Burg, Meno

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BURG, MENO (Menke ; 1788 or 1789–1853), Prussian officer. After studies at the Berlin Stadtschule (the later famous Gymnasium zum Grauen Kloster) and the Berlin Bauakademie, Burg became land surveyor in 1807. Six years later, after the appeal "An mein Volk" by Prussian king Frederick William iii, he sought to enter the Prussian guard, but was refused because of his religion. Through the good offices of the king's uncle, Prince August of Prussia, he was allowed to enter the artillery and became an officer, teaching geometry at several military academies in Danzig and Berlin. Here he published a didactic treatise on the subject. Despite his military rank, he was never an active combatant (conceivably to prevent him as a Jew from commanding Christian soldiers in a battle). Burg was an active member of the Berlin Jewish community, including service on its board of directors (probably in 1849–50). Though he had considered conversion in 1824, some years later, when he was asked to become a Protestant, he refused. He remained the only Jew in Prussia's officer corps in the 19th century, a celebrity known as "Judenmajor." When he died, 60,000 people are said to have gathered for the funeral. In his later years he wrote his memoirs, which were published posthumously (Geschichte meines Dienstlebens, 1854; 1909 with a foreword by Ludwig *Geiger; 1998 with forewords by Geiger and Hermann Simon).


R. Rieger, in: Deutsche Juedische Soldaten (1996), 125–36.

[Marcus Pyka (2nd ed.)]