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Dr Saul Issroff presents this information about Jewish enrollment in the Russian army followed by a translation of the certificate of his grandfather Yudel Isroff's enrollment in Ligum in Nov. 1878.


Prof John Klier (University College, London) notes that after the Military reforms of 1874 in the Russian Empire all male citizens of whatever class were eligible for the draft of a seven-year term of service. There were some reductions of the period for those with education. There were a number of exemptions for various categories: only sons, second sons of families with a son already in service, support of widows, etc. The call-up affected 21 year olds (but there were exceptions).

Yudel almost certainly never served in the army, but the document was probably kept because the family would have been required to show that they had no family members eligible for military service when they emigrated.

My grandfather, Yudel Isroff, enrolled in the army in Legum in Nov. 1878. The family was supposedly from Linkuva/ Pamusha, but do not appear on many records there.

This is a translation of the certificate of my grandfather's Russian Military conscription and exemption. (Somewhere I have a scan of it!!)



Urban artisan Class (meshchantsvo) citizen of Ligumiai Jewish Society, Siauliai District Kovno province.


Has attended the military conscription for 1888 and has been enlisted as Class 1 Ratnik

Issued by Pavelsk district Authority Military Commission on 22 Noember, 1888, number 2578

Signed Commission's Chairman Stamp.

The Jew's particulars: Yudel Lipmanovich ISEROV

Height: 165.6 cm
Chest size: 81.7 cm
Hair: Black
Eyes: brown
Nose: moderate
Face: Clean ( means no beard)
Rounded chin
Special features: -
Visible illnesses: -
Physical deformities:-

Signed: Chairman of the local Military Commission Siauliai district.

Article 154. Upon completion of the recruitment for active Military Service, the district, area or town authorities undertake a medical check-up of all other persons due for conscription in accordance with article 116, except those persons eligible for Class 1 benefits due to their Family Status. Those accepted as fit for military service will be enlisted by the authority for Class 1 Reserve service, all others, including those eligible for benefits and the rest, except for those whose physical appearance renders them unfit for carrying arms, will be enlisted as Class 2 Reserve.

Note: Persons eligible for Class 1 benefits in accordance with their family status shall, if or when their family statues alters, be transferred to Class 1 reserve service, provided their state of health renders them fit for Military Service.

Art. 303: Persons enlisted in the Reserve Service are called "Ratniks" and are divided into two classes. The first one incorporates the reserve forces and the regular ones, which, when depleted will make use of persons under the age of 43, enlisted into that class of the reserve service (Art. 154) and persons remanded in the reserve forces, when discharged from the active Service in the army and navy. Class 2, applied only within the reserve, incorporates persons enlisted into that class when drafted. The junior four ages of Class 1 Reserve, i.e. persons enlisted in that class at the last four drafts, shall come under the regulations, adopted by the mutual consent of the Defence and Interior Ministers, and, by His Majesty's permission may be called up for military manoeuvres, but no more than twice within the first four years after being enlisted for Class 2, and each time for no more than 6 weeks.

Art. 364. The non-appearance on time for military manoeuvres with no legal reason behind it will incur, for those found guilty (including the reserve lower ranks and Class 1 Ratniks) such punishment as is stipulated for avoiding conscription as per art. 140 of the Military Code for Punishment (Military regulations, Book XXII)