Nazi plunder refers to art theft and other items stolen as a result of the organized looting of European countries during the time of the Third Reich by agents acting on behalf of the ruling Nazi Party of Germany. Plundering occurred from 1933 until the end of World War II by military units known as the Kunstschutz, although most plunder was acquired during the war. In addition to gold and currency, cultural items of great significance were stolen, including paintings, ceramics and religious treasures. Although most of these items were recovered by agents of the Monuments, Fine Arts, Archives program, on behalf of the Allies following the war, many are still missing. There is an international effort underway to identify Nazi plunder that still remains unaccounted for, with the aim of returning the items to the rightful owners, their families or their respective countries. Adolf Hitler was an unsuccessful artist, denied admission to the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. Nonetheless, he thought of himself as a connoisseur of the arts, in Mein Kampf he ferociously attacked modern art as degenerate, including Cubism and Dadaism, all of which he considered the product of a decadent twentieth century society.
In 1933 when Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, he enforced his aesthetic ideal on the nation. The types of art that were favored amongst the Nazi party were classical portraits and landscapes by Old Masters those of Germanic origin. Modern art that did not match this was dubbed degenerate art by the Third Reich, all, found in Germany's state museums was to be sold or destroyed. With the sums raised, the Führer's objective was to establish the European Art Museum in Linz. Other Nazi dignitaries, like Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring and Foreign Affairs minister von Ribbentrop, were intent on taking advantage of German military conquests to increase their private art collections. Art dealers Hildebrand Gurlitt, Karl Buchholz, Ferdinand Moeller and Bernhard Boehmer set up shop in Schloss Niederschonhausen, just outside Berlin, to sell a cache of near-16,000 paintings and sculptures which Hitler and Göring removed from the walls of German museums in 1937-38, they were first put on display in the Haus der Kunst in Munich on 19 July 1937, with the Nazi leaders inviting public mockery by two million visitors who came to view the condemned modern art in the Degenerate Art Exhibition.
Propagandist Joseph Goebbels in a radio broadcast called Germany's degenerate artists "garbage". Hitler opened the Haus der Kunst exhibition with a speech. In it he described German art as suffering "a great and fatal illness". Hildebrand Gurlitt and his colleagues did not have much success with their sales because art labelled "rubbish" had small appeal. So on 20 March 1939 they set fire to 1,004 paintings and sculptures and 3,825 watercolours and prints in the courtyard of the Berlin Fire Department, an act of infamy similar to their earlier well-known book burnings; the propaganda act raised the attention. The Basel Museum in Switzerland arrived with 50,000 Swiss francs to spend. Shocked art lovers came to buy. What is unknown after these sales is how many paintings were kept by Gurlitt, Buchholz and Boehmer and sold by them to Switzerland and America - ships crossed the Atlantic from Lisbon - for personal gain; the most infamous auction of Nazi looted art was the "degenerate art' auction organized by Theodor Fischer in Lucerne, Switzerland, 30 June 1939 at the Grand Hotel National.
The artworks on offer had been "de-accessioned" from German museums by the Nazis, yet many well known art dealers participated as well as proxies for major collectors and museums. Public auctions were only the visible tip of the iceberg, as many sales operated by art dealers were private; the Commission for Art Recovery has characterized Switzerland as "a magnet" for assets from the rise of Hitler until the end of World War II. Researching and documenting Switzerland's role "as an art-dealing centre and conduit for cultural assets in the Nazi period and in the immediate post-war period" was one of the missions of the Bergier Commission, under the directorship of Professor Georg Kreis. While the Nazis were in power, they plundered cultural property from every territory; this was conducted in a systematic manner with organizations created to determine which public and private collections were most valuable to the Nazi Regime. Some of the objects were earmarked for Hitler's never realized Führermuseum, some objects went to other high-ranking officials such as Hermann Göring, while other objects were traded to fund Nazi activities.
