War or Revolution - Russian Jews and Conscription in Britain 1917, by Harold Shukman
Published by Vallentine Mitchell in 2006, 157 pages. Paperback (N3805)
Brand New Book
From the rear side cover: During the First World War, 30,000 Russian Jews of military age in Britain faced a terrible dilemma: to enlist for the carnage of the Western Front or risk everything by returning to Russia. Introducing conscription in 1916, the government had to decide whether the refugees should remain exempt. When Nicholas II was overthrown the picture changed - Russia was now seen as democratic, why not go back to defend it, and, if not, why not join the British army? That was the choice. Bolshevik agitation against compulsion added to the refugees' confusion. Some joined up in Britain. Nearly 4,000 - the author's father and uncle among them - chose to go back. They arrived in Archangel in the autumn of 1917 together with the Arctic winter and the chaos of the revolution, which soon descended into bloody civil war. How they fared and how they struggled to return to Britain is the story of this book.