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History Windows

Discover more about the Jews in the First World War with our expertly curated History Windows and delve even further into the past with our Resource Bank, where you will find a wealth of material to search through.

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1914 JLB Camp at Sandhills, Deal near Kent

'A good Jew and a good Englishman'

The sacrifice of 535 soldiers who had been part of the Jewish Lads' Brigade.

'Our prayers are with you'

A series of Service booklets was created to mark events following the declaration of war in August 1914

outdoor service for the Jewish Battalion in Ludd Palestine, 1918. ©Jewish Museum

British Jewish Chaplaincy in the First World War, by Jonathan Lewis

In times of conflict a fighting man needed his God!

The uncommon languages room. Letters written in any language in the world can be translated here. 1917. © IWM (Q 54150)

DORA

The effects of DORA were incredibly far reaching, with some of the rules and restrictions still having an impact on UK law and attitudes in the 21st century.

Field Service. Andrusier Collection

Faith in the Front Line

We have been farmers, scholars, merchants and professionals - we have also more than done our part as soldiers.

Soldiers in Jewish Communities HW

First World War Soldiers in the Jewish Communities

Jewish soldiers travelled widely across Europe and frequently visited Jewish communities, often in the areas they had come from originally.

The first official photograph taken of a Tank going into action, at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, 15/09/1916. © IWM (Q 2488)

Introduction of Tanks to Warfare

One of the key problems of the war in Europe was the lack of movement; any advance inevitably involved one side having to attack the other across exposed ground.

Attack by Winsten, Clare. 1910. ©Ben Uri

Jewish Artists and the First World War

Around 1890 a group of Jewish children were born, who became important artists. They had a large and long lasting impact on British art in the Twentieth Century and each have interesting stories.

Conscientious Objectors to Military Service. Dice  Work Camp, Oct 1916.  ©  www.hertsatwar.co.uk

Jewish Conscientious Objectors

Conscientious objectors were widely despised as cowards and were often imprisoned under harsh conditions.

Jewish life in GA HW

Jewish life in the German and Austrian Armed Forces

When war was declared, German and Austrian Jews stepped up to serve, answering the call for duty.

Jewish Officers and men, hammersmith synagogue -in training- November 1914

Jewish Officers in the British Forces in the First World War, by Martin Sugarman

Explore who the Jewish men were and what their lives may have been like prior to the First World War.

Group photograph of members of the Workers' Circle Friendly Society. 1916. © Jewish Museum 33.9

Jews who did not want to fight

Many of the Jewish socialists and anarchists of the East End’s vibrant political scene viewed the conflict as a capitalist and imperialist war in which the workers had no stake.

cover History Window

Pesach in Uniform

Wars and conflicts do not stop for religious festivals and religious festivals and practices do not stop for wars.

Petticoat Lane HW

Petticoat Lane Market

‘The Greatest Sunday Open Air Market in the World. Everything may be bought here, from a Pair of Bootlaces to a Building’

Spitalfields HW

Photographs of Spitalfields a Century Ago by C. A. Mathew

One morning in April 1912, residents of the streets of East London are captured with startling clarity by the enigmatic C. A. Mathew.

The Soul of an Officer, a sketch from one of Siegfried Sassoon’s journals. 1916.©University of Cambridge Digital Library

Poetry and the First World War

First World War poetry provides an access point for subsequent generations to try and understand an intense, complex event in our history, the scale of which seems incomprehensible.

Evacuation by train, note soldier with medal

Refugees fleeing in fear of their lives

The First World War caused major upheaval across Europe.

Sermons Heard by London Jews During the Great War.

Like other sources more or less contemporary with the events—the newspaper, the diary, the letter from the Front—the topical sermon draws us back to a unique moment in the past.

HMS BELLEROPHON. Saw action at the Battle of Jutland, 31 May 1916. © IWM (Q 38256)

The Battle of Jutland

When War was declared in 1914, the British Royal Navy, the best in the world, went into immediate defensive action.

Battle of the Somme HW

The Battle of the Somme

In four months, in 1916, over 1.2 million men were injured fighting in the Battle of the Somme.

Frenchs and Germans at the Battle of Verdun. Public domain

The Battle of Verdun

The Battle of Verdun defines waste and sacrifice for little gain better perhaps than any other battle.

Book of Honour HW

The British Jewry Book of Honour

Following the end of the War, it was decided to create the British Jewry Book of Honour to bring together information about the British Jews who had served in British and Colonial forces during the First World War.

 Gerald Gundle. Peace of the world. Sketch. Younger Members Organisation of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue. 1915

The First World War through the eyes of London’s Jewish children

Books discovered in the archives of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue (LJS), St John’s Wood provide a testament as to how the war influenced Jewish children and young people of the period.

The Munitions Girls’, at Kilnhurst Steelworks. Forbes, Stanhope Alexander. 1918. cc Science Museum, London, Wellcome Images

The Munitions of War Act, July 1915

The Munitions of War Act brought private companies supplying the armed forces under the tight control of the newly created Ministry of Munitions, regulating wages, hours and employment conditions.

Queen Alexandra Nurses HW

The Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service

The Queen Alexandra nurses were the official female unit for medical services in the British military.

The Siege of Sidney Street, January 1911

The Siege of Sidney Street was one of the most notorious events of the East End at the time.

Isaac Rosenberg HW

The War Poets: Isaac Rosenberg

Isaac Rosenberg is a published poet who was killed during the First World War.

Pic Sassoon collage HW

The War Poets: Siegfried Sassoon

‘Dead men, bloody-fingered from the fight’

Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey. 5 May 1915. The Zionist Corps leaving Anzac. Courtesy of Australian War Memorial

The Zion Muleteers of Gallipoli (March 1915 - May 1916)
, by Martin Sugarman

The Zion Mule Corps was formed in March 1915 and was the first regular Jewish fighting force for 2000 years.

VADs HW

Voluntary Aid Detachments

The Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs) were established to support medical services. Over 90,000 women served as VADS over the course of the First World War.

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