In 1940, an organization known as the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg für die Besetzten Gebiete, or ERR, was formed, headed for Alfred Rosenberg by Gerhard Utikal. The first operating unit, the western branch for France and the Netherlands, called the Dienststelle Westen, was located in Paris; the chief of this Dienststelle was Kurt von Behr. Its original purpose was to collect Jewish and Freemasonic books and documents, either for destruction, or for removal to Germany for further "study". However, late in 1940, Hermann Göring, who in fact controlled the ERR, issued an order that changed the mission of the ERR, mandating it to seize "Jewish" art collections and other objects; the war loot had to be collected in a central place in the Museum Jeu de Paume. At this collection point worked art historians and other personnel who inventoried the loot before sending it to Germany. Göring commanded that the loot would first be divided between Hitler and himself. Hitler ord
Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907
The Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 are a series of international treaties and declarations negotiated at two international peace conferences at The Hague in the Netherlands. Along with the Geneva Conventions, the Hague Conventions were among the first formal statements of the laws of war and war crimes in the body of secular international law. A third conference was planned for 1914 and rescheduled for 1915, but it did not take place due to the start of World War I; the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 were the first multilateral treaties that addressed the conduct of warfare and were based on the Lieber Code, signed and issued by U. S. President Abraham Lincoln to the Union Forces of the United States on 24 April 1863, during the American Civil War; the Lieber Code was the first official comprehensive codified law that set out regulations for behavior in times of martial law. As such, the code was regarded as the best summary of the first customary laws and customs of war in the 19th century and was welcomed and adopted by military establishments of other nations.
The 1874 Brussels Declaration listed 56 articles. Much of the regulations in the Hague Conventions were borrowed from the Lieber Code. Both conferences included negotiations concerning the laws of war and war crimes. A major effort in both conferences was the creation of a binding international court for compulsory arbitration to settle international disputes, considered necessary to replace the institution of war; this effort, failed at both conferences. Most of the countries present, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Persia, favored a process for binding international arbitration, but the provision was vetoed by a few countries, led by Germany; the First Hague Conference came from a proposal on 24 August 1898 by Russian Tsar Nicholas II. Nicholas and Count Mikhail Nikolayevich Muravyov, his foreign minister, were instrumental in initiating the conference; the conference opened on 18 May 1899, the Tsar's birthday. The treaties and final act of the conference were signed on 29 July of that year, they entered into force on 4 September 1900.
What is referred to as the Hague Convention of 1899 consisted of three main treaties and three additional declarations:: Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International DisputesThis convention included the creation of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which exists to this day. The section was ratified by all major powers and many smaller powers - 26 signatories in all, including Germany, Austria-Hungary, China, Spain, the United States of America, France, Great Britain and Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Siam and Norway, Switzerland and Bulgaria.: Convention with respect to the Laws and Customs of War on LandThis voluminous convention contains the laws to be used in all wars on land between signatories. It specifies the treatment of prisoners of war, includes the provisions of the Geneva Convention of 1864 for the treatment of the wounded, forbids the use of poisons, the killing of enemy combatants who have surrendered, looting of a town or place, the attack or bombardment of undefended towns or habitations.
Inhabitants of occupied territories may not be forced into military service against their own country and collective punishment is forbidden. The section was ratified by all major powers mentioned above.: Convention for the Adaptation to Maritime Warfare of the Principles of the Geneva Convention of 22 August 1864This convention provides for the protection of marked hospital ships and requires them to treat the wounded and shipwrecked sailors of all belligerent parties. It too was ratified by all major powers.: Declaration concerning the Prohibition of the Discharge of Projectiles and Explosives from Balloons or by Other New Analogous MethodsThis declaration provides that, for a period of five years, in any war between signatory powers, no projectiles or explosives would be launched from balloons, "or by other new methods of a similar nature." The declaration was ratified by all the major powers mentioned above, except the United Kingdom and the United States.: Declaration concerning the Prohibition of the Use of Projectiles with the Sole Object to Spread Asphyxiating Poisonous GasesThis declaration states that, in any war between signatory powers, the parties will abstain from using projectiles "the sole object of, the diffusion of asphyxiating or deleterious gases."
Ratified by all major powers, except the United States.: Declaration concerning the Prohibition of the Use of Bullets which can Easily Expand or Change their Form inside the Human Body such as Bullets with a Hard Covering which does not Completely Cover the Core, or containing IndentationsThis declaration states that, in any war between signatory powers, the parties will abstain from using "bullets which expand or flatten in the human body." This directly banned soft-point bullets and "cross-tipped" bullets (which had a cross-shaped incision in the
Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict
The Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict is the first international treaty that focuses on the protection of cultural property in armed conflict. It was signed at The Hague, Netherlands on 14 May 1954 and entered into force on 7 August 1956; as of September 2018, it has been ratified by 133 states. The provisions of the 1954 Convention were supplemented and clarified by two protocols concluded in 1954 and 1999. All three agreements are part of International Humanitarian Law, which, in the form of further agreements includes provisions defining the permissible means and methods of warfare and aiming at the widest possible protection of persons not involved in the fighting. In contrast to these parts of International Humanitarian Law, the agreements on the protection of cultural property were drawn up under the auspices of the United Nations. In addition to rules designed to ensure the protection and respect of cultural property during an armed conflict, these agreements provide for security measures to be implemented in times of peace.
