” Dr. Blochs Österreichische Wochenschrift, January 15, 1915, 45. 143 “Die polnische Juden bein Stürmen,” Jüdische Volksstimme, September 7, 1915, 3. 144 Brno (Czech Republic). 145 P. Bottome, Alfred Adler. A Portrait from Life (New York: Vanguard, 1957), 117–119. 146 Bardach, Carnage and Care. After this book had been completed, I was made aware of the war diaries of Dr Isaak Barasch. Barasch was born into a Jewish family 1885 in Zloczow – now Zolochiv – in the Ukraine, in what was then Galicia. He studied to become a doctor in Lwow (Lviv, Ukraine) and Vienna and served with the Austro-Hungarian army on the Italian front from 1916 to 1918. He died of influenza during the 1918 pandemic. (Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Penn and Sword, In preparation). 147 “Ein mutiger Arzt,” Dr. Blochs Österreichische Wochenschrift, May 12, 1916, 330-331. 148 “Ein Feldpostbrief,” Dr. Blochs Österreichische Wochenschrift, November 12, 1915, 842–843. 149 “Sturmangriff,” Dr. Blochs Österrichische Wochenschrift, December 10, 1915, 898. 150 Eger (Czech Republic); Merano (Italy). 151 H. Zuckermann, H. Zuckermann. Gedichte (Vienna and Berlin: R. Löwit Verlag, 1919), 7–12, 107. 152 “Aus dem Feldpostbriefe eines Wiener jüdischen Turners,” Jüdische Zeitung, January 29, 1915, 2. 153 Friederich von Schiller (1759–1805) was a German poet, philosopher, physician, historian, and playwright. 154 “Aus zwei Feldpostbriefen eines Wiener Reserveoffiziers,” Dr. Blochs Österreichische Wochenschrift, January 7, 1916, 27–28. 155 “Von einem Judenknaben in Galizien,” Dr. Blochs Österreichische Wochenschrift, June 15, 1917, 380. 156 “Jahrzeit im Schützengraben,” Jüdische Volksstimme, July 8, 1915, 6. CHAPTER 5 Snapshots from Other Fronts: The Balkans, Italy, and Palestine T he Austro-Hungarian army also fought in theaters of war other than the Russian Front. Serbia was invaded twice: once unsuccessfully in 1914, the second time successfully, with the aid of Germany and Bulgaria, which joined the Central Powers in 1915. As soon as Italy joined the Entente (May 1915), fighting in the mountains in the Tyrol and Isonzo began, and went on uninterruptedly through the end of the war. The Tyrol and Isonzo were perhaps the most dangerous of all fronts: freezing winter temperatures with snow and avalanches, vertical combat, tunneling inside mountains in all weathers, shards of mountain rock ricocheting after being hit by shells and shrapnel. AustroHungarians also fought in Palestine with the Ottoman Turks against British and Australians. This chapter describes Habsburg Jewish soldiers’ experience on these other fronts. I posit that Austro-Hungarian Jewish soldiers’ experiences in Italy, Serbia, and Palestine did not differ from those on the Eastern Front. There was, however, the important distinction that there were very few Ostjuden in Italy and the Balkans. Either there were no Jewish civilians in areas of Italy where the fighting was fiercest, or communities were small. By contrast, Jewish soldiers encountered in the Balkans (many for the first time) large numbers of Sephardic Jews who spoke Ladino, and had different clothes, customs, degrees 1 of religious observance, and appearance than Ashkenazi Jews. Secondly, it is posited that failings in the Austro-Hungarian Army—poor leadership and unsatisfactory equipment and provisions—were identical on all fronts. Nowhere was lack of organization and training more marked than during the initial 1914 Serbian campaign. The Austrians assumed that they would walk easily through tiny Serbia, forgetting that the Serbs had been fighting a guerilla war against Turks for hundreds of years, were renowned as brave uld bring 192 Habsburg Sons milk and bread, and women would bring stewed fruit. Jewish men arrived with milk, and Jewish women gave water to the thirsty. Then, Ruthenian women came with their gifts, at first only a few, but then more and more. A surgeon started to look with increasing irritation at the Ruthenian women bringing gifts. In the end, he approached Rabbi Kálmán, shaking with rage: “Look around and see: the Ruthenians bring their gifts only to the Russian wounded, and only the Jews look after our own men. Just look!” They saw a genteel, older Ruthenian lady with five or six servants approaching the dressing station. The servants were carrying baskets packed with good things: