Whether they came from Sioux Falls or the Bronx, over half a million Jews entered the U.S. armed forces during the Second World War. Uprooted from their working- and middle-class neighborhoods, they joined every branch of the military and saw action on all fronts. Deborah Dash Moore offers an unprecedented view of the struggles these GI Jews faced, having to battle not only the enemy but also the prejudices of their fellow soldiers.Through memoirs, oral histories, and letters, Moore charts the lives of fifteen young Jewish men as they faced military service and tried to make sense of its demands. From confronting pork chops to enduring front-line combat, from the temporary solace of Jewish worship to harrowing encounters with death camp survivors, we come to understand how these soldiers wrestled with what it meant to be an American and a Jew.Moore shows how military service in World War II transformed this generation of Jews, reshaping Jewish life in America and abroad. These men challenged perceptions of Jews as simply victims of the war, and encouraged Jews throughout the diaspora to fight for what was right. At the same time, service strengthened Jews' identification with American democratic ideals, even as it confirmed the importance of their Jewish identity. GI Jews is a powerful, intimate portrayal of the costs of a conflict that was at once physical, emotional, and spiritual, as well as its profound consequences for these hitherto overlooked members of the "greatest generation."
A poignant account of the perils and fortunes of an indomitable survivor of violence in Eastern Europe during World War II.
In 1939, to escape Nazi occupation, 14-year-old Adam Broner and his older brother Sam left their home and family in Lodz, Poland, and made their way to the Soviet Union. Adam enlisted in the Red Army to join the fight against the Nazis but was sent to work in a Siberian coal mine instead when his nationality was discovered. After a bold and daring escape from Siberia, Broner reached the Soviet Polish Kosciuszko Army, joined the struggle against the Nazis, participated in the liberation of Poland, and rode victorious into Berlin in 1945. He later learned that his parents, siblings (except Sam), and all other close relatives had perished during the war.
Broner rebuilt his life, established a family, returned to Moscow for a degree in economics, and then went back to Poland, where he accepted a job in the Polish central planning agency. Eventually fed up with the growing anti-Semitism of the Communist government there, the author emigrated to the United States in 1969. He earned a doctorate from Princeton University and served as an economic adviser to New Jersey governors and the state legislature. In retirement, Broner learned portrait painting and reproduced the likenesses of his parents and siblings from memory, which are presented along with their biographies in this book.
In recounting his struggle for survival during some of the most dramatic upheavals of the 20th century— the Great Depression, Nazism, World War II, and the spread of Communism in Central Europe— Broner reveals a life dedicated to the ultimate goal of freedom, which he achieved through a combination of arduous effort and fortunate circumstance.
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