Re: self-mutilation & the draft in the Russian Empire #general

Irene Newhouse

In addition to the posting on Russian laws regarding draft evasion,
including by self-mutilation, which included heavy penalties, we should be
aware that Imperial Russia did not draft Jews because they needed
numbers of soldiers. Their prejudices convinced them that Jews were
inferior military material. The other reason Jews were drafted was to
alienate Jewish men >from their communities. They hoped that once they
came back >from military service & no longer fit in, having had limited
access to kosher food, religious services, etc., they might be more
predisposed to convert to Christianity than to remain Jews. It didn't work
too well for them, but they kept trying. Therefore, if you mutilated
yourself to avoid the draft, they found some sort of job you could still do.
Missing trigger finger? You can still muck out the cavalry stables.
Missing leg? You can still mend gear. Horses' gear required tending to...
You still do laundry or do the scut work in the kitchens. And so on.
A disability severe enough to prevent their finding a make-work job for you,
just to hang on to you for x years, was severe enough to preclude your being
able to earn a living. You had to be really desperate to disable yourself
to that extent, and more men probably emigrated illegally instead.

Irene Newhouse
Kihei Hawaii USA

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