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Title: A Jewish Chaplain in France
Author: Levinger, Lee J. (Lee Joseph), 1890-1966
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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A JEWISH CHAPLAIN IN FRANCE



[Illustration: Logo of the MacMillan Company]

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
NEW YORK · BOSTON · CHICAGO · DALLAS
ATLANTA · SAN FRANCISCO

MACMILLAN & CO., LIMITED
LONDON · BOMBAY · CALCUTTA
MELBOURNE

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA. LTD.
TORONTO


[Illustration: A group of Jewish welfare workers at Le Mans, France, in
March 1919. From left to right, George Rooby, Julius Halperin, Frank M.
Dart, Chaplain Lee J. Levinger, Adele Winston, Charles S. Rivitz, David
Rosenthal and Esther Levy.]



A Jewish Chaplain in France

BY
RABBI LEE J. LEVINGER, M.A.,
Executive Director Young Men's Hebrew Association, New York City,
formerly First Lieutenant Chaplain United States Army

WITH A FOREWORD BY
CYRUS ADLER, Ph.D.,
President of Dropsie College for Hebrew and Cognate Learning,
Philadelphia

New York
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
1921



COPYRIGHT 1921,
BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.

Set up and printed. Published October, 1921



TO A GOOD SOLDIER
WHO SENT ME TO FRANCE
AND BROUGHT ME BACK AGAIN--
MY WIFE



FOREWORD


The tendency to "forget the war" is not admirable. Such an attitude is
in effect a negation of thought. The agony which shook mankind for more
than four years and whose aftermath will be with us in years to come
cannot be forgotten unless the conscience of mankind is dead. Rabbi
Levinger's book is the narrative of a man who saw this great tragedy,
took a part in it and has thought about it.

In all the wars of the United States Jews participated, increasingly as
their numbers grew appreciably. They served both as officers and
privates from Colonial days. But not until the World War was a Rabbi
appointed a Chaplain in the United States Army or Navy for actual
service with the fighting forces. President Lincoln appointed several
Jewish ministers of religion as chaplains to visit the wounded in the
hospitals, but the tradition of the Army up to the period of the Great
War, rendered the appointment of a Rabbi as chaplain impossible. The
chaplain had been a regimental officer and was always either a
Protestant or a Catholic. The sect was determined by the majority of the
regiment. When the United States entered the Great War, this was clearly
brought out and it required an Act of Congress to render possible the
appointment of chaplains of the faiths not then represented in the body
of chaplains. Twenty chaplains were thus authorized of whom six were
allotted to the Synagogue the remainder being distributed among the
Unitarians, who were not included in the Evangelical Churches, and the
other smaller Christian sects which had grown up in America.

In order to meet the requirements of the War Department and in
consonance with the spirit of unity which the war engendered, it was
necessary for the Jewish organizations to create a body which could sift
the applications for chaplaincies and certify them to the War
Department, as being proper persons and meeting the requirements of the
law of being regularly ordained ministers of religion.

Judaism in America is far from being a united body. Its differences may
not be such as rise to the dignity of separate sects but they are
considerable in belief and even more pronounced in practice. Membership
in the various Rabbinical and synagogue organizations is voluntary and
each synagogue is autonomous. In the face of the awfulness of the war,
these differences seemed minimized and through the coöperation of all
the Rabbinical associations and synagogue organizations, a Committee was
created under the general authority of the Jewish Welfare Board which
examined the credentials of all Jewish candidates for chaplaincies and
made recommendations to the War Department. So conscientiously did this
Committee perform its duties that every Rabbi recommended as a chaplain
was commissioned.

As the law exempted ministers of religion and theological students, no
person could be drafted for a chaplaincy. Every clergyman who served was
a volunteer. It is therefore greatly to the credit of the Jewish
ministry in America that one-hundred and forty men volunteered for the
service. As there are probably less than four hundred English speaking
Rabbis in the United States, many of whom would have been disqualified
by the age limit and some by their country of origin, the response of
the American Rabbinate to this call, is a most gratifying evidence of
their patriotism and of their sense of public service.

Rabbi Levinger's narrative is his own, in the main and properly enough a
personal one, but it is representative of the work of some thirty men
some of whom ministered to the troops who did not go abroad whilst
others had the opportunity of being in the midst of the Great Adventure.
Every one who saw the troops overseas, could not doubt the real service
of the chaplain or the appeal that religion made to the men in uniform.
However the armchair philosophers may have viewed the war, it
strengthened the faith of the men who were engaged; hundreds of
thousands of young men turned to the chaplain who would have been
indifferent to him at home. That this was true of Jewish young men is
certain and if there has been a reaction on the part of these young men
who returned from the war, let it be blamed not so much upon religion,
as upon the disappointment in the soldiers' minds at the attitude of the
millions of their fellow citizens who remained at home and who want to
"forget the war." The soldier who came back and found that his fellow
citizens had their nerves so over-wrought by reading of the war in
newspapers that they immediately entered upon a period of wild
extravagances and wilder pleasure, might very well have had his faith,
newly acquired if you choose, shaken by this evident lack of seriousness
on the part of his fellow countrymen.

I shall not commend Rabbi Levinger's book to his readers, because if the
book does not commend itself, no approbation will. As an officer of the
Jewish Welfare Board whose purpose was to join with other organizations
in contributing to the welfare of the American soldiers and sailors and
particularly to provide for the religious needs of those of the Jewish
faith, I want to express the obligations of the Board to the Rabbis who
without experience or previous training for the purpose, entered upon
this service and carried it through with distinction. Had it not been
for them, the overseas work of the Board would have been comparatively
limited and many a Jewish boy would have been deprived of the comforts
and solace of his religion.

I cannot help but think that the chaplain himself derived much benefit
from his service. In sections of the synagogue, as I believe in sections
of the church, men are on many occasions a minority in the congregation
and ministration is largely to women and children. It meant something
for the chaplain to have great congregations of men, and of young men at
that, and I am inclined to think hardened his mental and even spiritual
fiber. It emphasized too the importance of emotion and sentiment as
against mere rationalism. The worship meant more than a preachment, and
sympathetic human contact for a minute was worth a barrel of oratory.

The fine spirit of liberality which grew up among the chaplains of the
various faiths, reflecting as it did the comradeship of the men
themselves, should not and will not be lost. The brotherhood of man will
be a mere abstraction until individual men can act as brothers to one
another. The ministers of religion, if they have any God-given mission
above all others, surely have that of leading men, however different
their physical and spiritual equipment, into the bonds of a common
brotherhood. By this way and this way alone will mankind arrive at
lasting peace.

CYRUS ADLER.
October 19, 1921.



PREFACE


This book is the result of the profound conviction that we are
forgetting or ignoring the lessons of the World War to Israel, America
and humanity. During the war such words as morale, democracy,
Americanism, became a sort of cant--so much so that their actual content
was forgotten. Now that the war is over and their constant repetition is
discontinued, the grave danger exists that we may lose their very real
influence.

These personal experiences and conclusions worked out by an army
chaplain as a result of his overseas service may have some historical
value also, especially as the same ground has not yet been covered by
any Jewish chaplain or welfare worker in the American Expeditionary
Forces. The rôle played by Jews in the army and navy of the United
States and the Jewish contribution to the morale of the forces overseas
deserve preservation, both as a reminder to ourselves and to the nation.

When the possibility of this book was first discussed in Paris with the
late Colonel Harry Cutler, Chairman of the Jewish Welfare Board, he
spoke of writing a foreword for it. Since his lamented death, Dr. Cyrus
Adler, his successor as acting Chairman, has consented to fulfill the
same friendly task. In addition to Dr. Adler, I acknowledge my great
indebtedness to Mr. Harry L. Glucksman, Executive Director of the Jewish
Welfare Board, for giving me full access to their records; to Mr. John
Goldhaar for his personal reminiscences of the welfare work overseas; to
Captain Elkan C. Voorsanger for the invaluable suggestions based upon
his vast personal experiences; to Justice Irving Lehman, President of
the Young Men's Hebrew Association, for his encouragement and friendly
advice; to a host of coworkers and friends in both France and America
for the brilliant deeds and cordial comradeship which are here embodied;
and finally to my secretary, Miss Hattie Tanzer, for her invaluable
assistance in seeing the book through the press.

Much of the material used here has already been published in the form of
articles appearing at various times in the _American Hebrew_, _American
Israelite_, _Biblical World_, _B'nai B'rith News_, _Hebrew Standard_,
_Jewish Forum_ and _Reform Advocate_.

LEE J. LEVINGER.
New York, May, 1921.



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER                                             PAGE

     I. THE CHAPLAIN'S FUNCTION                          1
    II. THE JEWISH HOLYDAYS OF 1918 IN THE A. E. F.     10
   III. AT THE FRONT WITH THE TWENTY-SEVENTH DIVISION   27
    IV. AFTER THE ARMISTICE                             52
     V. AT THE AMERICAN EMBARKATION CENTER              69
    VI. THE JEWISH CHAPLAINS OVERSEAS                   81
   VII. THE JEWISH WELFARE BOARD IN THE A. E. F.        92
  VIII. THE JEW AS A SOLDIER                           114
    IX. JEW AND CHRISTIAN AT THE FRONT                 132
     X. THE RELIGION OF THE JEWISH SOLDIER             145
    XI. PREACHING TO SOLDIERS                          160
   XII. MORALE AND MORALS                              170
  XIII. THE MORAL GAIN AND LOSS OF THE SOLDIER         190
   XIV. THE JEWISH SOLDIER AND JUDAISM                 205
    XV. THE JEWISH SOLDIER AND ANTI-SEMITISM           214



CHAPTER I

THE CHAPLAIN'S FUNCTION


In giving the story and the opinions of a Jewish chaplain in the
American Expeditionary Forces, some statement is necessary of the work
of the chaplains as a whole. Chaplains are an essential part of the
organization of a modern army and it is notable that General Pershing
repeatedly requested that the number of chaplains be doubled in the
forces under his command. Hardly a narrative of soldiers' experiences
exists without due place being given to the chaplain. In every army in
France, chaplains were frequently cited for heroism and in innumerable
instances suffered and died with the men in the ranks.

There are two popular impressions of the purpose of the chaplain in the
military service; the one sees him as a survival of mediævalism,
blessing the weapons of the men at arms; the other welcomes him as a
faint harbinger of a dawning humanitarianism, one of the few men in an
army who does not have to kill, but is there to save. Some people think
of the physician and chaplain as having non-military work to do, as
being a kind of concession to the pacific spirit of our generation.

The actual work of the chaplain is quite as unknown to the general
public. People wonder what he does between weekly sermons, much as they
wonder what the minister or rabbi does during the six and a half days a
week that he is not preaching. In fact, I have been greeted with frank
or hidden incredulity whenever I admitted that in the army I used to
preach up to fifteen times a week, but never had time to write a sermon.
People wonder sometimes whether the soldiers and sailors can bear so
much preaching, sometimes what else they demand of the chaplain. In
fact, to the non-military mind the whole subject seems shrouded in
mystery.

To the military man the subject is extremely simple. There is no mystery
about it. The chaplain is in the army as the physician is, as the
thousands of other non-combatants are, for a strictly military purpose.
It happens that the non-combatants may use non-military methods. One may
drive a locomotive, another carry a stretcher, another sit in an office
and make out papers. All are essential to the military machine; none is
in the service for any special humanitarian purpose; none is present as
a survival of mediævalism, but all to take part in the grim conflict of
the twentieth century. The work of a physician in the military service
is the very utilitarian one of saving men's lives and returning them to
the front. The work of a chaplain is the equally essential and practical
one of stimulating the morale of the troops.

Many factors bear upon the morale of a body of men,--their physical
environment, the strength and spirit of their individual units, the
temper and ability of their leaders. In our army we were very fortunate
in the activity of various civilian organizations which labored among
the men in the service with the backing of our entire citizenry, or at
least of large and influential groups. The home service of the Red Cross
and other non-military organizations was of great importance in keeping
up the morale of the families left behind and through them of the men
overseas. These important organizations, however, were under the
handicap of doing civilian work among soldiers--a handicap whose
seriousness only a soldier himself can ever realize. Some months after
the war was over, the army recognized its obligation by appointing
morale officers for both larger and smaller units, with others under
them to supervise athletics, entertainment, and the like. The civilian
organizations then conducted their activities under the orders of the
morale officer.

But nearest of all to the men, because themselves a part of the actual
military machine, were their own chaplains. The chaplain was under the
same orders as the men, took the same risk, wore the same uniform, and
naturally was regarded in every way as one of their own. I have even
heard old army men scorning the new advances of all these new war-time
societies. "We have our own chaplain," they said, "He looks after us all
right."

The chaplain was first the religious guide of his men. He knew how to
talk to them, for talking, not preaching, was the usual tone of the army
or navy chaplain. He knew how to speak their own "lingo," slang and all.
He knew the spiritual appeal which was most needed by these boys,
transplanted, with all their boyishness, into the deep realities which
few men have had to face. He knew their boyish shyness of emotion, but
with it their deep, immediate need of such emotions as the love of home
and God, to sustain them amid dangerous hours of duty and tempting
hours of idleness. This religious need alone would have been enough work
for the chaplain, even with the intended increase in numbers to three
per regiment, or one chaplain for every twelve hundred men. The need for
religion was evident in the training camp, the hospital, the transport,
the trenches; it was evident everywhere, and the chaplain must be
everywhere to satisfy it.

But in addition the chaplain had much welfare work of a more general
kind to transact in connection with the various welfare agencies. One
man wanted advice about getting married before leaving for the front;
another had trouble at home and desired a furlough; another found
himself misplaced in his work and would like a transfer. A Jewish boy
came in to ask that a letter be written to his pious father; the old man
had not wanted him to enlist, but would feel better if he knew there was
a rabbi in the camp. Another had a request for a small service (a
minyan) that he might say the memorial prayer on the anniversary of his
father's death. And still another presented a letter from his home
community, for he was a fine musician and wanted to help out at a
concert or a "sing."

The many requests for service and the occasional offers of service made
the circuit constantly from a possible teacher to a number of boys with
defective English, from a potential comedy team to a crowd of eager
listeners, from a timid boy with personal troubles to their remedy,
either by a change in circumstances or by convincing the boy himself.
Sometimes a complaint of religious prejudice had to be adjusted which
might work grave harm in a company unless it were investigated and
either proved groundless or remedied.

In a later chapter I shall have an opportunity to go into this more
deeply. All that I want to bring out here is the important and usually
misunderstood fact that American boys are restive under authority. They
object vigorously to the domination of another's mind over theirs. And
this objection too often took the form of bitter resentment against
their officers. Therefore the final and most delicate work of the
chaplain was to befriend the enlisted men against the oppression of
their natural enemies and tyrants, the line officers. The army often
reminds one of a school, the men are so boyish. In this régime of
stringent rules which must be constantly obeyed, of short periods of
intense and jovial recreation, of constant oversight by authority, the
average enlisted man regarded his commanding officer much as the average
small boy regards his school teacher, from whom he flees to a parent for
sympathy.

That rôle of sympathetic parent was precisely the one which the chaplain
was called upon to play for these boys in uniform. Not that he believed
everything he was told, or took sides unfairly, or was always against
authority. Simply that any boy could talk to him, as he could only to
the exceptional commanding officer, and that every boy was sure that the
chaplain would help him if he could. Being himself an officer, the
chaplain could talk to officers more freely than any soldier could. And
not being a line officer, he did not himself issue commands to any one
except his own hard-worked orderly or clerk.

Thus the chaplain was fortunately placed. If he was even partially
congenial, he was the one man in the army who had not an enemy high or
low. The soldier looked to him for friendly aid. The officer referred to
him as the great coöperating factor in building up the spirit of the
troops.

During the stress of actual warfare the work of the chaplain changed in
character though not in purpose. At the front the chaplain was with his
boys. During a "push" he took his station at the first-aid post and
worked from there as the first place to meet the wounded and dying who
needed his physical or spiritual aid. He stood beside the surgeon on the
battle field, he was with the stretcher-bearers searching for wounded
and bringing them to safety. He rode from post to post with the
ambulance driver, or tramped up to the trenches with a ration party. And
wherever he went he was welcomed for his presence and for the work that
he tried to do.

After a battle, when the men retired to rest and recuperate, the
chaplain had to remain behind. He stayed with a group of men for the
last terrible task of burying the dead. And when, that sad duty over, he
returned to the troops in rest, he could not yield for a time like the
others, to delicious languor after the ordeal of the battle field,
hospital and cemetery. Then the chaplain must take up his round of
duties, knowing that after the battle there is many a prayer to be said,
many a hospital to be visited, many a soldier to be befriended. His task
has just begun.

The military object of the chaplain is clear, to stimulate the morale of
the men. But his methods were most unmilitary. Instead of reminding the
men of the respect due him as an officer, the wise chaplain took his
salutes as a matter of course and tried to draw the men personally, to
make them forget all about military distinctions when they came to talk
to him. The minute a chaplain insisted upon his rank as an officer, he
lost his influence as a minister. Rank was useful to the chaplain in so
far as it gave him free access to the highest authorities; it became the
greatest obstacle to his work whenever the boys began to talk to him as
"Lieutenant" or "Captain" instead of "Father" or "Chaplain." In the
military as in the civil field the religious message can come only by
personality, never by command.

The chaplain appealed for the men whenever he felt that the appeal was
justified and had some chance of success, but never when it would be
subversive of military discipline. He remembered always that he was in
the army, a part of a great military machine, and that his presence and
his work were to make the men better, not worse soldiers. He met the men
personally, with their various needs and appeals, and often his best
work was accomplished in short personal interviews, which would not look
at all imposing on a monthly report, but which made better soldiers or
happier men in one way or another. He encouraged every effort at
recreation for the men, and often took part in these efforts himself.
This last applies especially in the navy, where the chaplain aboard ship
is the whole staff for religious, recreational, and welfare work.

In the main the work of the chaplain differed little, whatever his
religion might be. He was first of all a chaplain in the United States
Army, and second a representative of his own religious body. That means
that all welfare work or personal service was rendered equally to men of
any faith. The only distinction authorized was between Protestant,
Catholic and Jewish services, and even to these a "non-sectarian"
service was often added. Wherever I went I was called upon by Jew and
non-Jew alike, for in the service most men took their troubles to the
nearest chaplain irrespective of his religion. The soldier discriminated
only in a special case, such as the memorial prayer (kaddish) for the
Jewish boy, or confession for the Catholic. The office at once insured
any soldier that he had a protector and a friend.

But as there were only twelve Jewish chaplains in the entire American
Expeditionary Forces, we were instructed to devote our time so far as
possible to the Jewish men. At the best it was impossible for one man to
fulfill the constant religious and personal needs of the thousand Jewish
soldiers scattered in all the units of an entire division, as I, for
one, was supposed to do. When instead of one division a Jewish chaplain
was assigned several, his troubles were multiplied and his effectiveness
divided. Naturally, most of the work of the Jewish chaplains had to be
devoted to the needs of the Jewish soldiers, which would not otherwise
be satisfied.

Any one who witnessed the labor and the self-sacrifice of chaplains of
all creeds in the American army must preface an analysis of their work
with a heartfelt tribute to the men themselves. I think that these men
were a unique aggregation--devoted to their country and its army, yet
loving men of all nations; loving each his own religion, yet rendering
service to men of all creeds; bearing each his own title, yet sharing
equal service and equal friendship with ministers of every other faith.
I could never have accomplished one-half of the work I did without the
constant friendship and hearty support of such co-workers as Father
Francis A. Kelley and Rev. Almon A. Jaynes, of the 27th Division
Headquarters, to mention only two notable examples among many others. I
have seen Father Kelley on the battlefield going from aid post to front
line trench, always most eager to be with the boys when the danger was
the greatest, always cheerful, yet always a priest, doing the noble work
which won him his medals and his popularity. I have seen the devotion
and the regret which followed Chaplain John A. Ward of the 108th
Infantry to the hospital in England after he was wounded in performance
of duty, and the burst of enthusiasm which welcomed his return months
afterward. I have seen one after another laboring and serving in the
same spirit, and I tender to them the tribute of a co-worker who knows
and admires their great accomplishments.

The place of morale in the army has not yet been studied scientifically.
All that can be done as yet is to gather such personal and empirical
observations as mine, which may have bearing on the general problem.
These experiences were typical and these conclusions are not mine alone.
They are shared by great masses, in many cases by the majority of
thinking men who had like experiences. I am here setting down the most
typical of the incidents which I saw or underwent and summing up the
little known work of the Jewish chaplains and the Jewish Welfare Board
overseas.



CHAPTER II

THE JEWISH HOLYDAYS OF 1918 IN THE A. E. F.


My experiences as chaplain were as nearly typical as possible with any
individual. A few of the Jewish chaplains saw more actual fighting than
I did; a few were assigned to the Army of Occupation and saw the
occupied portion of Germany. But for nine months I served as chaplain in
the American Expeditionary Forces, first at the headquarters of the
Intermediate Section, Service of Supply, at Nevers; then with the
Twenty-Seventh Division at the front and after the armistice at the
rear; finally at the American Embarkation Center at Le Mans. I worked in
coöperation with the Jewish Welfare Board; I saw Paris in war time and
after; I had two weeks' leave in the Riviera.

My commission as First Lieutenant Chaplain U. S. A. came to me on July
4th, 1918 at Great Lakes Naval Station, just north of Chicago, where I
was then serving as Field Representative of the Jewish Welfare Board.
Two weeks later I reported at Hoboken for the trip overseas. There I had
the good fortune to obtain a furlough of ten days before sailing so that
I was able to be back in Chicago just in time to see my newborn son and
daughter. I left when the babies were a week old to report back to
Hoboken again for my sailing orders and found myself at sea during the
tense and crucial month of August 1918.

The trip was the usual one of those anxious days--thirteen days at sea,
constant look-out for a submarine, but finally a mild disappointment
when we sailed into harbor without even a scare. We carried our life
preservers constantly and waited daily for the sudden alarm of a boat
drill. Our ship, the _Balmoral Castle_, was one of a convoy of twelve,
with the usual quota of destroyers accompanying us. Two days from
England we met a flotilla of destroyers; later two "mystery" ships
joined us and in the Irish Sea we were greeted by a huge Blimp or
dirigible balloon. With this escort we sailed down the Irish Sea, had a
glimpse of Ireland and Scotland and finally disembarked at Liverpool.
Our first impression was the flatness of a European metropolis when
viewed at a distance and its entire lack of the jagged sky-line of an
American city.

Our pleasurable anticipations of a view of Liverpool and perhaps a
glimpse of London were rudely disappointed. We disembarked about noon,
marched through side streets, which looked like side streets in any of
the dirtiest of American cities, lined up at a freight station, and were
loaded at once on waiting trains and started off for Southampton. All
that afternoon we absorbed eagerly the dainty beauty of the English
countryside which most of us knew only through literary references. We
were sorry when the late twilight shut off the view and we had to take
our first lesson at sleeping while sitting up in a train, a custom which
afterward became a habit to all officers in France.

Daybreak found us at Southampton in the rest camp; evening on the _Maid
of Orleans_, bound across the channel. We had not seen England, we had
no place to sleep and not too much to eat, even sitting room on the
decks was at a premium, but we were hastening on our way to the war. At
Le Havre we were again assigned to a British rest camp, where we
appreciated the contrast between the excellent meals of the officers'
canteen and the primitive bunks in double tiers where we had to sleep.
After two days of this sort of rest and a hasty visit to the city in
between, I received orders to report to the G. H. Q. Chaplains' Office
at Chaumont.

My first train journey across France impressed me at once with the
unique character of the landscape. The English landscape is
distinguished by meadows, the French by trees. The most realistic
picture of the English landscape is the fantastic description of a
checker-board in "Alice in Wonderland." In France, however, one is
struck chiefly by the profusion and arrangement of trees. They are
everywhere, alone or in clumps, and of all kinds, with often a formal
row of poplars or a little wood of beeches to make the sky-line more
impressive. In northern France the houses and barns are all of stone,
peaked and windowless, with gardens that seem bent on contrasting as
strongly as possible with the grayness of the walls. It seems as though
tiny villages are every few feet, and always with a church steeple in
the middle.

In Paris the first man I met was my old friend, Dr. H. G. Enelow, of
Temple Emanu-El, New York, who was standing by the desk in the Hotel
Regina when I registered. As the next day was Sunday, Dr. Enelow was
able to devote some time to me, taking me for a long walk on the left
bank of the Seine, where we enjoyed the gardens of the Luxembourg and
sipped liqueurs at a side-walk café at the famous corner of Boulevarde
St. Michel and Germain. Paris in war-time was infinitely touching. It
had all the marks of the great luxury center of the world: shops,
boulevards, hotels, and show places of every kind. But many of the most
attractive of its tiny shops were closed; the streets at night were
wrapped in the deepest gloom, with tiny shaded lights which were not
intended to illuminate but only to show the direction of the street. The
crowds were only a little repressed in the day-time, for the extreme
crisis of the summer had just passed, but with dusk the streets became
entirely deserted. Through Dr. Enelow I met also Dr. Jacob Kohn, who
with Dr. Enelow and Congressman Siegel constituted the commission of the
Jewish Welfare Board to outline its program for overseas work. Dr.
Enelow introduced me also to Mr. John Goldhaar, the secretary of the
commission, afterward in charge of the Paris Office of the Jewish
Welfare Board, to whom I shall refer more fully in another connection.

At Chaumont the first man I met was my old class-mate of the Hebrew
Union College, Chaplain Elkan C. Voorsanger, who was there temporarily
detached from the 77th Division to arrange for the celebration of the
Jewish holydays throughout France. He welcomed me, told me something of
what my work was to be, and listened to my month-old news, which was all
fresh to him. For a few days I lingered at the chaplains' headquarters
at the old château of Neuilly sur Suisse, not far from Chaumont, where
thirty chaplains received their gas mask training and instruction in
front line work, and waited for assignments. The château was a queer
angular mediæval affair, set off by lovely lawns, with the usual rows of
straight poplars all about. A few steps away was a little village with a
quaint old twelfth century church, beautiful in feeling, if not in
workmanship. We chaplains newly arrived in France, most of us young, and
all eager to be at work, hung on the words of our leaders fresh from the
line. We talked much of our ideals and our preparation, as most of the
men were graduates of the Chaplains' Training School at Camp Taylor,
Kentucky. My assignment came very soon to organize and conduct services
for the Jewish holydays at Nevers, headquarters of the Intermediate
Section, Service of Supply.

The entire American area in France had been charted out for the purpose
of holyday services and the central cities designated, either those
which had French synagogues to receive our men, or those points like
Nevers where Americans were to be found and had to be provided for. I
quote the official order which carried authority for our arrangements.

     "Tours, Sept. 1, 1918.

     Wherever it will not interfere with military operations soldiers of
     Jewish Faith will be excused from all duty and where practicable
     granted passes to enable them to observe Jewish Holidays as
     follows: from noon Sept. 6th to morning of Sept. 9th and from noon
     Sept. 15th to morning of Sept. 17th. If military necessity prevents
     granting passes on days mentioned provision should be made to hold
     divine services wherever possible."

This meant that all those had leave who were not at the time in action
or on the move. Chaplain Voorsanger, for example, was not able to have
any service in the 77th Division as his troops were on the march on New
Year's Day and in action on the Day of Atonement. Most of the central
points designated for Jewish services were important cities with French
synagogues,--Paris, Toul, Belfort, Dijon, Épinal, Nantes, Rouen, Tours,
Bordeaux and Marseilles. Three of the chief American centers had none,
so Dr. Enelow was assigned to Brest, Dr. Kohn to Chaumont, and I was
sent to Nevers.

I spent a single busy day in Tours after leaving Chaumont. I met the
wife and father-in-law of Rabbi Leon Sommers and inspected their little
synagogue with its seventy-five seats. The Rabbi was on duty in the
French army where he had been from the very beginning of the war. I went
to the army headquarters and arranged for the proper notices to be sent
out to troops in the district, then with two or three Jewish families
whom I met I discussed arrangements to accommodate the large number of
Jewish soldiers who would come in. I was empowered to offer them the
financial assistance of the Jewish Welfare Board in providing such
accommodations as were possible.

One surprise of a kind which I afterward came to expect, was meeting an
old friend of mine from Great Lakes, a former sergeant in the Canadian
Army, mustered out of service because of the loss of several fingers and
now back in France again as a representative of the Knights of Columbus.
When he left Great Lakes for overseas, I had parted with one of the two
knitted sweaters I possessed, that if I did not see service at least my
sweater would. Now I met the sweater and its owner again for a few brief
moments. These fleeting glimpses of friends became a delightful but
always tense element in our army life. Men came and went like an
ever-flowing stream, now and then pausing for a greeting and always
hurrying on again. A single day sufficed for my work in Tours and then
to my own city for the holydays.

Nevers is a historic town of thirty thousand on the banks of the River
Loire. The streets are as wide as alleys and the sidewalks narrow and
haphazard, so that usually one walks in the street, whether it goes up
hill, down hill, or (as frequently) around the corner. But the parks and
squares are frequent and lovely, and the old buildings have a charm of
their own, even if it is chiefly in the quaintness of their outlines and
the contrast of their gray with the sunny skies of autumn. The air was
always cool and the skies always bright. I stayed at the Grand Hotel de
l'Europe, a rather small place, which one had to enter by a back door
through a court. With the men at war, all the work was being done by
women, while most of the guests were American officers on temporary or
permanent duty at the post. The cathedral (every French city seems to
have one) is interesting chiefly to the antiquarian, as it has several
different styles combined rather inharmoniously, and the tower is not at
all imposing.

Of course, a great many Americans were stationed in or near the
city--railroad engineers, training camps of combat units newly arrived
in France, construction engineers, quartermaster units, and two great
hospital centers. Every company I visited, every ward in the hospitals,
had at least a few Jewish boys, and all of them were equally glad to see
me and to attend my services. In fact, my first clear impression in
France was that here lay a tremendous field for work, crying out for
Jewish chaplains and other religious workers, and that we had such a
pitiful force to answer the demand. At that time there were over fifty
thousand Jewish soldiers in the A. E. F. at a very conservative
estimate, with exactly six chaplains and four representatives of the
Jewish Welfare Board to minister to them. When I took up my work at
Nevers, I was simply staggered by the demands made on me and my
inability to fulfill more than a fraction of them.

At first came the sudden rush of men into the city for the first day of
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. The hotels filled up almost at once;
then came others who could not find accommodations, and still others who
had been confined to hospitals, had drawn no pay for several months, and
could not pay for a hotel room or even a shave. The problem was solved
by two very helpful officers who stayed up most of the night until they
had provided enough room on the barrack floors and enough blankets for
all who needed them. The accommodations were crude, but the men were
soldiers and glad to get them. I was doubly proud, therefore, that this
crowd of ours, without official control, coming for the festival and
therefore released from the incessant discipline they had become used
to, never once took advantage of their privileges. We troubled the
authorities for their sleeping quarters and for special permission to
be on the street after nine at night--but that was all. Many of the boys
may have appreciated their leave more than the festival, but all
justified the confidence shown in them by their conduct.

Imagine the difference between our services in France and those to which
I have been accustomed in our rather tame and formal civilian
congregations. My congregation there was composed almost entirely of
men, and those men all very young. We were meeting in a strange land,
amid an ancient but alien civilization, which some of us liked and some
disliked, but which none of us could quite understand. We had no scroll
of the Law, no ram's horn, not even a complete prayerbook for the
festivals. We had no synagogue, and the places we used were lent us by
people of another faith, friends and co-workers, indeed, but with little
interest in our festivals or our religious needs.

Our services were held in the large Y. M. C. A. hut at the chief
barracks. The large, bare room was turned over to us for certain hours;
the workers closed the canteen and attended the services. And in return
I concluded one of the evening services fifteen minutes early so that
the regular clientele would not miss their semi-weekly motion pictures.
In fact, I found the Y. M. C. A. here, as everywhere, most eager to
coöperate with me and to serve the Jews as well as the Christians in the
army. My cantor for most of the services was Corporal Cohen of New York,
although several other men volunteered for certain portions of the
prayers. The head usher was Sergeant Wolf, who looked after the hall and
the seating with the thoroughness characteristic of sergeants
everywhere. Among the congregation were ten officers, two nurses, and
three families of French Jews, as well as a mixed group of enlisted men
from every branch in the army, from every section of America and every
group of Jewry. The festival had caught us in a foreign land, in the
service of America, and it had brought us together as nothing else could
have done.

We wore our hats during the service because that was the natural desire
of the majority, who were of orthodox upbringing. Of course, a soldier
naturally wears his overseas cap under any circumstances and it would
have needed a special ruling to bring them off. The service was read out
of the little prayer book circulated by the Jewish Welfare Board, with
which about a fourth of the congregation were already provided from the
camps in the States. We read the abbreviated Hebrew service, then about
half of the prayers in English, and had an English sermon. The only
objection to these innovations came from the cantor, Corporal Cohen, a
young man with a traditional Jewish background, who had gathered the
other Jews in his company every Friday evening for a brief service and
was generally looked up to (although not always followed) as a religious
leader. My only way of convincing him was to inquire among some of the
other men as to the number who did not understand Hebrew. When he saw
that over half of the Jewish soldiers had no understanding of the Hebrew
service he withdrew his insistent request for a strict traditionalism
and I was saved the necessity of falling back on my military rank.

I was much amused after the several services at the number of young men
who came to me, complaining about Cohen's rendering of the services and
boasting of their own ability. I was able to give several of them the
chance in the ensuing days and found out that it is easy to get a Hebrew
reader, quite possible to find one who reads with feeling and
understanding, but utterly impossible to pick up in the army a cantor
with a trained voice.

Our arrangements were made under the approval of my commanding officer,
the senior chaplain of the post, and few features of our service were
more appreciated than the address of Chaplain Stull at our services on
the second day of the festival. I had hesitated to invite him, and was
therefore doubly surprised when he assured me that this was the third
successive year that he had preached at a Jewish New Year service: two
years before on the Mexican Border, the year before in training camp in
the States and now in the American Forces in France, Chaplain Stull was
a regular army chaplain of eighteen years standing, and his membership
in the Methodist Episcopal church was less conspicuous in his makeup
than his long experience in army life. His sermon was one of the
outstanding events of our holy season. His explanation of the vital
importance of the Service of Supply to the army at the front came with
personal weight for he had just come back from the fighting forces to
take a promotion in the rear. His moral interpretation of the
significance of each man to the whole army was the sort of thing that
the soldier needs and likes.

These services were unusual in that they were the first holy season
which most of the men had spent away from home. The war was still on
then; the St. Mihiel drive took place the day after Rosh Hashana; the
news from the front was usually good and always thrilling. We at the
rear were deeply stirred. Some of us had been wounded and were now
recovering; some were in training and were soon to leave for the front;
some were in the S. O. S. permanently. But the shadow of war was dark
upon us all. We were in the uncertainty, the danger, the horror of it.
We felt a personal thrill at the words of the prayers,--"Who are to live
and who to die; who by the sword and who by fire." We recited with
personal fervor the memorial prayer for our fallen comrades. Many among
us were eager to give thanks at recovery from wounds. Therefore, the
desire for a religious observance of our solemn days was all the
greater. Men came in from a hundred miles, often walking ten miles to a
train before they could ride the rest.

