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16 November 2012

Russian Jews in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF)

At this time of year in the United States, we celebrate two major holidays, Veterans Day and Thanksgiving. The first honors all those who have served their country. The second holiday, Thanksgiving, gives us all a chance to pause and give thanks for all that we have. It is not surprising that to many of us, you can't have one without the other.
I am most thankful to those who have served, like my own father, who put his life on hold to serve as a proud member of the United States Marine Corps, without them we wouldn't have all the freedoms we enjoy.
A great example of others who have given of themselves through  their military service is the Australian Imperial Force (AIF). Australia formed it's regular army in 1901, which was backed up by an all volunteer militia. When World War I broke out, the Australian government committed to send 20,000 troops to support the British Military. The regular army formed in 1901 was only allowed for home defense, so a new overseas force was formed. That overseas force is the Australian Imperial Force.
The first of the AIF ships left Australia in November of 1914 bound for Egypt to receive training. Upon arrival the Australian Forces were combined with the New Zealand forces to form the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC). Some of these troops were sent to defend the Suez Canal, however most were sent to the Gallipoli Front. Of these troops, over 1/3 paid the ultimate sacrifice before they were ordered to withdraw at the beginning of 1916. After their withdraw from Gallipoli, most of the troops serving in the Anzac's were then sent to the western front, where they fought for about 2 years. Over the course of the First World War, no country lost more men that did Australia. Over 300,000 troops served and almost 60,000 of them gave their lives. For them I am thankful
It wasn't just Australian and New Zealanders who fought in the AIF, there were troops from many countries. The fourth largest national group were the over 1,000 Russian servicemen who fought in the AIF. Of these, about 130 were Jewish. Elena Govor, has written a book about the Russians who served and also has a website where these servicemen are listed. That website,, is a great resource for anyone searching for those who served. The website also has information about her book.
The website includes a list of all Jewish servicemen who were from Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. The information about each serviceman is amazing. Clicking on the name Wolf Dorfman, gives the following;

The information with the red links, takes you to the original records held in other archives and libraries. The genealogical information is very complete and thanks to Elana for all her hard work. May we never forget the incredible service and sacrifices that our ancestors made for us. We should all give thanks to them.

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