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Jews Soldiers: Evolving wrong Perspectives Across Generations


Jews Soldiers: Evolving wrong Perspectives Across Generations. Michael Fürst claims the distinction of being the initial Jewish in the German military post-WW II. This significant decision made by Fürst marked a momentous step. It signaled a new era in Germany’s relationship with its Jewish citizens after the war.


Diverse Generations Contemplate Shifting Perspectives about Jews Soldier

Jews Soldiers: Evolving wrong  Perspectives Across Generations in German army. Deciding to confront your commanding officer as a new recruit is a serious choice. It’s even more complex when you’re the only Jewish member in the German Army. The surrounded by soldiers who served under the Nazis during World War II.

Though many years have passed, the hurt from the Michael Fürst faced remains vivid. He recalls, “I had never experienced anything like that before, never!”

Now 76 years old, Michael is a lawyer and leads the Association of Jewish Communities of Lower Saxony. His office showcases his dual passions through books, medals, and pictures.

In 1966, Michael enlisted in the German armed forces (Bundeswehr). He believes he was the first Jew to do so after World War Two. During that era, if your family had suffered under the Nazis. You excused from military service in West Germany.

Though two of Michael’s grandparents lost in concentration camps. He grew up proud of his German-Jewish heritage. Enlisting in the military was a common path for his friends. After school, and Michael felt no reason to deviate from it.

Story of Jews soldier


“I was 19 years old, quite athletic, and unsure about my future,” he recalls. “So, I had only one option in mind: I would enlist in the military, like everyone else.”

People beyond Michael’s close circle of friends struggled to understand his decision. “They labeled me as the guy from Hanover,” he chuckles. “A naive young man. Even friends in the USA questioned me, saying, ‘How could you join the army? How can you live in Germany?'”

“It was a significant choice between embracing my German identity he explains. “, I chose to embrace both my German and Jewish sides.”

Jews soldier says ‘I am an antisemite’

Throughout his two-year tenure in the Bundeswehr, Michael indicates. He didn’t encounter any antisemitism aside from the single incident. The involving his commanding officer’s comments. Disturbed by those remarks, Michael arranged a meeting with his captain. The next day, requesting a transfer to a different unit.

“I’m pleased you’ve come to talk, Fürst,” the captain said. “I wanted to have a conversation with you. I hold prejudiced views against Jews. My parents relocated to eastern Germany during the Nazi era to start anew. According to my perspective, many of the issues during that time stemmed from Jewish.

Michael recalls his captain’s attempt to establish a rapport: “But, I have no issues with you, Fürst. We could be good friends.”

“Anyone expressing such sentiments today would dismissed from the military,” notes Michael. “But that captain reassigned to his previous unit. I reported the incident to the senior sergeant, who confronted him: ‘Did you say this?’ The captain acknowledged, leaving the sergeant astounded and pale. The next day, I switched to a different group.”

Michael recollects that he served alongside soldiers. Who still displayed their wartime medals, including those featuring the infamous swastika. , the use of such symbols restricted, with severe penalties, including imprisonment.

“These soldiers would argue they fought for Germany. They earned these medals, and wouldn’t agree to stow them away,” he explains. “I coexisted with them, and my Jewish background didn’t pose a problem. But, we never discussed Jews. That wasn’t the era for addressing anti-Semitism. That came much later.”

Michael Fürst and peers of his generation have paved the way for others to join the Bundeswehr. This new wave of recruits has also found themselves. That needing to justify their military career choice.

German soldier
German soldier

The Evolution of Jews soldier as the Heart of the Nazi Holocaust

Anne, who converted to Judaism as a teenager, attended. A Jewish high school in Germany with strong ties to Israel. Her decision to become a soldier at 15 puzzled her peers and teachers.

“Why would you want to join those who caused the death of six million of us?” they questioned. The school principal suggested she work for the Red Cross. Anne’s response was firm: “I don’t want to be in a deployment without a weapon, unable to defend myself and others. That’s not my path.”

Anne was unwavering in her determination to join the German military. She studied the founding principles of the Bundeswehr to prepared for any challenges. “The Bundeswehr’s purpose is to protect the values. Our society cherishes – defending human rights, safeguarding. The constitution, based on freedom and democracy,” she explains.

“Understanding how the Nazis violated these values reveals. Their armed forces founded on different principles. I was grateful to live in a society guided by the modern German constitution, and I wanted to safeguard that.”

Johannes, a 24-year-old technician in the German air force, takes the argument further. “Jewish teachings align with Bundeswehr’s values,” he asserts. “In Jewish ethics, self-defense is a right. Defending our values and the German constitution is self-defense. So, being a Jew and a soldier complement each other.”

The fact that Johannes didn’t consider joining the armed forces an unusual choice for a Jew. That reflects a shift in younger Germans’ perception of their country’s military history.

German army head
German army head

Around 300 Jewish personnel estimated to serve today. The many with families from the former Soviet Union.

Since 2019, Jewish service members have had equal access to religious support. They thanks to an agreement between Germany’s Central Council of Jews. The Bundeswehr now has a Jewish chaplaincy with military rabbis, offering religious care.

Zsolt Balla, a Hungarian-born Jew, leads the chaplaincy and sees. This as a sign of evolving German attitudes towards Jews confronting the past.

“Growing up in 1980s Hungary, I saw how people failed to confront WW2” he explains. “The agreement reflects a historical distance that lets us move beyond the past.

But, remnants of the past linger, and hasn’t vanished from the German military. Instances of Nazi memorabilia and online antisemitism among soldiers have emerged.

“I’m asked about antisemitism,” Zsolt Balla says. “In any voluntary armed force, right-leaning individuals exist. But as long as the system addresses this, I’m on board. My role is about building bridges.”

“It’s a step in the right direction,” he says. “After leaving the army, I worked to strengthen Jewish ties with the Bundeswehr. I was a lieutenant, but myself the Jews’ general.”



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