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Remembered Today:

Jewish Soldier's headstone


Tom Tulloch-Marshall
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Anybody who visits CWGC cemeteries will be familiar with the "usual / default" form of headstone below left, and probably also the stones which do not bear a Christian cross, usually at the specific request of the soldier concerned. (Though some like the stone below right have very "Christian" family inscriptions - though that's not the issue with this post).

post-108-0-15744500-1377866250_thumb.jpg post-108-0-46036700-1377866499_thumb.jpg

CWGC stones to Jewish soldiers that I am aware of all bear the Star of David -

post-108-0-34548500-1377866523_thumb.jpg

Does anybody know of any headstones to Jewish soldiers which (similar to the "Christian" stones above) do not display a Star ?

Tom

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Could this be due to the graves officer not passing on the correct information? Also, if the person didn't make themselves known to be Jewish to those around them then in the heat of a situation and haste for burial, mistakes could also be made.

I do recall reading of a couple of Jewish men being given Christian burials because:

1. They didn't have anyone to conduct a Jewish burial and I believe afterwards the Padre wrote to the parents and explained what had happened.

2. They didn't realise he was Jewish until later because the chap had spent a lot of time reading the bible so they assumed he was a Christian.

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On Jewish Graves in CWGC sites they often have a few stones put on top of the head stone. Please could somebody tell me the significance of this?

Thanks

Richard

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My understanding for the case of obviously Christian soldiers with no cross is that there were various groups (including, I think, Primitive Methodists) who didn't agree with the use of the cross in this way, and so requested the blank stone.

I'm not aware of any similar objection to the use of the Star of David among Jewish groups (though I'm by no means an expert), so I'd suspect it's less likely in that context, but it's possible that some might have preferred no religious symbol at all I suppose.

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On Jewish Graves in CWGC sites they often have a few stones put on top of the head stone. Please could somebody tell me the significance of this?

It is not in the Jewish tradiiton to leave flowers at a grave. The placing of a stone is simply to indicate that the person is still remembered.

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Hi

The choice of the religious symbol was not made by the soldier but by the next of kin. The IWGC sent a proforma to the NOK offering the alternatives of the cross, the star of David or no symbol. It pointed out that the default choice was the cross if no answer was given.

Peter

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My understanding for the case of obviously Christian soldiers with no cross is that there were various groups (including, I think, Primitive Methodists) who didn't agree with the use of the cross in this way, and so requested the blank stone.

Whilst I agree in general, there are always exceptions - for example, the epitaph: 'Jesus, Mary, Joseph Save' almost certainly has to be RC, yet no cross

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Here's one without a Star of David that I photographed in the Jewish Cemetery, Victoria, British Columbia.

(The headstone is the last photo in the linked top post)

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=197700&hl=victoria

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Whilst I agree in general, there are always exceptions - for example, the epitaph: 'Jesus, Mary, Joseph Save' almost certainly has to be RC, yet no cross

Were the families expected to make a financial contribution? If so this might affect what was included.

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Does anyone know how many Rabbis were at the Western Front?

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If I recall in the case where a mistake was made in post #2 the Padre tried to find a Rabbi in the area locally. I will try to find these cases again and see if these men were given a Star of David headstone.

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Were the families expected to make a financial contribution? If so this might affect what was included.

Yes and no: at first yes, later on no (and it did not apply to the Dominions which did not charge - NZ did not allow any epitaphs (tho' a few managed to slip through) in either the First or Second Word war. However, that would have made no difference as regards a cross or not - that went on regardless unless it was known that the person was not a Christian, or - presumably - in cases where the next of kin decided it should not go on the headstone or unless there was some sort of bureaucratic error in some cases, such as possibly might be the case in the one that i cited.

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Thank you for clarifying Nigel.

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The choice of the religious symbol was not made by the soldier but by the next of kin. The IWGC sent a proforma to the NOK offering the alternatives of the cross, the star of David or no symbol. It pointed out that the default choice was the cross if no answer was given.

Peter - is there any chance of documentary support of that statement - its beyond my knowledge base ?

Whilst I agree in general, there are always exceptions - for example, the epitaph: 'Jesus, Mary, Joseph Save' almost certainly has to be RC, yet no cross

Nigel - in the OP I said that "... (Though some like the stone below right have very "Christian" family inscriptions - though that's not the issue with this post)." That partly relates to the question to Peter ref his post #7, though with this topic I'd rather that the waters aren't muddied, if possible. My question relates to Jewish men's headstones.

Tom

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Here's one without a Star of David that I photographed in the Jewish Cemetery, Victoria, British Columbia.

(The headstone is the last photo in the linked top post)

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=197700&hl=Victoria

Berenice - thanks. Assuming that Joseph L Vince was Jewish that answers the question in post #1. I'll contact The Old Cemeteries Society of Victoria and see if they can add anything.

