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German / Austro-Hungarian Jewish Soldiers Killed in WWI

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Jewish fighters who served in the German and Austro-Hungarian Army during World War I (1914-1918).

When WWI broke out, the Jews, eager to demonstrate their loyalty to their country, rallied to the war effort. They hoped that military service would promote their acceptance into German and Austro-Hungarian society.

Some 320,000 Jewish soldiers joined the army---12,000 Jewish soldirs died fighting on the German side in World War I. The percentage of Jewish losses was in no way smaller than that of those of the non‑Jewish.

Jewish fighters who served in the Austro-Hungarian Army during World War I (1914-1918). (See extensive photo gallery of postcard photos). IDF and Defense Establishment Archive has revealed a rare aspect in the life of Jewish fighters who served in the Austro-Hungarian Army during World War I (1914-1918).

At the time, of 2,250,000 of the kingdom's Jews loyal to Emperor Franz Joseph who fought for "the new Europe" – 320,000 joined his army. At the time Jews enjoyed full civilian rights in the constitutional monarchic union of central Europe.   The Jewish soldiers in the emperor's army did not forget their identity, and the army authorities provided them with religious services. The number of rabbis reached 76 during the army, and they were all granted the officer's rank of captain.   In the Austro-Hungarian Army, Jewish soldiers were given the opportunity to mark the High Holidays in mass prayers held in the battlefield and with postcards sent to their relatives on the home front.   Some of these rare postcards have been kept in the IDF and Defense Establishment Archive and are being presented here for the first time. The Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed at the end of World War I. Some 40,000 of its Jewish soldiers were killed in battle.  

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Geza Goldberger, (1893 - 1915)

Geza Goldberger, Armin and Sarlota's eldest child, was an intelligent and talented young man. Like his two sisters, he attended elementary school in Graz. He moved with his family to Trieste. At 18 he graduated the K.K. Staats-Real-Gymnasium in Trieste, and then applied for a job at Assicurazioni Generali.

On the 10th of September, 1911, he started a 3-month trial period and thanks to his good command of languages such as Italian and Hungarian (in addition to German being his mother-tongue), and on the 1st of January, 1912, he was offered a position in Life Insurance at the Generali Head Office in Budapest.

Generali's file regarding Géza Goldberger is not actually very rich of further information excluding a letter he sent to Generali, Trieste, on the 2nd of July, 1913, to get his high-school diploma back as he wanted to apply for the State examination at Graz University.

At the age of twenty he was called up as World War One broke out. He enlisted in Székesfehérvár, Hungary, as Corporal. The photos in uniform were taken there. .According to the War Archive in Vienna he was enlisted to: "koenigliches ungarisches Landwehrinfaterie-regiment Nummer 17, 2. Kompanie."

Shortly later he was sent to the front. Assicurazioni Generali's papers confirm he died at war in the area of Karlikow (Galicia) on the 10th of May, 1915. Presumably it was during the Gorlice-Tarnow Offensive in Galicia, which took place in May that year. Several official letters of condolence followed his death. In addition to them a sort of booklet or gazette: “Közgazdasàgi Közlemények” was issued in Budapest on July 1, 1915, where a short obituary notice with a photo of Géza is reported

His father asked Generali to help bring his remains to Budapest. He is presumably buried in the city's district 5. His mother never overcame the loss of her beloved son.

Rudolf Michael Rosenthal (1885 - 1915)

Rudolf Michael Rosenthal was killed fighting in the Austro-Hungarian army in the first world war. He was 30 when he died, having received a head wound at Galagonyas, Hungary on 14 October, 1915, and was one of thousands of Jewish soldiers who died for Austria-Hungary or Germany in World War I – the irony needs not be spelt out.

The certificate says he was buried in a cemetery in Galagonyas, but so far attempts by family to locate this place have been unsuccessful. There is a village north of Pančevo in Serbia called Glogonj in Serbian but it also has the Hungarian name Galagonyás (there is a Hungarian-language Wikipedia entry about it, even though it seems to be in a Serbian-speaking area), and there is also a Galagonyás in Hungary north of Miskolc.

Son: (Hans) Ewald Rosenthal, better known as Hugh Rank, fled Vienna in 1938. He studied German at Cambridge in the early 1950s and later became a teacher. He died in Cheltenham in 2006

Otto Kron