Brothers, long separated, often met by chance, soon to separate again
for an unknown future. I remember two--one a veteran of two battles, now
convalescing at a hospital, the other newly arrived from the States and
still in training. They met on Rosh Hashanah, each ignorant of the
other's whereabouts and the veteran not even knowing whether his brother
had arrived in France. The touching scene of their reunion had its
humorous side too, for the wounded soldier from the hospital naturally
had not a franc in his possession, and the boy from the States had
enough money for a real holiday and had reserved a hotel room with a
luxurious French bed. He was thus able to act as host for two happy days
and nights. But on Yom Kippur when the wounded soldier came again his
brother was not there. His unit had been ordered to the front and I do
not know whether they ever met again.

War had us all in its iron grip. I, for one, expected soon to have my
request granted that I be assigned to a combat division. Not that I
overlooked the need for Jewish work in the S. O. S., but the most
pressing need at that time was at the front, and I was looking forward
to taking up the more exacting duties there.

The three Jewish families of the city added a pathetic touch, for they
were glad indeed to attend a Jewish service and for the sake of the
soldiers were willing to sit through our English additions. Their
situation seemed similar to that of most recent immigrants of the United
States; the parents spoke both Yiddish and French, the young people like
ours in America, spoke chiefly the language of the country. It was both
ludicrous and touching to see American soldiers competing to exchange
the few French words they knew with the two or three Jewish daughters.
It was often their first chance for a word with a girl of their own
class, certainly with a Jewish girl, since they had left America. And
the fact that the girl with her familiar appearance could not
communicate with them on a conversational basis, did not seem to impede
their relations in the least. The isolated condition of these French
Jews in a city of 30,000 can only be compared to that of American Jews
in a country village.

While at Nevers I could not overlook the opportunity to visit the two
great hospital centers at Mars and at Mesves sur Loire. I visited from
ward to ward in both of them, paying special attention to the Jewish
boys and finding always plenty of occasion for favors of a hundred
different kinds. At that time we were short of chaplains of all
denominations in the army, so that even the hospitals had not enough to
minister fully to their thousands of sick and wounded, while the
convalescent camps with their hundreds of problems were almost uncared
for in this respect.

At Mars I held a service on Friday night which was fairly typical of
conditions in France. The service was announced as a Jewish religious
service, but on my arrival I found the Red Cross room crowded with men
of every type, including four negroes in the front row. Evidently it was
the only place the men had outside the wards, so they came there every
night for the show, movie, or service which might be provided. They were
not merely respectful to the service and the minority of Jews who took
part in it. They were actively responsive to the message I brought them
of conditions in America and the backing the people at home were giving
them in their great work abroad. These wounded men from the lines, these
medical corpsmen who might never see the front, were alike eager to feel
the part they personally were playing in the great, chaotic outlines of
the world-wide struggle. And they responded to a Jewish service with an
interest which I soon found was typical of the soldier, in his restless
attention, his open-mindedness, his intolerance of cant but love of
genuine religion.

The meetings and partings of war-time came home to me several times at
Nevers. I was called to see a young man in the hospital, suffering from
spinal meningitis. I found him a highly intelligent boy from Chicago who
knew a number of my old friends there. I was able to do a few minor
favors for him such as obtaining his belongings and notifying his unit
that he was not absent without leave, but simply locked up in the
contagious ward. But on his recovery the news went to his family in
Chicago to get in touch with my wife and a friendship was established on
a genuine basis of interests in common. At another time I was approached
at the Y. M. C. A. by one of their women workers who had heard my name
announced. She turned out to be a Mrs. Campbell of my old home town,
Sioux City, Iowa, and an acquaintance of my mother through several
charity boards of which they both were members. She was acting as
instructor in French and advisor to the American soldiers in Nevers,
while her husband, Prof. Campbell of Morningside College, was on the
French front with the French auxiliary of the Y. M. C. A.

Another interesting incident was my meeting with Mr. Julius Rosenwald of
Chicago, then touring France as a member of the National Council of
Defense. The Y. M. C. A. secretary asked me to introduce him to a
soldier audience in one of their huts. The first day I came, however,
Mr. Rosenwald was delayed and the boys had to put up with a new film of
Douglas Fairbanks in his stead, like good soldiers accepting the
substitution gladly enough. On the second day Mr. Rosenwald himself was
there and I had the pleasure of introducing him to an audience of about
five hundred soldiers, as varied a group as ever wore the American
uniform. His simple personal appeal was a direct attempt to build up
the morale of the troops through a hearty report of the interest and
enthusiasm of the people at home. He called for a show of hands of the
home states of the different men, then responded by reading letters and
telegrams from governors and other local officials. Mr. Rosenwald was
one of the very few official travelers in France whose trip was not
merely informative to himself but also valuable to the army. We in the
army grew to dislike "joy riders" so heartily that it is a positive
pleasure to mention such a conspicuous exception.

Another duty typical of the variety of tasks which welcomed me as a
chaplain, was to conduct the defense of a Jewish boy at a general court
martial. He asked to see me during the holydays, told me his story, and
I stayed over in Nevers a few days to act as his counsel. Since that
time I have frequently been called on for advice in similar cases, for
an army chaplain has almost as many legal and medical duties as strictly
religious ones. In this particular case circumstantial evidence seemed
to show that the young man had stolen and sold some musical instruments
from an army warehouse where he worked. He was only a boy, a volunteer
who had falsified his age in order to enlist. According to his own story
he was partially involved in the case, acting ignorantly as agent for
the real criminal.

The trial was quite fair, bringing out the circumstantial evidence
against him, and his sentence was as low as could possibly be expected.
So, with memories of friendships made, of work accomplished, of a new
world opening ahead, I left Nevers on September 20th after only
eighteen days of service. I had to report at Chaumont again to receive
my orders to join the 27th Division.

For two months after that no Jewish chaplain was stationed in the
Intermediate Section, which covered the entire central part of France
and contained many thousands of American troops, including everywhere a
certain proportion of Jews. Then Chaplain Rabinowitz reported at Nevers
temporarily and served for his entire time in France in various points
in the Intermediate Section, at Nevers, Blois and at St. Aignan.

I had been thrust into the midst of this tremendous, crying need for
service of every kind, religious, personal and military. I went to my
division to find the same or greater need, as the situation was always
more tense at the actual front. For three weeks I had ministered as much
as I could to the Jewish men scattered about Nevers and all through the
central portion of France. Now I left them for good. Their usual
greeting on meeting me had been, "You are the first Jewish chaplain or
worker we have met on this side." And unfortunately, the same greeting
was addressed to me every time I came to a new unit or city until the
very day I left France. The need among these two million soldiers was so
tremendous that a hundred times our resources would not have been
sufficient. As it was, we made no pretense at covering the field, but
simply did day labor wherever we were stationed, serving the soldiers,
Jews and Christians alike, and giving our special attention to the
religious services and other needs of the Jewish men.



CHAPTER III

AT THE FRONT WITH THE TWENTY-SEVENTH DIVISION


I reached my division on the first of October, 1918, after a tedious ten
days on the way. I traveled most of the way with Lieutenant Colonel
True, whom I met on the train coming out of Chaumont. I found that the
higher ranking officers invariably approached the chaplains not as
officers of inferior rank but as leaders of a different kind, much as a
prominent business man treats his minister in civil life. Colonel True
was a regular army man of long standing who was being transferred from
another division to the Twenty-Seventh. When we arrived at the Hotel
Richmond, the Y. M. C. A. hotel for officers in Paris, we found only one
room available with a double bed, and so for the first time in my life I
had the honor of sleeping with a Lieutenant Colonel. The honor was a
doubtful one as he had at the time a slight attack of "flu" brought on
from exposure and a touch of gas in the recent St. Mihiel drive. Colonel
True had received his promotion from a majority and his transfer before
the drive, but had not reported until he had gone through the whole
fight at the head of his battalion. I mention this not as a striking,
but strictly as a typical proceeding on the part of the average American
officer.

For a few days we were held at the Replacement Camp at Eu in
Normandy--an idyllic spot within sight of the English Channel,
surrounded by gentle hills. While there I made several trips to Tréport,
a favorite summer resort on the Channel before the war. It is a quaint
little fishing village with a typical modern summer resort superimposed.
The old stone Norman cottages with their high roofs always had a touch
of decoration somewhere, in mosaic, paint or stained glass, different
from the plainer architecture of Central France. The modern part
consists of several beautiful hotels and a number of cheap restaurants
and curio shops. Of course, the hotels were all used by the British Army
as hospitals at this time. I visited Base Hospital 16, a Philadelphia
Unit, which was loaned to the British. I had a delightful talk with our
Red Cross Chaplain and made a tour of many of the wards. The patients
were almost all British with a few Americans from the August campaign in
Flanders. Among the rest I met about a dozen Jewish boys, English and
Australian, who were naturally delighted by the rare visit of a Jewish
Chaplain. The eight Jewish Chaplains in the British Expeditionary Forces
were attached to the various Army Headquarters, and so had to cover
impossible areas in their work. The nearest one to Tréport was Rabbi
Geffen at Boulogne with whom I afterward came into communication, and
from whom I obtained a large number of the army prayer books arranged by
the Chief Rabbi of England for use in the British Forces.

Hospital visiting is dreary work, especially when there is action going
on from which one is separated. The work is exhausting physically,
walking up and down the long wards and stopping by bedsides. It is
especially a drain on the nerves and sympathies, to see so many sick and
mutilated boys--boys in age most of them, certainly boys in spirit--and
giving oneself as the need arises. And in a hospital so many men have
requests. They are helpless and it is always impossible to have enough
visitors and enough chaplains for them. I was glad to be useful at
Tréport but gladder still when the word came through to release all
troops in the Second Corps Replacement Depot.

We were loaded on a train, the soldiers in box-cars of the familiar type
("40 men or 8 horses") with the little group of officers crowded
together in a single first-class coach. Broken windows, flat wheels and
no lights showing--we were beginning to feel that we were in the war
zone. From Eu to Peronne took from 4:30 A. M. to 9:30 P. M. with three
changes of trains and ten additional stops. We got only a short view of
the railroad station at Amiens, at that time almost completely
destroyed. Our division was then in the British area on the Somme
sector, and at the time of our arrival they had just come out of the
great victory at the Hindenburg Line.

Our first ruined city was Peronne, which will never leave my memory. The
feeling of a ruined town is absolutely indescribable, for how can one
imagine a town with neither houses nor people, where the very streets
have often been destroyed? This situation contradicts our very
definition of a town, for a town is made of streets, houses and people;
no imagination can quite grasp the reality of war and ruin without its
actual experience. And Peronne was much more striking than most cities
in the war zone; it had been fought through six different times, and
its originally stately public buildings showed only enough to impress us
with the ruin that had been wrought. Only one wall of one end of the
church was standing, with two fine Gothic arches, only one side of the
building on the square and so on through the whole town. We became
inured to the sight of ruined villages later on, but the first shock of
seeing Peronne will be indelible.

The headquarters of the division were then located at the Bois de Buire,
about ten miles out, though for almost a half day we could find nobody
to give us exact directions. At last Lieutenant Colonel H. S.
Sternberger, the division quartermaster, put in an appearance and
offered to take me and Lieutenant Colonel True up to headquarters in his
car. The rest of our party had all wandered off by then in the direction
of their various units. Colonel Sternberger was the highest ranking
officer at the time among the thousand Jews in the Twenty-Seventh
Division. Lieutenant Colonel Morris Liebman of the 106th Infantry, also
a Jew, had been killed in action in Flanders six weeks before, a loss
which was very deeply felt in his regiment. Colonel Sternberger was one
of the popular staff officers of the division owing to his indefatigable
labors for the welfare of the boys. His great efforts at the expense of
much personal risk and of serious damage to his health were directed to
get the food up to the front on time. While I was with the division,
Colonel Sternberger proved both a staunch personal friend and an active
ally in my work.

It took more than a day to become acquainted with the camouflaged
offices in the woods. Small huts, with semicircular iron roofs covered
with branches, were scattered about among the trees. Some of them had
signs, Division Adjutant, Commanding General, and the rest; others were
billets. I invariably lost my way when I went to lunch and wandered for
some minutes before finding "home." "Home" was a hut exactly like the
rest, where the French mission and the gas officer had their offices
during the day and where six of us slept at night. I fell heir to the
cot of one of the interpreters then home on leave, Georges Lévy, who
afterward became one of my best friends. My baggage had disappeared on
the trip, so that I had only my hand bag with the little it could hold.
My first need, naturally, was for blankets to cover the cot. I collected
these from various places, official and otherwise, until the end of the
month found me plentifully provided. I must admit that the first cool
nights in the woods forced me to sleep in my clothes. Naturally, my
first task was to wire for my baggage, but it had completely vanished
and did not return for four long months. Everybody lost his possessions
at some time during the war; I was unique only in losing them at the
outset and not seeing them until the whole need for them was over.

The boys had just come out of the line, worn out, with terrible losses,
but after a great victory such as occurs only a few times in any war.
They had broken the Hindenburg Line, that triple row of trenches and
barbed wire, with its concrete pill-boxes, its enfilading fire from
machine guns, its intricate and tremendous system of defenses. I crossed
the line many times during the month that followed and never failed to
marvel that human beings could ever have forced it. The famous tunnel
of the St. Quentin Canal was in our sector, too, as well as part of the
canal itself. The villages about us were destroyed so completely that no
single roof or complete wall was standing for a shelter and the men had
to live in the cellars.

One wall always bore the name of the former village in large letters,
which became still larger and more striking in the territory near the
Hindenburg Line, so long occupied by the Germans. I used to repay the
generous Tommies for their rides on the constant stream of trucks (we
called them "lorries," like the English) by translating the numerous
German signs at railroad crossings and the like, about which they always
had much curiosity.

One could travel anywhere on main roads by waiting until a truck came
along and then hailing it. If the seat was occupied there was usually
some room in the rear, and the British drivers were always glad to take
one on and equally glad to air their views on the war. When one came to
a cross road, he jumped off, hailed the M. P. (Military Police) for
directions and took the next truck which was going in the proper
direction. In that way I have often traveled on a dozen trucks in a day,
with stop-overs and occasional walks of a few miles to fill in the gaps.
Between a map, a compass and the M. P.'s, we always managed to circulate
and eventually find our way home again.

We saw the heavy guns lumbering on their way to the front, the
aëroplanes humming overhead like a swarm of dragon-flies. Day and night
we could hear the rumble of guns like distant thunder, while at night
the flashes showed low on the horizon like heat lightning. Our salvage
depot was at Tincourt at the foot of the hill, and when I went over
there Corporal Klein and Sergeant Friedlander were quick to repair gaps
in my equipment. One night I witnessed the division musical comedy (the
"Broadway Boys") in an old barn at Templeux le Fosse, where we walked in
the dark, found the place up an alley and witnessed a really excellent
performance with costumes, scenery and real orchestra. In the middle of
an act, an announcement would be made that all men of the third
battalion, 108th Infantry, should report back at once, and a group of
fellows would rise and file out for the five-mile hike back in the
darkness: they were to move up to the front before morning.

My chief effort during those few hurried days was to get into touch with
the various units so that I could be of some definite service to them
when they went into action. Unfortunately, almost every time I arranged
for a service and appeared to hold it the "outfit" would already be on
the move. The best service I held was at the village of Buire, where
about forty boys gathered together under the trees among the ruined
houses. They were a deeply devotional group, told me about their holyday
services conducted by a British army chaplain at Doulens, about their
fallen comrades for whom they wanted to repeat the memorial prayers, and
about their own narrow escapes for which they were eager to offer
thanks. They had the deep spiritual consciousness which comes to most
men in moments of great peril.

I managed to reach most of the infantry regiments, however, by hiking
down from the woods and sometimes catching a ride. Everywhere was
action. It was the breathing space between our two great battles of the
war. Every unit was hoping and expecting a long rest. But that hope
could not be fulfilled. The intensity of the drive against the entire
German line was beginning to tell and every possible unit was needed in
the line to push ahead. So the rest of the Twenty-Seventh Division was
brief indeed. Every regiment was starting for the front with no
replacements after the terrific slaughter of two weeks before, with very
little new equipment and practically no rest. And the front was now
further away than it had been. The success of the allied forces meant
longer marches for our tired troops.

All the villages were devastated in this area. It was the section
between Peronne and the old Hindenburg Line. Not until we came to the
German side of the Hindenburg Line did we find the villages in any sort
of repair. The men lived in cellars without roofs, in rooms without
walls or sometimes in barracks which were constructed by either of the
opposing armies during the long years of the struggle. Of course, many
shelters existed such as our "elephant huts" in the woods or the perfect
honeycomb of dugouts in the sides of the quarry at Templeux le Gerard.

One day I "lorried" up to the division cemeteries near the old
battlefield, which were being laid out by a group of chaplains with a
large detail of enlisted men. I saw the occasional Jewish graves marked
with the Star of David and later was able to complete the list and have
all Jewish graves in our division similarly marked. I got to know the
country about Bellicourt and Bony, where our heaviest fighting had
taken place. I heard the story of the eight British tanks, lying
helpless at the top of the long ridge near Bony, where they had run upon
a mine field. I got to know the "Ausies," always the best friends and
great admiration of our soldiers, with their dashing courage and
reckless heroism, and the "Tommies," those steady, matter-of-fact
workmen at the business of war, whom our boys could never quite
understand.

Finally our headquarters moved forward, too. I jumped out of a colonel's
car one dark night and hunted for an hour and a half among the hills
before I found the chalk quarry where they now were hidden from prying
air scouts. At last, finding the quarry, I met a boy I knew, who took me
to the dugout where the senior chaplain was sleeping. I crawled into a
vacant bunk, made myself at home and left the next morning for good. The
quarry did not appeal to me when wet; one was too likely to slide from
the top to the bottom and stay there; and I had no desire to test its
advantages when dry. The next time I came back to headquarters they were
in the village of Joncourt, beyond the Hindenburg Line, in territory
which we had released from the Germans. The chief attraction of Joncourt
was an occasional roof--of course, there were no windows. The cemetery
had been used as a "strong point" by the retreating Germans, who had
scattered the bodies about and used the little vaults as pill-boxes in
which to mount machine guns. And our message center was located in a
German dugout fully fifty feet underground; evidently plenty of
precautions had been taken against allied air raids. In fact, from this
point on every house in every village had a conspicuous sign, telling
of the _Fliegerschutz_ for a certain number of men in its cellar. In
addition, the placard told the number of officers, men and horses which
could be accommodated with billets on the premises. Evidently, the
Germans in laying out their permanently occupied territory, went about
it in their usual business-like fashion.

But between my glimpses of these various headquarters, I was at the
front with the troops going into the trenches and had had a glimpse of
war. My first experience under fire was in some woods near Maretz, where
I spent part of the night with one battalion, as they paused before
going into the trenches. I finished the night on the floor of a house in
the village, having grown accustomed enough to the sound of the shells
to sleep in spite of it. Like most people I had wondered how one feels
under fire, and experienced a queer sensation when I first heard the
long whine of a distant shell culminating in a sudden explosion. Now I
realized that I was under fire, too. But I speedily found that one feels
more curiosity than fear under long-distance fire; real fear comes
chiefly when the shells begin to land really near by. I was to
experience that, too, a little later. In fact, I found out soon that
every soldier is frightened; a good soldier is simply one who does his
duty in spite of fear.

Then a report came in that Chaplain John Ward, of the 108th Infantry,
had been seriously wounded and I was sent to take his place with the
unit. In a push the chaplain works with the wounded; after it, with the
dead. Of many sad duties at the front, his is perhaps the saddest of
all. My first station was with the third battalion headquarters and aid
post in a big white house set back in a little park in the tiny village
of Escaufourt, a mile or so behind the lines. Captain Merrill was in
command of the battalion and one could see how the work and
responsibility wore on him day by day, reducing the round, cheerful
soldier for the time almost to a whispering, tottering old man. But his
spirit held him to the task; he slept for only a few minutes at a time,
and then was back at work again. A conscientious man can have no more
exacting duty than this, to care for the lives of a thousand men.

We were under constant fire there, though not under observation, but the
little ambulances ran up to the gate of the château for the wounded, who
had to walk or be carried in and out from the house to the gate. We ate
upstairs in the stately dining room at times, though we usually ate and
always slept in the crowded cellar where the major and his staff were
housed. There eight or nine of us would sit on our brick seats and sleep
with our backs against the wall, being awakened from time to time by a
messenger coming in or by the ringing of the field telephone in the
corner. The telephone operator was always testing one or another
connection, day and night, for the emergency when it would be needed.

One night companies H and I of the 108th Infantry were almost completely
wiped out by gas. They were in low lying trenches by the side of the
canal under a constant fire of gas shells, while the damp weather kept
the dangerous fumes near the ground. They had no orders to evacuate to a
safer post and no human being can live forever in a gas mask, so one
after another the men yielded to temptation, took off their masks for
momentary relief, and inhaled the gas-laden air. All evening and night
they kept coming in by twos and threes to our aid post, the stronger
ones walking, the rest on stretchers. Their clothing reeked of the
sickeningly sweet odor. The room was soon full of it, so that we had to
blow out the candles and open the door for a few minutes to avoid being
gassed ourselves. There were three ambulances running that night to the
Main Dressing Station, and I made it my task to meet each car, notify
the doctor and bring the gassed and wounded men out to the ambulance.
Most of them were blinded for the time being by the effect of the gas.
No light was possible, as that would have drawn fire at once. Every ten
minutes through the night our village was shelled, and in walking the
forty or fifty yards through the park to the gate, I had to make two
detours with my blinded men to avoid fresh shell-holes made that very
afternoon. I admit feeling an occasional touch of panic as I led the big
helpless fellows around those fresh shell holes and helped them into the
ambulances. The final touch came when a youngster of perhaps seventeen
entered the aid post alone, walking painfully. "What outfit are you
from, sonny?" was my natural greeting. "I am the last man left in
Company H," was the proud reply.

This was the sort of fatal blunder which seemed to occur once in every
command before the lesson was learned that gas-filled trenches need no
defending, and that troops, safely withdrawn a hundred yards or more,
can be moved forward again quickly enough the moment the gas lifts. The
English had had the same lesson more than once until they learned it
thoroughly; so had the Germans; now our armies, with their examples
before us, had to learn it again through the suffering of our own
soldiers. Our division was not the only one in which the same or a
similar blunder cost the men so dearly, for I have read the same
incident of more than one unit on other parts of the American line, and
have had them verified by officers who were present at those other
catastrophes. In the art of war the instruction of the generals costs
the lives of the soldiers.

We had the peculiar experience of seeing the village which we had
entered in good condition crumbling about us under the enemy fire. Even
the windows were intact when we reached it; the Germans were just out,
and our artillery had been outstripped completely in the forward rush.
Under the constant pounding of back area fire, designed to prevent
ammunition and supplies coming up to the line unmolested, our little
village lost windows, roofs and walls, disintegrating steadily into a
heap of ruins.

One evening we were assigned the task of evacuating some old French
peasants who had clung to their little homes through all the
world-shaking catastrophe. At last they had to leave, as the danger to
them was too direct and, in addition, they constituted a hidden menace
to our troops in case even one of them had been left behind as a spy. I
went with a party of Australians and a few of our men to the houses in
the outskirts of the town, where the greatest danger existed. I remember
the utterly disconsolate attitude of two old men and a little old woman
in one of them, when they were told they had to leave. They seemed numb
in the midst of all the rush and roar of warfare. Their little
possessions were there, they were of the peasant type and had probably
never been out of the district in their lives. The advance of the enemy
in 1914 had been accompanied by no fighting near their homes, and now
the allied victory, the one hope of their country, was the one thing
that bore destruction to their little village and tore them away from
the spot where they were rooted.

One evening I joined a ration party going forward and visited the lines
and advanced headquarters at St. Souplet, hearing the peculiar whistle
of a sniper's bullet pass me as I made my way back after dusk. One of
the boys carrying a heavy bag of hardtack had a sore shoulder, not quite
well from a previous wound. So I shouldered his bag for a decidedly
weary mile of skulking along a sunken road and hurrying across the
occasional open spaces. When we came to his unit I was glad to turn the
bag over to him; I felt no pleasure in such lumpy burden, and would far
rather have worn out my shoulder with something more appreciated by the
boys than hardtack,--the one thing which nobody enjoyed but which was
eaten only because they were desperately hungry. On the night of October
16th we all moved over, preparatory to the push across the Selle River.
We installed ourselves in the large building at the cross roads, where
the aid post was stationed. I joined a group of sleepers on the cellar
floor, picking my way in the darkness to find a vacant spot. My trench
coat on the plank floor made a really luxurious bed.

The next morning, October 17th, I was awakened at 5:20 by the barrage;
the boys were going over; the battle of the Selle River had began. By
six o'clock the wounded began to flow in, at first by twos and threes,
then in a steady stream. They came walking wearily along or were carried
on the shoulders of German prisoners or occasionally by our own men. As
we were at the crossroads, we got most of the wounded, English, German
and American, as well as a great deal of the shelling with which back
areas are always deluged during an attack. In this case, our post was
just behind the lines at first, but it became a back area within a very
few days owing to the dash and brilliancy of our tired troops when the
orders came to go over the top. They stormed the heights across the
stream after wading it in the first rush, and then went on across the
hills and fields.

Our attack was a part of the campaign of the British Third Army and a
small element in the great "push" going on at that time over the entire
front. Our task with that of the Thirtieth Division on our right was to
cross the Selle River and advance toward the Sambre Canal. On our left
were British troops, while we were supported by Australian artillery and
the British Air Service. In our first great battle, that of the
Hindenburg Line, the "Ausies" had acted as the second wave, coming up
just in time to save some of the hard pressed units of our Division and
to complete the success of our assault. So we knew them well enough and
were glad indeed to have their excellent artillery to put over the
barrage for our second attack.

The Australians and, in fact, all the British Colonial troops, had much
more in common with the American soldiers than had the British troops
themselves. They were like our men, young, hardy, dashing. They were
all volunteers. They had a type of discipline of their own, which
included saluting their own officers when they wanted to and never
saluting British officers under any circumstances. I took a natural
pride in hearing of their commanding officer, Lieutenant General Sir
John Monash, who held the highest rank of any Jew in the war. It was no
little honor to be the commander of those magnificent troops from
Australia.

Meanwhile we were busy at the first aid post. I found myself the only
person at hand who could speak any German, so I took charge of the door,
with a group of prisoners to carry the wounded in and out and load them
in the ambulances. As soon as my dozen or so prisoners were tired out I
would send them on to the "cage" and pick up new men from the constant
stream flowing in from the front. Our opponents here were chiefly
Wurtembergers, young boys of about twenty, although one regiment of
Prussian marines was among them. Among the first prisoners were two
German physicians who offered to assist ours in the work. They worked
all day, one in our aid post, the other in that of the 107th Infantry,
side by side with our surgeons and doing excellent work for Americans
and Germans alike. They picked their own assistants from among their
captured medical corpsmen, and were strictly professional in their
attitude throughout. One of them was Dr. Beckhard, a Jew from Stuttgart,
with whom I had a few snatches of conversation and whom I should
certainly like to meet again under more congenial circumstances. I was
amused in the midst of it all when the doctor noticed his brother, an
artilleryman, coming in as one of the endless file of stretcher
bearers, carrying wounded in gray or olive drab. The doctor asked me
whether he might take his brother as one of his assistants for the day.
"Is he any good?" I asked. "Oh, yes," was the answer, "as good as any
medical orderly." So I gave permission and the two, together with a real
medical orderly and another young prisoner as interpreter, ran one room
of the first aid post in their own way. I kept an American soldier on
guard there chiefly to be prepared for any eventualities; as a matter of
fact the German surgeons treated American wounded and American surgeons
treated German wounded with the same impartial spirit. The two
physicians joined the other prisoners at the end of the day bearing
letters of appreciation written by Captain Miller, the surgeon in charge
of our post.

About a year later when communication with Germany was opened again, I
found that this chance meeting at the front proved an odd means of
communication with my German cousins. When Dr. Beckhard returned to
Stuttgart he lectured on his experiences at the front, mentioning among
other things that he had met an American Rabbi by the name of Levinger.
Some distant relatives of mine living in the city heard the talk and
wrote to a nearer branch of the family living in another part of
Wurtemberg, so that shortly after the actual experience they knew of my
being in the army and serving at the front.

Only the small Ford ambulances could come as near the front as our post,
while the larger ones came only to the Advanced Dressing Station at
Busigny. These smaller ambulances were unable to accommodate the
constant stream of gassed and wounded men coming from the lines. Those
who had minor wounds, especially in the arms, had to be directed along
the proper road according to that ironical term, "walking wounded."
Cases which in civil life would be carried to an ambulance, given full
treatment, and then driven gently to the nearest hospital, were here
given emergency dressings and told, "The Advanced Dressing Station is
two miles down that road, boys. Walk slow and don't miss the sign
telling where to turn to the left." Other more serious cases for whom
there was no room in ambulances, at the moment were carried on
stretchers by prisoners. I would assemble three or four such cases, take
a revolver left by some wounded officer or non-com, and give it to a
"walking wounded" with instructions to "see that they get safely to the
next point." Naturally, these boys with minor wounds of their own were
safe guardians to see that the German prisoners did their duty. I can
still see their grins as they assured me: "Those fellows are sure going
to stick on the job, sir. I'll say they will!" The attitude of the
slightly wounded men was often full of grim humor. I remember one
Australian carried in on a stretcher who called me to his side with
their customary "Here, Yank," and when I responded handed me very
gravely a Mills bomb which he had used to overawe his captive bearers,
apparently threatening to blow them up with himself should they prove
insubordinate.

A constant worry of mine were the weapons which the wounded men dropped
in front or within the aid post. Knowing that all army supplies would
be reissued to them on release from the hospital, the soldiers did not
care to carry heavy rifles or even revolvers and bombs back with them.
The result was a pile of weapons at just the point where my prisoner
stretcher-bearers could have easy access to them. I kept an M. P. busy
much of the time removing these to a place of comparative safety.

Behind the aid post we found a shed which served as temporary morgue for
the men who died before we could give them emergency treatment and rush
them off in the ambulances. The extreme tension of the actual fight and
the tremendous pressure of administering to the living calloused the
heart for the moment to these horrible necessities, which come back to
memory in later days with the full measure of ghastly detail.

The chaplain is the handy man at the front, one of the few who is not
limited by special duties or confined to a particular spot. He works
forward or backward as the need exists. He ladles out hot chocolate with
the Red Cross, carries a stretcher with the Medical Corps, ties up a
bandage when that is needed, and prays for Jew and Christian alike. I
ministered to a number of Jewish and Christian soldiers who were dying,
leading the Jews in the traditional confession of faith, and reading a
psalm for the Protestants. One of the surgeons came to me and said,
"Captain Connor here is dying, and Chaplain Hoffman our priest is at
Battalion Headquarters acting as interpreter to examine some prisoners.
What can we do?" So I borrowed the surgeon's rosary and held the cross
to the lips of the dying Catholic. This incident, so impossible in
civil life, is really expected among soldiers,--it has been repeated so
many times and in so many different ways.

We were constantly under heavy shell fire, as our place at the cross
roads was not only convenient of access, but was also the only route for
bringing supplies and ammunition to our part of the front. Once as I was
in the middle of the road with several prisoners loading stretchers on
an ambulance, a shell burst in a pool about twenty feet away, covering
us with a shower of mud. My prisoners, who had a wholesome respect for
their own artillery, could hardly be prevented from dropping the
stretcher. However, we were too near the explosion to be hurt, as the
fragments flew over our heads, killing one boy and wounding four others
across the street. One of the wounded was an American runner from the
front, who was enjoying a hasty bite at the army field kitchen around
the corner. He came over in a hurry to have his cheek tied up and then
went calmly back to the field kitchen to finish his interrupted lunch.
The man who was killed was standing about seventy-five feet from the
spot of the explosion beside the motor-cycle which he drove, waiting for
his commanding officer to come and use the side-car. He pitched forward
as though falling to avoid the explosion, just as we would have done if
we had not been holding a stretcher. When he did not rise, Father Kelley
and I went over to him and found that a fatal bit of metal had struck
him in the head just below his steel helmet.

And so the work went on. The next day we heard of some wounded who had
not yet been brought in from Bandival Farm. Chaplain Burgh of the 107th
Infantry and I gathered together a few volunteers of our ambulance men
and several prisoners to go out and carry them in. It was about a mile
and a half out across the battlefield under intermittent shell fire. I
placed my captured Luger revolver, which one of the boys had brought me
the day before, in a conspicuous position with the handle projecting
from my front pocket. I had had the thing unloaded as soon as I got it
because I preferred not to run any unnecessary risks. Being a
non-combatant both by orders and inclination, I was afraid it might go
off. But my prisoners did not know that and so I had no difficulty in
silencing their muttered protests against such a hard and dangerous
hike. Working prisoners under fire like this was strictly against
international law, but that sort of a provision we violated frankly and
cheerfully. On the way back with our wounded across the muddy and
shell-pitted fields, we passed German machine gun emplacements with the
dead gunners still beside the guns, Americans lying with their faces
toward the enemy, and constant heaps of supplies of all kinds strewn
about. One of our stretchers was put down for a moment's rest near such
a scattered group of German knapsacks. One of the prisoners asked if he
might help himself, and when I nodded all four made a wild dash for the
supplies and each man came back carrying an army overcoat and a bag of
emergency rations, the little sweetish crackers which they carried
instead of our hard tack.

On the third day of the attack I joined two men of the Intelligence
Department in walking out to the front line, then over five miles from
the village. It was a hard hike through the mud and about the shell
holes. Finally we found our friends dug in (for the fourth time that
day) on a little ridge. Each time their temporary trenches had been
completed orders had come either for a short retreat or a further
advance, and now by the middle of the afternoon the boys were digging
another at the place where they were to stay till the next morning.
Across the ravine in a little wood the Germans were hanging on for the
time being until their artillery could be saved. I visited the 108th
Infantry in reserve and emptied my musette bag of the sacks of Bull
Durham which I had brought along from the Red Cross. Then the boys
wanted matches, which I had forgotten, and their gratitude was lost in
their disgust.

I found Captain Merrill with his staff inspecting two captured German
77's, on which they had just placed the name of their unit. By that
time, after three consecutive battles without replacements, our units
were so depleted that a regiment had only 250 rifles in the line instead
of the original 3,000. Captain Merrill's battalion consisted on that day
of 87 riflemen. Just as we finished our inspection of the guns the enemy
artillery started "strafing" again, so we jumped into a shell-hole which
had been hollowed out into convenient form and finished our conversation
there. I then visited some of the 107th Infantry in the front line rifle
pits, one hundred yards or so ahead, and turned back again toward the
village.

I was just losing my way among the hills with approaching twilight, when
I met an Australian artillery train on their way back for supplies, and
climbed on a limber to ride into town. It was a wild ride, with the
rough roads and the drivers' habit of trotting over the spots where
shell-holes showed that danger might linger. I held on in quite
unmilitary fashion and wondered if the horse behind would be careful
when I fell. But they brought me in safely and added one more means of
locomotion to the dozens which I had utilized at various times:
ammunition "lorries," ambulances, side-cars and even a railway
locomotive--everything in fact except a tank.

The next day we breathed more freely again. Our tired boys, reduced in
numbers, weakened in physical resistance, but going forward day after
day as their orders came, were at last to go out of the lines. Their job
was done; they had reached the Sambre Canal; and though we did not know
it, they were not to go into battle again. I lorried back to Joncourt,
the temporary division headquarters, for the night, changed my clothes,
slept in a borrowed cot, read a very heartening pile of home letters
which had accumulated for some weeks, and returned to St. Souplet the
next day for the burial detail. It was the 21st of October; while the
division as a whole marched back to the railhead, five chaplains with a
detail of a hundred and fifty men stayed behind for the sad work that
remained to be done.

