The sacrifices made by Jewish soldiers with the Austro-Hungarian army during the First World War will be the focus of a photo exhibit in Charlottetown this week.
Marjan Cencen, the Slovenian Republic Ambassador to Canada, is bringing the photo exhibit to Charlottetown’s Zion Presbyterian Church on Tuesday, June 5 from 2-8 p.m.
Cencen will make a special presentation at 7 p.m.
The exhibit will include photographs and historical information concerning the battle and the sacrifices made by those soldiers.
The First World War involved 36 countries and the bloody battles at Isonzo between 1915 and 1917 were marked by the multi-national and multi-faith backgrounds of the combatants. Among the soldiers of the Austro-Hungarian and Italian armies, there were many who were Jewish.
The Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary regarded them as the most loyal of his troops and, due to the circumstances at the time, the Jews regarded the Emperor as the "Fortress of Tolerance".
Only two Jewish soldiers had reached the rank of general in the Austro-Hungarian army before the beginning of the First World War. Three more were promoted to the rank during the war.
Among them was Maj.-Gen. Maximilian von Maendl Bughardt at the Isonzo front.
According to historical estimates, around 300,000 Jewish soldiers fought in the Imperial army of Austro-Hungary from 1914 to 1918.
More Jewish soldiers, about half a million, were conscripted into the Imperial Russian Army.
Due to heavy losses among officers in the first year of the war, there was a significant increase in the number of Jewish officers since many had been enlisted in the reserves.
The reserves had an above-average Jewish presence primarily as a reflection of their higher levels of education, as intellectuals could serve in the Austro-Hungarian army as reserve officers.
According to military statistics, it is estimated that around 40,000 Jewish soldiers died during the First World War.