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Cantonists

(1,706 words)

Author(s): Christhardt Henschel, Leipzig
Term for underage soldiers in the Russian Empire, among whom were many Jewish boys between 1827 and 1856 in particular. The state authorities viewed the recruitment and the term of service, which was full of deprivation, as instruments for the assimilation and modernization of the Jewish population. The involvement of the Kahal in the recruitment system contributed to its weakening. The former cantonists belonged to the first Jews who were granted settlement outside of the Pale of Settlement due to their acculturation.From 1719 onwards, every regiment in the Russian military established educational institutions for boys. The pupils of these institutions initially were sons of the military staff, later also of military settlers who worked as farmers in enclosed settlement areas. There also were orphaned, vagrant, or criminal children as well as descendants of destitute nobles and officers whose integration into military education followed an impetus from the social services. The admission to the educational in…
Date: 2017-08-17