At this time I stopped off at the 108th Infantry for a few minutes, as
they halted for a meal after coming out of the lines, and had my
orderly, David Lefkowitz, detached from his unit to serve with me for my
entire remaining period with the division. I had become acquainted with
him during my first few days in the division and found that he would be
interested to work with me as orderly and assistant. The order
assigning him to this special work was made out before we left the woods
at Buire. But our various units were so depleted at the time that I
arranged to leave him with his "outfit" for the battle. It was a serious
deprivation to me, as Lefkowitz had been through the earlier battle at
the Hindenburg Line and could have given me much assistance and advice
in the front line work. Now that the fighting was over, he left his
company to go with me and enjoy the comparative luxury of division
headquarters until he rejoined his company to sail home from France. He
was one of the many Jewish soldiers who welcomed the presence of a
chaplain and gladly coöperated in every possible way to make my work
successful.

Chaplain Francis A. Kelley, in charge of our burial work, laid out the
cemetery on a hill overlooking the village and the battlefield. The rest
of us searched the field with details of men, brought in the bodies on
limbers, searched and identified them as well as possible. In doubtful
cases the final identification was made at the cemetery, where men from
every regiment were working and where most soldiers would have some one
to recognize them. In addition, we buried German dead on the field,
marking the graves and keeping a record of their location for the Graves
Registration Service. A hundred and fifty-two men were buried there at
St. Souplet, the last cemetery of the Twenty-Seventh Division in their
battle grounds of France. The last body of all, found after the work had
been finished and the men released from duty, was buried by us chaplains
and the surgeon, who went out under the leadership of Father Kelley and
dug the grave ourselves. Every evening the six of us gathered about our
grate fire and relaxed from the grim business of the day. If we had
allowed ourselves to dwell on it, we would have been incapable of
carrying on the work: it was so ghastly, so full of pathetic and
horrible details. We sang, played checkers, argued on religion. Imagine
us singing the "Darktown Strutters' Ball," or discussing the fundamental
principles of Judaism and Christianity for several hours! The five of us
were all of different creeds, too--Catholic, Baptist, Christian,
Christian Scientist and Jew. Our coöperation and our congeniality were
typical of the spirit of the service throughout.

On the last day we held our burial service. We gathered together at the
cemetery with a large flag spread out in the middle of the plot. I read
a brief Jewish service, followed by Chaplains Bagby and Stewart in the
Protestant and Father Kelley in the Catholic burial service, and at the
end the bugle sounded "taps" for all those men of different faiths lying
there together. We could see and hear the shells bursting beyond the
hill, probably a hostile scout had caught sight of us at work. Above
floated a British aëroplane. Some English soldiers working on their
burial plot nearby stopped their digging and listened to our service.

And so we said farewell to our lost comrades and to the war at the same
time.



CHAPTER IV

AFTER THE ARMISTICE


AFTER the burial work at St. Souplet was over, great covered lorries
took us back the sixty miles or more to Corbie, in the vicinity of
Amiens, which was to be our rest area. We greeted its paved streets, its
fairly intact houses, its few tiny shops, as the height of luxury. Here
and there a roof was destroyed or a wall down, for the enemy had come
within three miles of Corbie in their drives earlier in the year. But we
were in rest and comparative plenty at last. We saw real civilians
again, not merely the few old people and little children left behind in
the towns we had liberated. We had regular meals again and a chance to
purchase a few luxuries beside, such as French bread at a shop and hard
candy at the "Y." We no longer heard the whine of the shell or whistle
of the bullet, nor smelled gas, nor slept in cellars. I was even lucky
enough to capture a thick spring mattress which, with my blankets, made
a bed that even a certain staff colonel envied me. A home-made grate in
the fire-place fitted it for a tiny coal fire; the window frames were
re-covered with oiled paper; we read the London Daily Mail in its Paris
edition only one day late, instead of seeing it every ten days and then
often two weeks out of date.

My billet, which I obtained from the British town major, was a tall,
narrow house just off the principal square, very pleasant indeed in dry
weather. Its chief defect was a huge shell-hole in the roof through
which the water poured in torrents when it rained, so that we had to
cover ourselves with our rubber shelter-halves when we slept at night.
The shell-hole, however, was a constant source of fuel, and we burned
the laths and wood-work, of which small pieces were lying all about the
top floor, until we found means to obtain a small but steady supply of
coal. The house afforded room, after I had preëmpted it, for the Senior
Chaplain of the Division, the Division Burial Officer and myself,
together with our three orderlies.

Even in dry weather there was some excitement about the old house. There
was the time when some tipsy soldiers, seeing the light in the Senior
Chaplain's room late at night, mistook the place for a café and came
stumbling in for a drink. When they saw the chaplain, they suddenly
sobered and accepted very gravely the drink of water he offered them
from his canteen. On another day the old woman who owned the house came
in with her son, a French lieutenant, to take away her furniture. We did
not mind losing the pretty inlaid table--we were soldiers and could
stand that--but our mattresses and chairs were a different matter. None
of us could argue with her torrential flow of French, but Lieutenant
Curtiss, the Burial Officer, suddenly felt his real attack of flu
redoubled in violence and had to take to his mattress. So the old lady
finally relented sufficiently to leave us our beds and a chair or two,
while her son became our devoted friend at the price of an American
cigar.

I think that I shall never forget Corbie, with its narrow streets, its
half-ruined houses, its great ancient church of gray, with one transept
a heap of ruins, and the straight rows of poplars on both sides of the
Somme Canal,--a bit of Corot in the mist of twilight. I remember the
quiet, gray square one day with the American band playing a medley from
the "Chocolate Soldier," for all the world like a phonograph at home. I
remember the great memorial review of the division by General O'Ryan in
honor of our men who had fallen; the staff stood behind the General at
the top of a long, gentle slope, with three villages in the distance,
the church looming up with its square, ruined tower, and the men spread
out before us, a vanishing mass of olive drab against the dull shades of
early winter.

I remember the day when three of us chaplains made the long trip back to
our division cemeteries at St. Emelie, Bony and Guillemont Farm to read
the burial service over those many graves, the result of the terrible
battle at the Hindenburg Line. Chaplain Burgh, Protestant, of the 105th
Infantry, Chaplain Eilers, Catholic, of the 106th Infantry, and I were
sent back the fifty miles or more by automobile for this duty. It
happened that it rained that day, as on most days, and the car was an
open one. So the few soldiers still about in that deserted region had
the rare sight of three cold and dripping chaplains standing out in the
mud and rain to read the burial services, one holding his steel helmet
as an umbrella over the prayerbook from which the other read, and then
accepting the same service in return. There was none of the panoply of
war, no bugle, firing party or parade, just the prayer uttered for each
man in the faith to which he was born or to which he had clung. We did
not even know the religion of every man buried there, but we knew that
our prayers would serve for all.

We were lucky to be in Corbie on November 11th when the armistice was
signed. Day after day we had stopped at Division Headquarters to inspect
the maps and study the color pins which were constantly moving forward
across France and Belgium. It was a study that made us all drunk with
enthusiasm. We were under orders to move toward the front again on the
9th of November and to enter the lines once more on November 14th. The
men had had very little rest and no fresh troops had come up to fill the
losses made by wounds, exposure and disease. Our men could never hold a
full divisional area now; only the knowledge of the wonders they had
already accomplished made us consider it possible that they could fight
again so soon. Time after time when their strength and spirit seemed
both exhausted they had responded and gone ahead. Now they deserved
their rest.

We greeted the good news very calmly; the German prisoners were a little
more elated; the French went mad with ecstasy. It was the only time I
have ever seen Frenchmen drunk, heard them go home after midnight
singing patriotic songs out of key. In Amiens, where several thousand of
the inhabitants had returned by that time, the few restaurants were
crowded and gaiety was unrestrained. I heard a middle-aged British
lieutenant sing the "Marseillaise" with a pretty waitress in the "Café
de la Cathédral" the following evening, and respond when asked to repeat
it in the main dining room. He returned to our side room decidedly
redder than he had gone out. "Why, the whole British general staff's in
there!" he gasped. But he received only applause without a reprimand.
The war was over and for the moment all France was overcome with joy and
all the allied armies with relief and satisfaction.

After the armistice the front line work, with its absorption on the
problems of the wounded and the dead, became a thing of the past. The
chaplain could now turn to the more normal aspects of his work, to
religious ministration, personal service, advice and assistance in the
thousands of cases which came before him constantly. In fact, on the
whole his work became much the same as it had been in training camp in
the States. A few differences persisted; in France the chaplain was
without the magnificent backing of the Jewish communities at home, which
were always so eager to assist in entertaining and helping the Jewish
men in the nearby camps. The Jewish Welfare Board with its excellent
workers could never cover the entire field as well as it could at home
in America. Then there were special problems because the men were so far
away from home, because the mail service was poor, because worries about
allotments were more acute than if home had been nearer, and because the
alien civilization and language never made the men feel quite
comfortable.

In the Corbie area the 27th Division was scattered about in twelve
villages, the farthest one eight miles from division headquarters.
Transportation was still common on the roads, though often I had to walk
and once I made the trip to Amiens in the cab of a locomotive when
neither train nor truck was running, and found a ride back in an empty
ambulance which had brought patients to the evacuation hospital. The
villages were almost deserted, and were in rather bad condition after
their nearness to the German advance of 1918, so that the men could be
crowded together and were very easy to reach in a body. I began making
regular visits to the various units of the division, meeting the men,
holding services, receiving their requests and carrying them out as well
as possible. And I was constantly making new acquaintances, as the
wounded and sick began coming back from the hospitals to rejoin the
division.

I had the opportunity of an occasional visit to Amiens, a city built for
a hundred thousand, but at the time inhabited by only a few thousand of
the more venturesome inhabitants, who had returned to open shops and
restaurants for the British, Australian and American troops. On account
of lack of competition, prices were extreme even for France in war-time.
The great cathedral was piled high with sandbags to protect its precious
sculptures, but it stood as always, the sentinel of the city, visible
ten miles away as one approached. The Church Army Hut of the British
forces afforded separate accommodations for enlisted men and officers,
and I had the pleasure of afternoon tea once or twice with some of the
latter. Amiens was an unsatisfactory place to shop, but my baggage had
not been found and winter was coming on fast, so I had to replace some
of my possessions at once at any prices that might be demanded.

Our mess held its formal celebration on November 17th, with Lieutenant
Robert Bernstein, the French liaison officer, as the guest of honor
because of his exact prediction of the date of the armistice when he had
returned from a visit to Paris several weeks previously. Our mess,
officers' mess number two of division headquarters, had an international
character through his presence and that of Captain Jenkins of the
British army, and a special tone of comradeship through the influence of
the president of the mess, Major Joseph Farrell, the division disbursing
officer. So for once we had the rare treat of turkey and wine, feeling
that the occasion demanded it.

I felt little pleasure in the jollity of the evening, however. I had
just received a letter that day telling me of the death of one of my
twin babies of the flu; it had happened almost a month before, while I
was on the lines and quite out of reach of any kind of word. The war,
through its attendant epidemics, gathered its victims also from among
the innocent, far from the scene of struggle. I felt then that my grief
was but a part of the universal sacrifice. With all these other parents,
whose older sons died at the front in actual fighting, or whose younger
ones were caught denuded of medical protection at home, I hoped that all
this sacrificial blood might bring an end to war. To-day that faith is
harder and that consolation seems a mockery, for we seem to be preparing
for another struggle even while children are dying of hunger in central
Europe and massacres of helpless Jews are still not yet ended in the
east. When I received the news I took a long walk amid the most peaceful
scene I ever knew, up the tree-lined banks of the Somme Canal, with the
evening slowly coming on and the sun setting behind the stiff rows of
poplars.

At last we were detached from the British Third Army and received orders
to entrain for the American Embarkation Center (as it was later called)
near Le Mans. Our headquarters there were in the village of Montfort,
where we arrived on Thanksgiving Day and stayed for three weary months.
Montfort le Routrou is a village of nine hundred people, with one long
street which runs up the hill and down the other side. The hill is
crowned with a typical village church and a really fine château, where
the General made his headquarters. The tiny gray houses seemed all to
date from the time of Henry of Navarre; my billet was a low cottage with
stone walls over three feet thick, as though meant to stand a siege or
to uphold a skyscraper. The floor was of stone, the grate large and fuel
scarce, no artificial light available except candles. The bed alone was
real luxury, a typical French bed, high, narrow and very soft--an
indescribable treat to a man who had slept on everything from an army
cot to a cellar floor.

The surrounding country was rolling, with charming little hills and
constant knots of woods. The division, as we had known it on the British
front, was housed in forty villages, widely scattered about the
countryside, and our artillery, which had fought in the American sector,
was contained by ten more, located near Laval about fifty miles away.
The men lived chiefly in barns, as the houses were occupied by peasants,
who needed their own rooms. As far as the enlisted men were concerned,
living accommodations were better in partially ruined territory, where
they could at least occupy the houses, such as they were. Because we
were in a populous region, only smaller units could be billeted in a
single village, which meant less access to places of amusement. The
typical French village has no single room large enough for even a
picture show, except the one place of assembly, the church; apparently
the farmers and villagers have no amusements except drinking, dancing
(in tiny, crowded rooms) and church attendance.

Such cheerless lives hardly suited the Americans. Often the men had to
walk a mile or more to the nearest Y. M. C. A. canteen, and those were
improvised on our arrival by our own divisional Y. M. C. A. staff, which
we had been permitted to bring with us on the earnest request of the
chaplains of the division. After our long sojourn in the area, we left a
completely equipped series of canteens and amusement buildings for the
following divisions. The nearest available place for light and warmth,
out of the mud and chill, was usually the French café, and that was
available only when the men had money.

The greatest handicap on any effort for the morale of the men at the
outset was the uncertainty of our situation. We were semi-officially
informed that our stay in the area would be for only a few weeks, and
that no formal program of athletics, education or entertainment could be
arranged. When life grows dreary and monotonous, as in the Embarkation
Center, the chief diet of the soldier is such rumors of going home. In
our case three orders were promulgated for our troop movement, only to
be rescinded again while the wounded, sick and special small
detachments went ahead.

Another difficult problem was the one of covering ground. At the front
it had been easy because the division was concentrated for action and
because of the constant stream of trucks with their readiness of access.
Even in the Corbie area the division had been so crowded together that
seven services would reach every man who wanted to attend one or to meet
me. At the rear the division would be billeted in villages, scattered
about over twenty miles of countryside; it was impossible to get from
place to place without transportation, and that was very scarce. The
army gave the chaplains more encouragement and friendship than actual
facilities for work; the chaplains' corps was just making its position
strong at the end of the war. Fortunately, the Jewish Welfare Board came
to the rescue here. It procured Ford cars for the Jewish chaplains about
the first of the year 1919, thus doubling their scope for work and
making them the envy of all the chaplains in France.

My work became a matter of infinite details, with little opportunity for
organization but plenty for day labor. I arranged as many services as
possible, getting to the various units by train, side-car, or walking
until I obtained my own machine for the purpose. These services, from
one to ten a week, were arranged through the battalion chaplains as a
rule, though sometimes I established connections with some of the Jewish
boys or with the commanding officer, especially in cases of detached
companies without any chaplain at hand. Every service had its share of
requests for information, advice, assistance, even for errands, as the
men had difficulty in getting to the city to have a watch repaired or in
reaching divisional headquarters for information. Some men would want to
know about brothers or friends who had been wounded. Many had difficulty
with their allotments, in which case I worked through the army, Red
Cross, and Jewish Welfare Board. Others wanted information about
relatives in Poland or Roumania, or to be mustered out of service that
they might join and assist their parents in eastern Europe;
unfortunately, neither information nor help was possible during the time
we were in France. Some men wished to remain for the Army of Occupation
or other special service; far more were afraid they might be ordered to
such service and wanted advice how to avoid it and return home as soon
as possible. Citizenship papers, back pay, furloughs,--the requests were
legion, and the chaplain had no difficulty in being useful.

Naturally, one of my tasks was to gather accurate statistics of the 65
Jewish boys in our division who had been killed, to find exactly where
they were buried, have their graves all marked with the _Magen David_,
the six-pointed star, and keep the list for the benefit of their
families when I should return. I even made one trip to Tours to discuss
the possibility of making such a list for the other divisions which came
into the area, though the task was too complicated to carry out
completely in any but my own. Often men were lost to view entirely when
they went to hospital; sometimes it transpired months later that a
certain man had died or been assigned to another unit or sent back to
the States. But little by little the facts all came to light. Even here
humorous incidents would occur, such as the time when I read a list of
dead from their unit at one battalion service, only to have one of the
men on the list speak up: "Why, I'm not dead, Chaplain!" It transpired
that this man had been wounded on the head in an advance and had been
reported as dead by two comrades who had seen him fall. So I had him in
my records as "killed in action--grave unknown," when he was actually in
the hospital, recovering slowly but completely. If he had been returned
from the hospital to another division, as was often the case, I might
never have known his fate.

In spite of such conditions I found the exact graves of all but three of
the men on my list, and in the entire division, with its almost 2,000
dead, only fifteen graves were unknown at the time we returned. This was
largely due to the untiring efforts of Lieutenant Summerfield S.
Curtiss, the Division Burial Officer, who was my room-mate in Corbie and
with whose methods I became familiar at that time. With the coöperation
of the various chaplains and line officers, he was able to inspect and
certify to the valuables left by men killed in action, to record every
grave, and in the few instances where both identification tags and
personal acquaintances were lacking, to take the finger-prints of the
men before burial and thus preserve the only remaining traces of
identity.

At this time I had the opportunity of seeing our division reviewed by
General Pershing. The review was held at the Belgian Camp near Le Mans
in massed formation. The men marched by in heavy masses; the General
bestowed decorations on over a hundred heroes, including six Jewish
boys; at the end he gave the officers an informal talk, telling us of
the special need that existed for keeping up morale during the tedious
period of waiting to go home.

That very subject had been discussed only a few days before by the
chaplains of the division, meeting with General O'Ryan for the purpose.
Chaplains' meetings were frequent, under the call of the Senior
Chaplain, Almon A. Jaynes, where we took up not only details, such as
arrangement of services in the various units, but also the broader moral
and educational problems. The General's interest in our work and our
aims was evident in every word spoken at the meeting, especially his
searching queries as to drunkenness, dissatisfaction, and remedies for
such evils as we brought out.

The three months of waiting had been in many ways harder than the
previous months of battle. Interest in our military purpose was gone;
the men had few amusements and much work to fill in their time. We had
very little athletic or educational effort; that was prevented by our
constant expectation of an early departure. Mail service was often bad,
especially for the men who had been transferred repeatedly. Pay was
unreliable when a man had been transferred or sent to hospital and his
records lost or mixed up. And the French winter is a rainy season, with
occasional days of clear cold. No wonder that the soldiers were
disgusted with France, war, army and everything else. In the midst of
this growing irritation, their pet phrase became, "Little old U. S. A.
is good enough for me."

The average soldier did not meet the better class of French people, only
the peasants and the prostitutes of the towns. He had little taste for
the wonderful architectural and historical treasures of the country; he
could not speak the language beyond his elementary needs; and--one of
his great objections--the French undeniably have poor plumbing and
bathing facilities.

On the other hand, the French country people did not like our soldiers
over much. The soldier of any nation was rather noisy, rather rough, and
had no idea whatever of property values. He took anything he needed,
simply "finding" it, the worst possible trait to thrifty French country
people. Then, talking only a few words of French, the American naturally
left out phrases like "monsieur" or "s'il vous plait," and he was
considered to be ignorant of ordinary politeness, a wild Indian, the
brother of the savage still supposed to be thronging our plains. A small
minority of our men did penetrate into French life and grew to love it;
a minority of the French made the acquaintance of Americans and came to
respect them. Unfortunately, the two peoples were introduced to each
other under most unfavorable circumstances.

These conditions, together with the constant flood of rumors, had the
worst possible influence on the spirit of the men, which went down
steadily from its magnificent power at the front, until the news of our
actual orders to move toward Brest brought it suddenly up again. As the
first division in the American Embarkation Center on the way home, we
had to suffer for the later units, all of which had a program of
athletics, entertainments and schools ready for them when they arrived.
Working to build up the spirit of the men under the most discouraging
circumstances, we received a powerful object lesson of the influences
most destructive to morale.

The value of my work was at least doubled by the Ford touring car lent
me by the Jewish Welfare Board. I received it on New Year's Day, 1919,
in Paris and drove back to Le Mans, almost transfigured by the fact. My
driver, assigned for the trip only, was splendid; I could stop for a
brief view of the château and park at Versailles and the cathedral of
Chartres; I knew that from that time on I could go from unit to unit so
long as the machine stuck together and the army store of gasoline held
out. With this car I was able to visit the artillery in the Laval area,
about fifty miles from our headquarters, and conduct one service in each
of their regiments. The artillery had not been on the British front at
all, but on the American, so they had quite different adventures from
ours. They had supported several other American infantry units in the
St. Mihiel sector and north of Verdun, and had received mercifully few
casualties compared with our infantrymen and engineers. The trip to them
by car was unusually delightful, over smooth roads which the great army
trucks had not yet ruined, through country where American soldiers were
a rarity and the children would crowd the doorways to cheer us as we
went by; over the gentle wooded hills of western France, with the trees
hung with mistletoe; through the tiny gray villages, with their quaint
Romanesque churches, many of them older than the great Gothic cathedrals
of the north.

While in Paris on New Year, I enjoyed the rare treat of a family dinner
at the home of my friend Georges Lévy, an interpreter with our
division. Through him and Lieutenant Bernstein I reached some sort of an
impression of the state of French Jewry to-day. To tell the truth,
neither I nor the average Jewish soldier received a very flattering
impression. The shadow of the Dreyfus case seemed still to hang over the
Jews of France. They feared to speak a word of Yiddish, which was often
their only mode of communication with the American Jewish soldiers. One
shopkeeper, asked whether he was a Jew, took the visitor far in the rear
out of hearing of any possible customers before replying in the
affirmative.

For one thing, except in Paris and the cities of eastern France, Jews
exist only in very small groups. I have mentioned the four families of
Nevers and the little synagogue of Tours, with its seventy-five seats.
Le Mans possesses an old street named "Rue de la Juiverie," so that at
one time there must have been enough Jews to need a Ghetto, but in 1919
Le Mans had only four resident Jewish families and one or two more of
refugees from the occupied territory.

Another menace to the loyalty of Jews is the general difficulty of all
religious liberalism in France. Religion to most people in France means
orthodoxy, Jewish and Catholic; this naturally suits only those of
conservative background or temperament. Almost the only other movement
is irreligious in literature, art, government and philosophy. Those
large groups of liberals who in America would be adherents of liberal
movements, Jewish or Christian, in France are usually entirely alienated
from religion. The liberals are intelligent but weak in numbers. As a
converse of this, the synagogue is largely content with past glories,
making little effort to adjust itself either in thought or organization
to the conditions of the time. The American Jews were always interested
to hear about the Jews of France, of the greatness of Rashi in former
days, and eager to inquire about the present status. They never could
quite understand the condition of a country where the government had
been divided for years by a pro and anti-Jewish issue, as was the
situation at the time of the Dreyfus case. American democracy, even in
the young and unskilled mind of the average soldier, had no concept for
anti-Semitism.

When we knew finally that the division was on its way home, I preferred
a request through General O'Ryan that I should go home with it. But G.
H. Q. Chaplains' Office could not grant my wish; there were too few
chaplains of all religions overseas; and we Jews in particular needed
every worker there. I was detached and assigned to the Le Mans area,
under the senior chaplain of the American Embarkation Center. Naturally,
I regretted deeply seeing my old comrades go without me. I reported at
Le Mans, obtained fourteen days leave to the Riviera, which had been due
me for over two months, and said good-by. The Twenty-Seventh was the
first division to reach the Embarkation Center, the first to leave for
home as a unit, and it finally paraded, without its Jewish chaplain, up
Fifth Avenue to a tremendous ovation. I studied the pictures several
weeks later in the New York papers, and actually thought I saw the
vacant place in the column where I should have been.



CHAPTER V

AT THE AMERICAN EMBARKATION CENTER


When I knew for certain that I was to remain in France I asked for my
two weeks' leave and departed for the Riviera via Paris. It was my
fourth visit to the metropolis, a city which grows only more wonderful
at every view. Its boulevards and parks, public buildings and shops were
always attractive; in addition, the art treasures were now beginning to
come back to their places, and the crowds were taking on the gaiety of
peace time in the brilliantly lighted streets, so different from the
sober groups and dismal streets during the war. This trip carried me
beyond to a land of myriad attractions and surpassing loveliness. The
mediæval monuments of Avignon, the Roman antiquities of Arles and Nimes,
the splendid modern city of Marseilles, Toulon with its quaint streets
and charming harbor, Hyères of the palm trees, and on to Cannes, to
Nice, that greater Atlantic City, Grasse with its flowers and perfumes,
and Monte Carlo, garden spot of the whole--all blended in a mosaic whose
brilliant colors can never fade. Overhanging mountains and sub-tropical
sea together unite all the types of attraction of all beautiful lands
the world over. The palms and flowers never seemed quite real to me,
while one was quite bewildered by the works of man--ancient monuments,
mediæval art, and the most modern trappings of contemporary play and
luxury.

At Cannes I met Captain Limburger, in charge of the Motor Transportation
Corps there, who helped me to reach the officers' convalescent hospital
at Hyères to search for a friend. The trip of eighty-five miles by
side-car was the bright particular spot in the whole gorgeous festival
of the Coast of Azure, up the heights of the Maritime Alps into the
clouds and down again to the edge of the blue inland sea, past ruined
castles of the Roman time and through the quaint southern villages of
nowadays; ending finally at the hospital, which turned out to be the San
Salvador, one of the most splendid winter hotels on the Mediterranean. I
even heard Francis Macmillan, a captain in the intelligence corps, give
a violin concert for the officers during my one evening there.

Nice and the surrounding territory were crowded by Americans, as it was
the most popular leave area for the American army. The great casino on
the pier was the Y. M. C. A. for enlisted men, while the officers had
their club on the square. In fact, all the arrangements by the "Y" in
the various leave areas were magnificent. This, probably its most
successful single piece of work, has hardly received the attention it
deserves. I found the same to be true of every leave area I visited,
including Grenoble, where I stopped for a day among the Alps on my
return trip. Altogether the brief fourteen days were one of those
unforgettable experiences which linger in the memory. One of the fine
achievements of the army was that it was able to give an experience such
as this to many thousands of officers and enlisted men, for their own
elevation and their greater knowledge of France.

I should like to emphasize, if I could, the importance of the leave
areas for the morale of the troops and their better appreciation of
France. During actual hostilities men were willing to give up their
leave, especially Americans who could not visit their homes but wanted
only a change. After the war, however, military discipline became
constantly more irksome to the soldiers, and the week or two without
orders, in a real hotel with sheets and tablecloths, sight-seeing or
merely resting, was the one thing necessary to bring them back to their
units content to work and wait till their turn came to go back home. It
was also a rare opportunity to see the best side of France and the
French, when they had seen only the worst. No soldier admired the France
of the war zone, with its ruined villages, its waste stretches, and its
shell holes. Neither did he care for the France of the rest areas, where
he knew only the smallest villages, with the least attractive people to
a young progressive from the western world. Now he was able to enjoy the
beauty and luxury of that older and more sophisticated civilization
which always considered him either an amiable savage or a spoiled child.

The trip back to Paris and Le Mans was an experience in itself. I met
three young and congenial medical officers on the train, with whom I
traveled the rest of the way, stopping off for a half day at the little
known town of Digne in the Basse Alps, where we saw the ancient church
with its crypt, the art gallery with its painters of local prominence,
and the old Roman sulphur baths, still used to-day. Another day at
Grenoble brought us into the heart of the French Alps. We reveled in the
city with the snow-caps about. I felt the usual thrill at the tomb of
the Chevalier Bayard, and more than ordinary pleasure in the beauty of
the city itself.

I now settled down at Le Mans for the work of the Embarkation Center. Le
Mans is too well known to Americans who have recently been in France to
require much description. It is a city of about 75,000 people, with the
customary narrow streets in the heart of the town, the fine parks and
boulevards of every French city, and the very interesting cathedral
overlooking the whole. There are fragments of the old Roman walls of the
third century, and as an ironic contrast a fine street running through a
tunnel which is named after Wilbur Wright, whose decisive experiments in
aërial navigation were carried on nearby. My billet was a pleasant home
opposite the very lovely park, the English Gardens, and my landlady a
tiny old gentlewoman, who used to bring me a French breakfast and a
French newspaper every morning, and indulge in the most formal
compliments, reminding me of a romance of the Third Empire. And for some
time Le Mans was the center of 200,000 American troops on their way
home!

Instead of one division to cover, I now had from three to six, varying
as units came from their old locations and departed on their way to
America. And if it had been impossible to cover one division thoroughly,
in a great area such as this a chaplain could do only day labor. I
traveled from one point to another, had a schedule of services almost
every night of the week in a different camp, visited the transient
divisions as they came in, and thus came into the intimate contact with
the men by which alone I could be of use to them. The territory was an
immense one, though much of the time I did not have to cover it alone.
The 77th and 26th Divisions had Jewish chaplains while they were with
us; Chaplain James G. Heller was associated with me until he was
transferred to the Second Army (in fact, he was in Le Mans while I was
still with the 27th), and after his departure Rabbi Reuben Kaufman of
the J. W. B. was assigned to religious work under my direction. But even
so the task was staggering. So many regiments and companies scattered
over an area eighty miles long and sixty miles wide was no feasible
proposition, even with the best of cars and a sergeant to drive it for
me.

In addition to the billeting accommodations in every village, the area
contained several large camps of importance. The Classification Camp,
within the city, was an old French barracks turned over to our use,
which housed a constantly changing stream of casuals and replacements,
flowing from hospitals, camps and schools toward their various units.
The Spur Camp held a large group of construction units, engineers and
bakers. The Forwarding Camp was a replica of a training camp at home,
and contained a division at a time, at first in training, later in
transit toward the ports. The Belgian Camp, originally built for Belgian
refugees, now had long rows of wooden barracks for soldiers, a huge and
always busy rifle range, and special camps of various types, including
one for venereal patients, who underwent a mixture of medical treatment
and discipline.

The purpose of the Embarkation Center was to provide a stopping place on
the way to the busy ports of Brest and St. Nazaire, where the men might
be deloused, have fresh clothing and equipment issued to them, undergo
thorough inspections of every kind, and in all ways be divested of the
effects of war and prepared to return to America. This task usually took
a month or more, but sometimes a division had been partially equipped in
its former area and if the ships happened to be ready it might stay in
our area less than a week. On the other hand, it might not pass the
various inspections at once, or at the time the transportation home
might be lacking, and hence its departure would be delayed time and
again. This uncertainty of tenure made all work very difficult,
especially work such as the chaplains' which depended entirely on
personal contact.

The problem of these divisions, as of the 27th, was chiefly to preserve
the splendid morale of the front while the men were in the dreary tedium
of waiting. This was done by cutting down the drill to an hour a day,
which made enough work in addition to the delousing, inspecting and
other necessary activities. The rest of the time was devoted to
athletics, an educational program, and a great amount of entertainment,
all three under the Welfare Officer appointed by the commanding general
of the Embarkation Area, while all the welfare agencies contributed to
these various ends under his general supervision. My work, of course,
was directly under the Senior Chaplain, according to army regulation.
And as the various units moved toward their goal more rapidly and more
steadily, the need for special efforts to keep up morale grew less. Men
keep up their own morale when they really know they are going home; the
difficulties had been largely caused by the complete uncertainty and
endless delays.

Such success as I had was due very largely to the excellent coöperation
of the Jewish Welfare Board. Sergeant Charles Rivitz, who had charge of
the work in the area, was deeply interested in the welfare of the boys
and shared the resources of the organization freely with me in my work.
I had always found this same attitude; the J. W. B. furnished me a car,
an allowance for welfare work, an office in its building, and offered
its rooms for services in the various camps. Where it had no huts, I was
accorded the same privilege by the Y. M. C. A. Whenever its aid fell
short, it was because it had no more to give. By this time Le Mans had a
large and active group of J. W. B. workers, both men and girls, with
their center in the city and huts in many surrounding points. I found
the workers' mess the most friendly and pleasant in the city, quite as
congenial as the one at the Junior Officers' Club, which I often
frequented.

Even in the stress and turmoil of the Le Mans area ("the madhouse," as
the boys called it) striking or humorous personalities appeared from
time to time. There was Abie, the wandering musician, a little Jew who
had a gift for rag-time but no great intelligence, military or
otherwise. Abie had gone to France with a replacement unit, was located
near Le Mans and spent his spare time playing for the Y. M. C. A. and
the officers' dances. When his unit moved toward the front to be
incorporated in some fighting division, he stayed behind, not as a
deserter, but to play the piano for the "outfits" that followed. He
managed even to live at the local hotel by the tips they gave him. After
that time he reported, giving his full story in detail, to every
commanding officer who entered the village, always to be given enough to
eat, but never accepted into any unit as he had no transfer from his
original one. At last his story got abroad, he was brought in by the
Criminal Investigation Department and investigated, only to prove the
truth of his every word. So Abie, happy once more, was stationed in the
Classification Camp and detailed to the Jewish Welfare Board as a
pianist, improvising his rag-time adaptations of serious music and
getting many privileges and a steady income for doing the work he
enjoyed best.

A different sort of man was the soldier in a famous fighting division,
who sought a private interview with me. It seems that in the advance on
the St. Mihiel sector he had rescued a Torah, a scroll of the Law, from
a burning synagogue. Throwing away the contents of his pack, he had
wrapped the scroll up in the pack carrier instead, and carried it "over
the top" three times since. Now he wanted permission to take it home to
give to an orphan asylum in which his father was active. A soldier was
not ordinarily allowed to take anything with him besides the regulation
equipment and such small souvenirs as might occupy little room, but in
this case a kindly colonel became interested and the Torah went to
America with the company records.

The great event of my service in Le Mans was our Passover celebration on
April 14th, 15th and 16th, 1919. The general order for Passover
furloughs read:

     "Where it will not interfere with the public service, members of
     the Jewish faith serving with the American Expeditionary Forces
     will be excused from all duty from noon, April 14th, to midnight,
     April 16th, 1919, and, where deemed practicable, granted passes to
     enable them to observe the Passover in their customary manner."

Among the central points designated for Passover leaves was Le Mans, and
the Jewish Welfare Board and I labored to arrange a full celebration for
the thousand Jewish soldiers who came in from four different divisions.
Quarters were provided in the Classification Camp for all the men who
did not have the money or the previous arrangements for hotel rooms, as
well as full accommodations for the Passover feast, the Seder. The
Jewish Welfare Board obtained full supplies of Matzoth, unleavened
bread, as well as Haggadoth, or special prayer books for the Seder.

The spirit was as strong a contrast as possible to that of my other
great service at the fall holydays. Among our congregation were two men
from the isolated post of military police at St. Calais, fifty miles to
the east, and five from among the students at the University of Rennes,
a hundred miles west. We had a number of officers among us, while five
French families, several Jews in the horizon blue of the French army,
and two in the Russian uniform--labor battalions, since Russia had
withdrawn from the war--worshiped beside us. And when the crowd began to
assemble, the first men I saw were a group of engineers whom I had not
seen since Atonement Day, seven months before. They were on the way home
now, their presence emphasizing more strongly than anything else the
change that had come to us and the world in the intervening time. Again
there were the meetings of friends and brothers, but without the pang of
parting afterward. One of the most touching features of the Seder was
the large number of requests that I should inquire whether Sergeant Levi
or Private Isaacs was present. Then how the whole gathering would be
electrified when a voice cried out, "Here," and cousins or comrades who
had not known even of each other's safety were able to exchange festal
greetings and rejoice together.

