Jewish American Soldiers (03:56)
More than 500,000 Jewish Americans served in the United States armed forces in World War II. Many of them were the children of immigrants who had fled religious persecution in Europe.
Jewish Americans in the 1930s (03:31)
More than four million Jews lived in the United States in the 1930s, with half living in New York. Many lived in Jewish neighborhoods and faced suspicion and antisemitism elsewhere. Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party were coming to power in Germany.
Jews at the Start of World War II (06:10)
Thousands of Jews fled Germany after Kristallnacht in 1938. Rumors about Hitler killing Jews had reached Jewish communities in America, but most of the country did not support going to war. Thousands of Jewish men and women enlisted or were drafted after Pearl Harbor was bombed.
Jewish Soldiers at Basic Training (06:09)
Many soldiers from small towns or rural areas had never met a Jew before arriving at training camp. Jewish soldiers faced antisemitism from other soldiers. More Orthodox Jewish soldiers struggled to follow all religious practices.
Judaism in the Military (03:15)
The United States military was segregated by race during World War II. The military worked to incorporate Jewish soldiers to reduce religious hatred that could harm troop cohesion. Many Jewish soldiers feared their religious marked dog tags would lead to worse treatment if they were captured.
Jewish Soldiers in Europe (06:23)
The Axis Powers were winning the war when American soldiers arrived in January of 1942. By December, it was reported that Hitler was exterminating Jews throughout Europe. Many American soldiers were first stationed in England.
German Jewish Soldiers (03:05)
Jewish soldiers, who had fled from Germany before the war, used their knowledge and language skills to assist in the war effort. Many were drafted into counterintelligence operations.
Jewish Soldiers in the Pacific (03:03)
Most Jewish soldiers wanted to fight against Hitler in Europe. Captured soldiers faced harsh treatment from Japanese soldiers.
Judaism in Combat (04:30)
The Allied Forces’ first victory was in Sicily, shortly before Yom Kippur. Some soldiers were forced to fight on Jewish holidays or go without blessings offered to Catholic soldiers.
Jewish Soldiers at D-Day (05:37)
Jewish soldiers trained and prepared for invading Nazi-occupied Europe, some believing they would die. Many watched hundreds of their friends die and numerous religious services were held for the dead.
Religious Tolerance in the Military (03:44)
Soldiers formed close relationships despite their religious differences. The war helped many Americans to stop seeing Jewish people as different. Many Jews remained in hiding after the Allies liberated France.
Jewish Soldiers in Germany (04:33)
In September 1944, Americans crossed into Germany. Soldier held the first Jewish services in Germany since Hitler's rise for power.
Jewish POWs (05:36)
More than 15,000 American soldiers were taken prison at the Battle of the Bulge. Nazi soldiers singled out Jewish POWs and many were killed.
Jewish Soldiers at Iwo Jima (04:13)
Iwo Jima was one of the deadliest battles in the Pacific. A rabbi was originally picked to oversee a joint memorial service, but after objections from soldiers, a service was held for each religion.
Jewish Soldiers at Camp Liberations (08:37)
By 1945, Americans and Soviets were finding and liberating Nazi concentration camps. Most of the freed prisoners did not speak English, so Jewish soldiers spoke to them in Yiddish.
Jewish Soldiers at the End of World War II (04:05)
At the end of the war in Europe, some Jewish soldiers were overwhelmed by the horrors they had witnessed. The war ended in the Pacific a few months later and millions of soldiers returned home.
Jewish Veterans at Home (07:41)
Many returning servicemen challenged the anti-Semitic laws in the United States. Many wanted to be more active about being a Jew and fought for Civil Rights.
Credits: GI Jews: Jewish Americans in World War II (02:32)
Credits: GI Jews: Jewish Americans in World War II
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