As of June 2018, 132 states are party to the Hague Convention of 1954, 109 and 77 states have acceded to the Protocols of 1954 and 1999. Blue Shield International, based in The Hague, is active in the field of international coordination with regard to military and civil structures for the protection of cultural assets; the guiding principles of the Convention and the motivation for its conclusion and respect are summarised in the preamble, which states, among other things, "... that any damage to cultural property, irrespective of the people it belongs to, is a damage to the cultural heritage of all humanity, because every people contributes to the world's culture..." As of September 2018, 133 states are party to the treaty. There are 110 States Parties to the First Protocol; the Second Protocol has 82 States Parties. For the purposes of the present Convention, the term'cultural property' shall cover, irrespective of origin or ownership: movable or immovable property of great importance to the cultural heritage of every people, such as monuments of architecture, art or history, whether religious or secular.
Cultural property is the manifestation and expression of the cultural heritage of a group of people or a society. It is an expression of the ways of living developed by a community and passed on from generation to generation, including the customs of a people, their practices, objects, artistic endeavours and values; the protection of cultural property during times of armed conflict or occupation is of great importance, because such property reflects the life and identity of communities. The Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 preceded the Hague Convention of 1954; the multilateral agreement of 1899 and the amended version of 1907 contained in Article 27 the commandment for the attacking party to spare historical monuments, educational institutions and institutions of religious, not-for-profit, artistic or scientific significance as far as possible during sieges and bombardments. The party under attack is called upon to mark appropriate buildings. Article 56 contained a general ban on the confiscation, destruction or damage of such facilities.
However, during the First World War, acceptance of these first Hague Conventions was restricted by the so-called all-participation clause. It stated that, in the event of war or armed conflict, this Agreement should apply only if all States involved in that conflict are parties to the Convention; the Russian lawyer and writer Nicholas Roerich, who witnessed the destruction of cultural assets in Russia during the First World War and the October Revolution, initiated the development of an independent treaty at the beginning of the 1930s to protect cultural assets during armed conflicts. Ten years just before the beginning of the First World War, he had addressed his idea to the Russian Tsar Nicholas II. On his initiative, Georges Chklaver of the Institute for Higher International Studies at the University of Paris drew up a corresponding draft in 1929; this proposal was subsequently discussed by the International Museum Office of the League of Nations and at private conferences in Bruges in 1931 and 1932 and in Washington, D.
C. in 1933. The seventh international conference of American states, which took place in Buenos Aires in 1933, recommended the adoption of the draft; the Board of the Pan-American Union subsequently presented a treaty "on the protection of artistic and scientific institutions and historical monuments", signed on 15 April 1935 in the White House by 21 states in North and South America. Ten of the signatory states becam
Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy referred to in English as Leo Tolstoy, was a Russian writer, regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time. He received multiple nominations for Nobel Prize in Literature every year from 1902 to 1906, nominations for Nobel Peace Prize in 1901, 1902 and 1910, his miss of the prize is a major Nobel prize controversy. Born to an aristocratic Russian family in 1828, he is best known for the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina cited as pinnacles of realist fiction, he first achieved literary acclaim in his twenties with his semi-autobiographical trilogy, Childhood and Youth, Sevastopol Sketches, based upon his experiences in the Crimean War. Tolstoy's fiction includes dozens of short stories and several novellas such as The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Family Happiness, Hadji Murad, he wrote plays and numerous philosophical essays. In the 1870s Tolstoy experienced a profound moral crisis, followed by what he regarded as an profound spiritual awakening, as outlined in his non-fiction work A Confession.
His literal interpretation of the ethical teachings of Jesus, centering on the Sermon on the Mount, caused him to become a fervent Christian anarchist and pacifist. Tolstoy's ideas on nonviolent resistance, expressed in such works as The Kingdom of God Is Within You, were to have a profound impact on such pivotal 20th-century figures as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. Tolstoy became a dedicated advocate of Georgism, the economic philosophy of Henry George, which he incorporated into his writing Resurrection; the Tolstoys were a well-known family of old Russian nobility who traced their ancestry to a mythical nobleman named Indris described by Pyotr Tolstoy as arriving "from Nemec, from the lands of Caesar" to Chernigov in 1353 along with his two sons Litvinos and Zimonten and a druzhina of 3000 people. While the word "Nemec" has been long used to describe Germans only, at that time it was applied to any foreigner who didn't speak Russian. Indris was converted to Eastern Orthodoxy under the name of Leonty and his sons – as Konstantin and Feodor, respectively.
