Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Friday, January 5, 2018

“Back from the Draft” - A Short Story by Sholom Aleichman- 1904

Sholeim Aleicham - Born Ukraine 1859,died New York City, 1916, by far best known Yiddish writer.  His stories are the basis for Fiddler on the Roof.

Nicholas II, the Last Russian Czar (reigned 1894 to 1917) issued an order requiring all Jewish boys (some were drafted at age six) to report to the Draft Board to determine if they are fit for service.  It meant twenty five years in the Russian Army.  Nicholas II, not the brightest guy, thought this would deprive the Jews of any identity but that of Russian and help unify the country.  It had the exact opposite impact and caused wide spread Jewish hatred for the Romanovs.  If a boy was the only surviving son of a family he was exempted and if he was medically unsound he received an exemption.

Our narrator, wonderfully played by Jerry Stiller, Is outraged.  His only son has a “first class exemption” so why does he get a letter saying report to the Draft board.  He and his wife had another son but long ago he was killed in an accident at age one.  The narrator finds out the government Rabbi, who kept records, never bothered to report this death so it looks like the exemption is invalid.  He gets this, he thinks, fixed but one crazy thing after another keeps happening.  

“Back from the Draft” is a very funny story.  Anyone who was ever subject to a very unwanted military Draft will totally relate to this story.

Mel u


Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Fortunately, we've never had draft in India, most certainly not after Independence in 1947, but I can scarcely imagine how traumatic it can be for families who are forced to send their sons into an "unwanted military draft". But I'm glad this is a funny story, humour in uniform so to speak.

Mudpuddle said...

brings back memories of my youth, when the draft was in effect; a bad, evil time in the U.S.... come to think of it, the present isn't all that great, either...

Mel u said...

Prashant Trikannad. Long ago I was subject to Draft to fight against Vietnam. I’m so lucky in that I got a very high draft lottery number that saved me. I hated the war.

Mel u said...

Mudpuddle. Around 1967 I drew number 325 in the American Draft lottery, which saved me from being drafted to fight against Vietnam in a totally absurd war. Are things worse in America now? Yes seem worse to me