For the two and a half days' leave the Jewish Welfare Board and I tried
to keep the men busy, with something for every taste. The full program
included a Seder, four services, a literary program, a vaudeville show,
a boxing exhibition, two dances and a movie. All were well patronized,
for the soldier had a cultivated taste in diversion, especially after
the armistice. But certainly the most popular of all was the Seder. The
soup with matzah balls, the fish, in fact the entire menu made them
think of home. We held the dinner in an army mess hall, standing at the
breast-high tables. The altar with two candles and the symbols of the
feast was at the center of the low-roofed unwalled structure. Toward
evening the rain, so typical of winter in western France, ceased; the
sun came out, and its last level rays shone directly upon Rabbi Kaufman
and his little altar. It was a scene never to be forgotten, a feast of
deepest joy mingled with solemnity. Afterward we adjourned to the
Theatre Municipale for a full religious service with a sermon. Two of
the shows of the festival leave were too big for the hall of the Jewish
Welfare Board, so we were offered the Y. D. Hut, the great auditorium of
the Y. M. C. A., which had been named after the famous 26th Division.
One of these entertainments was the last performance in France of the
"Liberty Players" of the 77th Division, who were about to leave for the
States that very week.

Finally my work in France drew to a close. On the first of May, 1919, I
received the orders for which I had been hoping so long. I was to be
relieved and sent home to America. Rabbis in the uniform of the Jewish
Welfare Board were now at hand, the number of men in France was
decreasing, and my request to be relieved could at last be granted. A
final two days in Paris for a conference with the heads of the J. W. B.,
Chaplain Voorsanger and Colonel Harry Cutler, another day at Le Mans to
turn my records and office over to Rabbis Kaufman and Leonard Rothstein,
and then I was off to Brest. I had the special good fortune of being
held in that busy and rather uninviting place for only four days and
then finding passage assigned me on the slow but comfortable _Noordam_,
of the Holland-American Line. My last duty in Brest was to conduct a
funeral, in the absence of the post chaplain, of four sailors drowned in
an accident just outside the harbor. We had a guard of honor, a bugler,
all naval, and I had the rare experience of an army chaplain conducting
a navy funeral, as well as of a rabbi burying four Christian boys.

We were at sea twelve days altogether, being delayed by a gale of three
days and also by a call for aid, which took us a hundred miles out of
our course without finding the sender of the message. We entered New
York harbor late one evening, and anchored off Staten Island for the
night. There was little sleep that night; the officers danced with the
cabin passengers, while the men sang on the decks below. The next
morning early every one was at the rail as we steamed in past the Statue
of Liberty, which stood for so much to us now, for which we had longed
so often, and which some of our company had never expected to see again.
After the customary half day of formalities at the dock, we were
directed to different camps for discharge according to our branches of
the service. I reported at Camp Dix, New Jersey, where I was mustered
out of service, receiving my honorable discharge on May 26th, 1919,
eleven months from the date of my commission, nine of which were spent
with the American Expeditionary Forces.



CHAPTER VI

THE JEWISH CHAPLAINS OVERSEAS


My experiences, which were fairly typical throughout, showed clearly the
great need for Jewish chaplains in the army overseas. Even my trip on
leave to the Riviera was typical, showing the effect of release from
discipline combined with a pleasure trip on thousands of our soldiers,
most of whom needed it far more than I; for the privileges of a
chaplain, just a little greater than those of most officers, certainly
had prevented my morale falling as low as that of many of the enlisted
men. The Jewish chaplain was not only a concession to the very
considerable body of Jewish citizens who felt that they should be
represented in the military organization as well as men of other faiths;
he had a definite contribution to make to the moral and spiritual
welfare of the forces. We had to conduct Jewish religious services for
both holydays and ordinary seasons, to assist the dying Jew, and to pray
for him at his grave. We had to defend the Jewish boys in the rare cases
of prejudice against them, or, what was just as important, to clear up
such accusations when they were unfounded. We had to serve the special
needs of the Jewish soldier, whatever they might be, at the same time
that we did the chaplain's duty toward all soldiers with whom we might
be thrown.

The American Expeditionary Forces never had sufficient chaplains at any
time for the work that was planned for them. The proportion desired by
the G. H. Q. Chaplains' Office and approved by the war department was
one chaplain to every thousand men, or one to an infantry battalion,
besides those assigned to administrative work as senior chaplains of
divisions and areas, and the very large number detailed to hospitals.
The total number of chaplains who went to France was 1285, just half the
number needed by this program, and from this total we must subtract a
considerable group of deaths, wounds and other casualties. The
chaplains' corps was undermanned at all times,--we Jews were simply the
most conspicuous example. Compared to the general proportion of one
chaplain to every two thousand men, and the ideal one of a chaplain to
every thousand, we had one chaplain to every eight thousand men, and
those tremendous numbers were not even concentrated in a few units but
scattered through every company, every battery, and every hospital ward
in the army.

The British forces contained one Jewish chaplain for every army
headquarters, or nine in all. I had the pleasure of meeting Rabbi
Barnett, the chief Jewish chaplain in the B. E. F., although I never met
his predecessor, Major Adler. Through their long experience and the
coöperation of the Chief Rabbi of England, the English chaplains were
well equipped with suitable prayerbooks and other material, which I
obtained from one of them for the use of our men while I was on the
British front. Still, even with their larger proportion of chaplains to
the Jews in service, the lack of transportation facilities and the
tremendous rush of war-time, especially at the front and in the
hospitals, made their actual duties impossible of complete fulfillment.

To cover the enormous field before us was plainly impossible. The
chaplain could only work day by day, clearing a little pathway ahead of
him but never making an impression on the great jungle about. When I
first reached France, I grew accustomed to the greeting: "Why, you're
the first Jewish chaplain I've met in France!" That was hard enough
then, but it grew harder when the same words were addressed me in Brest
just before sailing and on shipboard on the way home. And yet it was
inevitable that twelve chaplains could not meet personally the hundred
thousand Jewish soldiers scattered through the two millions in the
American uniform through the length and breadth of France. Under these
circumstances we all feel a natural pride at the work accomplished
against adverse conditions. I for one feel that we did all that twelve
men similarly situated could possibly have done, and I gladly bring my
personal tribute to those others, chaplains, welfare workers, officers,
and enlisted men, whose coöperation doubled and trebled the actual
extent and effectiveness of our work. This includes especially the
Christian chaplains and welfare workers; their own field was great
enough to take all their time and energy, but they were always ready to
turn aside for a moment to lend a hand to us, in order that the labors
of twelve men serving their faith in the great American army might not
be quite futile.

The first of the Jewish chaplains to reach France was Rabbi Elkan C.
Voorsanger, who gave up his pulpit in St. Louis in April, 1917, to join
the St. Louis Base Hospital as a private in the medical corps. As his
hospital unit was the third to reach France in May, 1917, Rabbi
Voorsanger was one of the first five hundred American soldiers in the
American Expeditionary Forces. In the medical corps he rose from private
to sergeant, gaining at the same time an intimate first-hand knowledge
of the problems of the man in the ranks. When the bill was passed by
Congress in November, 1917, ordering the appointment of chaplains of
sects not at that time represented in the army, Rabbi Voorsanger was the
first Jew commissioned under its provisions. He was examined by a
special board appointed overseas by General Pershing at the direction of
the Secretary of War; his commission was dated November 24th, 1917. In
January 1918 he was assigned to the 41st Division and in March to Base
Hospital 101 at St. Nazaire. While posted there he conducted his first
important service overseas in Passover 1918, the first official Jewish
service held in the A. E. F. He was assigned to the 77th Division in May
1918 on their arrival in France where he served with a most enviable
record, receiving the Croix de Guerre and being recommended for the D.
S. M. for exceptional courage and devotion to duty in time of danger.
The midnight patrol on the banks of the Meuse, by which he won these
honors, was both a courageous and a useful exploit. He was promoted to
Senior Chaplain of his division with the rank of Captain, the only Jew
so distinguished. Finally in April 1919, instead of accompanying his
division home he resigned his commission to become the head of the
overseas work of the Jewish Welfare Board. He returned to the United
States in September 1919, after two and a half years with the American
Expeditionary Forces. Since that time he has continued his
self-sacrifice and his devotion to his people in the service of the
Joint Distribution Committee for the Relief of Jews in eastern Europe.
In 1920 and 1921 he conducted two relief units to Poland and carried on
their life-saving work.

When I arrived in France, Chaplain Voorsanger was stationed at Chaumont
for the time being, to take charge of the arrangements for the Jewish
holydays of 1918. I have already described how these were carried out,
by designating central points for services, getting in touch with the
French rabbis and synagogue authorities and assigning the few American
rabbis at hand to fill in the deficiencies.

I was the fifth Jewish chaplain to reach France. Those who preceded me
were first Voorsanger and then Chaplains David Tannenbaum of the 82nd
Division, Harry S. Davidowitz of the 78th and Louis I. Egelson of the
91st. All these men served at the front, as did also Chaplain Benjamin
Friedman of the 77th Division, who took up the Jewish work of that unit
when Chaplain Voorsanger was promoted to the Senior Chaplaincy. Chaplain
Davidowitz was the only Jewish chaplain to be wounded, receiving severe
injuries from shrapnel; these put him in the hospital for several months
and occasioned his being sent back home, invalided, the first of us all.
The others, in order of their arrival, were Chaplains Jacob Krohngold,
of the 87th Division; Israel Bettan of the 26th Division; Harry
Richmond, at the port of Bordeaux; Elias N. Rabinowitz, at Blois;
Solomon B. Freehof, at First Army Headquarters; and James G. Heller, at
Le Mans. The last two left New York on the day following the armistice,
so that on November eleventh, 1918, the Jews of America were represented
overseas by just ten chaplains and two representatives of the Jewish
Welfare Board, Rev. Dr. Hyman G. Enelow and Mr. John Goldhaar.

The twelve of us represented all three Jewish seminaries in this
country, although the majority were naturally from the oldest, the
Hebrew Union College at Cincinnati, where Rabbi Freehof was even a
member of the faculty. We came from every section of the country, east,
west and south, including Krohngold and myself from little towns in
Kentucky and Richmond from Trinidad, Colorado. Rabbi Richmond had the
unusual distinction of not claiming exemption in the draft as a
minister. He therefore entered the service as a private and was promoted
to the chaplaincy just before his division went overseas.

The chaplains who were commissioned before the armistice and served in
the United States were thirteen in number; Rabbis Nathan E. Barasch,
Harry W. Etteleson, Max Felshin, Samuel Friedman, Raphael Goldenstein,
Abram Hirschberg, Morris S. Lazaron, Emil W. Leipziger, Julius A.
Liebert, Abraham Nowak, Jerome Rosen, Leonard W. Rothstein, Israel J.
Sarasohn. Three of them, Rabbis Rothstein, Felshin and Barasch, soon
after resigned their commissions and came overseas as representatives of
the Jewish Welfare Board. When the great need for morale agencies was
realized after the armistice, the War Department refused to relax its
prohibition against the transportation of more chaplains or other
special branches of the service, but favored the passage of large
numbers of welfare workers instead. Rabbi David Goldberg was the only
Jewish chaplain in the navy, with the rank of Lieutenant, junior grade;
he served at sea on the transport, President Grant.

We were almost all reassigned as our divisions left for home and as the
need grew in various areas, especially in the base posts and the Army of
Occupation. Chaplain Davidowitz was sent home wounded, and Friedman
accompanied his own division back. Krohngold, Bettan, Heller and Freehof
joined the Army of Occupation in the order named, although for a long
time Rabbi Krohngold was the only Jewish chaplain there. Rabbi Egelson
left his division for the port of St. Nazaire, Rabinowitz was
transferred from Blois to St. Aignan, and I was left behind at Le Mans
together with Heller, who shortly after was transferred to the Third
Army in Germany. Tannenbaum while stationed at Bordeaux was also, by
special arrangement, appointed as supervisor of the Jewish Welfare Board
for that area; and Voorsanger was mustered out of service to become
executive director of their overseas work. Rabbi Richmond alone held the
same post to the very end of his overseas service.

As I have mentioned repeatedly in my personal narrative, so long as a
man was assigned to one division he had some chance of establishing
personal contacts with his men and doing effective work among them; as
soon as he was assigned to an area, he had to spread himself thin over a
wide expanse of territory and could cover it in only the most cursory
fashion. The problem was larger than the matter of transportation,
although that was serious enough. The larger aspect lay in the number of
men, the number of companies, the infinite possibility of individual
service if one were only able to know all these soldiers personally, to
understand their needs, and to minister to them. Every hospital ward
with its forty beds presented forty distinct individual
problems,--often, indeed, more than forty. Sometimes the same man would
need pay, mail, home allotment, reading matter, and contact with his
original unit and comrades. With the constant shifting to other
hospitals further from the front and then to convalescent camps, the
ward would always contain a new forty men and the work was always
beginning over again. This situation was not in the least unique. The
hospital simply represents the extreme case of what was true in a less
degree in every branch of the service and every unit.

During the post-armistice period I had several very agreeable reunions
with my fellow chaplains, which were at the same time valuable for our
common information and coöperation. At my very first visit to Le Mans,
on December 6th, I quite unexpectedly met Chaplains Freehof, Bettan, and
Heller, as well as Rabbi Enelow, who had just come to the city for the
dedication of the J. W. B. headquarters. I devoured their comparatively
fresh news from home as eagerly as Voorsanger had absorbed mine several
months before, when he was already entering his second year in France.
The second time was on the last day of the year, when I met Rabbis
Friedman, Egelson and Rabinowitz in Paris, all coming there as I did for
the cars which the J. W. B. had ready for us. At the same time Rabbis
Martin Meyer of San Francisco and Abram Simon of Washington were in the
city, both captains in the American Red Cross. Their six months of duty
in France had just expired and they were then making ready for their
return home. We all had dinner together at one of the famous Parisian
restaurants and discussed war and peace, France, America and Israel,
until the early closing laws of war-time sent us all out on the
boulevards and home. Chaplain Egelson and I saw the New Year in
together, first hearing "Romeo and Juliet" at the Opéra and then
watching the mad crowds on the streets, headed always by American or
Australian soldiers, the maddest of them all.

The most important meeting, however, was the one called by Chaplain
Voorsanger for February 24th at the Paris headquarters of the Jewish
Welfare Board. Six chaplains were present, Voorsanger, Tannenbaum,
Richmond, Heller, Bettan and I, together with Mr. John Goldhaar of the
J. W. B. Our chief object was to work out a program of coöperation with
the J. W. B., our second, to discuss our personal methods for the
benefit of our own work. Voorsanger was chairman; we decided to form a
Jewish Chaplains' Association, which never developed afterward; and
planned to hold another meeting soon, which owing to military
exigencies, we never did. But we did adopt a program of coöperation with
the J. W. B., which indicates the mutual dependency and the closeness of
contact which were almost uniformly the case. Our program provided that
the J. W. B. should submit to the chaplain the weekly report of the area
in which he was stationed and should have relations with the military
authorities through him. The chaplain, on the other hand, was to make
suggestions to the worker in his area, and in exceptional cases to the
Paris office and was to be in complete charge of all Jewish religious
work in his area, although religious workers were personally responsible
to their superior in the J. W. B. Finally, provision was made for
frequent conferences between the chaplain and the J. W. B. worker in the
same organization. This program was approved, not only nominally but
also in spirit by all the Jewish chaplains and welfare workers
throughout the A. E. F. I know that in Le Mans our contact was so close
that Mr. Rivitz instructed his religious workers to report directly to
me for assignment of services and other division of labor, and I
included their work with mine in my weekly reports to my senior
chaplain.

On my final visit to Paris at the end of April I found a host of Jewish
celebrities gathered together in the interests of the Jewish Welfare
Board, the Joint Distribution Committee for the relief of Jews in
Eastern Europe, the American Jewish Committee, and the American Jewish
Congress. At the office of the J. W. B., I had a farewell conference
with Rabbi Voorsanger and Colonel Harry Cutler, giving them a summary of
the latest situation in my area. Colonel Cutler was busy as chairman of
the J. W. B., one of the American Jewish Congress delegates to the Peace
Conference, and a member of the Joint Distribution Committee. I met my
old friend, Rabbi Isaac Landman, who was reporting the Peace Conference
for his paper, the American Hebrew, and he introduced me in turn to Miss
Harriet Lowenstein, at that time the Paris purchasing agent of the
Joint Distribution Committee, especially in the important work of buying
supplies originally sent to Europe for the use of the American forces. I
encountered also three of the active workers of American Jewry, sent to
represent us before the Peace Conference in such matters as might
concern the Jews; Judge Julian Mack, representing the American Jewish
Congress; Dr. Cyrus Adler, for the American Jewish Committee; and Mr.
Louis Marshall, a representative of both organizations. The two last
were also active in the Jewish Welfare Board, and Dr. Adler,
vice-chairman of the Board, took charge as the representative of the
Board after Colonel Cutler's departure for the States. Even on the ship
going home I met two Jewish workers, Rabbi B. Levinthal of the American
Jewish Congress delegation and Mr. Morris Engelman, returning from his
work in Holland for the Joint Distribution Committee. By that time world
Jewry was fully aroused and its delegates were busy, both at the seat of
the Peace Conference and in the lands of eastern Europe, where Jewish
suffering was becoming daily more intense.



CHAPTER VII

THE JEWISH WELFARE BOARD IN THE A. E. F.


The Jewish Welfare Board in the United States Army and Navy was the
great authorized welfare agency to represent the Jews of America, as the
Young Men's Christian Association represented the Protestants and the
Knights of Columbus the Catholics. It was organized on April 9, 1917,
just three days after the declaration of war, and was acknowledged by
the Department of War as the official welfare body of the Jews in
September, 1917. It was not so much a new organization as a new activity
of a number of the leading Jewish organizations of the United States:
the United Synagogue of America, the Union of American Hebrew
Congregations, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Union of
Orthodox Jewish Congregations, the Agudath ha-Rabbonim, the Jewish
Publication Society of America, the council of Y. M. H. and Kindred
Associations, the Council of Jewish Women, the Independent Order B'nai
B'rith, the Jewish Chautauqua Society, the Order Brith Abraham, the
National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, the New York Board of Jewish
Ministers, the Independent Order Brith Sholom, the Independent Order
Brith Abraham, and the Women's League of the United Synagogue. In the
camps and cantonments at home it did a large and important piece of
work, establishing 490 representatives at 200 different posts and
putting up 48 buildings for its work at various important points. This
great field, however, is outside the scope of the present study, which
can take up only the overseas activities of the J. W. B.

One home organization must be mentioned in this place, the Chaplains'
Committee which made recommendations to the War Department for the
appointment of Jewish chaplains. This was composed of representatives of
the leading religious bodies of the country: for the Central Conference
of American Rabbis, Dr. William Rosenau and Dr. Louis Grossman; the
United Synagogue of America, Dr. Elias L. Solomon; Eastern Council of
Reform Rabbis, Dr. Maurice H. Harris; the New York Board of Jewish
Ministers, Dr. David de Sola Pool; the Union of Orthodox Jewish
Congregations, Dr. Bernard Drachman; the Agudath ha-Rabbonim, Rabbi M.
S. Margolies. Dr. Cyrus Adler, the Acting President of the Jewish
Theological Seminary of America, was chairman of this committee. They
had the task of reviewing the applications of one hundred and forty-nine
rabbis, of whom thirty-four were recommended to the War Department and
twenty-five were commissioned by the time the armistice put an end to
more appointments. I have already given in some detail the story of the
twelve of us who served in the A. E. F., while the other thirteen did
their service in cantonments in the United States.

The Jewish Welfare Board began to take up the overseas problem as early
as August, 1917, when Rabbi Voorsanger, then Sergeant in the Army
Medical Corps, received a letter from Colonel Harry Cutler, asking for
such information as he had at command and also how far he might be able
to coöperate personally with the Jewish work. Some months later, after
Voorsanger had been appointed chaplain he was again asked for
information. This time he was in a position to give a great deal
together with recommendations. A certain amount of supplies was
furnished him at once, but no welfare workers were sent until the
overseas commission had made its investigation and report.

The overseas commission of the Jewish Welfare Board, consisting of
Congressman Isaac N. Siegel, chairman, Rabbi H. G. Enelow, Rabbi Jacob
Kohn, and Mr. John Goldhaar, secretary, went to France in July, 1918,
and were the first friends I met when I reached Paris. Their general
work was to study the nature and scope of the overseas field so as to
make recommendations on their return; incidentally to this, they were to
establish contact with kindred organizations and with the army, open
headquarters, and coöperate with the chaplains in the field in the
holyday services. They made their surveys during the summer by constant
traveling and numerous interviews with officers and welfare workers as
well as with Jews in the service. Congressman Siegel made a trip to
General Pershing's headquarters and to the sector then occupied by the
77th Division, where Chaplain Voorsanger was taken into consultation
regarding the problems ahead. The Congressman then returned to America,
while Mr. Goldhaar was left as executive secretary pro tem of the Paris
office and Rabbis Kohn and Enelow conducted holyday services at
different points. Afterward Dr. Kohn also returned home, and Dr. Enelow
devoted himself to field work, establishing welfare centers at various
points. Later on, when the army educational program was undertaken, he
became the J. W. B. representative on the faculty of the Army University
at Beaune. Dr. Enelow was recommended for a chaplaincy by the J. W. B.
Chaplains' Committee, but was among those prevented by the armistice
from receiving the rank. Meanwhile he labored in any capacity at hand,
for he was determined not to return to America while work remained to be
done among the soldiers in France.

All this was entirely inadequate for the task at hand, as we all
realized at the time. At that time the J. W. B. was functioning in the
overseas forces, not as a separate entity, but through the Y. M. C. A.
This naturally prevented the full expansion of its independent viewpoint
or the direct contact with the army officials which alone could give it
standing. The arrival of the overseas commission made some difference in
this respect, but the J. W. B. was not fully recognized as one of the
responsible overseas welfare organizations until Colonel Harry Cutler,
its national chairman, had come to France and presented his case at
General Pershing's headquarters. There were more than the usual
difficulties with passports and visés, owing to the German or Austrian
ancestry of some of the most desirable workers; this was finally
overcome by the chairman of the Board vouching personally for the
loyalty of every individual recommended. The selection was limited, as
with all welfare organizations, to men not subject to draft. With these
obstacles the difficulties proved for the time insuperable.

This situation made it impossible for the J. W. B. to undertake any
independent work before the armistice. It could only support and assist
the work already being done by chaplains and by the dozens of ready
volunteers among the officers and enlisted men themselves. The early
history of Jewish welfare work abroad is that of a scattered band of
eager, self-sacrificing workers who gave up their own time to labor
incessantly for the welfare of the Jewish men in the service. The first
task was to acquaint the soldiers with the fact that there was a Jewish
Welfare Board, even though its Paris staff consisted only of Mr.
Goldhaar, one stenographer and one office boy. Advertisements in the
_Stars and Stripes_ and the Paris editions of American newspapers and
correspondence with Jewish and non-Jewish chaplains, American, French
and British, did the work. Letters began to pour in for supplies,
advice, information, and a great correspondence school of welfare work
began.

The center of this work was naturally the Paris club rooms, in
connection with the office at 41 Boulevarde Haussman. Mr. John Goldhaar
was in immediate charge of both, with a mountain of mail on his desk
from every part of the A. E. F. and a constant crowd of doughboys
outside in the club rooms. His indefatigable labors and his profound
sympathy for the boys in the service won him thousands of friends
through the length and breadth of the forces. He continued in this
position, with its constantly growing duties, until Captain Voorsanger
was appointed Overseas Director of the J. W. B., when Mr. Goldhaar was
made Overseas Field Director and put in charge of the field work. His
Medaille d'Honneur from the French government was earned by the hardest
and most valuable kind of war work. Mr. Goldhaar gathered about him in
the Paris club rooms a group of American Jewesses and a few of their
French coreligionists as an entertainment committee to make the boys
feel at home. Every afternoon they served tea--a little thing in itself,
but a big one to lonesome boys without a friend nearby. It meant much
effort, too, on the part of the ladies themselves, especially their
leaders, Mrs. Ralph Stern, Mrs. Zacharie Eudlitz, Mrs. Engelman and Mrs.
Hertz. Some of them came from the suburbs every afternoon, rain or
shine, to render this devoted service. Monsieur and Madame Henri
Bodenheimer opened their hearts and their homes, both in Paris and
Tours, to receive the Americans; every Friday evening saw their table
crowded with lonesome "buck" privates, especially the ones whom other
people would overlook. With the assistance of these same people hospital
visitation was begun. A registration book in the office began to fill up
with the names of Jewish soldiers and officers, and letters sent home
recorded the fact of their visits and often established an important
connection for the welfare of the men themselves.

At the same time, among the hundreds of letter-writers and visitors
eager to do something, anything, for their fellow-soldiers, a few began
to stand out here and there as effective and central workers. The
soldiers were always ready to coöperate; I found that out from my first
service at Nevers to my last at Le Mans. So it was only natural that far
more of them volunteered for this work than I can possibly mention. I
shall simply have to speak of a few outstanding names, and leave it to
the imagination of the reader to multiply these examples many times. In
Chaumont there was Field Clerk A. S. Weisberger, formerly of Scranton,
Pa. "Sandy" Weisberger mimeographed a little newspaper, the "Junior
Argus," for his fellow-soldiers from Scranton; organized the Jewish
soldiers at G. H. Q. for services and sociability; and referred any
number of men to the Jewish Welfare Board for such advice or assistance
as it could give. He was later mustered out of service to become a J. W.
B. worker and met his death most tragically by an accident in the Paris
headquarters, during the festivities of Passover week, 1919.

In Dijon there was a group, Major Jacob Jablons, Medical Corps; Miss
Bessie Spanner, a regular army nurse; and Sergeant J. Howard
Lichtenstein, of Baker Co. 339. They organized hospital visiting in the
many hospital centers in that area, celebration of the high holydays,
Simchath Torah parties, and group gatherings of all kinds. This work was
spontaneous and needed only supplies of stationery, prayerbooks and the
like to make it completely effective, furnishing a fertile field for the
welfare workers when they opened their community center there. By that
time the two last were also in the service of the Welfare Board, Miss
Spanner in the unique position of head of the women workers overseas. In
Tours the outstanding figure was Colonel Max B. Wainer, at that time a
Major. He gathered a group of active workers among the soldiers, used
the local synagogue as a center, and organized a full welfare program,
including Friday evening services and round table discussions, hospital
visiting, and distribution of stationery and prayerbooks. I dropped in
at Tours for a day to arrange for the holyday services; the local
committee of soldiers saw that special meals were provided for the
Jewish men; and the bills were paid by the Jewish Welfare Board.

In the Le Mans area, which before the armistice was used as a
classification camp from which soldiers were sent as replacements to
units in the field, the first Jewish work was started by Sergeant
Charles S. Rivitz of Army Post Office 762 through the aid and assistance
of his commanding officer, Lieutenant Willing of Cleveland. Lieutenant
(later Captain) Willing, though a non-Jew, had taken a deep interest in
the Jewish men in his unit while still in camp in the States and
continued this interest to France. With the approval of Gen. Glenn, in
command of the area, Rivitz was detailed to the Jewish Welfare Board
under the supervision of the senior chaplain of the area and Capt.
Willing. Sergeant Rivitz was not a social worker at all, but had one
source of strength which made his good will effective. He was a soldier,
had attained his sergeancy through force of personality; he knew what
the soldiers wanted and insisted on giving it to them. He rented a
château as a club house largely on his own responsibility, and the
Jewish Welfare Board soon found that both the structure and his method
of conducting it were excellent. His chief assistant was Corporal George
Rooby, who after his discharge from the service volunteered for the
first unit of the Joint Distribution Committee in Poland, and continued
serving Jewry there.

In fighting units also the Jewish officers and enlisted men were early
active in welfare work. Two officers occur to me whose work I saw
personally; undoubtedly there were many others with the same sort of
interest. Captain Leon Schwartz of the 123rd Infantry, 31st Division,
was active from the outset in his own division and the Le Mans area.
Later, during the time when the army was trying every means to keep up
the morale of the troops, and the temporary organization of "Comrades in
Service" was being pushed through the G. H. Q. Chaplains' Office,
Captain Schwartz was assigned to this work as the Jewish representative,
and addressed hundreds of gatherings of soldiers, together with the
Catholic and Protestant spokesmen for morale and comradeship. In the
26th Division, the "Yankee Division," Captain Bernard I. Gorfinkle of
the Judge Advocate's office was one of the first and most effective
Jewish workers in France. Captain Gorfinkle organized an overseas branch
of the New England Y. M. H. A., deriving his first funds from the Young
Men's Hebrew Associations of New England. Later, when the Jewish Welfare
Board arrived, he joined forces with its Paris office for the benefit of
his men. Mr. Goldhaar tells how surprised he was after the battle of
Château Thierry to be highly complimented for the work of the J. W. B.
in marking the Jewish graves. Of course, at that time no such work had
yet been undertaken. On investigation he found that the graves of Jews
of the 26th Division who fell in action had been marked with a crude
Magen David by their comrades under the initiative of Captain Gorfinkle.

Wherever a Jewish chaplain existed the Welfare Board had a means of
contact with the men. And here and there throughout the A. E. F.,
volunteers sprang up, establishing their little groups and doing their
own work, large or small. In the 42nd Division, to cite only one more
example, some of the boys came together and held holyday services during
the actual campaign, and afterward instituted their own hospital
visiting. But then came the armistice, and at the same time the passport
difficulty was disposed of. Workers began to come; new plans were being
issued daily by the army authorities; the whole viewpoint of the work
was revolutionized and the facilities suddenly enlarged.

The determining factor was that troops were no longer being scattered
for training and fighting but concentrated for their return home. Hence
the J. W. B. centered its work on the American Embarkation Center and
the base ports, established a line of centers in the chief points of the
Service of Supply, and went with the Army of Occupation to Germany. The
last to be supplied with workers were some of the combat divisions not
in the organized areas. Thus the work grew. The club-house at Le Mans
was dedicated on November 28, 1918, in the presence of Major General
Glenn, with speeches by Dr. Enelow and the prefect of the Department of
the Sarthe, and a vaudeville show and refreshments to wind up the
evening. Buildings were rented in the ports of Brest, St. Nazaire,
Bordeaux and Marseilles, and a line of centers established across
France, from Le Mans on through Tours, St. Aignan, Gievres, Bourges,
Beaune, Is-sur-Tille, Dijon and Chaumont. The headquarters for the Army
of Occupation were at Coblenz, where the B'nai B'rith Building was
employed and seven huts established through the area. Finally as workers
continued coming, they were assigned to seven of the combat divisions,
staying with them in their movements through France and saying farewell
only after the troops were embarked for home. These divisions were the
5th, 6th, 7th, 29th, 33rd, 79th, and 81st. When Antwerp became an
important port for army supplies a center was established there as well.

Altogether the Jewish Welfare Board employed 102 men and 76 women in 57
different centers in the American Expeditionary Forces. Of this
personnel, 24 men and one woman, Miss Spanner, were mustered out of the
service for this purpose, while the others were transported from the
States. Of the buildings, 23 were located in towns and were rented; the
other 34 were provided by coöperation of other organizations, 28 by the
U. S. Army, two by the Knights of Columbus, two by the Red Cross, one by
the Y. M. C. A. and one by the Belgian Government. In camps rough
barracks or tents were usually the thing; in cities the equipment
varied, and in some places was complete with kitchen, dance hall,
writing room, and offices.

I can speak of the large work in the Le Mans area through personal
acquaintance. There the personality of Mr. Rivitz was the decisive
factor. With his unerring knowledge of the soldier, he established at
once the policy of everything free, which was soon adopted by the J. W.
B. throughout its overseas work. Religious services were provided, hot
chocolate and cigarettes served, contact established with thousands of
soldiers for the personal needs which they brought to the welfare
worker. As the needs of the area grew, other centers were established.
When the 77th Division, with its thousands of Jews, was in the area,
five huts were established in its various regiments and the men provided
with everything possible right at home. In other units where the Jews
were more scattered, the centers were at the Division Headquarters. In
cases where units stopped in our area for only a few days or a week, an
automobile load of supplies with two workers was sent out on an
extensive trip, meeting the boys and giving them as much personal cheer
and physical sustenance as possible under the circumstances.

I have described this type of activity several times in connection with
my own personal story. Here and there, however, special personalities or
incidents stand out in the constant, exhausting labor to which the
workers subjected themselves in the terrific rush of the morale agencies
during that period of waiting to go home. In Germany at the head of the
work was Mr. Leo Mielziner, son of the late Professor Moses Mielziner of
the Hebrew Union College, a man of high reputation as an artist and of
commanding personality. Mr. Mielziner, who had two sons in the service,
conducted the work in the Army of Occupation with the finest spirit of
fellow-feeling for the enlisted man. Under his direction the Jewish
Welfare Board maintained such a high standard that when the Red Cross
closed its railroad canteens in the occupied territory the J. W. B. was
requested by the army to take them over.

At Gievres, where the great bakeries of the A. E. F. were located, the
J. W. B. was the center for the bakery units. So when Purim came both
Jews and non-Jews coöperated in baking a gigantic cake for the
celebration. The cake, which had to be baked in sections, occupied not
only the stage but also an addition made for the purpose. It was cut
into 10,000 portions and every man in that camp received a slice. As
the crowning achievement of the A. E. F. bakeries, that Purim cake
received a reputation of its own.

The Paris office, and still later the club rooms on Rue Clement Marot,
were the entertainment center for the Paris district and all its many
visitors. After its formal opening on Simchath Torah, every Sunday
afternoon an entertainment was provided, with vaudeville, speeches or
dancing, concluding with the famous chocolate layer cake made by
volunteer workers among the American women living in Paris. The wounded
were visited in the nearby hospitals and usually a group of
convalescents was present in the front seats at the entertainment. The
registrations in the big book served to unite many friends and brothers
who had lost track of each other in the constantly moving wilderness of
the A. E. F. A family wrote in from Kansas City that their son was
complaining at not hearing from home; when the J. W. B. wrote him, it
was his first news from home in his six months as a "casual" in France.
Through the Paris office and the workers in the field the whole immense
field of personal service and entertainment had to be covered, including
much of the same work which was being done by the chaplains and in
addition the furnishing of immense amounts of supplies which we and
others could use up but could not provide.

During the high holydays the Paris clubrooms presented a remarkable
mingling of Jewish soldiers of all the allied armies. Mixed with the
olive drab and the navy blue of the United States were the Australians
with their hats rakishly turned up on the side, the gray capes of the
Italian, the French troops from Morocco, the Russian in Cossack
uniform, and a few Belgians. During Chanuka, which coincided with
Thanksgiving in 1918, special services were held at the synagogue in the
Rue de la Victoire, the largest in France. The synagogue was crowded
with French men and women, all at a high pitch of enthusiasm, and with
350 American soldiers, the heroes of the occasion. The impressive
service of the French rabbi was followed by a brilliant Thanksgiving
sermon by Chaplain Voorsanger, who had been invited to come to Paris for
the occasion. After services turkey and pumpkin pie were served at the
club rooms, and while I was not there that day, I can testify that the
pumpkin pie served at the Jewish Welfare Board on New Year's day, 1919,
was one of the most poignant reminders of the United States during my
stay abroad.

