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Religions 2018, 9(7), 218; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9070218

Neutral Spectators from a Distance? American Jews and the Outbreak of the First World War

Leibniz Institute of European History (IEG), Department of History, Alte Universitätsstraße 19, 55116 Mainz, Germany
Received: 5 June 2018 / Revised: 15 July 2018 / Accepted: 16 July 2018 / Published: 18 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Jewish Experience in America)
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Abstract

As the First World War broke out in 1914, American Jews seemed far away from the upheaval in Europe. Yet their role as neutral spectators from the distance was questioned right from the outset because of their diverse transcultural entanglements with Europe. Seen from a specific Jewish perspective, the war bore the potential of becoming a fratricidal war. In particular at the Eastern front it was a likely scenario that Jewish soldiers fighting on either side would have to face each other in battle. For Jews, depending on how one defined Jewishness, could be regarded as citizens of a particular nation-state or multi-ethnic empire, as members of a transnational religious community or as members of an ethnic-national diaspora community. Against this background, this article attempts to shed fresh light on the still under-researched topic of American Jewish responses to the outbreak of the First World War. Although American Jewry in 1914 was made up of Jews with different socio-cultural backgrounds, they were often regarded as being pro-German. The war’s impact and the pressures of conformity associated with these contested loyalties for American Jews did therefore not just unfold in and after 1917, but, as this article emphasizes, already in 1914. View Full-Text
Keywords: First World War; Jewish; American Jews; minorities in wartime; neutrality; Europe; war experience; loyalties First World War; Jewish; American Jews; minorities in wartime; neutrality; Europe; war experience; loyalties
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Panter, S. Neutral Spectators from a Distance? American Jews and the Outbreak of the First World War. Religions 2018, 9, 218.

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