Konstantin's grandson Andrei Kharitonovich was nicknamed Tolstiy by Vasily II of Moscow after he moved from Chernigov to Moscow. Because of the pagan names and the fact that Chernigov at the time was ruled by Demetrius I Starshy some researches concluded that they were Lithuanians who arrived from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania part of the State of the Teutonic Order. At the same time, no mention of Indris was found in the 14th – 16th-century documents, while the Chernigov Chronicles used by Pyotr Tolstoy as a reference were lost; the first documented members of the Tolstoy family lived during the 17th century, thus Pyotr Tolstoy himself is considered the founder of the noble house, being granted the title of count by Peter the Great. Tolstoy was born at Yasnaya Polyana, a family estate 12 kilometres southwest of Tula, 200 kilometers south of Moscow, he was the fourth of five children of Count Nikolai Ilyich Tolstoy, a veteran of the Patriotic War of 1812, Countess Mariya Tolstaya. After his mother died when he was two and his father when he was nine and his siblings were brought up by relatives.
In 1844, he began studying law and oriental languages at Kazan University, where teachers described him as "both unable and unwilling to learn." Tolstoy left the university in the middle of his studies, returned to Yasnaya Polyana and spent much of his time in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, leading a lax and leisurely lifestyle. He began writing during this period, including his first novel Childhood, a fictitious account of his own youth, published in 1852. In 1851, after running up heavy gambling debts, he went with his older brother to the Caucasus and joined the army. Tolstoy served as a young artillery officer during the Crimean War and was in Sevastopol during the 11-month-long siege of Sevastopol in 1854–55, including the Battle of the Chernaya. During the war he was promoted to lieutenant, he was appalled by the number of deaths involved in warfare, left the army after the end of the Crimean War. His conversion from a dissolute and privileged society author to the non-violent and spiritual anarchist of his latter days was brought about by his experience in the army as well as two trips around Europe in 1857 and 1860–61.
Others who followed the same path were Mikhail Bakunin and Peter Kropotkin. During his 1857 visit, Tolstoy witnessed a public execution in Paris, a traumatic experience that would mark the rest of his life. Writing in a letter to his friend Vasily Botkin: "The truth is that the State is a conspiracy designed not only to exploit, but above all to corrupt its citizens... Henceforth, I shall never serve any government anywhere." Tolstoy's concept of non-violence or Ahimsa was bolstered when he read a German version of the Tirukkural. He instilled the concept in Mahatma Gandhi through his A Letter to a Hindu when young Gandhi corresponded with him seeking his advice, his European trip in 1860–61 shaped both his political and literary development when he met Victor Hugo, whose literary talents Tolstoy praised after reading Hugo's newly finished Les Misérables. The similar evocation of battle scenes in Hugo's novel and Tolstoy's War and Peace indicates this influence. Tolstoy's politi
The Roman triumph was a civil ceremony and religious rite of ancient Rome, held to publicly celebrate and sanctify the success of a military commander who had led Roman forces to victory in the service of the state or and traditionally, one who had completed a foreign war. On the day of his triumph, the general wore a crown of laurel and the all-purple, gold-embroidered triumphal toga picta, regalia that identified him as near-divine or near-kingly, was known to paint his face red, he rode in a four-horse chariot through the streets of Rome in unarmed procession with his army and the spoils of his war. At Jupiter's temple on the Capitoline Hill, he offered sacrifice and the tokens of his victory to the god Jupiter. Republican morality required that, despite these extraordinary honours, the general conduct himself with dignified humility, as a mortal citizen who triumphed on behalf of Rome's Senate and gods; the triumph offered extraordinary opportunities for self-publicity, besides its religious and military dimensions.