Due to the intense pressure of the situation, the actual volume of work
done by the J. W. B. was surprisingly large. The entertainments and
dances conducted at every center numbered fully 5,000, with an aggregate
attendance of 2,750,000. Among the conspicuous units which toured the A.
E. F. under Welfare Board auspices, was "Who Can Tell?" the Second Army
show, which was underwritten by request of the Welfare Officer and was
one of the most elaborate of the army musical comedies, with a full
complement of chorus girls acted by husky doughboys; this production
toured for five weeks and while in Paris was seen by President and Mrs.
Wilson. There was the "Dovetail Troupe," a vaudeville unit which
likewise went on tour. And there was the "Tuneful Trio," led by Mr. and
Mrs. Henry Gideon of Boston, which came to France under the Y. M. C.
A., and gave many excellent concerts under J. W. B. auspices; I heard
one of their programs in Le Mans and felt not only the musical
excellence of their work, but also the special appeal of their program
of Yiddish folk songs to the Jewish men; this troupe delivered 81
concerts to fully 60,000 men. The army educational work received much
support in the various huts, and two of the best equipped men in the J.
W. B. service were assigned to it, Dr. H. G. Enelow for the University
of Beaune, and Professor David Blondheim of Johns Hopkins, for a time
executive director of the overseas work, for the Sorbonne in Paris. The
bulk of the daily work in the huts throughout France appears from the
fact that 2,500,000 letterheads were distributed and refreshments served
without charge to a total of 3,000,000 men.

The records of religious work are equally imposing, as 1,740 services
were held, with a total attendance of 180,000 men. The constant
coöperation with the chaplains meant that far more than these were
indirectly influenced and aided. Eighteen thousand prayer books were
distributed and ten thousand Bibles. On Passover of 1919 the J. W. B.
provided unleavened bread (matzoth), which had been furnished through
the Quartermaster Corps, for the Jewish soldiers in the American forces,
as well as for French and Russian soldiers. The J. W. B. even provided
matzoth for six thousand Russian prisoners in Germany during Passover of
1919. At the request of the military officials, the Jewish Welfare Board
took charge of welfare work for the sixty thousand Russian troops in
France, who had come originally as fighting units, but after the
withdrawal of Russia from the war had been transferred to agricultural
labor. No other welfare agency had provided for them and so they were
assigned to the J. W. B. which had a few workers who could speak
Russian. It was rather ironical that these men in Cossack uniform, most
of whom were non-Jews, received their only friendly service in France at
the hands of the despised Jew.

The whole work of the J. W. B. abroad culminated in the Passover of
1919. The most intense moment for us chaplains had come during the high
holydays when feeling was most profound and suspense at its deepest and
when, in addition, we had to carry the burden almost unaided. By
Passover the feeling had changed, the war was safely over, the men were
rejoicing at their imminent return home, and we had the Jewish Welfare
Board to arrange our celebration for us. Fully 30,000 of the Jews in the
A. E. F. ate the Seder dinners furnished by the Welfare Board. I have
already described our celebration at Le Mans, with its many features in
which the J. W. B. and I worked together. A similar program was carried
out everywhere. At Dijon Rabbi Schumacher of the local French synagogue,
who had been most active throughout in the interest of the American
soldiers, led a great congregation of 2,000 men through the rain to the
synagogue for worship and afterward to the Seder tables. In Germany, the
city of Coblenz became the leave area for soldiers of Jewish faith and
was closed for all other furloughs during the three days. The Y. M. C.
A. and the K. of C. assisted in giving proper honor to the Jewish
festival and proper pleasures to the Jewish men, and with their aid
boat rides on the Rhine, entertainments in the Festhalle, and all the
features of a full amusement program were provided.

Most striking of all was the great Seder at Paris, with its crowd of
American, Australian, English, French and Italian soldiers, some of them
former prisoners in Germany, all of them united in the great occasion of
their faith. Among the speakers and the guests of honor were some of the
great leaders of Jewry, as well as personal representatives of Marshall
Foch and General Pershing. Colonel Harry Cutler, Mr. Louis Marshall,
Judge Julian Mack, Dr. Cyrus Adler, and Dr. Chaim Weitzmann were there,
as well as many other celebrities. At that time and in that place the
highest honor for any man was to worship and eat side by side with the
soldiers, who had carried love of their country and loyalty to their
faith to the last extreme of service and of sacrifice.

Decoration Day of 1919, which was observed by all France together with
its American visitors, was another important ceremony for the Jewish
Welfare Board, together with its French hosts at the great synagogue on
the Rue de la Victoire. The sermon was delivered by Rabbi Voorsanger,
the service read by Rabbi Lévy of Paris; and again the great throng of
Americans in uniform and their French friends joined in the common
worship of their faith and the common exaltation of their patriotism.

In addition to the overseas commission and the men in the field, several
of the prominent officers of the Jewish Welfare Board went to France at
various times and took personal part in the work. The first was Mr.
Mortimer L. Schiff, who spent the months of December 1918 and January
1919 in France as a member of the commission of eleven of the United War
Work Organization, which had just completed its great financial drive.
In that capacity Mr. Schiff was equally interested in all the welfare
agencies; naturally, he gave the full benefit of his advice to the J. W.
B. In February 1919 Colonel Harry Cutler, chairman of the Jewish Welfare
Board, came to France. Although burdened with duties for other
organizations as well, he accomplished wonders for the work of the J. W.
B. during his four months in France. His enthusiasm and vigor showed at
once, as in any matter he ever undertook. He traveled throughout the A.
E. F., observed conditions for himself, and then accomplished two
important pieces of work. First he obtained an order from the General
Headquarters releasing the J. W. B. from its former dependence on the Y.
M. C. A. and allowing it to work directly in coöperation with the
military authorities; this was certainly advisable under post-armistice
conditions, and many others felt with me that it would have been the
preferable system at all times. Second, he persuaded Chaplain Elkan C.
Voorsanger, then completing his second year overseas, to allow his
division to return home without him, while he stayed on from April to
September as Overseas Director of the J. W. B. Together with Chaplain
Voorsanger, Colonel Cutler administered the J. W. B. during the period
of growth, and then left him to carry it on successfully during the time
of retrenchment, until finally he also returned home with the Paris
Staff, and the only representatives left in France were those working in
coöperation with the Graves Registration Service.

Another important worker for the J. W. B. was Dr. Cyrus Adler,
vice-chairman of the national organization, who reached France in March,
1919 as a representative of the American Jewish Committee. On Colonel
Cutler's return in May, Dr. Adler took over his duties for the Welfare
Board, and worked with Chaplain Voorsanger until the end of his mission,
in July 1919.

One necessary part of the work of the Jewish Welfare Board, after all
its efforts on behalf of the men in the service had been accomplished,
was to care for the graves of those Jews who gave their all in the
service of America. The Graves Registration Service, later called the
Cemeterial Division of the War Department, had a great and necessary
work. The Jewish Welfare Board obtained in February, 1918 a War
Department order that all graves of Jews should be marked with the Magen
David, the double triangle.

This order was confirmed by a response from General Pershing on July 29,
1918. Temporary Jewish headboards were supplied overseas, together with
the temporary crosses, and whenever we knew definitely that a particular
soldier had been a Jew they were used. Unfortunately, that information
was not always available. Most units had no religious census, certainly
none was up to date including the replacements. The order for marking
the identification tag with an additional letter--"P" for Protestant,
"C" for Catholic, and "H" for Hebrew--was issued after most of us were
overseas, and hardly any of the tags had it; I know I never had the "H"
put on mine. Often a man would carry a prayerbook in his pocket, but if
the bodies were searched by one detail and buried by another that did
not help. I know that it took me three months to verify my list of
Jewish dead in the 27th Division, so that one can imagine the task for
the entire A. E. F.

In May, 1919, the J. W. B. undertook this duty of identifying the Jewish
graves, so that the War Department could mark them all properly. They
have thus identified 1,500 altogether and where a cross had already been
put up the headboard was changed. In this connection, a peculiar
situation arose through the efforts of the Red Cross to photograph all
graves in France for the benefit of the families at home. Such graves as
had not been identified as Jewish still had the cross, and some families
had their religious sensibilities shocked by the photographs. Hence the
photographs in all such cases were detained until the changes had been
carried out, and the Jewish Welfare Board had the graves photographed
for the benefit of the families. Naturally, this work is being continued
in the funerals of such soldiers as are being returned and in the care
of such graves as shall remain permanently where our heroes fought and
fell.

The sad death of Colonel Cutler occurred in England during the summer of
1920, on a trip which he undertook in the interest of the Graves
Registration work, against the advice of his physicians and solely
through his profound interest in the cause. His life was a sacrifice to
his duty, to the tremendous efforts he had made for the Jewish Welfare
Board and the other great national movements of Jewry. He gave, as so
many others gave, another sacrifice for Judaism and America.

On the whole, the field workers of the Jewish Welfare Board made an
enviable record in France. In this respect a minor organization had the
advantage in being able to choose its representatives so much more
carefully than in the enormous machine of the Y. M. C. A. The women
workers were especially conspicuous for their steady, uncomplaining
service. Their work was anything but romantic; it was driving, wearing
labor. They tended canteen all day and danced almost every evening, a
régime that was hard physically and exhausting mentally. Only those in
the larger cities could enjoy the luxuries which are so commonplace in
America--electric lights, a bath tub, and the other conveniences of
civilization. I have marveled to see them living for months in tiny
French villages or in army camps, giving devoted service to the men in
uniform, without distinction of rank or creed.

Through these workers the Jewish Welfare Board was able to render the
personal touch which was missing in much of the war work overseas. This
applied especially to the Jewish man, who felt overjoyed to meet a
Jewish girl from America, to attend a Seder, to write home on the J. W.
B. letterhead. He had found a touch of home in a foreign land; his
personal needs could be understood and satisfied so much more easily and
directly now. But many men of many creeds found themselves at home in
the J. W. B. huts. Men learned to know Jews, to respect Judaism in the
army who had been ignorant of both at home. They often attended a Jewish
service, met a Jewish chaplain, or simply preferred the home-like
atmosphere to that of other welfare organizations. For one thing, the J.
W. B. was run according to the tastes of the soldiers; there was no
charge for anything, even a nominal one; there was no condescension and
no dictation, none of the things which the soldiers hated. In the Le
Mans area, which was typical, from 56 to 60 per cent of the men
patronizing the J. W. B. building were non-Jews. This constituted a
return for the thousands of Jews who patronized Y. M. C. A. and K. of C.
huts, as well as our contribution to the morale of the forces.

In some areas the Jewish Welfare Board was the most popular of all the
welfare agencies; in all, it was very popular with the men of all
faiths. The high caliber of the women workers, the personal touch and
home-like spirit of the work, gave it a hold on the affections of the
men. For a long time the Jewish soldiers had felt neglected by their
own, not knowing the obstacles which had to be overcome. Then they found
their own huts, suddenly springing up in all the central points, crowded
and popular with all the groups of soldiers in America's composite army.
The Jewish soldier became proud and the Christian soldier became
appreciative. The excellence of the work brought forgiveness for
everything, even though the soldier was not used to listening to reasons
but formed his opinions quickly from the facts nearest at hand. The
contribution through happiness and unity to the morale of the American
Expeditionary Forces was one that did full justice to the eagerness and
good will of the Jews of America.



CHAPTER VIII

THE JEW AS A SOLDIER


The Jewish soldier demands no defense and needs no tribute. His deeds
are written large in the history of every unit in the A. E. F.; they are
preserved in the memory of his comrades of other races and other faiths.
He was one with all American soldiers, for in the service men of every
type and of every previous standpoint were much alike, under the same
orders, holding the same ideals, with similar responses and similar
accomplishments. The Jew was an American soldier--that really covers the
story. For historical purposes, however, a further statement of numbers,
honors, personalities, may be worth while. The Jew was in the American
army, as in all the allied armies, because he exists among the
population of every land. The studies made in various lands show that
over 900,000 Jews fought in the World War altogether, of whom over
80,000 were killed in action or died of wounds. In the British forces
casualties included the names of 8,600 Jews, and in the French forces,
out of less than a hundred thousand Jewish population in the nation,
2,200 were killed in the service. These figures, picked practically at
random from enormous masses of similar material, tend to show the
participation of Jews in every army, just as they participate everywhere
in the national life.

In the American forces the Jewish soldier ranked with the best; he was
an American soldier, and there is no higher praise than that. With all
the panegyrics on the American doughboy during and since the war, not
enough has been said or can ever be said about him. His good humor, his
self sacrifice, his heroism, won the affection and the admiration of
every one. His officers loved him; his enemies respected him; his allies
regarded him with mingled enthusiasm and patronage. They loved his
youthful dash and were amused at his youthful unsophistication; at the
same time they were profoundly grateful for his forgetfulness of self
when the time for action came. I have mentioned some of the incidents in
my own experience, illustrating the magnificent courage and abandon of
Americans at the front--the youngster who came to the aid post seriously
gassed but proud that he had stayed on duty the longest of any man in
his company; the weary boys on the brow of a hill, digging in for the
fourth time in a day of advances and fighting; the little Italian who
stood on the edge of the shell hole that his comrades might advance--but
the number and the variety of them was endless. Reading a list of the
dry, official citations for decorations is like opening a mediæval
romance of the deeds of knightly heroes. There was Captain Ireland who
came to our aid post to have his wounds dressed and then started out
without waiting for the ambulance. "Where are you going, Captain?" I
asked. "Oh, back to the boys," was the answer, "I'm the only officer
left in the battalion, and I don't want to leave them." There was the
chaplain's orderly, himself a student for the ministry, who voluntarily
organized a stretcher party to bring in some wounded men out beyond the
barbed wire. Every type of heroism and self sacrifice existed, all
carried off with the good humored bravado of school boys at a football
game.

Among these heroes the Jewish soldiers were equal to the best, as their
comrades and commanders were quick to recognize. A typical attitude
toward them was that of a lieutenant colonel, telling me a story of his
first battle, when we were on shipboard coming back home. "I was rather
nervous about that first time under fire," he told me, "because I had a
number of foreign boys in one company and didn't know how they might
behave. Among them was a little Jew who was medical man of the company,
carrying bandages instead of weapons, but going over the top with the
others, a restless fellow, always breaking orders and getting into
trouble of some kind or another. And when I came to that company on the
front line the first thing I saw was that little Jew jumping out of a
shell hole and starting for the rear as fast as he could run. I pulled
my revolver, ready to shoot him rather than have an example of cowardice
set for the rest. But I was surprised to see him turn aside suddenly and
jump into another shell hole, and when I went over there I found him
hard at work bandaging up another wounded soldier. He was simply doing
his duty under fire, absolutely without sign of fear as he tended the
boys who were hurt. I was sorry I had misjudged him so badly and watched
his work after that, with the result that I was later able to recommend
him for a decoration."

Ignorance, suspicion, ripening with knowledge into understanding and
admiration--that was the usual course of events. I quote Colonel
Whittlesey, commander of the famous "Lost Battalion" of the 308th
Infantry, a New York unit with a very large proportion of Jews: "As to
the Jewish boys in the Battalion, I cannot recall many of them by name,
but certain figures stand out simply because they are so unexpected. The
ordinary run of soldiers, whether Jews, Irish, or Americans--the big,
husky chaps who simply do what they are expected to do--naturally pass
from our memory. It is the odd figures who stick in your mind. There was
one chap for example (Herschkovitz was his name) who seemed the worst
possible material from which to make soldier-stuff. He was thick-set,
stupid looking, extremely foreign, thoroughly East Side, and yet, one
day when we were holding the bank of the Vesle, and it became necessary
to send runners to communicate with our commands, Herschkovitz was the
_only man_ who volunteered for the job. It was a nasty physical job. It
would have been a difficult thing if it had not been under fire, because
it meant cutting through under-brush, up hill and down hill. Under fire
this became almost impossible, and the boys knew it, so none of them
cared for the job, but Herschkovitz made the trip four times that day.
What was it? Well, just plain pluck, that's all. There were a great many
fellows of this type--East Siders of whom the regular army men expected
nothing at all--but the 77th Division just seemed equal to anything...."

In the same unit was Private Abraham Krotoshinsky, who was awarded the
D. S. C. for bearing the message which informed the division of the
exact location of the unit, and was instrumental in releasing them.
Krotoshinsky was an immigrant boy, not yet a citizen, a barber by trade.
His own words give the story simply enough: "We began to be afraid the
division had forgotten us or that they had given us up for dead. We had
to get a messenger through. It meant almost certain death, we were all
sure, because over a hundred and fifty men had gone away and never come
back. But it had to be done. The morning of the fifth day they called
for volunteers for courier. I volunteered and was accepted. I went
because I thought I ought to. First of all I was lucky enough not to be
wounded. Second, after five days of starving, I was stronger than many
of my friends who were twice my size. You know a Jew finds strength to
suffer. Third, because I would just as soon die trying to help the
others as in the 'pocket' of hunger and thirst.

"I got my orders and started. I had to run about thirty feet in plain
view of the Germans before I got into the forest. They saw me when I got
up and fired everything they had at me. Then I had to crawl right
through their lines. They were looking for me everywhere. I just moved
along on my stomach, in the direction I was told, keeping my eyes open
for them.... It was almost six o'clock that night when I saw the
American lines. All that day I had been crawling or running doubled up
after five days and nights without food and practically nothing to
drink. Then my real trouble began. I was coming from the direction of
the German lines and my English is none too good. I was afraid they
would shoot me for a German before I could explain who I was.... Then
the Captain asked me who I was. I told him I was from the Lost
Battalion. Then he asked me whether I could lead him back to the
battalion. I said, 'Yes.' They gave me a bite to eat and something to
drink and after a little rest I started back again with the command. I
will never forget the scene when the relief came. The men were like
crazy with joy."

In high position and in low the same kind of service came from the
American Jew. This is the official citation of a Colonel, who is in
civil life one of the prominent Jews of Chicago, Illinois:

"Colonel Abel Davis, 132nd Infantry. For extraordinary heroism in action
near Consenvoye, France, October 9, 1918. Upon reaching its objective,
after a difficult advance, involving two changes of directions, Colonel
Davis's regiment was subjected to a determined enemy counterattack.
Disregarding the heavy shell and machine-gun fire, Colonel Davis
personally assumed command and by his fearless leadership and courage
the enemy was driven back."

Judge Robert S. Marx of Cincinnati, Ohio, is now national president of
the Disabled Veterans of the World War and a member of the national
committee on hospitalization and vocational education of the American
Legion. But in 1917 and '18 he was Captain Marx of the 90th Division,
operations officer of his regiment during the St. Mihiel and Argonne
offensives, and reported dead on the day before the armistice, when he
was struck on the head and wounded severely. And on the other extreme, I
notice the case of First Sergeant Sam Dreben of the 141st Infantry, a
soldier of fortune in many revolutions and a member of the Regular Army
in the Philippines several years ago. Discovering a party of Germans
coming to the support of a dangerous machine-gun nest, Sergeant Dreben
with thirty men charged the German position, killed forty of the enemy,
took several prisoners, and captured five machine guns, returning to his
own lines without losing a man. For this daring and important act he was
awarded the D. S. C.

Of the various types of distinction emphasized during the war, all were
as true of Jews as of any other group. Numerous cases exist where four
or more members of a single family were in the service. There was the
Fleshner family, of Springfield, Mass., from which four sons of an
immigrant father and mother entered the service, the oldest of them only
twenty-three. The oldest of these boys lost an arm and an eye while
carrying ammunition through a barrage, but exclaimed later in the
hospital: "I'm the luckiest Jew in the army. Any other man in my place
would have been killed."

The New York Herald during the war described an indefatigable Red Cross
worker, Mrs. Louis Rosenberg of North Bergen, N. J. This old Jewish
mother had six sons in the service; the two oldest, each the father of
two children, when summoned for the draft refused to claim exemption,
and having invested their savings in two small notion stores, they left
their wives in charge of them and accepted the call to military service.
Mrs. Liba Goldstein, of Cambridge Springs, Pa., a woman of eighty-four,
born in Russia, had twenty grandsons in the allied armies, ten as
officers in the British army, eight in the American forces, and two with
the Jewish Legion in Palestine. And so one might bring out one example
after another, if one desired, all showing the eagerness of loyal Jews
to serve their country.

The Office of Jewish War Records of the American Jewish Committee has
made a remarkably interesting preliminary study of the number of Jews in
the American forces. The office possesses 150,000 individual records,
gathered by extensive coöperation with national and local Jewish
organizations. The success of certain local efforts at intensive
covering of the field indicate that the total number of American Jews in
service during the War may amount to as much as 200,000. Of these about
40,000 came from New York City, 8,000 from Philadelphia and 5,000 from
Chicago. Instead of their quota of three per cent., according to the
proportion of Jews throughout the nation, the Jews in service actually
constituted fully four per cent. of the men in the army and navy. The
causes of this excess are not easy to establish. The draft may have been
more fully enforced in cities than in many rural districts, and the bulk
of the Jews are city dwellers. The proportion of young men among the
various groups of our population would apply only if the Jews have more
than their quota of young men, and we possess no facts to confirm that.
But certainly the number of volunteers was an element in causing this
large number of Jews in the service. The records show 40,000 volunteers
among the Jewish men, practically one-fourth of the total Jewish
contingent and a far higher record than that of the army as a whole.

In certain outstanding cases this record is even more conspicuous. The
little colony of immigrant Jewish farmers at Woodbine, N. J., not over
three hundred families altogether, contributed forty-three men to the
service, of whom seventeen men, or forty per cent., were volunteers. Of
the students at the rabbinical seminaries, who were all exempt by law, a
conspicuously large number volunteered for service in the line, in
addition to the chaplains among the graduates and the large number of
both students and graduates who acted as representatives of the Jewish
Welfare Board, lecturers in the training camps and similar capacities.
In fact, the seminaries were almost empty for a year. Eleven students of
the Hebrew Union College and four of the Jewish Theological Seminary
waived exemption for regular service in the army and navy, including a
number of men with very exceptional records. Jacob Marcus, now Rabbi and
Instructor at the Hebrew Union College, volunteered in the Ohio National
Guard and won his lieutenancy by brilliant work in the ranks. Three of
the students there entered the Marine Corps during the first weeks of
the war and served for over two years in that branch. One, Michael
Aaronson, serving in the 31st Division overseas, was completely blinded
while helping a wounded comrade in No Man's Land; now he is finishing
his studies at the College with the same spirit which he showed in
entering the service and in his work as a soldier.

The Jewish boys went into the army to fight. That appears in their
proportion in the combatant branches of the American Expeditionary
Forces. While these branches--Infantry, Artillery, Cavalry, Engineers,
and Signal-Aviation--constituted 60 per cent. of the total, among the
114,000 records of Jewish soldiers in the hands of the War Records
Office the distribution among these combatant branches is fully 75 per
cent. The Infantry constituted 26.6 per cent. of the entire army, while
among the Jewish records it constituted 48 per cent. Artillery was 14
per cent. of the United States army, 8 per cent. of the Jewish total. In
cavalry the rate for the entire army was 2 per cent., for the Jews only
1.3 per cent. The engineer corps contributed 11 per cent. of the army
strength, and but 3 per cent. among the Jewish records. The signal and
aviation corps represented 7 per cent. of the United States total, and
15 per cent. of the Jewish total. The medical corps was 8 per cent. of
the army total, 9 per cent. of the Jewish total. Ordnance was 1.7 per
cent. of the army total, and 1.5 of the Jewish total. The quartermaster
corps was 6.2 per cent. of the army total and 5.9 per cent. of the
Jewish total.

The Army, Navy and Marine Corps altogether had nearly 10,000 Jews as
commissioned officers, and a really tremendous number of
non-commissioned officers. The Army records show more than a hundred
colonels and lieutenant colonels of Jewish faith, including such
distinguished officers as Colonel Abel Davis, whom I have already
mentioned in connection with his D. S. C. for heroism displayed on
October 9, 1918; Colonel Nathan Horowitz, of Boston, Mass. who spent 27
months in France in the heavy artillery; Colonel Samuel Frankenberger,
of Charleston, W. Va., who commanded the 78th Field Artillery; Colonel
Samuel J. Kopetzky, Medical Corps, of New York City, who commanded
Sanitary Train 396, in the A. E. F.; and Colonel Max Robert Wainer,
Quartermaster Corps, formerly of Delaware City, Del., who was awarded
the Distinguished Service Medal and appointed a Chevalier of the Legion
of Honor by the French government. These honors were but the climax to
a military career that began with enlistment as a private in 1905, and
promotion to the rank of Second Lieutenant in 1912. In the war every one
of the four battles in which he took part was the occasion of a further
promotion, so that he concluded the war as a Colonel. I have already
mentioned Colonel Wainer in another connection, as the first active
Jewish worker at Tours; as a matter of fact, he organized a Seder in his
own unit in 1918, where 500 men celebrated the Passover at the same time
that Chaplain Voorsanger was holding his Seder at St. Nazaire, and when
practically no other Jewish work was being conducted in the entire
overseas forces.

There were over 500 majors, 1,500 captains, and more than 6,000
lieutenants in the American army, with a full share of each in the A. E.
F. Over 900 Jews were officers in the navy, the most conspicuous of them
being Rear Admiral Joseph Strauss, in command of the mine laying work in
the North Sea during the war. In addition there were one captain, five
commanders and twelve lieutenant commanders. The marine corps included
among its personnel over a hundred Jews as officers, among them three
majors, one colonel, and Brigadier-General Charles Henry Laucheimer of
Baltimore, Md., who died in January 1920.

The latest estimates of casualties run from 13,000 to 14,000, including
about 2,800 who died in the service of America. This can be inferred
easily from the branches of the service in which our Jewish boys were
found, as well as from the number of honors they received. After all,
for every brave man whose acts were noted and rewarded, many others just
as heroic fought and bled unseen.

The number of Jews decorated for conspicuous courage is attested, not
only by the Office of War Records, but also by the Jewish Valor Legion,
an organization of American Jews who received such awards during the
World War. Fully 1,100 citations for valor are on record. Of these, 723
were conferred by the American command, 287 by the French, 33 by the
British, and 46 by other allied commands. The Distinguished Service
Cross is worn by 150 American Jews, the French Medaille Militaire by
four, and the Croix de Guerre by 174. The Congressional Medal of Honor,
the rarest award in the American or any other service, which was
conferred on only 78 men in the entire service, is worn by three
American Jews, one of them killed in the act for which he was rewarded.
I add their official citations, not only for their personal interest,
but as an added tribute to these three heroes, a glory both to Jewry and
to America.

"Sydney G. Gumpertz, first sergeant, Company E, 132nd Infantry.
Congressional Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity
above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy in the Bois
de Forges, France, September 26, 1918. When the advancing line was held
up by machine-gun fire, Sergeant Gumpertz left the platoon of which he
was in command and started with two other soldiers through a heavy
barrage toward the machine-gun nest. His two companions soon became
casualties from a bursting shell, but Sergeant Gumpertz continued on
alone in the face of direct fire from the machine-gun, jumped into the
nest and silenced the gun, capturing nine of the crew. Awarded January
22, 1919."

"First Sergeant Benjamin Kaufman, Company K, 308th Infantry,
Congressional Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity
above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy in the Forest
of Argonne, France, October 4, 1918. Sergeant Kaufman took out a patrol
for the purpose of attacking an enemy machine-gun which had checked the
advance of his company. Before reaching the gun he became separated from
his patrol, and a machine-gun bullet shattered his right arm. Without
hesitation he advanced on the gun alone, throwing grenades with his left
hand and charging with an empty pistol, taking one prisoner and
scattering the crew, bringing the gun and prisoner back to the first aid
station. Awarded April 8, 1919."

"Sergeant William Sawelson, deceased, Company M, 312th Infantry,
Congressional Medal of Honor awarded for conspicuous gallantry and
intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy
at Grandpré, France, October 26, 1918. Hearing a wounded man in a
shell-hole some distance away calling for water, Sergeant Sawelson upon
his own initiative left shelter and crawled through heavy machine-gun
fire to where the man lay, giving him what water he had in his own
canteen. He then went back to his own shell-hole, obtained more water
and was returning to the wounded man, when he was killed by a
machine-gun bullet. Posthumously awarded January 10, 1919."

The 27th Division, in which I served, was fairly typical in this
respect, as it was a National Guard unit, composed of volunteers from
both the New York metropolitan district and "up-state." There were
about a thousand Jews in the entire division and seven hundred of them
were in the infantry, machine-gun battalions and engineers, which served
together. I did not find a company without from two to thirty Jewish
soldiers, and seldom without at least one Jew among the non-commissioned
officers. I remember the time I motored over to one battalion to
organize a Jewish service and inquired for a "Jewish non-com" to take
charge of getting the boys together. I was told that three top sergeants
out of the four companies were named Levi, Cohen and Pesalovsky, and
that I could take my choice. The same thing occurred time and again when
I visited other divisions. For example, Sergeant Major Wayne of the
320th Infantry prepared the Passover passes for the 40 Jews of his
regiment, then in the Le Mans area, but missed the Seder himself,
staying at his post of duty to prepare the regimental sailing list.

The 27th Division had several Jews among the officers of high
rank--Lieutenant Colonel H. S. Sternberger, the division quartermaster;
Lieutenant Colonel Morris Liebman, killed in action in Flanders; Major
(later Lieutenant Colonel) Emanuel Goldstein, Medical Corps, who was
awarded the D. S. O. by the British command, one of four such
decorations given to officers of our division. Captain Simpson of the
106th Field Artillery, Lieutenant King of the office of the division
chief of staff, 2nd Lieutenant Samuel A. Brown of the 108th Infantry,
2nd Lieutenant Sternberger of the Interpreters' Corps and 2nd Lieutenant
Florsheim of the division quartermaster's office were among the officers
of Jewish origin. In addition, there were a few, such as Sergeant
Schiff of the 102nd Engineers and Sergeant Struck of division
headquarters, who were recommended for commissions for their excellent
service but were disappointed on account of the stoppage of all
promotions after the armistice.

I mentioned in connection with my own work the list of sixty-five Jews
of the 27th who were killed in action or died in hospitals in France,
their full proportion of the nearly 2,000 dead of the division. The
first man in the 27th who was killed in action was a Jew, Private Robert
Friedman of the 102nd Engineers. Most of our losses, like those of the
division as a whole, were incurred in the terrific fighting at the
Hindenburg Line, and most of our men were buried there in the great
divisional cemeteries of Bony and Guillemont Farm, right at the furthest
point which they reached alive. The cemetery of Bony is to be one of the
permanent American cemeteries in France, and I can still see the Magen
Davids standing here and there among the rows of crosses, where I had
them placed.

The Jews of the 27th won their full share of decorations, too. Nine of
them wear the Distinguished Service Cross conferred by the American
command; one, the British honor of the Distinguished Service Order; one,
the British Distinguished Conduct Medal; seven, the British Military
Medal; one, the French Croix de Guerre with star; and one, the Belgian
Order of the Crown. Eliminating cases where one man received several
such honors, fifteen Jews of this one division alone were decorated for
unusual courage and initiative in battle. I add the official citations
of four of these men as further examples of the heroism of the Jewish
soldiers in the American forces.

"Major Emanuel Goldstein, Medical Corps, 102nd Engineers. D. S. O.,
Belgian Order of the Crown. On Sept. 29, 1918, in the vicinity of
Lompire and Guillemont Farm near Ronssoy, France, he remained in the
most exposed positions under heavy shell fire and machine-gun fire, to
render first aid to several wounded men, displaying exceptional bravery
and courage, and setting a fine example of devotion to duty to all
ranks."

"Second Lieutenant Samuel A. Brown Jr., 108th Infantry. D. S. C. awarded
for extraordinary heroism in action near Ronssoy, France, Sept. 29,
1918. Advancing with his platoon through heavy fog and dense smoke and
in the face of terrific fire which inflicted heavy casualties on his
forces, Lieutenant Brown reached the wire in front of the main
Hindenburg Line, and, after reconnoitering for gaps, assaulted the
position and effected a foothold. Having been reënforced by another
platoon, he organized a small force, and by bombing and trench fighting
captured over a hundred prisoners. Repeated attacks throughout the day
were repelled by his small force. He also succeeded in taking four field
pieces, a large number of machine guns, anti-tank rifles, and other
military property, at the same time keeping in subjection the prisoners
he had taken."

"Corporal Abel J. Levine, Company A, 107th Infantry. For extraordinary
heroism in action near Bony, France, Sept. 29, 1918. After his platoon
had suffered heavy casualties and all the sergeants had been wounded,
Corporal Levine collected the remaining effectives in his own and other
units, formed a platoon and continued the advance. When his rifle was
rendered useless he killed several of the enemy with his pistol. He was
wounded shortly afterward, but he refused assistance until his men had
been cared for and evacuated." Corporal Levine received the D. S. C. and
the British D. C. M.

"Private Morris Silverberg, Company G, 108th Infantry. For extraordinary
heroism in action near Ronssoy, France, Sept. 29, 1918. Private
Silverberg, a stretcher bearer, displayed extreme courage by repeatedly
leaving shelter and advancing over an area swept by machine-gun and
shell fire to rescue wounded comrades. Hearing that his company
commander had been wounded, he voluntarily went forward alone, and upon
finding that his officer had been killed, brought back his body."
Private Silverberg received both the D. S. C. and the British M. M.

One more point must be noted with regard to these Jewish boys who served
America so bravely and so effectively. Many of them showed in their
sacrifices the true Jewish spirit of Kiddush ha-Shem, sanctification of
the name of God. Time and again have I heard men give such a turn to
their speech, as when I asked a boy from one of our machine gun
battalions why he had led a group of volunteers in bringing from an
exposed position some wounded men of another regiment, an act in which
the only other Jew in the company had been killed and for which my
friend was later decorated. "Well, chaplain," he answered me, "there
were only two Jewish boys in the company and we'd been kidded about it
a little. We just wanted to show those fellows what a Jew could do." Dr.
Enelow tells a similar story of a boy dying in a hospital, who gave the
rabbi a last message to his parents, saying: "Tell them I did my duty as
a soldier and brought honor to the Jewish name."

Once again, in the American forces during the World War, the Jew has
proved himself a devoted patriot and a heroic soldier, and this time he
has done so in broad daylight, before the eyes of all the world.



CHAPTER IX

JEW AND CHRISTIAN AT THE FRONT


To those of us who served with the United States Army overseas,
religious unity, coöperation between denominations, is more than a
far-off ideal. We know under what circumstances and to what extent it is
feasible, and just how it deepens and broadens the religious spirit in
both chaplain and soldier. We have passed beyond the mutual tolerance of
the older liberalism to the mutual helpfulness of the newer devoutness.
Our common ground is no longer the irreducible minimum of doctrines
which we share; it is the practical maximum of service which we can
render together. I was in a critical position to experience this as the
only Jewish chaplain in the Twenty-Seventh Division; my duty was to
minister to the men of the Jewish faith throughout the various units of
our division, with the friendly coöperation of the twenty other
chaplains of various faiths. And I was able to do my work among the
Jews, and to a certain extent among the Christians also, simply because
these Protestant and Catholic chaplains were equally friendly and
helpful to me and my scattered flock. Not by mutual tolerance but by
mutual helpfulness we were able to serve together the thousands of
soldiers who needed us all.

It is a commonplace that as men grow acquainted they naturally learn to
respect and to like one another. When a Jew from the East Side of New
York, who had never known any Christian well except the corner
policeman, and a Kentucky mountaineer, who had been reared with the idea
that Jews have horns, were put into the same squad both of them were
bound to be broadened by it. And, provided both of them were normal,
average boys, as they were likely to be, they probably became "buddies"
to the great advantage of both of them. Often such associations would
bring about the sort of a friendship which death itself could not break.

