A Roll of Honor Commemorating the 12,000 German Jews
Who Died for their Fatherland in World War I.

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Epilogue : Relevant Commentaries on the Lists

    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 of the 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 numerous further 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 the 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 of unquestionable 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 the official reports, must be left out until individual cases can be clarified at a later date by application to the Central Records Office.

    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 in force at the time and for procedural reasons, only a comparison with our incomplete list could be carried out. It was not possible for us to complete our lists based on a 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 in action.

    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 killed in action by Nov. 1, 1916, while the total number of Germans 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 in action.

    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 efforts.

    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 pilot’s death.

    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 Munich 1922.

    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.