After several years of work, the RAJCV has drawn
up, ten years after the end of the Great War, the foregoing list of Jewish servicemen killed
in action in the German Army, the German Navy, and the German Colonial Forces.
First of all, a list of Jewish KIAs was put together
by asking Jewish congregations and local chapters
of the RAJCV. Then, in 1928/29 this list was published
in weekly installments in the official bulletin
of the RAJCV, the “
Shield,” in order to correct any possible
errors and to complete the list.
Feldrabbiner Dr. Siegfried Klein
(born 1882, murdered in Auschwitz 1944).
After appropriate preparatory steps we approached
the Central Records Office for War Casualties and
War Graves in Spandau, where the names of all casualties
from the German Army, the German Navy, and Colonial
Troops are kept. We were able to verify 10,060 of
the 10,623 names that we had on our list.
Of the 10,623 names on our list, we were able to
verify 10,060 from the lists and card files at the
Spandau office. And so the 10,060 names published
here correspond to the 10,060 names found in the official
casualty records. Of the remaining names, 94 were
confirmed from local Registry Offices. As a result,
a total of 10,154 names, that is 95.6%, have been
verified from official records.
(1)That leaves 469 names that are mentioned only in the records of Jewish congregations.
We have not been able to confirm any of these names with either the Central Records Office or with local Registry Offices.
These names have been listed separately in the Appendix. The main list contains only Jewish casualties, meaning those who
were officially listed as belonging to the Jewish faith at the time of death. For this reason, many of the fallen are not
listed because at the time of death they had abandoned their faith. An example of this is the well-known fighter pilot
Wilhelm Frankl from Frankfurt am Main.
Experience with further investigation has shown
that these lists should not be considered as final.
So, for example, after we had prepared, in collaboration
with our friend Dr. Theilhaber, the second edition
book, (2) augmented with 125 Jewish airmen who had
flown in combat, suddenly
50 more names came in. It is therefore
to be assumed that the present edition will elicit
reports of Jewish KIAs from all over the country. Therefore we have set up a system to easily file
the additional names that are to be expected. These
supplements will permit the as yet incomplete casualty
lists to include those who died after the Armistice.
Indeed, the Central Records Office informed us
after our initial inquiry that the registration
of war casualties would include all those who could
be proven to have died in veterans’ hospitals
as a result of war wounds up to June 28, 1920, that
is, one year after
peace agreement. The well-known German total casualty figure of
1,880,000 was determined in this manner. We were
only able to add 325 names after the Armistice,
of which 112
were found in the Spandau records. Countless numbers
war victims could not be recorded because at the
time of death they had no relation with the military.
Also, from the nearly 125,000 men missing in action,
the only ones that could be listed were those who
had been legally declared dead or those for whom
official inquiries were called off as futile. A
large percentage of those who were
missing in action, but whose names did not make
reports, must be left out until individual cases
can be clarified at a later date by application
to the Central Records
Surely among these, our co-religionists, who number
in the hundreds, will come to light. In addition,
it must be pointed out that, due to regulations
at the time and for procedural reasons, only a comparison
with our incomplete list could be carried out. It
not possible for us to complete our lists based
thorough examination of the records. And here something must be said regarding the relation
of this list to the two earlier
| statistical assessments
regarding the number of Jewish servicemen killed
It is known that during the war a so-called “Jewish
Count” was set up by army headquarters. According
to this count, 3411 Jews were supposed to have been
in action by Nov. 1, 1916, while the total number
killed in action by that date amounted to 906,625. According to this assessment, the total number
of Jewish casualties by the end of the war could
have been not more than 6,000, a number which does
not hold true numerically and simply indicates how
inaccurate the “Jewish Count” was.
Jewish soldiers in the German Army during World War I celebrate Yom Kippur in the Brussels synagogue, Oct. 7, 1915.
When one can see that today, twelve years after
the end of the war, there is a list of over 10,000
Jewish servicemen killed in action, of which every
single one has been verified by official records,
it shows that the numbers used then and the count
derived from them did a grave injustice
to the Jewish people.