One of the Jewish chaplains tells an incident of the first night he
spent in the training camp at Camp Taylor, Ky. The candidate for
chaplain in the cot next to his was a lanky backwoods preacher from one
of the southern States. The two met, introduced themselves by name and
denomination, and then prepared to "turn in" for the night. The rabbi
noticed that his ministerial neighbor sat about, hesitated, and played
for time generally, even though it was fully time to turn out the
lights. Finally the matter became so obvious that he could not resist
inquiring the reason for this delay. The answer came, a bit embarrassed
but certainly frank enough: "I don't want to go to bed till I see how a
Jew says his prayers."

On the whole, considering the many individual differences in an army of
two million men, religious prejudice was not engendered by the army;
some persisted in spite of it, and much was lessened by the comradeship
and enforced intimacy of army life. In most commands prejudice against
the Jew was a very small item indeed. It was so rare as to be almost
non-existent in places of responsibility. It was often overcome by the
acid test of battle when men appeared in their true colors and won
respect for themselves alone. It was occasionally the fault of the man
himself, who turned a personal matter into an accusation of
anti-Semitism, and sometimes without cause. One Jewish corporal
complained to me of discrimination on the part of his commanding
officer, who had recommended his reduction to the ranks. On
investigation, I found that the officer might have been unfair in his
judgment, but had recommended the same for two non-Jews at the same
time; the case may therefore have been one of personal dislike but was
certainly not a matter of religious prejudice. When I found authentic
cases of discrimination, they were usually in the case of some ignorant
non-commissioned officer, who presumed on his scanty authority at the
expense of some Jewish private. Or it might be a sort of hazing, when a
group of "rough necks" selected a foreigner with a small command of
English as the butt of their jokes. When men complain of prejudice
against Jews in the army, it usually means that they met there a group
of prejudiced people with whom they would not have come into contact in
civil life. The tendency of the American army during the World War was
definitely against prejudice of any kind; prejudice made against
efficiency, and the higher one went the more difficult it became to find
any traces of it.

In the army and especially in overseas service men went naturally to the
nearest chaplain or welfare organization for any benefit except worship,
and sometimes for that also. From my first religious service in a
hospital with the crowd of non-Jews and sprinkling of Jews in the Red
Cross room, I found that the men went to the entertainment hut for
whatever it might offer. Every large service afterward, especially if
held in a convenient place, included a proportion of non-Jews, and
invariably they were both respectful and interested.

The burial work of the Twenty-Seventh Division at St. Souplet was the
climax of coöperation among chaplains, where the five of us represented
five different churches. Our service was a three-fold one, as was the
later one held at the larger cemeteries at Bony and Guillemont Farm. I
have already referred to the meetings held by the chaplains of our
division to discuss our common work and arrange to do that work most
effectively together. My very last duty in France was to read the burial
service over four Christian sailors drowned outside Brest harbor.

Such incidents as these were not exceptional at the front or among men
who have been at the front and have learned its lesson; I give them
especially because they are typical. The men who were under fire
together grew to overlook differences as barriers between man and man.
They knew the many times that their lives depended on the courage and
loyalty of the next man in the line--be he rich or poor, learned or
ignorant, pious or infidel, virtuous or wicked. They grew to respect men
for themselves, to serve them for themselves alone. The men used any
stationery that came to hand, writing home indifferently on paper
labeled Y. M. C. A. or K. of C., or Salvation Army, or Red Cross, or
Jewish Welfare Board; they attended a picture show or boxing match
under any auspices and were willing to help at any of the huts that
served them. In the same way the welfare workers and chaplains
overlooked one distinction after another, at the end serving all alike
and regarding their status as soldiers alone. Once when I dropped into a
strange camp two boys whom I had never seen crowded through the press of
men in the Y. M. C. A. hut; they had seen the insignia of the 27th, and
being fresh from hospital, appealed to me to help them back to the
division that they might return home with their own units. I was never
surprised when non-Jews came to me for advice in ordinary cases, but I
have had such extreme instances as a Jew and non-Jew coming together, to
ask advice in a case where both felt they had been discriminated against
by their commanding officer. In hospital work, in front line service,
even in the ordinary routine of the rest area, we came closer to one
another than ever in civil life.

As I said above, the logical climax of friendly coöperation comes when
ministers of different faiths assist each other in their own work. I
shall never forget a day in that busy October at the front when I met a
Baptist chaplain belonging to our division. "Hello," he said, "I've just
come to headquarters here to look for you and a priest." "All right,
what can I do for you?" "Well," was his reply, "our battalion goes into
the line tonight, and I wanted the Jewish and Catholic boys to have
their services, too. If you can come over at four o'clock, I'll have the
priest come at six." And so I came there at four, to find the fifteen
Jewish soldiers grouped about a large tree near the battalion
headquarters; the chaplain had notified them all. And, as the barn was
both dirty and crowded, we held our little service under the tree, even
though the rain began in the middle of it. Two of those boys did not
come back three days later, and one was cited for heroism, so that I
have often remembered the immeasurable service which the coöperation of
that chaplain meant for his men.

On a minor scale such things took place constantly. One day, going to a
distant battalion in a rest area, I not only went to the Y. M. C. A.
man, who arranged for my services in the school-house, and to a Jewish
corporal, who passed the word around to the men of my faith, but I
arranged also that the "Y" man should conduct the Protestant service the
following Sunday, and that the Catholic chaplain on coming should find
arrangements made for his confessions and mass. A classic incident of
the war is the story of Chief Rabbi Bloch, of Lyons, a chaplain in the
French army, who met his death before Verdun in the early days of the
war while holding a cross before a dying Catholic lad. The incident was
related by the Catholic chaplain of the regiment, who saw it from a
little distance. But by the time the gigantic struggle was over such
incidents had become almost matters of everyday. I, for one, have read
psalms at the bedside of dying Protestant soldiers. I have held the
cross before a dying Catholic. I have recited the traditional confession
with the dying Jew. We were all one in a very real sense.

A Christian chaplain preached the sermon on the second day of my Jewish
New Year service in Nevers. Similarly, I was a guest, with the other
members of the divisional staff, at the splendid midnight mass arranged
by Father Kelley in the little village church of Montfort. For the first
time in its history, the church was electrically lighted by our signal
corps; the villagers and the soldiers were out in force; colonels
assisted as acolytes; and the brilliant red and gold of the vestments,
with the pink satin and white lace of the little choir boys, stood out
brilliantly from the dark garments of the French and the olive drab of
the Americans. Father Kelley delivered a sermon of profound inspiration,
as well as a brief address in French to the villagers, whose guests we
were. The staff were seated in a little chapel, at one side of the
altar. The next day my orderly overheard two of the soldiers arguing
about me. One insisted: "I did see the rabbi there right on the
platform." "You didn't," said the other, "even if this is the army, they
wouldn't let him on the platform at a Catholic mass." It reminded me of
the incident in Paris when I had visited the Cathédral of Notre Dame,
accompanied by my chauffeur, a Catholic boy, and I had given him a
lecture on the architecture and symbolism of that splendid structure. It
was only afterward that the humor of the situation struck me--a rabbi
explaining a cathedral to a devoted Catholic.

Every chaplain with whom I have compared notes has told me of similar
experiences. Chaplain Elkan C. Voorsanger, for example, at the time when
he conducted the first official Jewish service overseas at Passover
1918, received four other invitations in various sections of France both
from army officials and Y. M. C. A. secretaries. At one point the Young
Men's Christian Association even offered to pay all his expenses if his
commanding officer would release him for the necessary time. I have
mentioned that Rabbi Voorsanger had no regular services in the 77th
Division during the fall holydays of 1918, due to the military
situation. There was one exception to this, however, a hasty service
arranged at one of the brief stops during the march by Father Dunne of
the 306th Infantry, and that service arranged by a priest was conducted
by the rabbi in a ruined Catholic church. Chaplain Voorsanger is full of
praise for the thirty chaplains of various religions who worked under
him when he was Senior Chaplain of the 77th. Their enthusiastic support
as subordinates was fully equal to their hearty coöperation as equals.

Peculiarly enough, the Christian Science chaplain in our division was
the only one who found it difficult to become adjusted with the rest.
This could hardly have been personal, as he was generally respected. It
may have been due in part to the general suspicion of some for the
ministers of a new faith which had lured away a few of their adherents.
But it seemed due chiefly to the ideas and the method he represented. He
was handicapped for the necessary work of caring for the sick and
wounded by a unique attitude toward physical suffering, different from
the rest of us and different from that of most of the soldiers
themselves. As a consequence he could serve most of them only as a
layman might. Certainly he could give no religious treatment of disease,
as the medical department was supreme in its own field. In addition, he
could conduct general services only with difficulty. To the rest of us a
service meant the same thing,--a psalm, a prayer, a talk, perhaps a
song or two. But the Christian Scientist could not give a prayer.
Prevented from using his ritual by the fact that the service was to be
non-sectarian, he had not the power of personal prayer to fall back
upon. He was not a minister in the same sense as the rest of us, and the
army had no proper place for either a healer or a reader.

With this single exception, I feel certain that every chaplain in France
had the same sort of experience. When I first arrived in France I was
one of thirty-five chaplains assembled at the chaplains' headquarters
for instruction and assignment. Our evening service was conducted in
front of the quaint, angular château on a level lawn surrounded by
straight rows of poplars. One evening Chaplain Paul Moody, of the Senior
Chaplain's office, gave us an inspirational appeal derived from his own
experience and his observation of so many successful chaplains at the
front. Afterward, informally, a Catholic told us briefly what we should
do in case we found a dying Catholic in the hospital or on the field,
with no priest at hand. Then I was asked how best the others might
minister to a Jewish soldier in extremity. I repeated to them the old
Hebrew confession of faith; _Shema Yisroel adonoi elohenu adonoi echod,_
"Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One." I told them to
lead the boy in reciting it, or if necessary just to say it for him, and
the next morning when I brought down copies of the words for them all I
was deeply touched by their eagerness to know them. These men did not go
out to convert others to their own view of truth and life; they were
ready to serve pious souls and to bring God's presence near to all.
Christian ministers were eager to help Jews to be better Jews; rabbis
were glad to help Christians to be better Christians. We learned amid
the danger and the bitterness to serve God and man, not in opposition
and not even in toleration, but in true helpfulness toward one another.
I doubt whether these men, once so willing to serve men of all creeds at
the risk of their lives, are foremost in the ranks of Jewish
conversionists to-day.

Much of this spirit of genuine religion and of equal regard for all
religions was due to the example and personal influence of the Senior
Chaplain of the American Expeditionary Forces, Bishop Charles H. Brent,
now the Protestant Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Western New York.
Bishop Brent utilized his great ability, his high spirituality and his
personal acquaintance with the Commander-in-Chief all for the welfare of
the men in the service. Assiduous in his personal devotions, definite in
his personal preaching, when he turned to his duties as Senior Chaplain
he simply forgot his own affiliations in the interest of all religions
alike. Catholic and Protestant had equal faith in the impartiality and
justice of his acts. He was especially careful in behalf of the Jewish
men because he knew that they were a minority and might otherwise be
neglected. The official orders and the detailed arrangements for the
various holydays were a serious consideration with him. His spirit
animated his entire staff. Chaplain Voorsanger felt it from the outset.
Chaplain Paul D. Moody, Bishop Brent's assistant in the chaplains'
office at General Headquarters, was animated by it equally with his
chief. Chaplain Moody, a son of the great evangelist and now in one of
the important Presbyterian churches in New York City, was fond of
telling how the various commanding officers would often greet him as
"Father" or "Bishop."

It is hardly surprising that such coöperation strengthened men in
loyalty to their own faith. As the soldiers saw the military rank of all
the chaplains and their influence everywhere in the interests of the
men, as they saw men of other faiths coming to their chaplain because of
his loved personality or his high standing, as they saw the official
bulletins announcing religious services of different faiths at different
hours but under the same auspices, they grew to respect themselves and
their own faith a little more. A young man is likely to be defiant or
apologetic about being religious unless he sees religion, including
_his_ religion, respected by his comrades and his commanding officers.
Therefore this mutual service, instead of weakening the religious
consciousness of the various groups, rather strengthened it. Men grew to
respect themselves more as they respected others more; they became
stronger in their own faith as they became more understanding of others.
The five chaplains at the burial detail did not give up their own ideas,
but they did learn more about the others' faiths, and they certainly
learned to respect each other profoundly as workers, as ministers and as
men. Thus our mutual friendship and our mutual help became the
foundation of all our efforts for the men, religious, personal and
military. We did our work together as parts of one church, the United
States Army.

This situation was brought out in strong relief for me when I met in Le
Mans a young French priest, who had served as chaplain in an army
hospital through most of the war. He was overcome with astonishment when
I told him that, while the majority of the men in our army were
Protestant, the Senior Chaplain of the area at that time was a Catholic
priest. I had to go into considerable detail, explaining that in some
organizations the head was a Protestant, and in one division a Jew.
Finally he grasped it, with the remark, "_C'est la liberté_." As a
Frenchman it was hard for him to understand the kind of religious
liberty which means coöperation and friendship. In France religious
liberty is based on hostility and intolerance of religion. Religious
liberty there means liberty for the irreligious and consequent
limitation of the liberty of the religious. On the other hand, religion
there has meant historically, the domination of one religion and the
curtailment of liberty. It is a peculiar view, which is paralleled among
French Jewry also. Active and interested Jews have little interest in
modernism, even in modern methods of religious education; French Jews
who are interested in the world to-day have little interest in Judaism.

We who served together in the United States Army have a different ideal.
We think of a religion which gives equal freedom to all other types of
piety, which works equally with men of every faith in the double cause
of country and morality, which does not give up its own high faith but
sees equally the common weal of all humanity, to be served by men of
many faiths. We have fixed our gaze upon religion in action, and have
found that the things which divide us are chiefly matters of theory,
which do not impede our working effectively together. It needs but the
same enthusiasm for the constant and increasing welfare of all God's
creatures to carry unity in action of all religious liberals into the
general life of America, to give us not merely religious toleration, but
religious helpfulness.



CHAPTER X

THE RELIGION OF THE JEWISH SOLDIER


Much has been written of the soldier's religion, most of it consisting
of theoretical treatises of how the soldier ought to feel and act,
written by highly philosophic gentlemen in their studies at home or by
journalistic travelers who had taken a hurried trip to France and
enjoyed a brief view of the trenches. The soldier himself was
inarticulate on the subject of his own soul and only the soldier really
knew. Here and there one finds a genuine human document, like Donald
Hankey's "Student in Arms," which gave the average reaction of a
thinking man subjected to the trials and indignities of the private
soldier in war-time, in words far above those the average soldier could
have used. Theorizing about the soldier was worse than useless; it often
brought results so directly opposite to the facts that the soldier
himself would have been immensely amused to see them.

As a matter of fact, the soldier had the average mind and faith of the
young American, with its grave lapses and its profound sources of power.
He was characterized by inquiry rather than certainty, by desire rather
than belief. His mind was restless, keen, eager; it had little
background or stability. It was dominated by the mind of the mass, so
that educated men had identical habits of mind with the ignorant on
problems of army life. The moral standards of the soldier were a direct
outgrowth of the morals of sport and business rather than those of the
church. He had a sense of fair play, of dealing with men as men, but no
feeling whatever of divine commandments or of universal law.

A significant incident, bringing out the peculiar ideals of the soldier,
is related by Judge Ben Lindsey in his book, "The Doughboy's Religion."
He tells how a number of Y. M. C. A. secretaries conducted
questionnaires at various times as to what three sins the soldiers
considered most serious and what three virtues the most important,
hoping to elicit a reply that the most reprehensible sins were drink,
gambling and sexual vice. But hardly a soldier mentioned these three.
The men were practically unanimous in selecting as the most grievous
sin, cowardice and the greatest virtue, courage; as second, selfishness
and its correlative virtue, self-sacrifice; and as third, pride, the
holier-than-thou attitude, with its virtue, modesty. The result, to one
who knew the soldier, would have been a foregone conclusion.

The soldier was honest, he gave no cut-and-dried answers but his own
full opinion, based upon the circumstances of his own life. At the front
courage is actually the most important attribute of manhood and
cowardice the unforgivable sin. One coward can at any moment imperil the
lives of his entire unit by crying out in surprise on a night patrol, by
deserting his post as sentinel or gas guard, by infecting with the
spirit of panic the weaker men who follow any contagious example.
Selfishness likewise was more than serious; it was vital. The selfish
man was one who ate more than his share of the scanty rations on the
march, who did not carry his full pack but had to be helped by others,
who was first in line at the canteen but last to volunteer for
disagreeable duty. Pride, on the other hand, was not dangerous but
merely irritating in the extreme to an army of civilians, of Americans
with the spirit of equal citizens, who felt that they were doing
everything for their country and resented equally the autocratic and the
patronizing manner. Besides the soldier saw examples of these his
highest virtues about him constantly. Courage became a commonplace;
self-sacrifice an everyday matter. Officers often shared the discomforts
and exceeded the dangers of their men. When one reads the accounts of
citations for the D. S. C. and Medal of Honor, one wonders that human
beings could do such things. And when we who were at the front recall
the utter democracy of those days, how salutes and formality of every
kind were forgotten while only leadership based on personality could
prevail, we realize anew the emphasis of the soldier on modesty and his
resentment of the attitude of many a civilian and even a few military
men in patronizing him either as a common soldier or as a miserable
sinner.

As to religious tendencies, the soldier had, first and foremost, hope.
He looked forward to better things both for himself and for the world.
He had the religious longing and the religious certainty that the future
will witness the dawning of a better day. He had a vast respect for
manhood, though his democracy did not go so far as to include other
nations, whom he very largely despised on account of their "queerness"
and his own ignorance. He had an abiding hatred for anything which
smacked in the slightest degree of hypocrisy or "bluff." I mention this
in my next chapter in connection with preaching to soldiers, but
preaching was not the only field in which it applied. The soldier laid
an inordinate value upon personal participation in front line work,
ignoring the orders which necessarily kept the major part of the A. E.
F. in back area work, in supply, repair, or training duty. I know of one
chaplain, for example, who joined a famous fighting division shortly
after the armistice, through no fault of his own but because he had been
previously detailed to other duty, and who found his service there full
of obstacles through the suspicion of the men--because he who was
preaching to them had not been under fire when they were. Of course,
this worked favorably for those of us whom the boys had personally seen
under fire at the first aid post or in the trenches.

This very respect for deeds and suspicion of words, especially of polite
or eloquent words, made for suspicion of the churches and churchmen. We
had so pitifully few chaplains to a division, and some of them were
necessarily assigned to hospitals in the rear. Only here and there did a
Y. M. C. A. or K. of C. secretary go with the men under fire. True, they
had nothing to do there, as there was no canteen or entertainment hut at
the front; true, strict orders forbade their entering certain territory
or going over the top. The soldier asked not of orders or duties; he
knew only that this man, who in many cases seemed to consider himself
superior, who preached and taught and organized, had not slept night
after night in the rain, had not fallen prone in the mud to dodge the
flying missiles, had not lived on one cold meal a day or had to carry
rations on his shoulder that he and his comrades might enjoy their
scanty fare.

Therefore the soldier cared little for creeds of any kind. He could not
apply any particular dogmas to the unique circumstances in which he
found himself--he had probably never applied them to any great extent
even in the more commonplace circumstances of peace--and he was
suspicious of many of those who attempted to apply them for him. The
soldier needed religion; he wanted God; he cared very little for
churches, creeds or churchmen.

In most characteristics the Jewish soldier was one with his Christian
brothers. He differed only in those special facts or ideas which showed
a different home environment or a different tradition. For example, the
usual Christian minister used the word, "atonement" with a special
meaning which was understood, if not accepted, by every Christian
present, but which meant nothing whatever to the Jew, except through the
very different association with the Day of Atonement. So any analysis of
the religion of the Christian soldier would begin with his attitude
toward the atonement, but with the Jewish soldier this must be
omitted--he had no attitude at all. The Jewish soldier was guided by the
same general facts in his attitude toward the Jewish religion which
animated the Christian soldier in his attitude toward the Christian
religion; the difference was largely that of the religion which they
considered rather than of the men themselves.

Of course, it was hard to be a good Jew in the army. The dietary laws
were impossible of fulfillment, and the Talmudic permission to violate
them in case of warfare meant less to the average soldier than the fact
that he was breaking them. The Sabbath could not be kept at all, even in
rest areas where there was no immediate danger to life. No soldier could
disobey an order to work on the Sabbath; if the work was there, the
soldier had to do it. In many ways Judaism was difficult and
Christianity just as difficult. For example, I know of one division
where the Passover service was held under difficulties, as the unit was
about to move, and where the Easter service had the same handicap, as
the men had just finished moving and were not yet established in their
new quarters. Most of the obstacles to religious observance were common
to all religions.

A few Jews denied or concealed their religion in the army as elsewhere.
Some few enlisted under assumed names; a number denied their Judaism and
avoided association with Jews, perhaps fearing the anti-Semitism which
they had heard was rife in military circles. Their fear was groundless
and their deception, as a rule, deceived nobody. The American army as it
was organized during the war had no place for prejudice of any kind.
Efficiency was the watchword; the best man was almost invariably
promoted; in all my experience abroad I have never seen a clear case of
anti-Semitism among higher officers and only seldom in the ranks.
Occasionally also I met the type of Jew who admitted his origin but had
no interest in his religion. Such a one--a lieutenant--who was known as
a friend of the enlisted men generally and especially of the Jewish
ones, assisted me greatly in arranging for the services for the fall
holydays, but did not attend those services himself. He represented the
type now fortunately becoming rarer in our colleges, the men who have
too much pride to deny their origin but too little Jewish knowledge to
benefit by it. It is noteworthy that this particular man was stationed
in the S. O. S. and had at that time never been at the front. Most men
turn toward religion under the stress of battle; those who have never
been in battle presented in certain ways a civilian frame of mind.

Most of the Jews in the army were orthodox in background, rather than
either reform or radical. Perhaps the orthodox did not have the
numerical superiority they seemed to possess; in that case I saw them as
the most interested group, the ones who came most gladly to meet the
chaplain. Not that the other two groups were lacking in this army, which
took in practically all the men of twenty-one to thirty-one years in
America. The dominating group, however, was orthodox in background,
though most of them were not orthodox in conviction. Causes are not far
to seek--they had never studied orthodoxy; they were young men and had
few settled religious convictions; they were in the midst of a modern
world where other doctrines were more attractive. The fact is that their
convictions were usually directed toward Zionism rather than toward one
or another form of Judaism itself. Again, they were without reasons for
their interest. Zionism appealed to them simply as a bold, manly, Jewish
ideal; they did not enter into questions either of practicability or of
desirability. In other words, they were young men, not especially
thoughtful, who were interested in Jewish questions only as one of many
phases of their lives. They had their own trend, but were glad to accept
leadership of a certain type, adapted to their own lives and problems.

All these Jewish soldiers welcomed a Jewish chaplain. The Catholics and
Protestants had chaplains, and all Jews except the negligible few who
denied their faith were very glad to be represented also, to have their
religion given official recognition in the army and to see their own
chaplain working under the same authority and along the same lines as
chaplains of other religions. Most of the Jewish soldiers had personal
reasons also to greet a chaplain. In many of the occasions, small and
great, when a Jewish soldier desired advice, aid or friendship, he
preferred a Jewish chaplain to any other person. As a chaplain he had
the influence to take up a case anywhere and the information as to
procedure, while only a Jew can feel and respond to the special
circumstances of the Jewish men. On the other hand, not all Jewish
soldiers were eager to welcome the Jewish Welfare Board although they
all liked it after it had arrived and made good. Some were afraid of any
distinction in these semi-military welfare organizations, feeling that
the two already in the field, the Y. M. C. A. and K. of C., were quite
adequate. The Jewish Welfare Board, however, made such an impression at
once on both Jews and non-Jews that even the doubtful ones became
reconciled and felt that Jewish work in the army was more than justified
by results. As always among Jews, who lay great emphasis on non-Jewish
opinion, one of the chief causes of the popularity among Jews of Jewish
war work was its popularity among Christians. When a Jewish boy found
his building overcrowded by non-Jews, when he had to come early to get a
seat at the picture show among all the Baptists and Catholics, when he
saw Christian boys writing to their parents on J. W. B. stationery, he
thought more of himself and his own organization. This same fact refuted
the argument against segregation; men of all faiths used the J. W. B.
huts, just as they did those of the other welfare organizations. They
were one more facility for men of every religion, even though organized
by Jews and conducted from a Jewish point of view.

In their religious services, as in most other things, the Jewish boys
liked practices which reminded them of home. Just as many of them
enjoyed a Yiddish story at an occasional literary evening, so they all
appreciated the traditional Seder at Passover more than all the shows
and entertainments which were provided at the Passover leave. They
preferred to have many of the prayers in Hebrew, even though I seldom
had a Jewish congregation in the army in which more than one third of
the men understood the Hebrew prayers. They liked the home-like and
familiar tone of the Jewish service on both Sabbaths and festivals. They
preferred to wear their caps at service and to carry out the traditional
custom in all minor matters.

But at the same time they had no objection to changes in traditional
practice. The abbreviated prayerbook of the Jewish Welfare Board was
much appreciated, even though one or two of the boys would state proudly
that they had also a special festival prayerbook. The short service was
practical and the boys therefore preferred it to the longer one of the
synagogue. They understood that, with the large number of non-Jews at
our services and the usual majority of Jews who could not read Hebrew,
it was necessary to read part of the prayers in English. They liked an
English sermon, too, although the chaplain skilled in army methods
always gave a very informal talk, far from the formal sermon of the
synagogue. And when interested they asked questions, often interrupting
the even flow of the sermon but assisting the rabbi and congregation to
an understanding of the problem at issue.

One of the chief characteristics of an army congregation was its
constant desire to participate in the service. The soldiers liked
responsive readings; they preferred sermons with the open forum method;
they were ready to volunteer to usher, to announce the service
throughout the unit, or for any job from moving chairs to chanting the
service. At the Passover services at Le Mans, we had all the volunteers
necessary among the crowd for everything from "K. P." (kitchen police)
to assist in preparing the dinner to an excellent reader for the
prophetic portion. The services meant more to the soldiers as they
became their own.

Another characteristic of services in the army was the large number of
non-Jews attending them. I have come to a Y. M. C. A. on a Sunday
morning directly after the Protestant chaplain, when most of his
congregation joined me, and my group in consequence was nine-tenths
non-Jewish. At first this factor was a source of embarrassment to many
of the Jewish men. They came to me beforehand to whisper that a few
non-Jews were present, but I took it as a matter of course, having
learned my lesson with my first service in France. Later even the most
self-conscious of Jews accepted the presence of non-Jews at a Jewish
service just as Christians expect those of other denominations than
their own. When Jewish services often have from ten to eighty per cent.
of non-Jews in attendance, the Jewish soldiers are doubly glad to have a
partially English service and a sermon. They want the Christians to
respect their religion as they do their own, an end usually very easy of
attainment. And while a few Jews would have preferred to drop the
special Jewish characteristics of our service, I have never heard a
critical word from a Christian about our wearing our hats, our Hebrew
prayers, and the rest. Often, in fact, I have had to answer respectful
questions, giving the sort of information which broadens both sides and
makes for general tolerance.

At the front, even the most thoughtless desired some sort of a personal
religion. In the midst of the constant danger to life and limb, seeing
their comrades about them dead and wounded, with life reduced to the
minimum of necessities and the few elemental problems, men were forced
to think of the realities of life and death. With these eternal
questions forced upon them, the great majority must always turn to
religion. The men _prayed_ at the front. They wanted safety and they
felt the need of God. After a battle they were eager to offer thanks for
their own safety and to say the memorial prayers for their friends who
had just laid down their lives. Perhaps the most religious congregation
I have ever had was the little group of men who gathered together under
the trees after the great battle at the Hindenburg Lane. The impressions
of the conflict had not yet worn off. The men were, in a way, uplifted
by their terrific experiences. And the words they spoke there of their
fallen comrades were infinitely touching. The appeal of a memorial
prayer was so profound in the army that many of the Protestant chaplains
followed the Episcopal and Catholic custom and prayed for the dead
although their own churches do not generally follow the custom.

But with all this deep yearning for personal religion, the men adopted
fatalism as their prevalent philosophy. For one thing, it seemed to
answer the immediate facts the best. When five men are together in a
shell hole and a bursting shell kills three of them and leaves the two
unharmed, all our theories seem worthless. When one man, volunteering
for a dangerous duty, comes back only slightly gassed, while another
left at headquarters is killed at his dinner by long distance fire, men
wonder. And when they must face conditions like this day after day,
never knowing their own fate from minute to minute, only sure that they
are certain to be killed if they stay at the front long enough, they
become fatalists sooner or later. As the soldiers used to say, "If my
number isn't on that shell, it won't get me." I argued against fatalism
many times with the soldiers, but I found when it came my own turn to
live under fire day after day that a fatalistic attitude was the most
convenient for doing one's duty under the constantly roaring menace, and
I fear that--with proper philosophic qualifications--for the time being,
I was as much of a fatalist as the rest.

At the rear the personal need for religion was less in evidence. The
men who had gone through the fire were not untouched by the flame, and
gave some evidence of it from time to time. The men who had not been at
the front, who comprised the majority in back areas, had no touch of
that feeling. They all shared in the yearning for home and the things of
home and for Judaism as the religion of home, for the traditional
service of the festivals, for the friendship, ministrations and
assistance of the chaplain. Judaism meant more to them in a strange
land, amid an alien people, living the hard and unlovely life of the
common soldier, than it ever did at home when the schul was just around
the corner and the careless youth had seldom entered it. The lonely
soldier longed for Judaism as the religion of home just as under fire he
longed for comfort from the living God. And the military approval of all
religions on the same plane, the recognition by the non-Jewish
authorities of his festivals and his services, gave Judaism a standing
in his eyes which it had lacked when only the older people of his own
family ever paid much attention to religion. Thus Judaism as an
institution, as the religion of home, had a great place in the heart of
the soldier in France.

Some of the men, especially at the first, felt that they were being
neglected by the Jews of America, that our effort was not commensurate
with that which the Christian denominations were making to care for the
soldiers of their faiths. We must admit sadly that they had some
justification for such a view. Our representatives arrived in France
late though not at all too late for splendid results. American Jewry was
almost criminally slow in caring for our hundred thousand boys in
service abroad. A few of the soldiers carried this complaint even to
the point of bitterness and estrangement from Judaism. Here and there I
met an enlisted man who challenged Jewry as negligent. Usually these
were not our most loyal or interested Jews, but they were Jews and
should not have been neglected. The men who entertained real loyalty to
their faith were usually active already in some minor way and ready to
coöperate with the Jewish Welfare Board when it was in a position to
back them up. Most of the men, however, were eager to forgive as in a
family quarrel as soon as our welfare workers arrived in France and
showed immediate accomplishment.

Our Jewish boys came back from overseas with certain new knowledge of
life and new valuation of their religion. Beginning merely as average
young men in their twenties, they acquired the need and appreciation of
their ancestral faith, though not in a conventional sense. They are not
to-day reform Jews in the sense of adherents of a reform theology;
neither are they orthodox in the sense of complete and consistent
observance. They have felt the reality of certain truths in Judaism, the
comfort it brings to the dying and the mourner, the touch of home when
one celebrates the festivals in a foreign land, the real value of Jewish
friends, a Jewish minister, a Jewish club to take the place of the home
they missed over there. That is, Judaism means more to them both as a
longing and an institution.

But not all the things which we customarily associate with Judaism have
this appeal to them. Some seem to them matters of complete
indifference, and the usual emphasis on the wrong thing makes them feel
that the synagogue at home is out of sympathy with their new-found
yearning. If we give them what we consider good for them, they will take
nothing. If we give them what they want--the religion of God, of home,
of service--and with all three terms defined as they have seen and felt
them, then they will prove the great constructive force in the synagogue
of to-morrow. The Jewish soldier had religion; if he was at the front,
he has had the personal desire for God; in any case he has felt the
longing for the religion of home. He was often proud of his fellow Jews,
sometimes of his Judaism. He did heroic acts gladly, feeling the added
impetus to do them because he must not disgrace the name of Jew.
_Kiddush ha Shem_, sanctification of the name of God, was the impelling
motive of many a wearer of the D. S. C., though he may never have heard
the term. The recognition by church and synagogue of the world-shaking
events of the war must be accompanied by an equal recognition of the
influence of war on the minds and hearts of the men who engaged in it,
and for whom those world-shaking events have become a part of their very
being.



CHAPTER XI

PREACHING TO SOLDIERS


Preaching to soldiers, as I soon learned, was a very different thing
from addressing a civilian congregation. The very appearance of the
group and place was odd to a minister from civil life--young men in
olive drab, sitting on the rough benches of a welfare hut or grouped
about in a comfortable circle on the grass of a French pasture. The
group was homogeneous to an extent elsewhere impossible, as all were
men, all were young, and all were engaged in the same work and had the
same interests. The congregation and the preaching became specialized;
the work became narrower but more directly applicable to the individual
than in civil life. The soldiers had unusual experiences and interests
as their common background; their needs were different from those of any
group of civilians, in or out of a church or synagogue. They were
soldiers and had to be understood and approached as such.

The circumstances of our services were never twice the same. I have led
groups in worship in huts of the Y. M. C. A., K. of C., and J. W. B.; in
châteaux, army offices, and barns; yes, and out of doors in the rain. I
have come to a Y. M. C. A. and found it full, taking my group for an
announced service to the stage and lowering the curtain for privacy.
Once, in a great brick building used by the "Y," I found the place
occupied by a miscellaneous crowd of a thousand men, reading, writing,
playing checkers, lined up at the canteen for candy and cigarettes. My
services had been announced and my fifty men were present, some of them
after a five-mile walk. The secretary in charge and I walked about to
find a vacant spot and finally found one, the prize ring. So I called
for attention, announced my service, and held it in the prize ring, with
my men seated on benches in the ring itself. The non-Jews near by
stopped their reading or writing to listen to the little sermon, so that
my actual audience was considerably larger than my group of worshipers.

I remember one week-day evening when I came to a J. W. B. hut in a camp
near Le Mans for an announced service only to find the place packed to
the doors. On inquiry, for such a crowd was unprecedented in this
particular camp, I found that a minstrel show had been unexpectedly
obtained and was to run later in the evening. So, while the actors were
making up behind the curtain, I held forth in front, and when the show
was announced as ready, a couple of Irish soldiers and a Swede pushed to
one side and made a little room for me in the front row.

This very informality and friendliness of spirit meant, first of all,
that one could not "preach" to soldiers in any case. They were
intolerant of preaching. They did not want to be preached to. They
wanted "straight goods, right from the shoulder." They wanted deeds more
than words, or at least words which were simple and direct, of the
force of deeds. One who knew soldiers had to _talk_ to them, not preach.
The more informal, the more direct, the more effective. A good sermon
would often miss fire completely before an audience of soldiers when a
good talk would wake them up and stir them. Informality, simplicity,
knowledge of the soldier and his needs were the best qualities with
which to approach the enlisted man, especially when he was or had been
in the actual fighting and thus acquired a new sense of perspective. The
strongest hatred of the fighting man was directed toward sham of
whatever type, and he exerted that prejudice without any fine sense of
discrimination against anything that seemed to him pretentious or
hollow. The danger of pretense or dishonesty in the trench or on a
patrol seemed to have entered into the whole mentality of the soldier.
He distrusted the brilliant orator, who found more difficulty in winning
him over than did the simpler and more direct type of speaker. He was
certain to prick the bubble of a poseur at once, and was more than
suspicious of anything which even hinted at pose or pretense.