wine, roasted meat, bottled fruit, white cake, even small head cushions. People made way for her, and the Ruthenian women kissed her hand. The Jews bowed to her, frightened: she must have been a noblewoman. When she entered the fenced off room, she gave a few bites to Austro-Hungarian wounded, then walked decisively to Russian wounded and gave them most of the ample food. “Did you see that?” the physician said angrily. “I won’t tolerate it anymore. These insolent people care only for the Russian prisoners, while the Jews are the ones who take care of our own wounded. I will not allow any more of this!” The area was closed off, and the chaplains, together with medical corps, handed the gifts out properly, to all wounded alike: The physician pressed my hand. “You can be proud of members of your faith!” he said. “Let us get to work.” He went back to mend 80 broken bodies, and I to raise broken souls. Rabbi Artur/Arnold Grünfeld, whose pulpits before the war were in Jihlava (Czech Republic) and Eger (Hungary), volunteered as soon as war began. In summer 1915, he was appointed chaplain of the Thirteenth Landwehr Infantry Division. Excerpts from two of his letters during the summer of 1915 emphasize many difficulties of fighting on the Eastern Front. In a first brief communication on June 9, 1915, Rabbi Grünfeld wrote that provisions were plentiful, especially because Russians left enormous quantities of white flour behind. Drinks at meals consisted of wine and mineral water, and once they even “liberated” a barrel of good Hungarian beer. There was lack of safe drinking water, with outbreaks of typhoid and cholera all over the front. Similarly, German chaplain Aron Tänzer described an outbreak of cholera near 81 Krasnystav (Poland). Rabbi Grünfeld served together with officers, physicians, and veterinarians (essential because of large numbers of horses). Roads were terrible: “Unending sand on roads and mud and filth on rainy days are Austro-Hungarian Feldrabbiner 193 peculiarities of this country, in which I have wandered around for more than two months.” This sentiment is echoed by everyone who served on the Eastern 82 Front. Rabbi Grünfeld remarked on the region’s fertility, which—he felt—would help defeat Russian plans to starve them out. He saw miserable dwellings, from which the tower of a Russian Orthodox church stood out, alternating with neglected Jewish villages, on whose population the departing Russians took out their anger. Travelling further, Rabbi Grünfeld held services for soldiers 83 wherever he could, even in half-destroyed prayer houses. Ludwig Golinski served as chaplain in the k.u.k. army throughout the war. His correspondence provides an example of mutual compassion shown by chaplains of all faiths, in the Austro-Hungarian army. In 1915, he received a letter from an Eastern Orthodox chaplain via one of his Jewish colleagues. It is not clear exactly to whom this letter was addressed: I am enclosing a letter which I recently received from an Eastern Orthodox chaplain, a former comrade. As a Pole, his German is not good. But the friendly human sentiments are more significant than language. Unfortunately, we Jewish chaplains cannot be everywhere, so the more gratifying it is when chaplains of other faiths care for sick and wounded Jewish soldiers. The card reads (literally): 84 “Laskow, June 14, 1915 Dear friend, I am contacting you again after a five-month interval. Remembered love for a good comrade does not die, and I hope to see you again. I have been on ten days’ leave with my family, and found them all in the best of health, despite the Russian occupation. . . . I have a request: there are sick Jews in my hospital. It pains me that I have reading material, especially prayer books, for everyone except these poor men. . . . Be so good as to send me five Jewish soldier’s prayer books, which you might have. I am convinced that you will not fail to fulfil my request, and send you and everyone 85 else my best greetings, Peter Ezaus.” Rabbi Gustav Sicher was born in 1880 in Klatovy (Czech Republic). After initial medical studies in Vienna, he changed to the rabbinate and obtained his doctorate at Charles University in Prague. After beginning his rabbini ades were 244 Habsburg Sons allowed to attend synagogue and seders in private homes in Central Asia, despite the fact that there were no