Identity Theft

jonquil323 By jonquil323, 14th Aug 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Elderly Relatives

My grandfather falsified his papers to fight in World War I while his brother did the same to avoid the draft.

Falsified Papers

This is a true story of my grandfather and a great-uncle, his brother.

My grandfather was born in 1875 in Olgopol, a village in Ukraine. After him, eight siblings followed. When Grandpa was about twenty, and had completed his Jewish education, his father suggested he marry and settle down. David had other plans for his life, and took off for Odessa, the heart of the Jewish Enlightenment. There Grandpa was exposed to Zionism, the idea of spoken, modern Hebrew, and various revolutionary activities. The culmination of this rebellious lifestyle was his involvement in the Potemkin uprising, a result of the embarrassing Russian defeat to the Japanese in the war in Manchuria in 1905. For fear of being arrested by the authorities, he left the Russian Empire, staying briefly in Germany before moving to London, in which he remained until 1910.
Grandpa sailed for New York after five years in England, working in various jobs, cigar-making, cap-making, etc. By 1914 he was studying in the Brooklyn College of Pharmacy. He was 39 and unmarried.
The United States entered World War I in 1917, after the Germans sank the Lusitania. As the war pit the Germans, Austrians, and Ottomans against the rest of world, Grandpa realized that he could be involved in the liberation of Palestine from Islamic rule. By then 42, he volunteered for the army, only to be refused on the basis of his age.

One of David's younger brothers, still in their village in Ukraine was, however, of draftable age. Not wanting to take part in an unpopular war, “Uncle” reported to the draft board with David's birth certificate. He was turned down for being too old, and traveling with false papers, he ended up in Rosario, Argentina. He began a new life, keeping the name David as his own. He went on to open a business, leaving letterhead and even a sign proclaiming his name to the world – David S--. “Uncle” had successfully stolen his eldest brother's identity (paralleling Jacob and Esau) to evade the draft.

Grandpa, the original David S--, refused conscription into the American army, fixed his papers, changing the 5 in 1875 to a 9. He enlisted in the Jewish Legion, a unit organized by the British to fight in Palestine. Grandpa was shipped from Canada to the Middle East as a private in the 38th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, where he was assigned to a detachment guarding POWs in El Arish. Seventeen months after his enlistment, in February 1920, Grandpa was discharged, receiving a medal.
While still in the armed forces, he was invited to a Purim party in Tel Aviv held for Jewish soldiers. There he met his future wife, dentist Rachel Levy, and they married in 1920. They bought a small house on Rothschild Blvd. The next year my father was born.


Draft, Ww1

Meet the author

author avatar jonquil323
I grew up in Long Island, studied English at McGill in Montreal, and soon afterwards moved to Israel where I have lived on kibbutz for over 30 years.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
15th Aug 2012 (#)

Very interesting; reads like a thriller! siva

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author avatar A K Rao
15th Aug 2012 (#)

Interesting article and good narration too! Thanks for sharing!

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