Archives Centre Director Harvey Kaplan spoke recently at a conference at Glasgow University entitled Faith and the First World War. Attended by around 40 people from Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, UK, USA and Canada, the conference offered a wide range of presentations which looked at a range of examples of the how the war affected religious communities on both sides of the conflict.
Interestingly, some of the speakers looked at the war from the German perspective, including the use of Old Testament imagery and how biblical Israel was seen by many as a model for modern Germany. Another presentation looked at the experiences of conscientious objectors around Britain.
Harvey spoke of the impact of the war on the Jewish community. Around 1,500 Scottish Jews served in the forces in the First World War – in various fighting units, at home and abroad and 126 were killed. The majority of the Jewish community in Scotland at that time were immigrants or the children of immigrants. They were concerned to prove their loyalty and not be mistaken for enemy aliens. The Chief Rabbi said that Britain had been good to the Jews, so now it was time for the Jews to be good to Britain. The presentation examined contemporary correspondence, press reports, military records, records of appeal tribunals and other sources in the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre and elsewhere.
If you have photographs, memorabilia or stories from the First World War, please contact the Archives Centre.