Search

First World War centenary: The Newbury Park rabbi whose relatives fought for kaiser not king

12:00 01 June 2014

Isak Halberstadt (right) with an unknown soldier. Isak survived the war. [Picture: Rabbi David Hulbert]

Isak Halberstadt (right) with an unknown soldier. Isak survived the war. [Picture: Rabbi David Hulbert]

Archant

Two men pose proudly in their new uniforms, ready to do their duty for their country in the First World War.

Josef Rothschild, who fought for Germany during the First World War. He was killed in 1914. [Picture: Rabbi David Hulbert]Josef Rothschild, who fought for Germany during the First World War. He was killed in 1914. [Picture: Rabbi David Hulbert]

But these soldiers were not to fight for King George V – their allegiance was to the other side.

Rabbi David Hulbert’s grandfather Isak Halberstadt and his brother-in-law, Josef Rothschild, served for Germany during the conflict.

They were among many Jewish people who served during the war, only to be turned upon when the Nazis came to power in 1933.

Rabbi Hulbert said: “They fought on the wrong side, for kaiser not for king, and were ready to give up their lives for the Fatherland.

“People were very proud of their country in those days, they went absolutely crazy for war; which people tried to forget on both sides.”

Josef fought on the Western Front, but Isak took on a different role because of his age.

Rabbi Hulbert, from Bet Tikvah Synagogue in Newbury Park, said: “Josef was a much younger man. My grandfather did kitchen duties – he did his bit for his country but he was much older, he must have been in his 40s.”

Josef was killed in action in 1914 and buried in the German military cemetery at La Bassee. Isak lived through the conflict and died in Germany in 1939.

Rabbi Hulbert added: “I just wish I had met them; I didn’t even know my grandfather as he died before I was born. All I have are the photographs.

“The only thing my father told me was when he was a little boy he remembered at the end [of the war] when all the Germans starved because the Royal Navy stopped all the food coming in.

“Britain starved Germany into submission and they were surprised they lost the war so suddenly.”

Latest News Stories

14:34
The mayor and mayoress of Redbridge, Cllr Ashley Kissin and wife Hilary, with their grandchildren at Ken Aston Square's Christmas event

Christmas fever officially came to Barkingside last night at the switch-on for the festive lights.

13:20
Shazim Zaheer and other children in Pakistan remembering the victims. Picture: Abida Iqbal

The world has stood united in sorrow and horror since the Peshawar school attack, which saw more than 100 children murdered by the Pakistani Taliban.

11:44
Wes Streeting, deputy leader of the Redbridge Labour Group and cabinet member for health wellbeing

Funding cuts to councils will have an impact on frontline services, the deputy leader of Redbridge Council has warned.

07:00
A £600,000 project has seen a major refurbishment of the library and the installation of a new 40 station gym and a studio. in South Woodford.

A £600,000 project to transform a library and provide a new gym has been completed – with the new facility set to open in January.

Most read news

And they have a role to play in saving their species.

Twinkle, twinkle you little stars – thanks for making your homes so festive.

Offers for university places are at a record high.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Ilford Recorder e-edition today E-edition