Jewish chaplains in the Russian army. Jews in the local prisoner-of-war camp were able to have their dead buried by the 29 Kokand Jewish community. Far more, prisoners discriminated against one another based upon nationality: Czech against Magyar and vice versa, nonSlav against Slav; and religion: Christian against Jew. Antisemitism was present amongst prisoners, both officers and men. In the Breithaupt book, the Jewish doctor Rubens accepts Gersdorff ’s traditionally “genteel” Prussian antisemitism but feels that cultured men can bridge such gaps. Mention is made below of the usefulness of “auto-fiction” to better describe war experiences at a distance. Works by Hameiri and Breithaupt cannot be easily classified, and lie between memoirs—covering both simple chronicles and more detailed analysis—and fiction, allowing the writer to describe life more vividly, even if partially fictionalized. Holtzman argues that reality generally confirms Hameiri’s texts, whether in relation to the nature of 30 war, the Russians, or his portrait of Russian Jews. The number of confirmable facts in Breithaupt’s book also argue in favor of its authenticity (see below). Infectious diseases described by Breithaupt, Hameiri, and Blond in their books are similar to those reported by Wurzer, and wreaked havoc amongst 31 soldiers and prisoners on the Eastern Front. Venereal disease was rife; apart from salvarsan, introduced in 1911 for treatment of syphilis, no antibacterial agents existed, and treatment could only be supportive. Smallpox was very rarely encountered on the Western Front, because of uniform vaccination; in Central Asia it could and did exist, and spread amongst largely unvaccinated civilian and military population. It may be assumed that inoculation against typhoid fever and cholera, the rule for most combatants on both sides, was not as widespread in the Russian army. Breithaupt’s physician protagonist Rubens is well versed in epidemiology of infectious diseases; he does all he can to prevent their spread by improving the water supply and sewage disposal systems, separating the camp kitchens, ventilating the rooms and cleaning out the barracks as much as possible, and making clean clothes available, to decrease loads of lice and other insects. Experiences of Epstein and Popper in the Bukharan Jewish communities of Tashkent and Osh (which have ceased to exist, having transplanted mainly to the United States and Israel) are unique, as are their descriptions of a Bukharan synagogue, a Bukharan seder service, and polygamy amongst Bukharan Jewish men. As described by Breithaupt, the propensity of Galician Jews to view everything as a business opportunity, even building a synagogue alcove in the midst Captives of the Tsar in European Russia, Siberia, and Central Asia 245 of a filthy, dark barracks, is typical. Large-scale exile of Jewish civilians left them no option but trade, if they were to survive. Kaspar Blond provides details of a little-known theater of war operations—the failed efforts of the Central Powers to mobilize Central Asian and Persian Muslims in a holy war against the Entente. He ends with a chilling picture of the Armenian genocide by the Turks. Christian onlookers witnessed the atrocities silently, without attempting to help. This was a harbinger of things to come during the rest of the twentieth and the twenty-first century. When writing about his Lebensraum policy in the east, Hitler commented: “Who, after all, 32 speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” Diaries, Books and Memoirs a. Serbia Approximately 70,000 Austro-Hungarian prisoners were taken by Serbia 33 during the 1914 campaign. A letter from Alfred Kriegler published in a January 1916 issue of Dr. Blochs Österreichische Wochenschrift documents his nine-month Serbian captivity. After he was wounded four times on December 4, 1914, Kriegler was brought to a dressing station and taken captive three days later with 150 other wounded men. They were transported to Serb hinterland and divided amongst several field hospitals. In Üsküb, he was treated 34 by Serbian, foreign, and prisoner-of-war physicians. Three interned civilian women served as voluntary nurses. “Their dedication and sacrifice saved many lives.” In the beginning, Jewish prisoners could live and make purchases in the town. Later, they were taken back to camp, to