Maiming to Avoid the Russian Draft?

Jeff Marx
 

Dan Leeson’s thoughtful JewishGen Info File, “Military Conscription in Russia in the 19th Century” (find by clicking on “Get Started” button at top of JewishGen homepage, then click “InfoFiles,” and then click “Military”), raises the question as to whether the maiming of Jewish males (i.e. cutting off a finger or crushing toes) to avoid the Russian draft in the last decades of the 19th century, actually occurred or was a Jewish myth, like the myth about name changes at Ellis Island. I have such a story in my own family. My grandfather wrote in his autobiography: “My uncle [b.c.1847 from Kupel, Russia] avoided the draft by chopping off his right thumb. As a child, while sitting on his lap [c.1896], I noticed the missing thumb.  It was years later that I heard the story from him.”  I’d like to hear from any of you if you have a story in your family about such maiming occurring.

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Jeff Marx
Researching ANSPACHER, AUGAPHEL, AUGENBLICK, BREAKSTONE, BREGSTEIN, CARLEBACH, HIEGENLICH, KUBELSKY, MARX

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