Now does anybody know of a / any similar example(s) on the Western Front, ot maybe Palestine ?

Tom

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His is the only CWGC headstone in the Jewish Cemetery and there are other cemeteries in the city he could have been buried in. If he's not Jewish it would be interesting to know why he's buried there.

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I have located one of the men from my post #2 from the Western Front.

He is now buried here:http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/597015/LEHMANN,%20REGINALD%20ROY

He was the first man I mentioned and the information regarding him is mostly correct in that it was the man himself who asked the Padre if there was 'a Jewish Chaplain' in the neighbourhood so that he might attend a service. In the absence of a Rabbi they conducted what seemed to be a Christian service for him at his burial and wrote a letter to explain. His original grave is shown, he is buried with two others and all three graves have crosses. The battalion returned later and erected a memorial cross behind the graves. The cross did not survive. The graves survived and he was moved to his current location.

I can only assume that Harold Lehmann has a Star of David headstone.

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Tom

The proforma I referred to is the one sent to NOK seeking the personal details of the man that was used in the cemetery register. I have seen many copies of this in the service records of Australians where the NOK could not be traced and the form resides there until the NOK can be traced or forever if no trace. I am so used to seeing it that I never actually took a copy. I did copy the attached which shows the care that was taken when a "mistake" was suspected. In this case the NOK did not realise the significance of the Star of David. You will also note that the AIF had produced a list of Jewish soldiers to the IWGC. I wonder if that list was used to engrave a star when the NOK could not be found or did not reply.

Peter

Cross or Star.doc

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From some research we have done it would appear that as many Jewish families used anglicised names and when they attested chose another faith simply to avoid conflict as anti sematism was rife in many areas especially around London

Regards

Steve

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... He is now buried here:http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/597015/LEHMANN,%20REGINALD%20ROY

... I can only assume that Harold Lehmann has a Star of David headstone.

Seaforths - His headstone bears the Star of David.

Tom

The proforma I referred to is the one sent to NOK seeking the personal details of the man that was used in the cemetery register. I have seen many copies of this in the service records of Australians where the NOK could not be traced and the form resides there until the NOK can be traced or forever if no trace. ...

Peter

Peter - Maybe there is a particular Australian angle to this, but as far as "British" CWGC (IWGC) burials with no religious symbol on the headstones are concerned - I'm FAR from convinced that this was a nok decision. Note for example Gunner Rowson's headstone in post #1 - a more "religious" nok inscription would be hard to find, but there is no religious symbol. The idea that his nok have "Jesus" engraved on the stone but at the same time "chose" for there to be no religious symbol just doesn't ring true. I'll keep digging on that angle, but the question ref any Jewish soldier's stone without a star still stands.

Tom

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Seaforths - His headstone bears the Star of David.

Thank you Tom, I thought that might be the case.

I wish I could remember where I read about the other chap. I've searched three books but I will probably come across him on a re-read when I'm not looking for him!

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Tom

You are a hard man to convince but let me have another attempt.

I assume that you accept that IWGC contacted the NOK to obtain the names of parents, wife and place of birth and residence and sometimes the NOK included little bits about his previous work or schooling. This all formed the basis of the entry in the cemetery register.

If the NOK could not be traced or chose not to reply then the cemetery register records only the man’s date of death rank, serial number, battalion and Regiment. There had been a strong lobby that all the graves should be topped by a cross not a stone. This was defeated by the fact that even all the basic information would be difficult to get on but also by what would happen in the case of a soldier whose religion was such that there were no use of the cross as a symbol. . (It is possible that the French use of a plain stone also covers these cases).

The members of these groups were often much more religious than the man who put C of E on his attestation papers having only been to church to be baptised. It is therefore very feasible that a stone without a cross has a very religious personal inscription. I would go as far as to say that the chance of a religious inscription is very much higher on a no cross stone than on one with a cross.

I do not think that the IWGC was handed the man’s attestation papers nor do I think that there would have been a space, on whatever was handed over, to state no cross on his grave. The IWGC gave the alternatives of cross star or nothing having been aware of the previous arguments against the cross the person that chose was the NOK not the Army. The default in the case of no reply was a cross.

Your scenario is that there were many non believers with strongly religious parents, mine is that there were the same number of believers from groups that did not use the cross as a symbol.

We may have to agree to differ

Peter

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Does anyone know how many Rabbis were at the Western Front?

At the end of the war on 11 Nov 1918 the RAChD had on its strength

Jewish

Home - 4

BEF - 8

MEF - 3

Salonika - 1

Total - 16

See Statistics of the of the Military Effort of the British Empire during the Great War, p.190

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