work on roads, railways, and in stores. Early August 1915, most Jewish prisoners were transferred to Novibazar as punishment, where they were “destined for hard labor, robbed of all freedom.” At the end of October, men were brought, under escort, to Debar, for evacuation. This letter was sent from Salonika, from where Kriegler was pre35 repatriated. A January 1916 feuilleton in Dr. Blochs Österrichische Wochenschrift reported a war diary of a soldier returning home from Serbian captivity. Its author was the travelling merchant Moritz Schwarcz who was taken captive by Serbs in December 1914, after the hard-fought battle for Belgrade (chapter 5). During the Bulgarian offensive he was taken from Nisch in the direction of Durazzo, then again from Novibazar to Struga, where he escaped, and found shelter with a Turkish farmer. Here he waited for the Bulgar f the beds. Captives of the Tsar in European Russia, Siberia, and Central Asia 261 This time, with better order, the sick room visit was easier and quicker: only a few severely ill men had been transferred from the barracks, and no one died during the night. The rheumatic fever patient arrived, was made comfortable, 79 and given salicylic acid. For most of the sick, Rubens had little to offer except better nursing care, nutrition, and hygiene. He took his first look into the kitchen where food for the sick was prepared, and was greeted by a swarm of flies that 80 contaminated everything before it was eaten. He determined that this plague must be diminished by, for example, better storage of corpses before burial. In this particular camp—which looked like a colony of disturbed ants—700–800 men were housed in two sections. Few were hale and hearty, most looked emaciated and dirty, with dull, expressionless eyes. Rubens emphasized the necessity of removing men with infectious diseases from barracks, and cautioned them not to drink unboiled water or kvass 81 prepared with contaminated water. Typhoid patients did not all need to 82 die, if they were treated properly. Rubens visited earthen burrows, where some men lived. There was no straw bedding, and sand blew through cracks in the ceiling, coating everything. The Russians had stolen the ceiling wood. Each burrow held twenty men. The latrine hole serving the burrows was in the same awful state, covered with flies, as the others. Twelve men sat together on one wooden plank. When the latrine was full, it was pumped out by a Mongolian sewage removal unit; the stench was so awful that nobody could breathe. No disinfection was performed. Rubens and Farkas moved slowly through the crowd of unwashed men clutching their eating utensils, waiting for food. Rubens thought that they looked like carnivores in the zoo, before feeding time. There were two kitchens, each containing a huge oven and three embedded cauldrons. On a long table, pieces of cooked meat, peeled and unpeeled potatoes, cabbage, onions, and “something green” were laid out. Two cauldrons were filled to overflowing with fatty soup, the other one with boiling water for tea. Men got only tea for breakfast; lunch was soup containing meat and a piece of bread, and dinner was kasha. Provisions had become scantier with time, and meat was now available only once a day. Rubens tasted the soup: a thin meat broth with a few small pieces of meat and potato. Bread was made of bran mixed with black flour, it was soggy and not properly baked. Six men each received one loaf of this bread, thirty centimeters in diameter. This particular kitchen prepared meals for 1,325 men. No one controlled whether men received proper provisions and no one had any idea of exactly what these provisions were. Stealing and black marketeering were rife. All three cooks were Czechs. One of them, apparently, came from a Prague hotel. 