A forthcoming exhibition at the Jewish Museum in London, ‘For King and Country?’ will present personal stories of the First World War, including those of some of the over 50,000 Jewish soldiers who fought for Britain, as well as those who experienced war away from the battlefield.
The exhibition opens on 19 March. For more information see
During the First World War, there were around 12,000 Jews in Scotland, many of them immigrants from the Russian Empire (mostly present-day Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus and Ukraine). The majority of the foreign-born Jews were not naturalised, and many of them had surnames which sounded at best foreign and at worst German or Austrian (indeed the British royal family at that time felt the need to change their name from Saxe-Coburg to Windsor). Foreign-born Jews were anxious to show that they were loyal to their adopted country and many served in the forces.
The Scottish Jewish Archives Centre has a collection of certificates issued to non-naturalised Jews to state that they were from a friendly country (Russia), rather than enemy Germany or Austria-Hungary. The documents were issued by the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council, City of Glasgow Police and the Imperial Russian Vice-Consulate.
(Harvey Kaplan, Director, Scottish Jewish Archives Centre. www.sjac.org.uk)