Joselovich, Berek – Polish Jewish Colonel who fought the Russians

Berek Joselewicz

Berek Joselewicz

In 1794 Colonel Berek Joselovich was commisioned by Kosciusko to form a light horse regiment from among the Jews of Warsaw, Poland, to fight the Russians. (It was Berek’s idea to have a all Jewish unit). Joselewicz, along with another Jew named Joseph Aronowicz, issued a patriotic call-to-arms in Yiddish denouncing Russia and Prussia, eliciting hundreds of volunteers, mostly poor tradeworkers and artisans. His men were popularly known as the ‘beardings’ because they obeyed the religious custom of growning a beard. He and his 500 men fought bravely, especially in the defense of Warsaw. But in the siege of a suburb of warsaw called Praga, he lost almost all his soldiers.
Then when Napoleon took on Russia, Joselovich served under Napoleon in the Polish Legion. He was killed in an encounter with Austrian hussars near Kotzk. There the people raised a mound to his memory.
Berek was a knight of the Polish Gold Cross and the Virtuti Militari.
Berek’s son was Josef Berkowicz, and he was in the same battle where his father was killed. He quitted the military service in 1815, and was appointed forester of the government forests of Troki, and later elsewhere as well.
He also served in the Polish revolution and ended up in England, where he wrote a novel “Stanislaus, or the Polish Lancer in the Suite of Napoleon from the Island of Elba.” This book was published after his death by his family.


Posted on September 22, 2011, in Military. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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