Gabriel Wolfson: Between “Armeeoberkommando" and "Ostjuden": Jewish Military Chaplains on the Eastern Front in World War I


Di. 27.02.2024 | 11:00 Uhr

In this colloquium, doctoral candidate Gabriel Wolfson will try to reconstruct the war experience of the 45 Jewish military chaplains employed by the German army during the First World War. The activity of the Jewish chaplains not only reflects the presence of Jewish soldiers in the German army (approximately 100,000), but also provides information about the situation of German Jewry during the war and in the pre- and post-war period, since many of the chaplains were community rabbis in peacetime. An essential research goal is thus the visualisation and analysis of the constitutive connection between war, everyday life, religion and culture.

The chaplains cared for Jews and non-Jews alike, met with Jewish POWs from various foreign armies, and confronted the so-called “Ostjuden” (Eastern European Jews) with a combination of fascination, reverence, pity and sometimes revulsion. This colloquium is based on and reflects aims of G. Wolfson doctoral thesis "Jewish military chaplains in the German Army in the First World War: Experience and Interpretation".

During his research in Vilnius, G. Wolfson is trying to examine the role of the protagonists who were sent to occupied Lithuania to restructure Jewish education there according to the German model on behalf of the German military authorities. Of central importance here are questions about the change in German-Jewish self-image with regard to religion, state and society in the wake of the war. G. Wolfson’s research stay in Vilnius is provided by Gerald D. Feldman Travel Grants of the Max Weber Foundation.

Presenter: Gabriel Wolfson, PhD student

Moderator: Prof. Dr. Ruth Leiserowitz, Deputy Director German History Institute in Warsaw, Professor at Humboldt University of Berlin

The Colloquium will take place at The Lithuanian Institute of History, room 320.


Workshop „Infrastructures of Memory. Actants of Globalisation and their Impact on German and Polish Memory Culture”
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