(3) Between 1917 and 1921 a census was undertaken
on behalf of the great Jewish organizations, lead
by Dr. Jacob Segall and under the direction of the
director of the Berlin State Statistical Office,
Dr. Heinrich Silbergleit. This work, (4) carried
out under the greatest of difficulties, revealed
the following: of the 555,000 Jews living in the
Reich in 1914, 100,000 served during the war in
the Army, Navy, and Colonial Troops and 12,000 remained
on the field of honor.
Not counting the regions of Hamburg, the Province
of Posen and Alsace-Lorraine, 10,089 Jewish KIAs
were counted. Based on this number and after painstaking
evaluation by Silbergleit and Segall, it was determined
that proportionately another 2,000 from these areas
could be added to the total number. So, the total
number would be 12,000 Jewish servicemen killed
It is interesting to compare the earlier results
with the list we have today. If we subtract the
1007 that we were able to identify from those regions,
even today only partly accessible to us, then 9616
names remain, that is 4.68% less than the former
statistical investigation had yielded. This difference
is, on the one hand, of minor significance, in view
of cessions of territory which have occurred since,
and their corresponding obstacles to our investigation,
and on the other hand in view of the high percentage
of verified names. Our efforts form an excellent -
confirmation of the findings of Jewish Committees
for War Statistics, and from these results one can
assume as a fact that war casualties from German
Jews amounted to 12,000 killed in action.
This number, given all that was said above, can
be seen as rather too low and represents a questionable
minimum quantity. (5) We would like at this point
to thank all the Jewish agencies and organizations
that have significantly and materially supported
Our appreciation is also extended to the national,
regional, and city agencies which at all times assisted
us in a most valuable way; especially the Central
Records Office in Spandau and its branch offices
in Munich, Dresden and Stuttgart, whose extensive
casualty lists, the result of fifteen years of comprehensive
official organization and activity, made it possible
for us to carry out our difficult comparison activities.
1. Some quite noteworthy facts were revealed in our lists. Among the 10,060
names we found 270 officers and 155 medical officers. As a result of this,
there must have been 322 officers and 185 medical officers among the 12,000
Jews killed in action. In addition 30 of the fallen were airmen who died a
2.“Jewish Fliers in the World War” by Dr. Felix A. Theilhaber; “The
Shield,” Berlin 1924. - addenda 1932.
3.Official material was published
in “Jews in the Army” by Otto Arnim (Alfred Roth); Deutscher Verlag
4.“German Jews as Soldiers in the 1914/1918 War,” a
statistical study by Dr. Jacob Segall, with a foreword by Prof. Dr. Heinrich
Silbergleit; Philo-Verlag G. m. b. H., Berlin 1922.
Berthold Guthmann with his brother and sister
Berthold Guthmann was born in 1893 and volunteered for military service in WWI, as did his two brothers (one of whom was killed at Verdun). He became observer and gunner on military aircrafts and was awarded the Iron Cross (Second Class), the Tapferkeitsmedaille (Medal for Bravery), and the Verwundetenabzeichen (equivalent to the Purple Heart).
After the war he became a successful attorney in Wiesbaden. He was the secular leader of the Wiesbaden Jewish community during its darkest years (1938-1942) and second in charge of the Frankfurt Jewish congregation during its final months (1942-1943). He was murdered in the holocaust.
The following was part of the recommendation for the Iron Cross (ca. 1916) read: >>...Lt. Guthmann is brave and a fine officer, although Jewish...<<"
5.A comparison of this number with German totals is only possible when the
peculiar social, occupational and demographic distribution of German Jews in
the total population is taken into consideration. Among the German population,
the urban and rural population distribution must have been worked out according
to religion, profession, age even for war casualty figures, so that a comparison
of average numbers can only lead to error. An example will clarify this: The
550,000 Jewish people with German citizenship in 1914 were predominantly living
in big cities. If you compare this with the percentage of Germans living in
cities, for example the population of Munich at the time was 645,000, you get
the following results. Munich suffered 13,725 killed, while from the Jewish
population of 555,000, 12,000 were killed. This gives a percentage of 2.1%
killed for both populations. You get the same picture in other individual cases,
to the extent the demographic relationships are fairly consistent.