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First World War Soldiers in the Jewish Communities

Postcards, photography and maps


All invading armies take photographs of places and people they come across. There are many famous War Photographers today who have influenced public opinion about the conduct or consequences of War.

Jewish soldiers frequently took photographs of other Jews – who might be their relatives – in part to illustrate the difference between themselves as assimilated Jews and Eastern (‘Ost’) Jews who still wore traditional clothes or lived a rural life. They were curious about them and their ‘old fashioned’ Jewish life.

As social history, the postcard images show us both the poverty of rural life at the time for the Jews (e.g. look at the images of bare footed children and the quality of the wooden houses people lived in), and life in the towns and cities (e.g. with their stone built Synagogues).

Soldiers frequently had themselves included in the photograph (who said the ‘Selfie’ was a new idea?) perhaps they were with family members or as propaganda. The photographers were deliberately creating an image of the invading army being welcomed as conquering heroes. The local Jewish populations frequently welcomed the German army as there was little love lost between them and the Russian army.


Soldiers frequently sent postcards showing people and places they had visited and seen. They also often sent postcards with maps, sometimes marking on the map where they were or had been. This was not always permitted because of Military Censorship.

These postcards were published cards as obviously no one could take a photograph of a map. Most soldiers had access to them and they were relatively cheap. The map cards are helpful in that they often highlight places with Jewish populations. 

About the collection

London-based private collector, Adrian Andrusier, has for over 40 years been collecting postcards and postal history of Jewish life especially in the 1890-1940 period. 

Adrian is keen that educational organisations and other not-for-profit bodies freely use the images. Other, unauthorized use and for commercial purposes are not permitted and permission should be obtained in advance from Carla Drahorad at carla.drahorad@btopenworld.com

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London Jews in the First World War - We Were There Too

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