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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

Carrier pigeon being released from a tank. 1918. © IWM (Q 9247)

Animals in the First World War

According to the Imperial War Museum, 16 million animals served in the First World War in transportation, communication, military support and morale.

Families of Belgian refugees outside Hudson Furniture Deposit. Victoria Station. London, September 1914.  © IWM (Q 53305)

Belgian Refugees in the UK

When the First World War started, in the summer of 1914, much of Europe was in turmoil as troops were moved into position and civilians mobilized for the war effort.

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)


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.

General Allenby addressing the crowd in Jerusalem. Adrian Andrusier Collection.

General Allenby Enters Jerusalem

In November 1914, the Ottomans entered the First World War on the side of Germany, taking the war firmly into the Middle East and the rivalries and Western influences already prevalent there.

London Jewish Bakers’ Union banner. 1925 - 1926. ©Jewish Museum London

How Jewish trade unionists persuaded the Labour Party to embrace Zionism.

The Labour Party’s public support for Zionism did not begin with the BaIfour declaration but three months earlier with the publication of their War Aims Memorandum.

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 nurses. The British Jewry Book of Honour.

Jewish Nurses, VADs and Military Hospitals.

An assessment at the start of war calculated that there were approximately 50,000 beds available. By the end of 1914 there some 73,000 injured had already been brought home.

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.

Jewish Victoria Cross Recipients

The Victoria Cross (VC) was introduced by Queen Victoria in 1857 as the highest award for gallantry.

Accomation hut at Knockaloe camp, Isle of Man. Courtesy of Knockaloe virtual museum and archive.

Jews interned during the First World War

On August 5, 1914, immediately after the declaration of the First World War, the British Government passed the Aliens Restriction Act.

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.

Jews’ Free School First World War Magazines.

The Jewish Free School (JFS) was established in 1732 as the Talmud Torah of the Great Synagogue of London, serving orphans of the community

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.

Our Uninterned. Punch magazine, October 1915. © Punch Limited

Punch 1914-18 - Cartoons, Humour and Satire

Here is a selection of cartoons and comments – mainly selected for the inclusion of a Jewish theme or reference.

Ration book. Jacob Rudolph Muranski. Leeds, 24 October 1918. © Jewish Museum

Rationing and Food Shortages

In 1914, the UK produced a lot of its own food and resources, supplemented by imported food and other basic goods. Once the war had begun, many of the sources of those necessities were threatened.

Evacuation by train, note soldier with medal

Refugees fleeing in fear of their lives

The First World War caused major upheaval across Europe.

Map of Ruhleben Camp. Ruhleben prison Camp Magazine. December 1915.

Ruhleben internment camp

In autumn 1914 following the outbreak of war citizens from the different Allied countries that were living, travelling or working in Germany were interned.

The Jewish World 12/01/1916

Russia or Britain – take your pick!

Immigrant Jews who had arrived in the UK before 1914 did not need to become naturalised in order to live and work in the UK and some never did.

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 KILDWICK in dazzle camouflage. Surgeon Oscar Parkes. © IWM (SP 2065)

Strategic Camouflage.

Solomon Joseph Solomon, pioneer in the introduction of camouflage techniques to the British Armed Forces, was born in London on 16 September 1860.

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.

Postcard photograph. Royal Fusiliers, 38th - 42nd Battalions the "Judeans". ©Jewish Museum London/Jewish Military Museum

The Jewish Legion, the Royal Fusiliers and the Judeans.

On 2 February 1918, the 38th battalion marched through the City of London. To demonstrate that the men were not just a gimmick, the Mayor allowed them to march with fixed bayonets. On 3 February, the men left London for the Middle East.

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.

B.E.2 biplane. ©IWM (Q66016)

The Royal Flying Corps (RFC), the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) and the Royal Air Force (RAF)

The Royal Flying Corps was formed in 1912 and the Royal Naval Air Service just before the outbreak of war.

The Royal Navy’s HMS Dreadnought, the world’s first dreadnought. Public Domain

The Royal Navy

At the outbreak of the First World War, the Royal Navy had been dominating the high seas for over a century. It played a pivotal role in protecting the British Empire and most crucially protecting British trade.

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.

The Harvest of Battle. Nevinson, CRW. 1919. © IWM (Art.IWM ART 1921)

The Third Battle of Ypres - Passchendaele

The third major Battle of Ypres started on 31st July, 1917, and lasted until 10th November, 1917. It was an Allied offensive launched to break the deadlock around the Northern and Eastern arcs of the Ypres Salient.

HW cover

The United Synagogue 100 Years Ago... Remembering World War One

100 years ago, Europe stood on the cusp of a conflict of such frightening ferocity, that it would change the course of history.

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.


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.

Zeppelin over David's Tower and the Jerusalem Citadel. 1931

Zeppelins – Attack from the air

In 1900, Count von Zeppelin, a retired German General, built his first airship, which became known as a Zeppelin.

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

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