For one thing, the material had to be concrete, the sort of thing the
soldier knew. Jew and non-Jew were very nearly the same in the army,
with certain minor differences of background. And hardly ever did one
have an audience composed overwhelmingly of Jews; there was always a
large admixture of others in any army audience, even when a Jewish
service had been announced. Now, as to background and memories, our army
was too mixed to rely on them for much material. When the chaplain
spoke of home, the soldier might think of a tenement home or a
ranch-house or a mountaineer's cottage. Certainly, only a few would ever
have the same picture as the chaplain. When he spoke of foreigners, he
might be addressing a group composed largely of Poles, Italians and
Irish, who entertained very different ideas of what a foreigner might
be, but would all consider our old Southern population, white and black,
as foreign.

The only common ground of all soldiers was the army. The men knew work,
discipline, war. They did not regard these things as an officer would,
and a wise preacher found out their attitude in detail whenever he
could. But this was concrete material, common to them all. They all
hated to be under authority, but had nevertheless learned the lesson of
discipline for practical purposes. They were fascinated by fighting, but
feared it and preferred it, on the whole, to the tedium of peace. They
found a greater monotony in army drill than in any other one thing in
the world. They were brave when occasion arose. They had seen their
friends drop dead at their side and had mourned and buried them. They
had seen comrades promoted, now by favoritism, now by ability, and held
a mixed feeling of ambition and of dislike for responsibility and the
drudgery of thinking for themselves. They had problems of conduct,
problems of morale, problems of vision, and they welcomed any discussion
of their own problems in their own language, while despising infinitely
the man who made a mistake in military terminology or showed lack of
knowledge of the army. Their knowledge and their interest was narrow
but keen, and one was compelled to meet the soldier on his own ground to
interest or influence him.

This concrete material of the soldier's daily life had to be presented
to him in his own language--minus the profanity which was all too common
and meaningless in the average soldier's vocabulary. Here again the
soldier proved a unique audience. With all his quickness to grasp an
idea, his lightning sense of humor, his immediate sense of reality and
recognition of fact, he had in many cases the vocabulary of a
ten-year-old child. Many of our soldiers were from the mine, the farm,
the sweatshop. Many of them learned English from the daily papers; many
from their semi-literate companions. A few hundred very simple English
words and plenty of army slang were the chief reliance of the preacher,
and other expressions had to be defined as one went along. One did not
need to "talk down" to the soldier in ideas--he could leap past a course
of argument to a sure conclusion in any field within his experience--but
the language was necessarily the language of the soldier for either full
comprehension or complete sympathy.

Of course, the average soldier, Jew or non-Jew, had no homiletic
background; he was not a frequent listener to sermons in civil life. In
many cases the men admitted that they had never been in a church in
their lives. Many of the Jewish boys had not been to a synagogue for
years, and when they had gone many of them had attended an orthodox
service where they had not understood a single word of the Hebrew
service. Therefore the language of the Bible meant literally nothing to
them without paraphrasing, except where it came very close to modern
speech. Therefore also the cant phrases of the pulpit or of the public
speaker generally had no meaning whatever to their minds, favorable or
the reverse. They left the soldiers completely untouched. Thus the best
civilian sermon may have been meaningless to a group of soldiers, while
a direct talk, even a sort of conversation with the audience, was of
real benefit to them. For there was no formality about an army audience.
If one made the mildest joke, the boys laughed out. If one "paused for a
reply," the reply was apt to come in loud and unmistakable tones. In a
talk to a group about to return home, for example, I remarked, "I
suppose you'll all reënlist in the National Guard when you get mustered
out," only to be greeted by an immediate chorus of groans. If the
soldiers were interested, they interrupted with questions; if
uninterested, they frankly got up and left the room. They gave more than
the cold decorum of a church; they gave a living response; they talked
with and thought with the preacher. But the type of decorum one found in
a church or temple was utterly beyond them. Their response was better,
but different in its very activity.

Certainly, there were different audiences even among soldiers. I know of
one preacher who traveled about France with a great speech on courage
which fell utterly flat on a certain occasion. He had made the mistake
of speaking on courage to a group of men from the Service of Supply,
whose chief contribution to the war had been carrying cases of canned
salmon and repairing roads. A certain chaplain had a battalion of recent
immigrants mustered for a service before going into battle, only to be
privately cursed afterward in the five languages spoken by the boys he
had addressed. For he had made those boys give up their short period of
rest to talk to them of home and mother, to make them think of the dear
ones they were trying to forget, to put before them the one thought that
was most likely to unnerve them for the terrible task ahead!

It was just as great a mistake to preach about sacrifice after a battle.
In battle sacrifice was the most common thing; ordinary men rose to
heights of heroism to save their "buddies" or to assist in the advance.
The high courage of self-sacrifice became familiar. Preaching
self-sacrifice to these men was useless--for Christian as well as Jew.
They had seen stretcher bearers shot down while carrying their precious
burdens to the rear. They had seen officers killed while getting their
men under shelter. They had seen the gas guard, as a part of his daily
duty, risk the most horrible of deaths in order to give the alarm for
his comrades. Such men responded to an appeal on the divine in man, on
the brotherhood of all those heroes about them, on Americanism, on a
hundred congenial themes; they did not see the cogency of an appeal to
sacrifice.

The profound friendships and violent dislikes of the soldier have been
often noticed. His fidelity to his "buddy," to any popular officer, to
his company and regiment, stand out as part of his vigorous, boyish
outlook. On the other hand, a swiftly acquired prejudice would go with
him forever in the face of many facts and much argument to the
contrary. The relative standing of the Y. M. C. A. and the Salvation
Army among the men is a case in point. The Young Men's Christian
Association was by far the largest war work organization which worked
among the mass of the soldiers, as the Red Cross confined its activities
largely to hospitals and related fields. It was a wide-spread
organization, covering practically every unit and almost every type of
activity, religious, athletic, entertainment, canteen. But the soldier,
while using the Y. M. C. A., disliked it. The Salvation Army, a very
small organization in both amount and scope of work, which I never saw
in action because I did not happen to be in the limited sector it
covered, was, however, popular if only by hearsay in every part of the
great army. Now, the soldier had very real grievances against the "Y."
It charged him more for its tobacco than did the quartermaster's store;
it gave away very little, while other organizations, not burdened with
the canteen, gave away a great deal; it had a certain proportion of
misfits, men who did not belong in any military work, who considered
themselves better than the common soldier and did not share his trials
or his viewpoint.

These facts were all explained later; some of them were inevitable. The
presence of a board of inquiry in the army testified that the caliber
even of army officers was not always what it should have been. The
canteen had been undertaken by the Y. M. C. A. at the request of the
army authorities, who desired to be relieved of the tremendous burden,
and its prices were determined by cost plus transportation, which latter
item was not included by the quartermaster's stores. The tremendous rush
of the last six months of the war made the task too great for any of
the organizations in the field, including sometimes even the
quartermaster's corps. But after the prejudice had been conceived it
could not be shaken. It persisted in spite of excuses, in spite of
remedies for some of the evils, in spite of the excellent work which the
Y. M. C. A. did in the leave areas. I have mentioned its activities in
Nice, Monte Carlo, and Grenoble, how it provided the enlisted man with
free entertainment,--excursions, dances and shows, during his entire
period on leave. This striking contribution to the morale and the
pleasure of the forces was almost overlooked in the general criticism.
On the other hand, nobody ever heard the enthusiastic doughboy mention a
mistake made by the more limited forces of the Salvation Army, which
therefore received more than adequate commendation for its really
effective work.

A similar violent contrast existed in the soldier's attitude toward the
British and colonial soldiers, especially the Australians. The doughboy
liked the "Ausies"; he despised the "Tommie." The usual phrase was: "Oh,
well, the 'Tommies' are all right to hold the line, but it takes the
'Ausies' to make a push." This was strictly untrue, according to the
terrific fighting we ourselves witnessed on the British front. It was
simply that the Australians were all volunteers, young and dashing, like
the pioneers of the western plains, the precursors of our own men. They
were independent, lawless and aggressive. The British whom we knew were
the survivors of four years of warfare, veterans of many a campaign in
the field and siege in the hospital, or older men, the last draft of the
manhood of Great Britain. No wonder our boys liked the "Ausies" and
refused to see any good whatever in that very different species of men,
the "Tommies."

So the soldier was an exacting but a grateful audience. He emphasized
deeds rather than words, and therefore he was much easier of approach
for his own chaplain, who was under the same regulations as he, who went
with him to the front and tended the wounded and the dead under fire,
than for the most eloquent or the most illustrious of civilian
preachers. He conceived violent likings and equally violent prejudices,
always based upon some sort of reason but usually carried beyond a
reasonable degree. He had to be approached on his own ground, with
material from his own experience, with language which he could
understand. And when that was done, he was the most thankful audience in
the world. He thought with the speaker, responded to him, aided him. As
an audience he was either the most friendly and helpful in the world or
the most disappointing. But that depended on the speaker and the
audience being in harmony, knowing and liking each other. A man who knew
and loved the soldier could work with him and help him in achieving
great results, for the American soldier, though the most terrible enemy,
was also the best friend in the world.



CHAPTER XII

MORALE AND MORALS


No thorough scientific study of the problem of morale has ever been
made, in either military or civilian life. Every one is familiar with
many of its manifestations, but very few have gone into their causes
except incidentally to the practical needs of the moment. That was the
case in the A. E. F., where both chaplains and line officers were deeply
concerned in the morale of our troops, at first as fighting forces and
after the armistice as citizens and representatives of America abroad.
We tried this and that expedient, some good and some bad. Often we
neglected the very act which was most essential. Often we did nothing
whatever until it was too late. Unit commanders, chaplains, and even G.
H. Q. were alike forced to employ empirical, trial-and-error methods
instead of a fundamental, scientific approach. The only apology for this
situation is that we went into the army with certain equipment which did
not include a rounded view of mass psychology, and that this same
ignorance is universal in civil life as well. A competent investigator
would probably detect the same errors in similar social organizations of
our young men in civil life which were so painfully obvious in the army.
This brief chapter is by no means intended to take the place of such a
scientific study; it may serve as material for one, and in addition may
provide certain facts of importance in themselves.

Morale in the army represented two distinct problems, the front line and
the rear. The former demanded high tension, the necessity of unified and
instantaneous action. The latter demanded steadiness in daily duties,
training, drill and study, the same qualities needed by the worker in
civil life but under unusual circumstances. And between the two there
was a gap, because the let-down from the one type of morale might
result, not in the other type, but in no morale at all. The good soldier
in camp might be a very poor soldier at the front, where different
qualities were required; the man who would win his decoration at the
front for reckless bravery was often the worst soldier in camp, judging
by the number of punishments for the infraction of minor rules of
discipline. There is the case, for example, of the former gunman who won
his D. S. C. for the very qualities which had formerly sent him to
prison. Even the best of soldiers, at both front and rear, had to
withstand a serious mental shock when he passed from one of these
situations to the other, and especially when he retired into a rest area
after a hard spell in the trenches.

In the American army front-line morale was by far the easier type to
maintain. In some other armies, I was told, the opposite was the case,
but the average American boy makes a good fighting soldier with far less
strain than it takes to turn him into a good barracks or training-camp
soldier. His is the dash, the courage, the spirit of "Let's go!"; he is
more likely to lack the sense of subordination, of instant obedience to
orders, which constitutes the first essential of a good soldier in the
rear. The object of morale at the front is action--instant, unified,
aggressive, with every nerve and muscle strained to the utmost toward
the one end. The means of this type of morale is confidence. The good
soldier thinks that he belongs to the best company in the best division
in any army in the world; that his officers are the ablest, his comrades
the most loyal, his own soldierly qualities at least on a par with the
best. Each division was firmly convinced that its own battles won the
war, while the others merely helped. None of them would give the French
and British credit for more than adequate assistance, ignoring
completely their years of struggle before we even entered the conflict.
But this sort of self-centered confidence was the characteristic of the
good soldier, the man who would follow his captain in any attack,
however desperate, who never looked whether his comrades were coming but
went ahead in calm certainty that they would be even with him. One hint
of wavering or doubt would break up this high steadiness of spirit, but
as long as it held the men who possessed it would fight on in the face
of seemingly insuperable difficulties.

I have mentioned the situation of the 27th Division from October 17th to
21st, 1918, how they entered the attack with depleted numbers, tired in
body and mind, after insufficient rest and with no fresh replacements.
Day after day their dearest wish was that their relief might come and
they might enjoy the often promised rest. They had seen their comrades
killed and wounded until a regiment had only the normal number of men
to equip a company. Yet day after day the orders came for an advance,
and every day those tired boys advanced. They did what we all considered
impossible because they had the morale of good fighting men. They bore
the ever-present danger of bursting shells and the sniper's bullet with
boyish daring and constant success. They labored harder than any worker
in civilian life, sleeping in the rain, marching, carrying their heavy
rifles and packs made mercifully light for the occasion, digging in the
clinging clay of the Somme valley. This, too, they did not gladly, often
not willingly, but because it was part of the game, and they were good
sportsmen and would see it through.

The peril to morale at the front was nerves. Although it may be hard to
conceive, the dashing, aggressive soldiers might fall before this
danger. Aggravated cases, true neuroses, we called "shell shock,"
slighter ones, "nerves," but the two were the same. The constant noise,
exertion, hard work, loss of sleep, undernourishment, produced a
peculiar mental state. Above all, the high nervous tension which was
necessary for men to persist in these conditions had its dangers, too.
By reason of it the wounded were able to bear more than their ordinary
share of suffering, so that we saw constant examples of stoicism at the
front. But when the excitement and tension wore off its effect was lost,
and in base hospitals the soldiers were no better patients than young
men in civilian life. When overburdened nerves gave way, the soldier was
completely lost. A chaplain has told me of a long night spent with a
patrol in front of the lines, not talking with the men but instead
trying to hold the top sergeant to his post. The sergeant was a fine
soldier, with a splendid record all through the Meuse-Argonne campaign,
but that night, in the long vigil, his nerves had given way and the big,
stolid soldier was trembling with fear. Only constant persuasion and the
threat of force held him to his duty, and the next day he had to be
assigned to work as supply sergeant in order to save the nightly patrol
from panic that would certainly come if the non-com. in command failed
them.

The soldier had a mixed feeling toward battle. The shock of conflict is
exciting and exerts a sort of fascination. But the excitement was short
while the danger was omnipresent and the work could never be escaped.
The soldier regarded war as a sort of deadly game, where the contest
called forth every energy and the stakes were life itself. But battle
contains another factor--a compound of work and discomfort. War is nine
parts sordid labor to one of glorious action. It was mixed with cooties,
mud, sleeping in the rain, marching all night and lying down under
artillery fire. It included digging, and the soldier found no more
romance in digging in at the front than in digging a ditch at home,
except that under fire he dug considerably faster. War involved carrying
a pack, and that became speedily the pet hatred of the enlisted man. As
the prisoner dreads the cell in which he is confined, so the infantryman
feels toward his pack clinging with its eighty-odd pounds as he trudges
along the weary roads. War is a glorious memory now, but it was neither
glorious nor pleasant to live through.

When the troops retired for rest and training, the problem of morale
became reversed at once. Now it became a matter of discipline and drill.
Instead of danger and discomfort, our trials were work and monotony. A
high type of morale in the rear meant that the men were not absent
without leave, that they worked hard at their drill and became automatic
in its motions, that they obeyed every rule of discipline, large and
small. Saluting, for example, was very important at the rear; we never
once thought of it at the front. This régime was not always easy, though
at first we could hold out the object of winning the war, as in the
pamphlet on sex education, "Fit to Fight." After the war was over that
object no longer remained. But the hard work remained, the kitchen
police, the cleaning up of quarters, the carrying of the pack, the
incessant drill. "Squads east and west," when the fighting was at an end
and there was no direct use for maneuvers, seemed to the soldiers simply
made work. In fact, much of the work imposed on them during this period
was actually devised with the special object of keeping them busy and
therefore out of mischief.

The peril of this situation was obvious. It was that the tedium might
grow too great and the men yield to the temptations of drink, gambling
and vice. These would result in disorder, insubordination, time lost
from duty, venereal disease,--any number of possible evils. They would
demoralize a unit at the rear as readily as nerves would demoralize it
at the front. Sexual vice and sexual disease, while statistically not so
great in the army as among the same age groups in civil life, was still
serious. The different social system of France put temptation directly
in the way; prostitution was open and licensed, and the women of the
streets quick to accost the wealthy foreigners, whose dollar a day was
so much greater than the pay of the French soldier. At the same time,
the French girls of good family did not meet strange soldiers, dance
with them, talk to them, as was done in the States. Their whole
conception of good breeding and of marriage combined to forbid any
contact except in the rare case of a proper introduction into the French
home. Courteous in showing the stranger his way or telling him the time
of day, the average Frenchman was in no hurry to introduce foreign
soldiers into his family circle unless he had certificates or personal
introductions to the particular soldiers. At home the soldier had been
lionized from the time of his enlistment until his leaving for overseas.
He had been entertained, fed, provided with dances, shows and automobile
rides. The daughters of rich and cultivated families tended canteen or
danced with the soldiers. But in France the daughter of a good family
went out only with a man she knew, and then strictly chaperoned. Even
when she knew a man personally, a respectable girl would hardly think of
walking down the street with him.

This seclusion of respectable French girls and the conspicuousness of
the loose element made many soldiers hold a light opinion of the virtue
of French women generally. I remember an argument with one of the boys
who had just stated that all French girls were careless in their morals.
When pinned down to particulars, he admitted that he had met exactly
three French girls beside those who had accosted him on the street. Two
had been sisters, at whose home a friend of his had been billeted, and
when he and his friend had wanted to take them to an army vaudeville
their mother had gone along. The third was the daughter of my landlady
at Montfort, a fine rounded peasant type. On this scanty basis he had
formed his typical opinions.

The control of the minutiæ of daily life together with the influence
over the minds of men in the army should have enabled the authorities to
suppress vice almost entirely. Unfortunately, this was never
accomplished. Lectures, severe penalties for disease "incurred not in
line of duty," and liberal provision for "early treatment" all together
did not work the miracle. The prophylactic stations for so-called "early
treatment" directly after exposure were patronized by a number of men,
but never by a very large proportion of the number who were certainly
exposed. The venereal hospitals where sufferers underwent both treatment
and punishment had their full quota from every division which remained
long in back areas, and most divisions left behind as many as two
hundred and fifty men for further treatment after the thorough
inspections preceding their departure for home.

Drink was a less serious, though more prevalent danger. The law had
prevented men in uniform from drinking in the United States; in France
it forbade only their use of spirituous liquors, and even those were
often available. So there was a good deal of beer and wine drinking, and
some of cognac. The last was apt to result in drunkenness and disorder,
but our military authorities had always the power to declare certain
cafés, which had violated regulations, "out of bounds" for Americans,
and as a last resort the French police would close such a place
altogether. Gambling was the most prevalent vice of all, and one which
was never, to my knowledge, controlled anywhere. It lacked gravity in so
far as the soldiers had very little to gamble, and could incur no great
losses. But it was always an easy resort to break the monotony of army
life in training or rest areas, and always a menace to the type of
manhood which we wanted to see among our American fighting men.

The reliance on penalties as the chief mode of controlling young
Americans was fundamentally unsound both in theory and practice. The
warnings against sexual vice lost half their effectiveness because they
were usually given by company officers, who emphasized the danger of
disease and the military penalties rather than the appeal of loyalty or
self-respect. Medical officers and chaplains were certainly better
equipped for such special work, although probably no human being and no
appeal can solve the entire problem.

All these facts came slowly to the fore within the few months following
the armistice, and we were able to observe them very clearly in the 27th
Division while in the Montfort area. While we wintered there, from
November 1918 to February 1919, the morale of our troops, which had
never weakened at the front even under the most terrible conditions,
went down steadily during those three weary months. For one thing, we
were constantly expecting orders to leave for home and constantly
disappointed. We were inspected and reinspected, drilled and drilled
again. Warned not to begin an elaborate program of athletics, education
or amusement, we worked from week to week and never instituted one-third
of the work which we had planned and ready. Meanwhile there was the café
and the danger of vice and drink, so the men were kept drilling through
the winter rains to keep them busy during the day and make them tired at
night. This attempt was neither humane nor possible and had only the
worst effects.

The failure with our division brought the possibility of a constructive
program before the higher command of the army, which inaugurated one
just about the time our division left the area. Large schools were
started in each permanent division in the district, giving both common
school and technical branches, with the army university at Beaune as the
head of the educational structure. Such a school was established in the
Forwarding Camp, near Le Mans, where I saw it in busy operation.
Athletic meets were arranged in each division, with larger ones at Le
Mans and other central points for the best men in the separate units.
More welfare huts of different agencies were established, with more
canteen supplies from the States and more women workers for canteen
service and dances. Each division devoted more attention to its "shows,"
usually a musical comedy troupe, with very clever female impersonators
to make up for the lack of chorus girls. Some of these shows had tours
arranged by the Y. M. C. A. or other agency, and a few of them even had
gala performances in Paris. Regular religious services and other
appointments with the chaplains were instituted and advertised, although
we had always done this for ourselves in our own units. Leave areas
were designated in the most beautiful sections of France, as well as
permission for a few furloughs in Italy and England. The _Stars and
Stripes_, always a valuable organ as the soldiers' newspaper, became the
constant instrument of propaganda to upbuild morale. Finally, the army
took over official control of education, entertainment and athletics
from the civilian agencies, designated a Welfare Officer to control them
all, and asked the agencies formerly in control to coöperate with the
newly appointed officials. All these were steps in the right direction,
although at times such work was partially nullified by the choice of the
wrong man as Welfare Officer. This was a position which only a
professional educator could fill at all; even an expert could hardly
influence actively a hundred thousand minds at once. Hardly any
professional soldier, business man or engineer could have the breadth of
view and technical knowledge to approach them. Of course, when army
regulations prescribed a major for a particular position and only a
lieutenant was available with the proper training, an untrained major
was appointed and the lieutenant left in command of a platoon.
Promotions were naturally few after the armistice, and the table of
organization had to be complied with at all costs.

The _Stars and Stripes_ demands a few words in itself, both because of
its excellent articles and cartoons and for its unique position as "the
soldiers' newspaper." It was a well-written weekly publication, which
could command the services of many of the best of the younger writers
and cartoonists in America. The knowledge that the _Stars and_
_Stripes_ was semi-official, being published under military censorship,
made its news material very influential on morale. Men believed anything
they read there about the work of the various divisions, special
distinctions, or the date of the homeward troop movement. But that very
factor made the articles it published more or less suspected by the men.
They knew they were propaganda, written for the benefit of morale, and
they therefore read them, but derived much less effect from them than
would otherwise have been the case. Still the writers, themselves
soldiers, expressed the soldiers' view often enough and clearly enough
to lend some value even to the suspected material from General
Headquarters.

After all, amusements, education and athletics were only palliatives in
a confessedly irksome situation. They did not touch the heart of that
situation any more than really excellent welfare work satisfies a group
of employees in civil life who consider themselves underpaid and
overworked. The essentials of morale were the elements which approached
the soldiers' welfare most nearly--food, pay, mail and daily military
routine. Army food was notoriously bad, army cooks famous for lack of
skill. Part of this, like other complaints, lay in the chronic grumbling
of the soldiers. Obviously, they did not receive the kind of meals that
"mother used to make" or the product of a famous hotel. The food itself
was usually of excellent quality but coarse, the menus well balanced but
monotonous. This last was the chief grievance and one that was largely
justified. Most of our food had to be brought overseas in cans, and it
took a skillful cook to disguise "corned willie," "monkeymeat" or
"goldfish" day in and day out. Yet corned beef, stew and salmon, to use
their civilian names, were staples in the army diet. It became a
question among us officers whether we preferred to drink good coffee,
ruined by army cooks, or the excellently prepared chicory of the usual
French restaurant. I, for one, preferred the British ration as superior
in variety to that we received after we came into the American area,
although it was normally not as large in amount as the ration of the
American soldier.

Pay and mail were notoriously unreliable in the A. E. F. Pay was regular
for officers, of course, who could swear to their own pay vouchers, but
not always for enlisted men, who required a service record to have their
names put on the pay roll. When a man is a patient in nine hospitals
within four months, we cannot expect his mail to follow him, nor his
service record to stay at hand. These grievances were later remedied,
the mail through the Main Post Office, the pay question by means of pay
books and supplementary service records. Still, at one time it was by no
means uncommon to meet men just out of the hospital who had received
neither mail nor pay for three months, or to find a man who had been
shifted so often from one unit to another that his pay was six months in
arrears. When we remember the little money at hand for any purpose
whatever, when we bear in mind the loneliness of these boys so far from
home, loved ones, even from common sights and familiar speech, we can
imagine what a deprivation such troubles brought, and how deeply they
effected morale. Of course, as I have mentioned before, the soldier
never made allowances either for the difficulty of the task or the
comparative success with which it was accomplished. The soldier merely
suffered and complained.

I shall never forget the incessant complaints about that very necessary
institution, the censorship of letters home. The last hope of the
soldier was for glory in the eyes of the people at home. At least he
would be a hero to them. But here the censor lifted his terrible shears.
Stories of heroism, true or false, could not be told. Weeks after an
action the soldier's family might read that he had taken part in it and
even then the censor might return his letter if he mentioned any
details. For many of the soldiers this was more than annoying; it was
serious. They were often not educated, had written perhaps three or four
letters in their lives, and could hardly face the task of writing a
second letter if the first was condemned. In any case no American wanted
to submit his personal letters for his wife or sweetheart to a superior
officer for approval. Add to this the fact that the officer could sign
for his own mail without other censorship except the possibility that
the letter might be read at the base port, and censorship became another
grievance to the enlisted man.

Finally, the greatest factor in morale, good or bad, was that intangible
but very real entity, military discipline. The American boy hates to be
under authority; to ask for leave to speak to his captain; to request
permission to go for a few hours' leave after his day's duties are over;
to address an officer in the third person: "Is the captain feeling well
this morning, sir?" Most American officers were human enough, with
little of the class feeling of the British army. For that reason the
soldier rarely hated his own officers, and often was heard to boast of
"my lieutenant" or "my captain." The soldier merely hated authority in
general, as represented largely by the necessity to salute any unknown
officer whom he might meet. He never understood the lectures about the
manliness of saluting or its military necessity; he knew only that it
was the sign of authority, to which he was subjected.

Perhaps that is the root of the whole matter of morale. A good soldier
at the rear was the man who sank his personality and became a unit in
the squad. If too strongly defined an individual, he was a marked man;
he became company clerk or kitchen police, according to his previous
education. The good soldier was the one who acted automatically on
receipt of orders, who saluted, said "Yes, sir," turned on his heel and
seemed at once to be very busy. Even if he had been an executive or a
lawyer in civil life, the constant drill made an automaton of the
enlisted man; he sank back into the mind of the crowd, adopted the usual
opinions in the usual words, and lost for the time being his
personality. Drill made for automatic physical reactions to a certain
set of commands and the temporary cessation of thought. In close-order
drill Tom Smith submerged his personality and became "Number Three in
the rear rank." He learned to swing about at the proper moment,
following the man ahead of him, to respond instantly to the word of
command without hesitating for its meaning, to stand and march and
salute and obey. That was good for the rear, but at the front we needed
Tom Smith again, and he might forget his place in the line, rush forward
on his own initiative and become a hero. The finest acts were those of
individuals acting without orders, the private forming a stretcher party
of volunteers to go out for the wounded, the corporal reforming the
platoon when all the sergeants were disabled and leading them forward.
Then in the long period after the war Tom Smith had to be lost, for
Number Three in the rear ranks was needed again.

The soldier lived in utter ignorance, not only of general events in the
world and the army, but even of the things which would affect himself
most closely. The enlisted man never knew a day in advance when he would
be transferred to a different post or a different duty, when he would be
promoted or degraded in rank, when he was to attack the enemy or retire
for a rest. Even the things he saw became distorted. A doughboy remarked
to me just before the battle of the Selle River, "We're held up by a
little stream twenty feet wide, with Jerry on top of the railroad
embankment on the other side. If we can just get across that river and
up that embankment, we'll end the war right there." Of course, our
success three days later did not end the war; it was only part of a
tremendous program which the private soldier did not envisage at all.
The attack on the Selle River was but one of a half-dozen actions
carried on simultaneously in Flanders, on the Scheld, at Rheims, in the
Argonne and on the Meuse. Our attack was made easier because of these
others, and they in turn were successful because of ours. The three
hundred miles of battle-line were all one, and only the broadest
possible view could give any idea at all of the truth.

The officer, especially when on the staff, saw things in relation, but
the soldier had to work in the dark. He never did understand the rules
of the great game he was playing. Tactics were nothing to him. He knew
only what it meant to march with a heavy pack all night, to rest in the
damp cold of dawn when he was too weary to rest at all, to advance under
fire and to dig in again and yet again. Much as he might later on revel
in the raw heroism of it all, this arduous labor, blindfolded, left him
a prey to doubt and rumor at the time. Rumors were one of the few foes
of morale which persisted at both front and rear, because they were the
product of ignorance and in both places ignorance persisted. No man can
be quite steady in his duty when his mind is distracted by the countless
rumors of army life. So far as we had information to dispense, we were
building up morale, even when the facts were not reassuring. Rumors
about going home, being the most desirable, were the greatest menace of
all. Men would come back from the hospital with half-healed wounds
because the rumor said we were going home at once, and they wanted to go
along. Men would take unofficial leave to see Paris before they died,
just because the latest rumor had it that we were not to leave for
another month. Every such disappointment or lapse of duty made the next
rumor more dangerous and wider spread.

The morale of the overseas forces described a slow downward curve from
the high point at the armistice until the news that the particular unit
was going home, when it took an immediate upward bound. During the
downward trend of the curve, the men grew to hate the army. The definite
elements which they naturally resented were emphasized and exaggerated,
although that was hardly necessary. At the same time, they felt immense
pride in their own achievements, and a thorough contempt for
"joy-riders," as they termed the civilian travelers through France, the
official investigators or representatives of civilian organizations, who
witnessed the trenches as if on a sight-seeing party. This pride in
their actual accomplishments, combined with resentment at the military
subversion of ordinary civilian standards of life and manhood, was
characteristic of the best minds in the ranks.

The military system is of necessity heteronomous, while democracy must
be autonomous. The very virtues of self-reliance, independence,
responsibility, which we most emphasize in civil life, were the ones
most actively discouraged among enlisted men. At the same time, the
moral influences put upon them were those of compulsion and restraint.
The régime for officers was radically different; it demanded
responsibility and removed much of the restraint. Hence the tendency of
the army system was to produce officers with adequate mental processes
and soldiers with automatic obedience to any kind of orders. The result,
not difficult to foresee, was that the officers had far better minds but
far poorer morals than the enlisted men. The officer was responsible for
himself; the enlisted man had a number of superiors responsible for
him. As a consequence the officer used his mind, the soldier stopped
using his. On the other hand, the officer often abused his larger
liberty, so that some of the officers of the A. E. F. were notorious for
their loose living on the boulevards of Paris and other towns and
brought shame upon their more decent comrades and the cause for which
they fought.

The conspicuous difference was not the result of differences in the men
themselves, for we had no castes in the American army. Officers and men
came from the same stock and from every group. It was the direct
consequence of the different type of discipline and control to which
they were subjected. The best officers and the best men surmounted it;
the worst yielded; the average were affected more or less.

Obviously, morale was a loose general term for many actual conditions.
It meant one thing at the front, another thing at the rear. It included
morals, although sometimes a high state of morale could exist together
with many lapses from the moral code. It summed up the general state of
mind of the troops at any time with regard to the special purpose for
which the troops were just then intended. A study of morale gave insight
into many related factors, including that of morality. The young man, as
we saw him in the army, had a morality of his own, related closely to
sport and business, but to neither law nor religion. It is a moral
standard--we cannot possibly mistake that--the young man is not in his
own mind immoral. But it is a standard which makes much of friendship,
loyalty, fair play, something of honesty, nothing of the special code
which we usually call "morality." It allowed much laxity in sexual
relations; it laid no stress at all on obedience to military
regulations; it had hardly such a word as "duty." Religion to the
soldier meant habit, or sentiment, or fear, or longing; it did not mean
a code of morals. The attempt to build up a moral standard on a basis of
duty to one's country or to one's self was largely inadequate. Courage
the soldier recognized, and sincerity and self-sacrifice; he did not
know much of duty. This fact was both the cause and the result of
military discipline, which made duty an external matter of obedience to
a million trivial and arbitrary rules, rather than to a few definite and
outstanding principles. The young man has a morality of his own in civil
life; he had a slightly different, but related morality in the army. It
was not the conventional morality of society, which rests upon the
historical standards of the middle-aged. It was a type of morality which
we must learn to recognize and understand for both his benefit and that
of society as a whole.



CHAPTER XIII

THE MORAL GAIN AND LOSS OF THE SOLDIER


The military system, as I have tried to bring out in the last chapter,
had a definite and profound influence on the life and thought of the
individual soldier. It was so radically different from civilian life
that this influence became all the more striking through contrast. The
young man has certain moral standards and habits in civil life, some of
which became intensified, while others altered in the army. The millions
of young men who went through the military régime during the war have
brought this influence back into civilian life with them, even though it
is attenuated by environment and although they have largely returned to
their former, pre-military habits. War and danger brought out certain
characteristics and occasioned others. These new reactions of character
were not, as the pacifists would have it, all bad; neither were they all
good, as was generally proclaimed in patriotic fashion while the war was
going on. Some influences were good and some were bad, while almost
every man in the service would necessarily respond to both kinds. The
military system itself caused or brought to light certain good and bad
traits which appeared clearly enough in the average soldier after he had
been in the army even a few months. It may be worth while to develop
some of these at a little length, not scientifically nor
psychologically, but simply and directly as they strike the soldier
himself.

We saw at the front, as the experience of other armies had indicated,
that the average man has in him the stuff of which heroes are made. Not
merely the farmer or backwoodsman, but the men who followed prosaic city
occupations, were ready to sacrifice themselves for their comrades and
their country. The barber and the shipping clerk were as frequent
winners of the D. S. C. as any others in our huge heterogeneous army.
Heroism was evoked by the need, by the fact that it was the expected
response, the response of thousands of others. The crowd mind produced
heroism out of the most unexpected material. War created some of the
heroism which we saw; it merely evoked some which was already latent,
ready for the call. The stretcher-bearer, exposing himself to the
severest fire to carry his precious burden to safety; the battalion
runner, bearing his message through the barrage and then coming back
again to bring the answer; the machine gunner, carrying his heavy weapon
on his back to an advanced position where he could establish it
effectively; the infantryman, advancing against machine-gun fire, or
digging in under attack from heavy artillery or aëroplanes; the
engineer, digging away debris or laying bridges in plain sight of the
enemy, with his rifle laid near by to use in case of an attack--I might
enumerate hundreds of such duties in which courage, loyalty, and
endurance were exhibited by men who performed exceptional acts of
bravery and devotion, volunteering for difficult service or carrying on
in the face of overwhelming odds. All soldiers were afraid, but in the
performance of their duty practically all soldiers learned to overcome
fear and attend to their jobs in the face of every obstacle and every
danger.

