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Loyalty Betrayed Hardcover – Illustrated, 7 Oct 2013
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Dr Appelbaum's book is not only a detailed study of Jewish military chaplaincy in the Imperial German Army; it is a significant contribution to the study of military chaplaincy in the European context. Loyalty Betrayed will be of interest to students from many different academic disciplines. --David Blake, Curator, The Museum of Army Chaplaincy (UK)
Meticulously researched, skilfully written and a pleasure to read, this volume provides a much-needed study of the dedicated and sacrificial service of rabbis to German soldiers in a war in which trauma and tragedy were daily realities of trench warfare. The volume fills a gap in war and religion studies for the First World War providing tremendous insight regarding matters of faith and force in a war that has consequences into the present. Appelbaum's volume is a welcome addition to both military history and religious studies. --Timothy J. Demy, US Naval War College
Peter Appelbaum has made accessible for the first time to the English reader a collection of fascinating primary sources, written by rabbis serving as chaplains in the German Army, both on the Western and the Eastern Fronts, during the Great War. Composed during the period of active service, these illuminating texts poignantly dramatise the complexities of this war, especially for German Jews who - sincerely convinced that theirs was the side of justice and right - were deeply committed to their country and believed that the sacrifices they made in combat, even to the point of fighting and killing other Jews in the enemy ranks, would finally eliminate any conceivable basis for anti-Semitism. --Marc Saperstein, Professor of Jewish Studies, King's College, London --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Peter Appelbaum was born in 1947 and educated in South Africa, where he graduated MD. He emigrated to the United States in 1978 and is currently retired as Emeritus Professor of Pathology, and writes books on Jewish military history.
Top customer reviews
One of the great historical ironies is the fate of the Jews of Germany. During the 19th century there developed an intense German patriotism among them and many efforts were made to combine some form of `Germanness' and `Jewishness'. It was no surprise that as many as perhaps 100,000 German Jews served in the armed forces in World War I, a high proportion in the front line so that some 12,000 were killed or died on active service.
Yet there were rumours that the Jews were shirking by not serving, or if they were, were mainly behind the front line. These views were so strong as to lead to an official `Jews' Census', designed to discover the figures. The institution of such as Census came as a great shock to German Jewry, and presaged much worse that was to come with the Nazis. For there is much in the book about good relations between German and Jewish soldiers to the extent of some Christians attending Jewish religious services. One of the chaplains, Rabbi Georg Salzberger, wrote: `Whatever the future holds, the generation which has experienced this war cannot fall back into old anti-Jewish prejudices'. After all the Kaiser had declared a `civil truce' on 4 August 1914, that he knew only Germans, irrespective of faith or party. Thus, some of the sermons and other writings of Rabbi Bruno Italianer (Jewish chaplain to the Seventh Army on the Western Front throughout the war), were published in that army's war newspaper.
This book is about the 30 chaplains who served the Jewish soldiers and consists mainly of extracts, translated by the author, of some of their writings, published and unpublished. They provide vivid descriptions of the daily life of the chaplains, going about the business of taking religious services, burying the dead, writing to inform relatives of such deaths, and the day-to-day activities that one might expect. One surprising feature is that they tended to `enemy' prisoners of war, and to Jewish civilians, especially those on the eastern front where the large numbers of Jews were caught up in the fighting.
Although there had been Jewish chaplains before 1914, as described by the author, there were difficulties in this war for some of them. The 43-year old Rabbi Aron Taenzer volunteered as a chaplain at the start of the war but was refused for many months. No uniform was provided at first and they had to improvise one for themselves. Nor were they paid initially - but neither were some chaplains who did not belong to the two main Christian denominations. But during 1915 such matters were regularised except that they were paid by their own communities.
There were differences between the chaplains. Bruno Italiener was a young man and he expressed extremely patriotic sentiments, and even spoke of `the beauty of this war' (admittedly this was in August 1914, at the start of the war). Leo Baeck, later to be well known as a survivor of Theresienstadt concentration camp in World War II where he served the Jewish inmates, was a more thoughtful person, whose writings tended to deal with the reality of war, with descriptions of cemeteries, and of the Russian-Jewish prisoners of war whom he encountered.
Part of the problem for the chaplains was that Jewish soldiers were scattered among many units and over large areas. Arranging services for them were difficult and special arrangements had to be made. For the two days of Rosh Hashanah (New Year) and the one day of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) in October 1916, the eastern Front was divided into three sections and there were two other days when Leo Baeck could not be present, so that each man had `his one festival day'.
