GI JEWS: Jewish Americans in World War II

Directed By: Lisa Ades / 87 Minutes
USA / 2017 / English
Documentary / Other
Exhibition Format: DCP, Prores/QT


GI JEWS: Jewish Americans in World War II tells the profound and unique story of the 550,000 Jewish American men and women who served in World War II.
Through the eyes of the servicemen and women, the film brings to life the story of Jews in World War II – as active participants in the fight against Hitler, bigotry and intolerance.

Jewish Americans fought on two fronts: for America and for Jews worldwide. Like all Americans, they fought against fascism, but they also fought a more personal fight—to save their brethren in Europe. In the midst of it all, they battled anti-Semitism within the ranks of the U.S. military—facing slurs and violence from their fellow servicemen.

Veterans both famous and unknown bring their war experiences to life: writer/directors Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner tell stories of being Jewish in training with humor and pathos. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and artist Si Lewen escaped Nazi Germany as teenagers, then returned to their homeland to fight as American soldiers. Ellan Levitsky nursed the wounded after D-Day, and Lt. Lester Tanner was saved by his Protestant commanding officer in a Nazi POW camp.

The film also features the stories of Jewish veterans now deceased, including NYC mayor Ed Koch, baseball star Hank Greenberg, and writers Norman Mailer, J.D. Salinger, Leon Uris and Joseph Heller, who transformed their war experiences into powerful literature.

In the end, the story of the Jewish GIs is the story of becoming American – the story of immigrants who earned their citizenship by shedding blood, and fought for democracy and tolerance abroad and at home.