Zionist activists held that the frontexperience persuaded many
Jews to turn their backs on assimilation and embrace a newfound Jewish
One searches in vain, however, in the writings of Jewish soldiers for evi-
dence that wartime antisemitism led to an abandonment of prewar attitudes
and beliefs. Letters and diary entries written during the final weeks of the
war showed no signs that Jewish soldiers had abandoned their ideals or that
their desire to see Germany emerge victorious diminished; the celebratory
language of the writings of socialist
, servicewomen perceived many dimensions of their war
frontexperience-military enlistment, exposure to danger, and uncon-
ventional work and leisure activities-as a potential challenge to the re-
strictive gender roles at home.
Most important, American servicewomen viewed themselves as taking
part in a great national venture in partnership with men. They believed
that they could contribute essential services and skilled labor toward an
Allied victory. Indeed, the conviction that their nation required the help
of women workers was one of the strongest motivations for
he wanted to be welcomed back to Germany as a hero and as a “real” man.
This expectation provided the impetus for individuals to go headlong into
the trenches, to risk death, wounds, and disfigurement for the fatherland.
Individual wartime experiences were contingent on a range of social and
situational factors, central to which were a soldier’s expectations in Au-
gust 1914 and the extent to which they were being fulfilled. This gap be-
tween expectations and reality undergirded Jewish expressions of enthusi-
himself as fully integrated
into the German Bildungsbürgertum (educated middle-class society). Certain
facets of Herzfeld’s experience are unquestionably unique—he was a for-
mer member of the officers’ corps, an upper-middle-class factory owner,
and a baptized Protestant living in a liberal, predominantly Catholic region
in Germany—but his writings exhibit remarkable similarities with other Jews
who had been socialized by the frontexperience and imbued with a German
“national” self-image, only to find themselves shunned by the Nazis after
the mayor’s 1939 reelection campaign. Such mayoral acts of mea culpa
helped the machine pass through what could have been rough waters.
World War ii
America’s World War II home frontexperience was quite different from that
of World War I. The United States was slow to enter World War I and fought
for less than two years. As a result, the American home front never fully mobi-
lized for that war effort. Americans did not enter the Second World War until
late 1941, but many American businesses had been supplying war supplies to
Great Britain since early 1940
fate exemplifies the plight of the Jewish Frontkämpfer, whose habitus was
shaped by the “frontexperience” and a pronounced “German” self-image,
yet who struggled to reconcile the loss of status and betrayal by his country.
Together with other postwar autobiographical sources, Manes’s and Hadra’s
writings bring to light crucial similarities regarding veterans’ behaviors, cop-
ing strategies, and spiritual attitudes as they became victims of the Final
By the time Manes and Hadra arrived at Theresienstadt, they had already
-Century Germany, edited by Karen Hagemann and Stefanie
Schüler-Springorum, 43–67. Oxford: Berg, 2002.
Garbarini, Alexandra, Emil Kerenji, Jan Lambertz, and Avinoam Patt. Jewish Re-
sponses to Persecution. Vol. 2, 1938–1940. Lanham, MD: AltaMira, 2011.
Geheran, Michael. “Remasculinizing the Shirker: The Jewish Frontkämpfer under
Hitler.” Central European History 51, no. 3 (2018): 440–65.
——. “Rethinking Jewish FrontExperiences.” In Beyond Inclusion and Exclusion: Jewish
Experiences of the First World War in Central Europe, edited by Jason Crouthamel,
Michael Geheran, Tim
the early Comintern years.
During the 1930s many of them had either withdrawn from active politics
or—as had happened to leaders like Scoccimarro and Secchia—endured
arrest and imprisonment by the Fascists. The sectarianism of the old-guard
cadres had thus not been tempered by the popular frontexperience. Nor
had their reflexive loyalty to the fatherland of socialism been shaken by
direct exposure to the heavy-handed methods of the Stalinists, as was the
case for so many of their own leaders in exile. Instead their Bolshevik
matrix remained intact, reinforced by
between war and the implementation of criminal policies by the Nazi
16 On the Wehrmachrs failure to replenish its manpower and materiel, see GSWW,
vol. 5, bk. 1, pts. 2-3. On the soldier's frontexperience, seeS. Fritz, Frontsoldaten: The
German Soldier in World War II (Lexington, KY, 1995); T. Schulte, The German Army and
Nazi Policies in Occupied Russia (Oxford, 1989); 0. Bartov, Hitler's Army: Soldiers, Nazis,
and War in the Third Reich (New York, 1991); Bartov, The Eastern Front, 1941-1945, 2d
ed. (New York, 2001).
17 Ploetz, Geschichte des Zweiten