262 Habsburg Sons Men waited impatiently outside the kitchen, grumbling vociferously. The soup was thin, the barrack commanders and the Czech kitchen staff kept all meat for themselves. Jews had better food, for which they paid extra. Separate nationalities stood in groups. Hungarians cursed loudest, and Jews negotiated amongst themselves, waving their hands in the air. The cook opened the door, and the men crowded in like vultures. Food distribution took a long time; Rubens noticed that the barrack commandants each took an extra portion of soup. In the second kitchen, where food had already been doled out, cooks were also Czechs. The barn-like sheds all looked similar: filth an inch deep, wooden pallets, about two hundred men packed into each barrack. Flies swarmed everywhere. Barracks in which a German was in charge looked better and men cleaner. The barracks in which Jews were the majority was commanded by a Polish Jewish sergeant. The door was closed, and in the semi-darkness Rubens heard a cacophony worse than a zoo aviary. Many Jews had side-locks and (despite the oppressive heat) were dressed in heavy caftans. Cigarettes, makhorka, tobacco, lamps, chocolate, clothes, shoes, every kind of food—everything was for sale, and each Jew offered his wares to Rubens at a cheaper price. There were facilities for moneylending and currency exchange, at competitive rates. Most civilians had been captured during the occupation of Przemyśl, exiled under suspicion of spying. Some men were praying in tallit and tefillin, and a Jewish prayer room, with candles and books, had been erected in one of the corners. Rubens was astonished: “What a people these Ostjuden were! Devotion and profiteering, religious needs and a well-developed business sense—mixed up in the same people!” The Jewish barracks were filthier than all others so far. Rubens was surrounded by a crowd of undisciplined, gesticulating Galician Jews, talking and complaining at the same time; news that there was a Jewish physician in camp had spread like wildfire! Rubens told them that both their makeshift synagogue, and merchandise stands had to go: they were filthy, and barracks must be thoroughly cleaned and aired out. There were empty barracks available for praying and trading. In contrast to undisciplined Jewish barracks, the next barracks, with only Hungarian prisoners, was too disciplined. One of the prisoners, a sergeant, walked around with a dog whip; the prisoners looked like beaten dogs. During the afternoon, Rubens found the sick room cleaner and more ordered; even the rheumatic fever patient was feeling better. Holzmann had plundered the camp store: eleven iron bedsteads with wooden pallets and small wooden cupboards for each bed now stood in the sick room k louse-borne Captives of the Tsar in European Russia, Siberia, and Central Asia 271 typhus. The end of the novel does not reveal whether Gersdorff survived, and readers are left to draw their own conclusions. At any rate, “Rubens had done 89 his best.” There are several references in the Breithaupt novel to events that are corroborated by other sources. These reference lend credence to the authenticity of Breihaupt’s narrative. Mention has already been made of Seliwanow. There is also a reference to “Sister Klara” in an incident in Berezovka, when a German Captain Hagen tried to organize a mass escape of the entire camp to the Chinese border, which was ninety kilometers away. A German-Polish 90 nurse, “the lovely Klara,” betrayed the plan to the camp commandant. The incident with the Turkish prisoners forgotten in a closed train is described by the Swedish envoy Rütger Essėn in connection with a trainload of Turkish pris91 from Omsk: approximately forty prisoners froze to death. Brändström reported that in December 1914, 200 Turkish prisoners suffering from cholera were sent north in closed wagons, which were only opened after three weeks, 92 leaving only sixty men alive. Yanikdag described how, in winter 1915, of 800 Turkish prisoners shipped to the Priamur district of Siberia, only 200 survived 93 the trip. Other details in this book also ring true, such as the relationship between Jews and non-Jews (including refined Prussian antisemitism); animosities between different Habsburg nationalities; Russian sloth and predilection for bribes. Russian camp authorities are not innately cruel; they are merely lazy and content to leave things as they are. Rubens—an educated Austrian Jewish physician—looks on Ostjuden with curiosity, as though they are a type of animal in a zoo, and Rosenduft is every ready to make a fast buck. This kind of gentle disparagement for members of one’s own faith could only have been penned by a fellow Jew. Gersdorff ’s harrowing journey from the place of his captivity to his final destination is mirrored by other authors, especially Hameiri (see above). The book depicts interactions between prisoner soldiers and officers, and Russians and prisoner officers. Dissatisfaction with the assis94 given by American neutrals has also been reported by other sources. The description of a multiethnic Russian town on the Mongolian border, replete with bathhouses and brothels, Chinese opium dens, and Jewish prisoners trying to make a living by trade, is authentic, as is the description of the myriad infectious diseases (including smallpox), which plagued prisoners and civilians alike. As stated, the town alluded to in the novel was probably Berezovka. Finally, this novel gives one of the very few descriptions of World 95 War I prisoner homosexuality. 