Jewish Officers in European Armies, 1910
By the eve of the First World War the status of people of the Jewish faith in European society had improved considerably. Despite this, there were still many social and cultural barriers with which Jews had to cope, not to mention outright discrimination and violence in some countries.
For centuries Jews had been systematically excluded from military service. The French Revolution had pretty much wiped away that barrier, at least in the enlisted ranks, as first France and then the rest of Europe had strained to grab every possible man for military duty. But service as officers was much longer in coming, despite an occasional anomalous individual.
|Jewish Army Officers in Europe, 1910|
Interestingly, these figures, which are for officers on active duty, reflect neither the degree of tolerance of Jews nor their proportion of the population in the countries indicated.
Russia, which had the largest Jewish population by far, was the least tolerant, so the absence of any Jewish officers is at least understandable. But Austria-Hungary, which had the second largest Jewish community in Europe, numbering several millions, was hardly less tolerant, yet had by far the highest number of Jewish officers in the active army, granted that most of them were surgeons or other technical specialists (and fully 17-percent of the reserve officers were Jewish). In contrast, Germany, which had a substantial Jewish population and was far more tolerant than either Russia or Austria-Hungary, had virtually no Jewish officers; indeed, the one man indicated was actually in the semi-autonomous Bavarian Army rather than the Imperials Army (the administrative peculiarities of the German Army in this period are much too complex to get into here). Despite France’s strong anti-Semitic streak, it is surprising to see some hundreds of Jewish officers, only a decade after the infamous “Dreyfus Affair,” out of a Jewish population much smaller than that of the other three powers. But perhaps the most surprising figures are those for Italy, a country with a microscopic Jewish population, perhaps 50,000 in all.
Note, by the way, that these figures exclude persons of Jewish ancestry who were recent converts to Christianity; In 1910 there were 23 such in the German Army. Also, it’s worth keeping in mind that Austria-Hungary and Germany in particular had substantial numbers of Jewish officers in the reserves.
Infantry Arms Allocations in Early Seventeenth Century Armies
It’s not unusual for different armies to allocate weapons and equipment in different ways. After all, different countries differ in resources, doctrine, traditions, and so forth. In addition, differences will creep in to reflect changes in technologies. This can be seen by looking at some European armies at the onset of the seventeenth century. Or perhaps rather, at different armies belonging to the same dynasty, the Hapsburgs, one branch of which ruled Spain and its dependencies, while another ruled the Holy Roman Empire, both collaborating in the furtherance of family goals.
|Allocation of Arms in Hapsburg Infantry Regiments, 1601|
|Spanish|| 646|| 1047|| 954|| 1237|| 2117|| 1:1|
|Walloon ||375 ||1125 ||694 ||1237 ||1342 ||1:1|
|German ||665 ||5651 ||692 ||1435 ||700|| 4:1|
Most of the table is self-explanatory. Cadre refers to the permanent administrative apparatus of the tercios into which the Hapsburg armies were organized. Under Pike are indicated armored and unarmored men armed with pikes, while under Shot are indicated men equipped with firearms, whether muskets or arquebuses, the former a heavier, more accurate weapon than the latter. The column P:S indicates the ration between pike-armed troops and shot-armed troops
Tactically, pikes were excellent in set-piece battles. They provided a solid defensive base against cavalry, but were vulnerable to infantry and artillery fire. Shot was particularly good at long range combat, in skirmishes, during sieges, and in defense from fixed positions. They were, however, slow firing and highly vulnerable to cavalry, not to mention being rather expensive. This partially explains the very high pike-to-shot ratio of the German regiments; they were usually paid for by the poorer Austrian Hapsburgs, whereas their richer Spanish cousins raised the Spanish and Walloon (Belgian) regiments.