REICHSBUND JUEDISCHER FRONTSOLDATEN (RJF), organization of Jewish war veterans in Germany. Founded in February 1919 in Berlin (and simultaneously in other major cities) by Captain Leo Loewenstein (1877–1956), a scientist who had played an important role in the German war effort, the Reichsbund was formed to counteract the widespread anti-Jewish feeling prevalent after the post-World War I breakdown. These feelings were nurtured by the commonly held prejudice that Jews had either evaded conscription or had held safe office jobs in the army. A further impetus to its formation was offered by the exclusion of Jews from the Stahlhelm, the right-wing paramilitary veterans' organization. During the chaotic days of 1923–24 some Reichsbund members participated in street fights and guarded the Berlin Fasanenstrasse synagogue. Slighter activities were to discourage Jewish actors from telling vulgar Jewish jokes and persuading Jews not to wear ostentatious clothing and jewelry during the High Holy Days. The Reichsbund grew rapidly and by 1933 had more than 30,000 members in about 400 branches and published a periodical, Der Schild. Special stress was put on physical education (after 1933 judo and boxing in particular) and agricultural training. After the Nazi rise to power the Reichsbund tried to obtain preferred treatment for war veterans and for long-settled Jewish families. These demands, acknowledged by President Hindenburg, were ignored by the Nazis. The Reichsbund originally refused to join the Reichsvertretung der Juden in Deutschland (see *Reichsvereinigung) because of Zionist participation, and protested, with official approval, at the outcry abroad against Nazi anti-Jewish excesses. The Reichsbund eventually joined the Reichsvertretung and, with other Jewish organizations, was dissolved after 1938.
K.J. Herrmann, Das dritte Reich und die deutsch-juedischen Organisationen 1933–1934 (1969); A. Asch, in: AJR Information, 16 (Aug., 1961); M. Kreutzberger (ed.), Bibliothek und Archiv (1970) index S.V. RJF.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.