272 Habsburg Sons e. Hans Kohn. Turkestan and Siberia Hans Kohn was born in Prague in 1891, joined the army, and was taken prisoner during the Carpathian campaign March 1915. From then until January 1920, he remained in Russia. In his autobiography, he describes captivity in 96 Central Asia and Far Eastern Russia (including Siberia). Kohn was initially held captive in Samarkand, a city he describes as having colorful bazaars and narrow winding streets flanked by walled-in houses with 97 charming courtyards, “an oasis of luxuriant green in the desert.” They were held in a Cossack summer training camp where, apart from primitive medical conditions with high incidences of malaria, typhoid fever, and louse-borne typhus, life was not oppressive. They had their own organization, food was plentiful and cheap, guards friendly, and they were even allowed to visit the 98 town. Kohn found, amongst the population, a number of Bukharan Jews. In February 1916, Kohn escaped from camp, trying unsuccessfully to cross the desert into Afghanistan. After three days of wandering and exhaustion, he was recaptured. Because he was deemed an escape risk, he was transported to a remote outpost in the Pamir Mountains, near the border of Chinese 99 Turkestan. During the five day journey by train, ox-drawn cart, and horse, he developed a severe case of malaria, apparently cured by the 12,000-foot altitude of the prison camp. Possibly because of the high altitude, malarial mosquitos were absent. During March, Kohn witnessed three springs: the first in Samarkand before they left, the second in Osh where they waited for a few days or their escort, and the third, “a very timid and tender spring in the high and 100 rarified air of Gulcha.” Because Russians expected resistance from the inhabitants of Turkestan after mobilization for front labor service in 1916, Kohn was sent away in June 1916: he travelled by train via Samara to Khabarovsk, capital of Far Eastern 101 Russia (in reality a camp in Krasnaya Rechka). Despite guards, a few of Kohn’s fellow prisoners succeeded in escaping through train windows, so the last part of their journey was made by barred teplushkas. They were placed in well-built houses normally used by staff officers, with four or five men locked in each room. Except for prison inmates and guards, they were allowed to see no one. Winter 1916/1917 was hard, with food shortages not only for prisoners but also for the local population, because of the breakdown of Russian transportation 102 due to war. The March revolution ended the prisoners’ solitary confinement; Red Cross books and periodicals were made available, and Kohn ar with the 278 Habsburg Sons Russian Easter, because they reckoned that military discipline would be relaxed on that day. They sold their uniforms to local Polish Jews and, before they left, visited the local military cemetery to pay respects to comrades who had died in captivity. They boarded the train and passed through the Urals; all went well until, two hours from Orenburg, the train stopped. There were rumors that the train must go back because there was fighting around Orenburg, but finally the train proceeded and arrived in the city, where, for the first time in months, they were able to obtain white bread. On March 4, they travelled on to Samara. The station was full of Red guards, and they tried to sit in the waiting room as inconspicuously as possible. Because Red guards were inspecting travel documents, Epstein and his comrades went into the city early the next morning. They decided to take a freight train to Tula, so as to avoid the Red guards, and hide in a teplushka behind the stove. They arrived safely in Tula, and then proceeded via Orel to Kursk, where they arrived