As mentioned, this is largely a book of source material, consisting as it does of extracts of the chaplains' writings, as well as the author's summaries and comments on the chaplains. There are also two long introductory essays: a Foreword by Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg and a Historical Introduction by Michael E. Meyer. Wittenberg is a rabbi in London, whose grandfather was a chaplain in the German army in the First World War and he provides, partly, a personal interpretation of the book's contents (including reflections on his grandfather's experiences) as well as some animadversions of such matters are German-Jewish patriotism. One of these is the belief that `German and Jew belonged together, that in essence they represented the same moral principles and the same intellectual and spiritual ideals'.
Michael E. Meyer provides a historical background to Jewish service in the army as well as much useful information to supplement and explain the body of the text.
The `Loyalty' in the title is well described in the book. `Betrayal' is the title of the final chapter in the book , written by the author, and inter alia describes the subsequent, sad, history of the chaplains along with that of German Jewry in general. Most of the chaplains emigrated in the 1930s after the Nazis came into power but four died in the Holocaust. The title is a most apt summary of the great hopes expressed by many German Jews in the war, and the terrible fate that befell them.
This is a well-researched and readable book and will appeal to historians of different disciplines - of Germany, Jewry, and military.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
My grandfather, Rabbi Aron (Arnold) Tänzer, was highly decorated by the German Reich for his exemplary patriotic service to German soldiers on the bloody Eastern Front where the forces of Germany and Russia collided with terrible consequences for the local, largely Jewish, populations of Poland, Lithuania and the Ukraine.
Unfortunately, for us in the English speaking world, most of Aron Tänzer’s voluminous scholarship has not been translated into English. Now, for the first time, thanks to Peter Appelbaum, we not only have my grandfather’s gut wrenching wartime diaries, skillfully translated into English, but also a panoply of other historically significant memoirs, sermons and official documents from the pens of then famous Jewish-German rabbinical chaplains including, among others, Rabbis Leo Baeck, Georg Salzberger, Martin Salomonski, Bruno Italiener and David Alexander Winter. The majority of these papers reveal untold devotion to Germany and unimaginable sacrifices made for the German homeland during these terrible times when initial exhilaration gradually wore off as the burdens of endless and futile trench warfare in the west became painfully evident. The theological paradox which these religious leaders had to confront is reflected in their sermons.
One hundred thousand Jews served in the German armed forces during WW I and twelve thousand Jews sacrificed their lives for Germany, all hoping to overcome anti-Semitism by proving their loyalty and selfless bravery.
Accounts of these Jewish chaplains’ wartime service to soldiers and local populations, regardless of creed, are fascinating in themselves. The proverbial icing on the cake which renders “Loyalty Betrayed, Jewish Chaplains in the German Army during the First World War” insightful and historically important, are Peter Appelbaum’s commentaries, his summaries, the photographs and the painstakingly researched footnotes. These attributes combine with the original texts to provide the reader with a greater depth of understanding for those tumultuous times and the locations where these long-forgotten events took place.
Also on behalf of our family, the descendants of Rabbi Aron (Arnold) Tänzer, I congratulate Peter Appelbaum, his sources and publisher, for bringing this important chapter of First World War Jewish history to those of us who have to rely on the English language for a deeper appreciation of important historical events which have shaped the lives of our parents and grandparents and thereby impacted our lives and the heritage to be passed on to future generations.
I highly recommend this fine book for both scholarly and casual reading by anyone interested in learning more about conditions of Jewish soldiers and local populations through the eyes of contemporary German Rabbinical chaplains who selflessly volunteered to serve their country during the Great War, only to see their efforts come to naught with the rise of Hitlerism
Uri Hugo Taenzer
'Subsequent history obscures the fact that early in the twentieth century, despite considerable anti-Semitism, Germany was nation which was among the least hostile to Jews. As a result, Jews rallied to the colors on the outbreak of World War I in commendable numbers, which led to calls for chaplains of the Jewish faith. Loyalty Betrayed gives us an interesting, often very insightful look at the experiences of these nearly three dozen men. The author, a retired university professor, uses both historical narrative and the chaplains’ own words to tell their story. The personal accounts, letters, diaries, even sermons, are often very revealing. The book offers quite a few surprises, camaraderie among Jewish, Protestant, and Catholic chaplains, participation of some senior German officers in Jewish observances, services to refugees, conferences among the chaplains on the various fronts to share ideas, and more. Of course anti-Semitism sometimes intrudes, most notably the Army’s “Jew Count,” intended to prove that Jewish men were evading service, which so discredited the charge that the results were never published. Appelbaum carries the story of these men into the post war years, and then the Nazi era, when all of them was either killed, exiled, or imprisoned, despite their service. An excellent work for anyone interested in the German Army in the Great War, in the chaplaincy, and in the Holocaust.'
For the full review, see StratgyPage.Com
Timothy J. Demy