Galicians in the Austro-Hungarian army #galicia

J.C.Keiner <j.c.keiner@...>

I tried some years ago to locate any records of both my
grandfathers, who served in the Austro-Hungarian army in WWI. One
grandfather, Yisroel Aharon Keiner, born in Tarnow, Galicia in 1875,
but living in Rzepiennik, near Gorlice, served in the Isonzo in the
huge Somme-like battles there. I was told by my father that he was
buried alive by enemy bombardment but still survived, one of 37
survivors of a regiment of over 800.The other grandfather, Avrohom
Jeruchim, born in Kanczuga in 1869, but living in Berlin, served in
Przemysl in an administrative capacity--my mother was born in 1918
and did not see him as a toddler till she was over 2 years old.

When I first tried to trace records of these grandfathers, a
military researcher specialising in WWI Jewish service was very
sceptical about the story of Yisroel Aharon, pointing out that a
man of over 40 would have been unlikely to have been in front line
service. However, I subsequently acquired a book by John R Schindler
called Isonzo: The Forgotten Sacrifice of the Great War. [URL of
commercial website deleted by Moderator.]

This details the lists of regiments which served in the war. It
also describes the last few of the 12 Isonzo battles, by which time
the Austro-Hungarian empire was in its last throes. He describes the
desperation which led to Galician and other recruits who included
virtually untrained men in their forties and others being drafted in,
plus bombardments which buried regiments alive. So, as always, my
father's stories turned out to be true.

I also wrote to the Kriegsarchiv Vienna, and was told that unless
either grandfather was killed, an officer or had won an individual
medal, there would be no records there. They also said that all the
Galician regiment records had been passed over to the Polish
authorities and that in most cases, the successor nations had
destroyed the records out of hostility to their former colonial

I think the only way to find out would be via local historians in
the Galician villages in question. As recently discussed on this
list, the hugely destructive flood of 1927 would have destroyed many
archives in any case. There must still be Polish descendants in
Rzepiennik and other places who know exactly which regiments their
grandfathers and fathers served in. Schindler's book enables one to
identify which of these served in the Isonzo. I am sure that
somewhere there would be a photo of the regiment with the men who
served in it. But which regiment and where?

Incidentally, Schindler shows what great care the A-H army took to
provide for the different religions in the army. He shows statuary
which includes Bosnian soldiers clearly wearing Islamic headgear.

My other grandfather, Avraham Jeruchim was sentimentally loyal to
his memories of the A-H army. His favourite tune was apparently the
Radetzky March, the signatory march of the A-H army. That would
hardly be the case if he had been treated anti-semitically or even
less than respectfully in the army, even as a man by then well into
his forties.

Judy Keiner
London, England

Seeking families: FROMMER, ZELLERKRAUT, EISNER, GREER (Kanczuga);
METH (Krakow, Rzeszow, Blazowa); GUTTMAN, RAAB, KISTER, FRIESNER
(Tarnow, Rczepiennik)

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