We felt that travel, with its attendant contact with other customs,
language and people, would broaden our soldiers mentally and tend to
break down the provincialism which has been often noticed in America, as
well as in many other countries. Only a small minority of our men were
equipped, either in knowledge or in attitude, to take advantage of the
opportunities offered. Museums meant comparatively little to them,
mediæval cathedrals not much more, Roman walls or ruins nothing at all.
Scenery did not mean as much as some of us thought it should, forgetting
that scenery looks entirely different to a man who rides past it and
another who walks through it. Altogether, knowledge of France, England
and Germany made, on the whole, not for a greater appreciation of
foreign lands, but instead for a great appreciation of America.

The fact is that the boys grew homesick. Most of them were only boys in
years, and practically all of them were reduced to the boyish level of
thought by the general irresponsibility, thoughtlessness, and dependency
of army life. They were like boys in a military school, very often,
rather than men engaged in the grim business of modern war. To these
boys absence from home brought a higher appreciation of home. This was
often a true evaluation, in the face of previous neglect and
underestimation; sometimes it may have been a sentimentalizing of a home
that had never really meant very much. But in the danger, the monotony,
and the distance, the soldiers grew to higher appreciation of their own
homes and their home-land as well.

Their complaints were often ridiculous enough. They objected to the
backwardness, the lack of sanitation, the absence of bathing facilities
in the French villages. These were true enough, as far as they went,
although I know personally that they can be matched in many details even
in prosperous and enlightened America. They objected to the French
climate, with the damp cold of its winters, not caring to remember that
certain parts of our own Pacific coast suffer from a rainy season, too.
This complaint becomes still more valueless when we remember how the
boys grumbled about the heat of the Texas border, in fact, how soldiers
not in action will always find a source of complaint in the weather,
whatever kind of weather it may be. As General O'Ryan remarked in his
famous definition of a soldier, "A soldier is a man who always wants to
be somewhere else than where he is." This restlessness accounts for some
of the complaints which we are apt to take a bit too seriously. A more
real complaint was the language difficulty. Soldier French was a
wonderful thing, consisting of the names of all ordinary things to eat
and drink, together with a few common expressions, such as "toute de
suite" (always pronounced "toot sweet"), and "combien." This prevented
easy communication, even with such French people as were encountered.
Few of the soldiers had any opportunity to use even their little French
on respectable, middle-class French families, especially not on young
men or girls. All these grievances, real and fancied, put the soldier
out of ease in France and made him appreciate America so much the
better. The sacrifices they were making for America, the service they
were rendering her, united with the home-sickness of a stranger in a
strange land to increase the devotion and respect of Americans for
America.

I need not refer especially to the rather mixed gain in religious
attitude, as I have already devoted a chapter to that subject. I must,
however, repeat one point I mentioned there, the meanings of physical
sacrifice as these men saw it and practised it in the army. It was the
outcome of their courage, their dash, their enthusiasm, that when the
time of stress came ordinary men offered their lives for their friends
and their country. The soldier at the front equaled or exceeded the
forgetfulness of self of the fireman or the life-saver in time of peace.
This lesson of self-forgetfulness, of self-sacrifice, was one of the
great impressions made by the war upon the best men it influenced, and
one which touched in its way even the most thoughtless and careless of
all the soldiers who had their hour at the front.

This brought out the group solidarity of the American army in stronger
relief. The fine thing about morale at the front, as I have outlined it,
was the mutual confidence which it called out in every breast. The pride
in his own company, his regiment, his division, in the American army as
a whole, which held a man to his duty under fire and impelled him to
resist the almost overwhelming influence of a sudden attack of panic,
made for loyalty at the rear as well and formed one basis for the
whole-hearted return of the young men into civilian society after the
war. Pride in one's division meant also pride in one's state; pride in
the United States Army meant pride in the United States. Self-sacrifice,
devotion, heroism,--all these were profound lessons for any man, young
or old, a lesson which American democracy can profitably utilize in the
daily humdrum of American life.

It was surprising how constantly our expectations were disappointed by
the actual facts of the men in the service. Most books and articles
since the war and all of those before the war were written on a
theoretical basis, and every one approached the facts with a theoretical
view. But the theory was proved wrong in so many instances that I am
making the present study entirely empirical, leaving theory out
altogether as more of a pitfall than an advantage. For one thing, I had
expected war to exert a directly brutalizing influence on the soldier.
This was never evident at all except in the actual stress of battle when
killing was a daily necessity, and human life, although the most
valuable asset of the contending forces, was still held cheaply enough
to be used up at a terrific rate. Men could not stop there to pity every
corpse; they had to save their own lives and at the same time to win the
war. But the effect wore off quickly; probably it left no result at all
except on men with a previous tendency to brutality or crime. I remember
the thrill of horror which went through Le Mans and the entire A. E. F.
in April 1919, when a railroad accident occurred near our post and a
group of soldiers and sailors on furlough were injured, some of them
fatally. We forgot all about the fact that these men had risked death in
entering the service, that the few of them in this accident were the
smallest fraction of a day's toll at the front if the war had continued.
We melted in sympathy, and the French population of Le Mans did the
same.

The men were not brutalized, contrary to expectation. Human life was
held cheaply under exceptional circumstances and evidently the men felt
that they were exceptional. But the men did become accustomed to the use
of firearms, and those already brutalized were given the knowledge and
the means for crimes of violence. The carelessness with which men used
and flung about all kinds of deadly weapons shocked those of us with a
sense of responsibility; it was part of their boyish heedlessness in the
midst of the fierce game they were playing. They threw their discarded
rifles in a heap by the first-aid post when they went back to hospital;
they even played catch with hand-grenades, sometimes with most serious
results. Once I met a pair of Australians out hunting rabbits with their
high-powered rifles, in a place where hundreds of men were passing
hourly by the much-traveled road. When I remonstrated with them, they
only replied, "Oh, well, we haven't anything else to do. And we know how
to shoot without hurting anybody."

But with all these real character acquisitions on the part of the men in
the service, and with the lack of that brutalizing which many theorists
had feared, at the same time certain moral losses were occasioned by the
military system. I shall not enter into the question of sexual morality
here, partly because I have discussed it in the previous chapter, and
partly because it was not distinctly the product of the army. The sexual
standards of the young men in the army were much the same as those of
young men everywhere, with some modifications through discipline. But to
the man who has served in any army at any time, the outstanding moral
weakness of the soldier is his entire disregard of the rights of
property. The sense of property, so strong in civilian life, which is
implanted so carefully into the little child, seems lost in the first
month of a man's army life. One brigade headquarters I knew in France
was established in a fine château, with large grounds surrounded by a
high wooden fence. At the same time, the men of the nearest unit were
living in barns and attics, with no light or heat of any kind in their
quarters. The result was that the fence disappeared, little by little.
Nobody ever saw the culprits, but I had reliable information that the
men billeted in that village had all the heat they needed. When we left
the area, about half the fence was gone, and I have little doubt it
vanished entirely during the occupancy of the next division.

I can still hear the indignation of the driver of my "tin Lizzie" when
the precious lamps were stolen out of our car and we had to drive home
ten miles in the dark. Of course, lamps were scarce, having to be
shipped from the States, and the thief undoubtedly drove an army car
like ours. But a few days later after a visit to the city my driver
reported back in triumph--he had found another machine parked in a side
street and "salvaged" the lights. I tried to make him return them, but
for once he proved insubordinate. It was only another army car; the
other fellow had probably got them the same way; he could not identify
the car, anyway. Then came the finishing stroke when we tried the
lights and found them burned out! The other driver had left them in as a
blind. My driver felt a sense of personal injury, as though he had been
directly cheated in a legitimate business deal. And practically any
soldier would have agreed with him.

The men "found" whatever they needed if it was not issued to them
properly, because property had no meaning to them in the army. They
owned nothing whatever; even their clothes, food and lodging belonged to
Uncle Sam. When their clothes wore out, they were replaced; when the
company's weekly supply of food was eaten up, more was forthcoming.
Rifles fallen into disrepair were exchanged for good ones; shoes were
sent to the salvage depot to be repaired and then issued to another man.
Equipment lost at the front or in the hospital was reissued without
question. Therefore the enlisted man felt a community sense of ownership
rather than a personal one. At the same time, he was constantly in need
of one thing or another. He needed fire wood, as in the incident of the
fence, or automobile supplies, as with my driver. The legend even goes
that the Australians, famous in their ability to care for their own
units, have been known to take an entire field kitchen, with the food
still cooking, from a British unit and make a successful escape. I know
that I have personally seen a British colonial soldier in a village near
the front taking a large mirror with a gilt frame out of a dwelling
house and making off toward his quarters. "What are you doing with
that?" I asked him. "Oh, I think we can use it," was his unembarrassed
answer.

The soldier learned to disregard law, just as he learned to disregard
property. Discipline meant obedience to constant minute surveillance. It
meant getting up at reveille, rolling his blankets in just such a way,
reporting at roll call, lining up for mess, working at whatever menial
tasks he might be detailed to do by the sergeant, asking for a pass when
he wanted to go to the nearest city, submitting his mail to censorship,
getting a day off for sickness only after lining up for "sick call," and
finally going to bed at night as soon as the bugle sounded "taps." These
men were not trained soldiers, accustomed to such a system; they were
healthy American boys in whom this constant subjection to external
control meant the immediate seeds of revolt. Autonomy meant then the
evasion of the law. A man could assert his individuality only in such
ways as going absent without leave, wearing a serge uniform (not
regulation for private soldiers), or gambling away his last month's
scanty pay. Add to this his constant contact with officers, who, if they
had to bear a heavy burden of responsibility and were forced to pay for
all the things the enlisted man received for nothing, still were not
subject to many of the restrictions which he found most galling. The
test of manly independence came to be simply "getting away with it." If
a man was caught in an infraction of the rules he had to take his
punishment; if he was not detected or not convicted he was a successful
soldier. This applied, for example, to a trip to Paris, the golden
dream of every American soldier. For a long time this was strictly
forbidden, although later three-day leaves to Paris were allowed to a
certain number of men. Yet thousands of Americans saw the lovely and
forbidden city unofficially. They got leave to Versailles, and rode into
Paris daily by street car. They took the wrong train, ostensibly by
accident, and had to change trains at Paris, dropping out of sight for a
day or two meanwhile. They borrowed the travel orders of other men and
used them over, risking detection. Neither the extreme harshness of the
Paris military police nor the menace of their own angry captains could
keep them from the enticing adventure. It was their boyishness, combined
with their lack of respect for the law itself, that led them into such
devious modes of disobedience. "If you know how, you can get away with
murder," was the usual apology--further excuse was not needed.

Among officers a similar tendency showed itself in a different way. The
officer was not limited in the most petty ways which irritated the men,
although he also could not take a trip to Paris without proper travel
orders and could not absent himself from duty without special
permission. But the officer likewise grew to disregard the law
essentially, even while he obeyed it most carefully in its minutiæ. An
officer was bound by his signature on written documents. A request
coming from the sergeant had to be endorsed by the lieutenant, with his
reasons if he did not favor granting it. It would then pass on to the
captain, the major, the colonel, and if necessary also the brigadier and
the major general. Having passed through military channels for its
consideration, it came back again by the same route until it reached the
originator. This system made at once for diffusion of responsibility,
or, to use the familiar army term, "passing the buck." The first man who
approved the request had no responsibility, as it was approved likewise
by his superiors; the later endorsers had none, as they had signed it on
his recommendation, assuming his knowledge of the facts. Nobody could be
held responsible and every one was careful to evade responsibility
wherever he could. Naturally, this made for endless delays, for
complications interminable when a previous order had to be rescinded for
any reasons whatever, for evasion in case of difficulty or doubt. It
meant fundamentally the disregard of law, expressed by the soldier in
disobedience and by the officer in evasion.

The military régime likewise tended to break down habits of regular
industry. During the war there was the alternation of short periods of
intense and exhausting activity at the front and longer ones of as
complete rest as the men could obtain at the rear. It was a reversion to
the life of the savage, busy by spells at hunting or war, with rest and
languor between. The entire exhaustion, physical and mental, after a
"spell in the trenches" demanded complete relaxation afterward, while
there was always a little necessary work in the way of drill,
reëquipment and inspection. After the war was over, the drill went on in
still larger doses but without the incentive of returning to the
trenches again afterward. This alternation of work and rest together
with the general rebellion against routine, broke down the habit of
consistent work which is built up with such effort and such inducements
in civil life. Boys do not want to work until they are taught to do so
and given inducements in the form of money and the things money will
buy. But the soldiers, so boyish in their life and their feelings, had
few such inducements given them. Their universal experience after
leaving the army was that it took a tremendous effort of will to return
to the routine and responsibility of a civilian occupation.

Exceptions existed, of course, to every generalization in this chapter,
as they do to any generalization of any kind. But the exceptions
speedily lifted themselves out of the ranks by promotion, and were
therefore covered by the different influences on the officers and the
higher ranks of non-commissioned officers. And I feel that even these
exceptional men who retained their respect for law and property, their
habits of regular industry, did so only in comparison with the general
break-down, that even they felt a certain loosening of the standards
which they had possessed in civilian life.

Army life developed a new series of moral values and moral reactions. It
brought out virtues which were latent or non-existent in civil life; it
reduced others to impotence. It produced love of country, of home, and
of God; it brought forth courage, loyalty, self-sacrifice, the extreme
of heroism, in such numbers and such variety that they seemed
commonplace. It did not brutalize any who were not very ready for such a
process. But at the same time, it destroyed the citizen's respect for
law and order, his respect for property, his habit of hard and
persistent work. It made him, for the time being, a lazy hero; a
jovial, careless, and lovable lawbreaker. It brought out exactly the
qualities which are least necessary in civil life, and injured those
most necessary; it took the student, the workingman, the farmer, and
made of him the doughboy. Army life was opposed directly to the whole
tenor of democracy, the régime where men control themselves, where they
work through ambition and desire for success, and where they strive to
accumulate property of their own, at the same time respecting the law
and the property of others. Army life meant a break in the lives of
millions of young Americans, an interruption of the steady development
of their characters and habits, a reversal of their tendencies and a
postponement of their ambitions.

I feel that it is a great evidence of the essential soundness of
American manhood that these millions have returned to civil life, in
most cases to their former circles and their former occupations, with so
little difficulty. Society helped them at the moment by the splendid
reception home, by the plaudits, the speeches, and the parades. It
helped them also to obtain positions and then left them to find
themselves. Fortunately, after a brief transition most of them did find
themselves, and the ex-soldiers to-day are back in every type of work as
before. The former captain may sell you a suit; the holder of a D. S. C.
may wait on you at the restaurant. They have overcome the restlessness,
the carelessness, the thrill; they are civilians again. But here and
there the seeds fell on different soil; here and there a former soldier
has not found himself again. We see him most often among the wounded
and gassed, who cannot fit into industry so easily, and whose sufferings
have often affected their mentality and always their point of view.
America has wasted criminally precious years of these young ruined
lives, in not bringing to them instantly the full care and service of a
grateful nation. On the other hand, industry has made little effort to
absorb our soldiers; I have seen men with trades selling fruit from
push-carts because there was no other work at hand. I have seen a
jobless boy, honestly trying to make a little money by selling trinkets
in the street and driven away by a patriotic store-keeper, who felt that
he had done his duty by buying Liberty Bonds and need not bother about
the man who had fought his battles for him. The soldier who cannot
return to civil life is a rare exception, but he is an exception caused
in an unstable youth by our military or our industrial system. Our
nation, which profited by that army, must remember for good every
weakest individual whose sweat and blood poured forth to make that army
great.



CHAPTER XIV

THE JEWISH SOLDIER AND JUDAISM


During the war we were so stunned by its suddenness and vastness that we
felt it would shatter all former systems of philosophy, that men would
need a new philosophy of life after the war, just as they did after the
Renaissance or the epoch-making discoveries of Darwin. This opinion,
natural enough at the time, was certainly exaggerated. The war did not
shatter all ideals; it did not create any new ones except the wave of
spiritualism at present so wide-spread. But it did shift emphases,
exposed the hollowness of many easy beliefs, and implanted new ideas in
minds which otherwise might not have been ready for them. The soldier
really presents the typical reaction to the war, while the civilian
shows a milder type of influence and a smaller degree of change. The
revaluation of values which is really demanded to-day is nothing so
fundamental as we thought at the time. It is chiefly psychological, that
we shall understand what is in the mind of the soldier, and by that
means reach an understanding of the effect of the war on society as a
whole. The world contains in diluted form those same influences which
show so distinctly on these young men. The problem of evil is neither
greater nor less than it was before the war; the problem of life and
death is no different; the problem of conduct has not changed. But
certain phases of each of these problems have come very strongly to the
attention of the world; some of them have been branded into the
consciousness of the soldier. Just as the soldier has a viewpoint toward
American ideals, which America would do well to heed in working out her
programs for the era after the war, so the Jewish soldier has his own
viewpoint toward Judaism, which all who are interested in our people and
our religion need to understand and utilize for the best development of
our religious programs in the days that are just ahead.

It is hard to call the soldier a progressive in religion when he had so
few theories about the matter. But he was certainly not a
traditionalist. Religious ideas and practices had to satisfy his
immediate needs or they had no meaning to him at all. This covered all
cant words, all ready-made formulas, whether as ancient as the Talmud or
as comparatively recent as reform Judaism. The answer of a twelfth
century Jew of Spain or a nineteenth century Jew of Germany were on an
equality to him; if either solved the problems of a young American at
war it was acceptable. The soldier was willing to accept old answers to
new questions if they were cogent; on the other hand, he was quite as
willing to consider a new and revolutionary theory. He possessed that
rare attribute, the open mind; on the narrow but keen basis of his own
mental experience he grasped and estimated soundly the new ideas and the
old.

The soldier enjoyed ceremonies that reminded him of home and childhood,
but he regarded them largely as pleasant memories. However deep a
meaning the symbols might possess, the soldier had not the background to
grasp it. The symbols did not stand for enough to solve the problems of
his immediate life. In the same way, theological concepts, however
liberal, meant nothing to him practically. The liberal theology of
reform Judaism might have appealed to the mass of the Jewish soldiers if
they had been interested in it and had made an effort to understand it.
As it was, liberalism in theology meant exactly nothing to them. They
were not interested in theological problems; they did not care what
one's opinion might be about the literal inspiration of the Bible or
about the coming of the Messiah. The liberalism which expressed itself
constantly among the soldiers, and which they brought back with them
into civil life, was different from all this. Granting your liberalism
or your conservatism in regard to beliefs and ceremonies, the soldier
wanted to know your attitude toward other human beings. The liberalism
he wanted was social and humanitarian. On this plane he had his being.
This was the type of problem which interested him and which he could
understand. The soldier felt too often that the churches and synagogues
were dominated by capital, by a narrow social class which discriminated
against him. Among Jewish soldiers, many felt that the religious ideas
they might accept were expressed in rich reform temples, where they
themselves would not be acceptable or would not feel at home. On the
other hand, they did not feel at home in the little orthodox synagogues
where their fathers offered up their daily prayers. They did not
understand the Hebrew ritual uttered there, nor the devotional attitude
which was there expressed.

But all this is not reaching directly the synagogue itself. The young
men, the former soldiers, are not the trustees of our temples and
synagogues; they are not a majority of our members; they are not often
to be found in the pews, where we might see their response to a
particular service or a particular sermon. If we are not very careful,
the churches and synagogues will lose entirely the inspiration of their
youthful vigor and find themselves tied entirely to the generation which
has passed into middle age and is becoming old. We must call to the
young men in the voice of youth, with the viewpoint and on the plane
which they understand and on which they may respond. That means that we
must be willing to accept new conclusions to new problems if these
conclusions seem to fit the new times. That means also that we must have
an aggressive attitude toward social and economic problems. This alone
can make liberalism religious and make religion concrete, applicable to
the needs of the latest era, the era after the world war. Without it,
religion will remain moribund, liberalism irreligious. Religious bodies
must give an equal hearing to both the conservative and the radical,
must show a definite platform of religious and moral work on which the
two can unite. That was done during the war. All groups in American
Jewry, orthodox, conservative and reform, were associated in the Jewish
Welfare Board and still work together on the Joint Distribution
Committee for the relief of Jewish war sufferers. All groups in American
life, Jew and non-Jew alike, met and worked together in the United War
Work campaign, to care for the soldiers in our emergency. But the young
men, no longer soldiers, need us as badly now, while we, the churches
and the synagogues, need them more than ever, with their new experience
and their new-found manhood. What they need and what we need, too, is
that we learn to coöperate on a common platform of action for their
benefit now. If we want them, if we want to be at one with them, we must
have a social program, a liberal attitude to life and especially to its
most immediate economic problems, a willingness to sink differences of
opinion that we may meet for practical effort and genuine progress.

The boys in the service became largely socialized through the
tremendous, constant work of the welfare agencies. They felt the value
of the Y. M. C. A. or other welfare hut, not only for the
entertainments, dances and canteen, but just as much as a center for the
soldier community, a place to write, to read, to play games, to meet
their friends. Since their return they have turned to such institutions
as the Y. M. C. A., the Y. M. H. A. and the rest, to find the club life,
the community spirit, which they had in the welfare hut in camp or city
at home and abroad. This need of the young men for a social center and a
social life is a common need of all America. Every village needs a
social center to further its growth into a finer culture and a more
united citizenship. Every Jewish community large enough to have a little
social life of its own needs a community center where that life can
flourish and be guided in desirable and constructive channels. The
expansion of the Jewish Welfare Board to join and assist the activities
of the National Council of Young Men's Hebrew and Kindred Associations
is a logical one, growing out of the similar needs of the same young men
in war and peace. The furtherance of social centers for Jewish
communities, for other groups of citizens who possess a common heritage
or common background, and for a whole town where the town is not too
large, is a piece of work in which the soldiers will participate and
which their very existence among us should suggest to the rest of the
community. The return of the soldier may assist us more than we expect
in socializing the Jewish community. The social spirit we once showed in
his behalf, the social education we gave him while in the service, will
return to benefit us all if we convert the two into Jewish social life.
Such a socializing will cut across congregational or sectional lines,
across lines of birth and wealth, and unite the Jewish community in
America, just as the same process will eventually, if carried far
enough, weld together all the divergent social forces of America itself.

The need for personal religion at the front was a temporary need, or
rather a temporary expression of a universal human yearning. It is now
almost forgotten by the boys themselves, certainly by the church and the
synagogue. Beside the liberal and the social demands of the day, there
exists this mystical longing to be sure of God, to know for a certainty
that He will protect His dear ones. This universal and eternal need was
felt for the time by our men in immediate danger, in thankfulness, in
mourning. Having discovered it once, they still feel it when the
occasion comes. Here, however, there seems little likelihood of their
contribution being accepted. The union of the social and mystical
elements, even at different times and for different occasions, seems
more than any human institution can accomplish. If the soldier, in tune
with the urge of the age, demands a social and a liberal response from
the synagogue, he may get it in a large number of cases. The mystical
element he will not ask for, and his inarticulate mood, now hardly
evident, will certainly evoke no response.

One thing certainly the young men feel, which American Judaism is
accepting from them. While the young Jew is wholly sympathetic to
Zionism, he hardly ever feels that Zionism is the center or the
conclusion of the Jewish problem. Zionism, as a movement, has brought to
fruition much of the latent love of the young Jew for his people and his
religion. But the Jewish soldier, or the same boy as a civilian, is not
interested chiefly in solving the economic or the cultural problems of
Palestine. He responds also to the similar problems among the Jews of
America. Zionism is not enough for him; he must have Judaism as well. He
and all of us are compelled to confront the spiritual and moral problems
of the new world after the war.

The young man does not know, and the synagogue does not always show him,
that the very things he demands most urgently are inherent in Judaism,
especially in those great prophets whose words still ring forth with a
youthful fervor. The unfaltering search for new truth, the recognition
of the poor and the weak, the unity of all groups in the community, the
triumphant search for God and finding of God--all these the young Jew
wants and the prophets have given us. This aspect of the problem, then,
becomes one of leadership, to interpret our Judaism in terms which
express the life of the new day and to show the young men that their
dearest longings are part of the ancient Jewish heritage. The antiquity
of the prophetic summons is no disadvantage to the young men if it
answers their personal need. It is of the greatest advantage to the
synagogue in responding to the call of the great days after the war.
Those ancient responses to the errors and crimes of mobs and despots in
the Orient contain principles whose vitality is not impaired by the
passage of time. It needs but the skill and the courage to apply them
again, as in prophetic times, to the western world in the twentieth
century.

War gave the world a new angle of vision on life and death, on good and
bad. The deepest impress of this new viewpoint is on those men who were
themselves at the front, who underwent the most extreme phase of it in
their own persons, but some traces have spread throughout the entire
western civilization. America must realize it as Europe does; Judaism
and Christianity alike are entering, for good or bad, a new period. The
world has changed in some respects; we who see the world have changed
far more. In facing the future, with its political, its social, its
moral problems, we need a new fullness of insight into the young men
whose lives have changed and whose souls expanded overnight, even though
they remain in externals the boys they were. We need a new intellectual
content, covering not only the new map of Europe and Asia, but also the
new ideas and ideals which swept the world for a time, as though they
were to be eternal. Above all, we must have complete honesty in facing
the thrilling challenge of the immediate future. We do not need a new
form of Judaism any more than we need a new type of government in
America. We are confronted by the demand to adapt Americanism and
Judaism to the changing demands of a changing era, to find among the
temporary and evanescent elements in both those things which have
permanent usefulness for any demand and any era. We need ideals of the
past, indeed, but only such ideals as have survived the past, as apply
fully to the present, as will aid in building up a future of promise and
achievement for the Jew. Judaism is on trial to-day. If we answer the
need of the young man, he will be the loyal, active Jew for to-day and
to-morrow. If we ignore him, whether through uncertainty, ignorance or
pride, he will not come to us and we shall not be going after him.
Judaism needs the young man; it needs equally his great ideals, social
and mystical as well. The test will result in a finer and more effective
faith only if we respond to it bravely and honestly, in the very spirit
of the soldier himself.



CHAPTER XV

THE JEWISH SOLDIER AND ANTI-SEMITISM


During the war we felt that prejudice between men of different groups
and different faiths was lessening day by day, that our common
enthusiasm in our common cause had brought Catholics, Protestants and
Jews nearer together on a basis of their ardent Americanism. Especially
we who were at the front felt this in the first flush of our
coöperation, our mutual interest and our mutual helpfulness. After you
have stood beside a man in the stress of front-line work, have shared a
blanket with him, have seen him suffer like a hero or die like a martyr,
his origin, his family and his faith become less important than the
manhood of the man himself. More than once I have said, talking to
soldier audiences of Jewish or of mixed faith: "After this war no man
can knowingly call the Jew a coward again. If you ever hear such a
statement, you can be sure that our detractor is not an honest bigot, as
may have been the case in the past; he is either ignorant or malicious."

We knew that and our comrades knew it. The men at the front knew very
little about the whole-hearted participation of every section of our
vast population, Jew and non-Jew together, in the campaigns for
production, Liberty Bonds, the United War Work campaign, and all the
rest. That record is a permanent one and is known to every man who did
his duty in "the rear lines" back in the United States during the war.
But those who served overseas know the record the Jew made for himself
at the front, his promotions, his decorations, his woundings and his
deaths. They know that differences of religion and race counted not at
all in the American army, that our heroes and our effective, able
soldiers came from all religions and all races. With what high hopes we
entered the war; with what fine fervor we saw it end! We felt that our
efforts had insured something more of liberty for the oppressed of all
the world, for Czech and Armenian, Alsatian and Belgian, Pole and Jew.

Perhaps the greatest disappointment of all to the fighters and the
sufferers has been the survival and the occasional revival of the old
hatreds in a more intense form. I am thinking of the many national and
group hatreds and antagonisms which have tormented the world in the last
years, and especially of one of them, that against the Jews. The
oppression of the autocratic régime of the Czar has been carried on by
the free nation of Poland; the pogroms of the Black Hundred have been
revived in the Ukraine, where the slaughter of war was doubled by the
slaughter of peace. Hungary has seen its "white terror," where Jews were
murdered as Bolshevists and Bolshevists as Jews. Austria and Germany
have seen a strengthening of the political anti-Semitism of pre-war
times, here blaming the Jews for beginning the war, and there for ending
it. Finally the movement has been carried over into the freest and most
intelligent of nations, and some apologists for it have appeared even
in England and America. Here the Anti-Semites can work by neither
political nor legal means, but through a campaign of slander they strive
to weaken the morale of the Jew and injure his standing before the mass
of his fellow citizens.

I shall not turn aside to deal, even for a moment, with the mass of
accusations against the Jew, trivial or grave as the case may be. They
have been adequately answered by Jew and non-Jew, especially in the
address on "The 'Protocols,' Bolshevism and the Jews," by ten national
organizations of American Jews on December 1, 1920, and the subsequent
protests against anti-Semitism by a distinguished group of non-Jewish
Americans, notably President Woodrow Wilson, former President William
Howard Taft and William Cardinal O'Connell. The only one of these
accusations with which I can properly deal in this place, and one on
which my fellow-soldiers will agree with me in every detail, is the
revival of the ancient slander against the patriotism and courage of the
Jew. We are reading, not for the first time in history, but for almost
the first time in the _English_ language, that the Jews are not patriots
in their respective nations, that they all have a super-national
allegiance to a Jewish international conspiracy, that their real loyalty
is to this other group within and above the state, even to the extent of
treachery or anarchy against their own governments. We feel the
disgrace, the pathos of such a charge just after the war when Jews died
with non-Jews that America might be safe, at a time when Jews even more
than non-Jews are enduring the dread aftermath of war, the famine, the
poverty and the epidemics, in Eastern and Central Europe. It is the
sort of charge which only facts can answer, the kind of facts which are
present in this book, as in every official or personal story of the war
by men who took a personal part in the war. Prejudice is too largely the
product of those who gained by the war but did not personally enter the
ranks. The men who know, the men who fought together and bled together,
have a different story.

America has, in fact, too much fairness as well as too much humanity, to
listen to any such movement of partisan hatred or bigotry. I quote the
statement of over a hundred distinguished "citizens of Gentile birth and
Christian faith," referred to above:

"The loyalty and patriotism of our fellow citizens of the Jewish faith
is equal to that of any part of our people, and requires no defense at
our hands. From the foundations of this Republic down to the recent
World War, men and women of Jewish ancestry and faith have taken an
honorable part in building up this great nation and maintaining its
prestige and honor among the nations of the world. There is not the
slightest justification, therefore, for a campaign of anti-Semitism in
this country."

In this connection, we can recall the words written by Theodore
Roosevelt, at that time President, in 1905, on the occasion of the 250th
anniversary of the first landing of Jews in what is now the United
States:

"I am glad to be able to say that while the Jews of the United States
have remained loyal to their faith and their race traditions, they are
engaged in generous rivalry with their fellow-citizens of other
denominations in advancing the interests of our common country. This is
true, not only of the descendants of the early settlers and those of
American birth, but of a great and constantly increasing proportion of
those who have come to our shores within the last twenty-five years as
refugees reduced to the direst straits of penury and misery. In a few
years, men and women hitherto utterly unaccustomed to any of the
privileges of citizenship have moved mightily upward toward the standard
of loyal, self-respecting American citizenship; of that citizenship
which not merely insists upon its rights, but also eagerly recognizes
its duty to do its full share in the material, social and moral
advancement of the nation."

It would be beside the issue to refer to the Jewish participation in
American life during the past, if that also had not been brought up as
an accusation. But the records exist, and the facts are conclusive. In
the American revolution forty-six Jews fought under George Washington,
out of the little Jewish population of about two thousand in the United
States at that time. The leading Jews of New York and Newport left those
cities because they were patriots and would not carry on their business
under British rule. Haim Salomon, the Jewish banker of New York and
later of Philadelphia, was among those who rendered the greatest service
in financing the infant nation. In the Civil War ten thousand Jewish
soldiers of whom we to-day possess the records served in the Union and
Confederate armies. Each generation of immigrants has been most eager to
learn the English language and American ways, to take advantage to the
full of American liberty and opportunity, to make a home for their
families in a free land and to help that land maintain its freedom. The
World War was for the Jews, as for all Americans, simply the
culmination, bringing out most strongly the high lights in American
life. Heroes and slackers, loyal and disloyal, showed themselves in
their true colors during the war. And the Jew, like all Americans,
showed himself in this crisis loyal to America. The Jewish record stands
on a par with the best record of any group of American citizens, of any
church or any race. Jews of Russia, whose only contact with their native
government had fostered hatred and distrust, flocked to the colors in
America. Jews of American birth, like all citizens of American birth,
did their full duty for their country.

On this point again, my own facts, clear as they are, need not stand
alone. I can quote Major General Robert Alexander, who commanded, in the
77th Division, the largest group of Jews in any unit of the American
Expeditionary Forces: "I found that Hebrew names on the Honor Roll of
the division were fully up to the proportion that they should have been;
in other words, the Hebrew boy paid his full share of the price of
victory. When the time came for recommendations to go in for marks of
distinction which we were able to give, I found there again that the
names of the Hebrews were as fully represented on that list as the
numbers in the division warranted, by long odds."

To-day the Jewish soldier, no longer a soldier or a hero, but still a
Jew and an American, appeals to the American people. Will they suffer
such a propaganda, he wonders, such an attack on him and on his
brothers who still lie overseas, in their American graves on foreign
soil? Will they tolerate for a moment such a venomous and false attack
on the defenders of their nation, on any group, small or large, of the
boys who rallied to the defense of democracy? In the army overseas we
felt that prejudice was a thing of the past, that only in ignorance or
malice could the old serpent lift its head again. To-day, with all the
newer bitterness, we feel the same. We know that our soldier comrades
are loyal still, that America is still America, that as we have once
defended her we need not now muster our arguments or records to defend
ourselves against her. If the Jew ever needed justification, he surely
needs it no longer to-day. The Jewish soldier has once for all made
anti-Semitism impossible among the men who served America in arms, and
who still in days of quiet continue to serve and save their country.


       *       *       *       *       *


Transcriber's Notes

Obvious punctuation errors repaired.

Diacritics have be made consistent throughout the text.

Hyphens removed from "Where[-e]ver I went" (page 8), "looked like
side[-]streets" (page 11), "a complete prayer[-]book" (page 18), "an
every[-]day matter" (page 147).

Hyphens added to "new war-time societies" (page 3), "miles by side-car"
(page 70), "private soldier in war-time" (page 145), "their new-found
manhood" (page 209).

Unchanged spellings: "Ausies", "B'nai B'rith" but "Brith" elsewhere.

Page 6: "cemetary" changed to "cemetery" (hospital and cemetary).

Page 10: "new born" changed to "newborn" (see my newborn son).

Page 34: "devasted" changed to "devastated" (villages were devastated).

Page 35: "conspicious" changed to "conspicuous" (village had a
conspicuous).

Page 36: "experiencd" changed to "experienced" (experienced a queer
sensation).

Pages 57, 59: "accomodations" changed to "accommodations" (separate
accommodations, living accommodations).

Page 75: "excellant" changed to "excellent" (excellent coöperation).

Page 78: "shown" changed to "shone" (shone directly upon).

Page 86: "Fredman" changed to "Friedman" (Samuel Friedman).

Page 90: "if" changed to "of" (in the interests of).

Page 110: "Cemetarial" changed to "Cemeterial" (Cemeterial Division of
the War).

Page 117: "Herschovitz" changed to "Herschkovitz" (Herschkovitz was the
only man).

Page 124: "ocasion" changed to "occasion" (occasion of a further).

Page 126: "grenades" changed to "grendates" (throwing grenades).





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This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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