Jewish Airmen in the Great War

“So I place this wreath upon your bier on behalf of the officers and pilots from Air Unit Fürth, as a last greeting in your honour; sleep peacefully comrade, a gentle rest; you fulfilled your duty until your last breath and died a hero!”

These words are part of a eulogy to a young airman given by his commanding officer, one of several that can be found in this new English translation of Jewish Airmen in the Great War.

The book was written as a tribute to all the Jewish airmen who died fighting for the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Germany in WWI. (The infamous Jewish Census of 1916 carried out by the German Military High Command, was an attempt to denigrate their contribution to the war.) The confusion of war meant that some men could only be given a name not a biography. The author lists them at the beginning of the book so that they, too, can have a permanent, written memorial to their sacrifice.

Thanks to these letters, we are brought closer to the young aviators’ unbridled enthusiasm for life and can relive their dramatic flying experiences over the front lines of the Great War. Their words express an outpouring of happiness in finding almost complete freedom from anti-Semitism amongst their fellow airmen. They were praised, decorated and promoted much more readily in the German Imperial Army Air Service than in all other branches of the armed forces. One young soldier was even taken under the wing of Lieutenant Walter Gropius, the future world famous German architect.

Although it is sad to read the letters they wrote just before they died, Jewish Airmen in the Great War is first and foremost a touching celebration and a record of brave men, their fight for recognition, their heroism and their deaths.



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Michael A. O'Neill


Felix Theilhaber


E-book, Paperback




BfP Books

Year Published



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