Most Roman festivals were calendar fixtures, while the tradition and law which reserved a triumph to extraordinary victory ensured that its celebration, attendant feasting, public games promoted the general's status and achievement. By the Late Republican era, triumphs were drawn out and extravagant, motivated by increasing competition among the military-political adventurers who ran Rome's nascent empire, in some cases prolonged by several days of public games and entertainments. From the Principate onwards, the triumph reflected the Imperial order and the pre-eminence of the Imperial family; the triumph was consciously imitated by medieval and states in the royal entry and other ceremonial events. In Republican Rome exceptional military achievement merited the highest possible honours, which connected the vir triumphalis to Rome's mythical and semi-mythical past. In effect, the general was close to being "king for a day", close to divinity, he wore the regalia traditionally associated both with the ancient Roman monarchy and with the statue of Jupiter Capitolinus: the purple and gold "toga picta", laurel crown, red boots and, again the red-painted face of Rome's supreme deity.
He was drawn in procession through the city in a four-horse chariot, under the gaze of his peers and an applauding crowd, to the temple of Capitoline Jupiter. The spoils and captives of his victory led the way. Once at the Capitoline temple, he sacrificed two white oxen to Jupiter and laid tokens of his victory at Jupiter's feet, dedicating his victory to the Roman Senate and gods. Triumphs were tied to season, or religious festival of the Roman calendar. Most seem to have been celebrated at the earliest practicable opportunity on days that were deemed auspicious for the occasion. Tradition required; the ceremony was thus, in some sense, shared by the whole community of Roman gods, but overlaps were inevitable with specific festivals and anniversaries. Some may have been coincidental. For example, March 1, the festival and dies natalis of the war god Mars, was the traditional anniversary of the first triumph by Publicola, of six other Republican triumphs, of the first Roman triumph by Romulus.
Pompey postponed his third and most magnificent triumph for several months to make it coincide with his own dies natalis. Religious dimensions aside, the focus of the triumph was the general himself; the ceremony promoted him – however temporarily – above every mortal Roman. This was an opportunity granted to few. From the time of Scipio Africanus, the triumphal general was linked to Alexander and the demi-god Hercules, who had laboured selflessly for the benefit of all mankind, his sumptuous triumphal chariot was bedecked with charms against the possible envy and malice of onlookers. In some accounts, a companion or public slave would remind him from time to time of his own mortality. Rome's earliest "triumphs" were simple victory parades, celebrating the return of a victorious general and his army to the city, along with the fruits of his victory, ending with some form of dedication to the gods; this is so for the earliest legendary and semi-legendary triumphs of Rome's regal era, when the king functioned as Rome's highest magistrate and war-leader.
As Rome's population, power and territory increased, so did the scale, length and extravagance of its triumphal processions. The procession mustered in the open space of the Campus Martius well before first light. From there, all unforeseen delays and accidents aside, it would have managed a slow walking pace at best, punctuated by various planned stops en route to its final destination of the Capitoline temple, a distance of just under 4 km. Triumphal processions were notoriously slow; some ancient and modern sources suggest a standard processional order. First came the captive leaders and soldiers walking in chains, their captured weapons, gold, silver and curious or exotic treasures were carted behind them, along with paintings and models depicting significant places and episodes of the war. Next in line, all on foot, came Rome's senators and magistrate
Prize of war
A prize of war is a piece of enemy property or land seized by a belligerent party during or after a war or battle at sea. This term was used nearly in terms of captured ships during the 18th and 19th centuries. Rules defining how prizes were claimed and administered originated before there were organized government navies and were an outgrowth of privateering. Current international treaties provide for the retention of personal property by captured soldiers as well as issues of personal equipment in their possession when captured, but excluding certain issue items such as weapons, horses and military documents. Non-personal equipment, artillery pieces, stockpiles of food and equipment and other material are outside the scope of these treaties. Prizes in World War II included a German submarine called HMS Graph, U-505, captured by elements of the United States Navy in a task force commanded by then-Captain Daniel V. Gallery. U-505 is a museum ship at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.
