Military conscription in Poland between the wars #poland

Relly coleman

Searching my family, I found a number of teenagers who were sent from Poland to relatives in France in the 1920s and 1930s.  One suggestion was that it was done to avoid military conscription into the Polish army.

What was the military service requirement in Poland at the time? Was the avoidance of conscription common among Jews in Poland? 

Any info to explain and shed light would be appreciated.

Relly Coleman

Kris Murawski

Male citizens age 21 to 23 were due to serve in the army for the period of two years. There were rejections or deferrals for health, family or school reasons.
Kris Murawski
Raleigh, North Carolina

Alexander Sharon

The personnel policy that was conducted in the Poland's interwar Army, was severely criticized by representatives of the Jewish minority.

Soldiers of Jewish origin were treated as second-class soldiers or even suspected in advance of disloyalty to Poland.
Jews were removed from entire formations, especially from the Navy, Aviation and Communications.
Even during the Polish-Bolshevik war, a camp in Jabłonna was established, in which about a thousand soldiers and officers of Jewish origin were interned (1).

The decision to create it was issued on August 16, 1920, the camp operated until September 9, 1920; its creation caused an international scandal, from which Minister Sosnkowski had to explain himself to the Sejm (Poland Parliament) and the public.
In responses to parliamentary interpellations, Sosnkowski stated that "Jews are not fit for more serious work than typing".

In connection with the resolution of the Sejm of June 17, 1919, according to which only Polish citizens of Polish nationality could be officers, officers of Jewish origin were degraded, even those who had already been promoted in the independent Poland.

On March 3, 1923, the General Staff of the Polish Army issued a secret order to remove all Jews from the military graphic works From the end of the 1920s, people of Jewish origin were not recruited into the aviation, navy, communications and armored weapons and the Border Protection Corps. Ref. (2), (3)

  1.  Obóz dla internowanych w Jabłonnie. Jewish Historical Institute, 12 lipca 2014. [dostęp 10 lipca 2015].
  2.  Szymon RudnickiŻydzi w parlamencie II Rzeczypospolitej, Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Sejmowe, 2015, s. 250, ISBN 978-83-7666-363-0ISBN 978-83-7666-412-5.
  3. Jan Kęsik "Służba zasadnicza żołnierzy pochodzenia żydowskiego w Wojsku Polskim w latach 1921-1939", ze zbioru "Żydzi i wojsko polskie w XIX i XX w." IPN 2020, ISBN 978-83-8098-894-1, str. 102, 104

Alexander Sharon

Bernard Flam

Hi from Paris,
Dear Relly,
I wish to add some comments and facts, according to my own family's history :
  • As quoted above by Alexander, Polish army had a long tradition of antisemitism, under its Russian officers before 1918 and under its Polish officers during indépendant 2nd Republic of Poland (1919-1939).
  • WWI, followed by Soviet-Polish war of 1919-1921 had left a large toll of deaths, wounds and mutilations among soldiers of every nation / origin : only a few percentage of young people were happy to go to compulsory service.
  • I manage a Jewish genealogical workshop in Paris : according to families testimonies, a lot a young men left interwar Poland just before age of 18-20's to escape this service. I am not sure younger children would be sent abroad for same reason, as these young men could work and be self-caring in their new country. After 1921 and 1924, USA was no longer the main destination due to antisemitic Immigration Act.
  • Polish administration was of course in search of these young men when it was time to register for service.
  • When it discovered that they were no longer living in Poland, a procedure was opened and these young men lost their Polish citizenship.
  • My grand father Avrom Zysman was in this situation and could never do a single trip to visit again our family in Poland. My grand mother Myriam could do this visit in 1934 with my mother (4's, French because born in Paris) as women weren't of course subjected to service.
  • Even 5 or 6 years after my GF's departure (1925-1927's), Polish police visited Lodz's family from time to time to check if he wasn't back or if they hadn't some news of his whereabouts.
  • In 1939, during phony war in France, a Polish army with Polish officers is commissioned as France and Poland were allies (we entered WWI on Sept.1st when Poland had been invaded).
  • Among Polish Jews living in France, who choose to enroll this Polish army rather than French Foreign Legion, most of them testified of the still strong antisemitism of Polish officers.
Bernard Flam
History and Archives of Medem Center Arbeter Ring (Bund / Worker Circle of France)


Is there a database or lists that include Polish Jews who served in the Polish army in the 1930s? 
Melbourne, Australia

Researching (main surnames):