on May 9, 1918. The men reported at the local Danish consulate as soon as they could. The consulate put the men up in a villa for eight days, during which ample provisions for the road were purchased in the town prior 120 to leaving for Lgow in Poland on May 15. They passed the demarcation 121 zone in the dead of night, and were again in Austro-Hungarian territory. Upon their return, they heard the terrible news: fifteen of their comrades who had tried to escape after them, had been murdered. Simmering dissatisfaction with Russian rule culminated in a full-scale uprising of the Central Asian peoples in late 1918 and early 1919, and nearly 200 prisoners—both officers and men—were murdered in the chaos by bandits and militia. Nineteen 122 men, who had married Russian women, remained behind in safety. Epstein thought of his murdered comrades with great sadness, and vowed to remember 123 them. g. The Odyssey of Kaspar Blond: Persia, Mesopotamia, the Ottoman Middle East, and the Central Powers Campaign in Persia 124 Kaspar Blond was born in 1889 in Czernowitz. He studied medicine in Vienna, and in 1913 he served as one-year volunteer. The war interrupted his medical studies. From August 4, 1914, Blond was active as assistant physician in the Czernowitz garrison hospital. Because Czernowitz was the first town occupied by the Russians, Blond was taken captive very early, on September 24, 1914. He was transported to Turkestan, and imprisoned in Ashkhabad and 125 Tashkent where he served as camp physician. He escaped from Ashkhabad Captives of the Tsar in European Russia, Siberia, and Central Asia 279 on November 6, 1915, and began a travel odyssey that would take him through Persia, Mesopotamia, and Turkish Syria, where he witnessed the Armenian genocide at first hand. On return to Vienna, he was transferred to Palestine in early 1917, due to his knowledge of infectious diseases. He remained there 126 until the end of the war. His travels through Persia, Iraq, and Ottoman Syria 127 are diarized and provide a unique perspective on a little-known theater of operations. Blond escaped from Ashkhabad, with three comrades, in civilian clothing with bulging pockets and double-soled shoes. They marched across the steppe with a Turkmen guide; the terrain became mountainous, and an icy wind blew. The mountains they were crossing formed the border between Turkestan and the Persian province of Khorasan. They struggled up the bare rocky mountain 128 in the middle of the night and crossed the border into Persia. They travelled through the ice-cold night, arriving exhausted and half-frozen in a small Persian town in Khorasan around midnight. Next day, they marched off along a fast-flowing mountain stream in a south-westerly direction. On the way, they stopped in a village where Blond and his comrades were introduced as “great physicians,” and soon surrounded by people with all sorts of conditions. They spent the night in a mud hut “together with an old Persian with red-dyed finger nails and beard, two young Persian women, two children, and a host of vermin,” and then continued east, washing properly in a mountain stream for the first time since their departure. They were welcomed by the local 129 Khan’s son in a nearby village. Accompanied by the Khan’s son, they continued to the next village, where they enquired whether any Cossacks had been seen in the area. The Khan’s son led them to the local governor’s palace. The governor’s brother welcomed them and took them around the local bazaar. They met a twenty-one-year-old German Balt who, on the way to volunteer at the German mission in Tehran, was captured by Russians on suspicion of espionage, and escaped. He told Blond and his comrades that they all (including himself) were under house arrest. The Cossacks had previously warned the Persians to give neither aid nor comfort to the soldiers of the Central Powers, and the Tehran regime was Russia-friendly. After several days, they were brought before the governor. They persuaded him that they were not spies, and he agreed to let them go. Blond 130 was impressed by the anti-Russian feeling of the inhabitants in Khorasan. Blond and his comrades left the town riding on mules. They arrived in Tabor, where they were suspected of being Russians in disguise, and fled a few hours later. They crossed the mountains, reaching the Great