Although not taken in combat, two Gorch Fock class barques were confiscated from Germany as reparation prizes at the conclusion of World War II, one of which remains in US service as USCGC Eagle. The passenger ship HMT Empire Windrush, which had a notable role in the post-war history of the United Kingdom, was a German ship, confiscated after the war; the Russian ship Kruzenshtern, the largest traditional sailing vessel in operation, was the German ship Padua, before being taken over by the Soviet Union in 1946. Quantities of Iraqi military materiel captured during the Gulf War are held by US museums. Materiel captured as a result of the Falklands War was reused by the British Armed Forces; this included two Agusta A109 helicopters captured by the British Army, SAS from the Argentine Army which were used by the Army Air Corps until 2007. Oerlikon GDF-002 AA guns and Skyguard FC radars were put into service by the Royal Aux Air Force for some 10 years. Copenhagenization List of ships captured in the 18th century List of ships captured in the 19th century Prize Prize money War looting War trophy
Imperial Russian Army
The Imperial Russian Army was the land armed force of the Russian Empire, active from around 1721 to the Russian Revolution of 1917. In the early 1850s, the Russian army consisted of more than 900,000 regular soldiers and nearly 250,000 irregulars; the last living veteran of the Russian Imperial Army was Ukrainian supercentenarian Mikhail Krichevsky, who died in 2008. Russian tsars before Peter the Great maintained professional hereditary musketeer corps known as streltsy; these were raised by Ivan the Terrible. In times of war the armed forces were augmented by peasants; the regiments of the new order, or regiments of the foreign order, was the Russian term, used to describe military units that were formed in the Tsardom of Russia in the 17th century according to the Western European military standards. There were different kinds of regiments, such as the regulars and reiters. In 1631, the Russians created two regular regiments in Moscow. During the Smolensk War of 1632–1634, six more regular regiments, one reiter regiment, a dragoon regiment were formed.
They recruited children of the landless boyars and streltsy, volunteers and others. Commanding officers comprised foreigners. After the war with Poland, all of the regiments were disbanded. During another Russo-Polish War, they were created again and became a principal force of the Russian army. Regular and dragoon regiments were manned with datochniye lyudi for lifelong military service. Reiters were manned with small or landless gentry and boyars' children and were paid with money for their service. More than a half of the commanding officers were representatives from the gentry. In times of peace, some of the regiments were disbanded. In 1681, there were 25 dragoon and reiter regiments. In the late 17th century, regiments of the new type represented more than a half of the Russian Army and in the beginning of the 18th century were used for creating a regular army. Conscription in Russia was introduced by Peter the Great in December 1699, though reports say Peter's father used it; the conscripts were called "recruits" Peter I formed a modern regular army built on the German model, but with a new aspect: officers not from nobility, as talented commoners were given promotions that included a noble title at the attainment of an officer's rank.
Conscription of peasants and townspeople was based on quota system, per settlement. It was based on the number of households it was based on the population numbers; the term of service in the 18th century was for life. In 1793 it was reduced to 25 years. In 1834, it was reduced to 20 years plus five years in the reserve, in 1855 to 12 years plus three years in the reserve; the history of the Russian army in this era was linked to the name of Russian General Alexander Suvorov, considered one of a few great generals in history who never lost a battle. From 1777 to 1783 Suvorov served in the Crimea and in the Caucasus, becoming a lieutenant-general in 1780, general of infantry in 1783, on the conclusion of his work there. From 1787 to 1791 he again fought the Turks during the Russo-Turkish War of 1787–1792 and won many victories. Suvorov's leadership played a key role in a Russian victory over the Poles during the Kościuszko Uprising; as a major European power, Russia could not escape the wars involving Revolutionary France and the First French Empire, but as an adversary to Napoleon, the leadership of the new tsar, Alexander I of Russia, who came to the throne as the result of his father's murder became crucial.
The Russian army in 1805 had many characteristics of Ancien Régime organization: there was no permanent formation above the regimental level, senior officers were recruited from aristocratic circles, the Russian soldier, in line with 18th-century practice, was beaten and punished to instill discipline. Furthermore, many lower-level officers were poorly trained and had difficulty getting their men to perform the sometimes complex manoeuvres required in a battle; the Russians did have a fine artillery arm manned by soldiers trained in academies and who would fight hard to prevent their pieces from falling into enemy hands. Napoleon defeated the Russians and Austrians at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805. On August 26, 1827, Nicholas I of Russia declared the "Statute on Conscription Duty"; this statute made it mandatory that all Russian males ages twelve to twenty-five were now required to serve in the Russian armed forces for 25 years. This was the first time that the massive Jewish population was required to serve in the Russian military.
The reasoning for Nicolas for mandatory conscription was because “in the military they would learn not only Russian but useful skills and crafts, they would become his loyal subjects."Many Jewish families began to emigrate out of the Russian Empire in order to escape the conscription obligations. Due to this, the government began to employ khappers who would kidnap Jewish children and turn them over to the government for conscription, it became known that "the khappers were not scrupulous about adhering to the minimum age of 12 and impressed children as young as 8."