World War II’s ‘GI Jews’ fought Hitler and anti-Semitism

World War II’s ‘GI Jews’ fought Hitler and anti-Semitism

“GI Jews: Jewish Americans in World War II” airs Wednesday on PBS (10 p.m.) in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The documentary, from filmmaker Lisa Ades (“Miss America”), spotlights the 550,000 Jewish men and women who served in the US armed forces from 1941-45, some experiencing anti-Semitism and racism for the first time.

Included are interviews with, among others, Mel Brooks, Henry Kissinger and Bronx-born TV legend Carl Reiner, who recounts his experiences at basic training at Camp Crowder in Neosho, MO.

“I was sleeping on an upper bed when I heard a voice from the other side of the room,” Reiner, 96, tells The Post, slipping into a thick Southern accent. “ ‘Reiner? Are you a Jewwww?’ I said, ‘Yes, why do you ask?’ He says, ‘Do you know a man named Goldfarb?’ I said, ‘No, where is he from?’ He says, ‘He’s from Shreveport. He owns a grocery store. He ain’t a bad guy. You don’t know him?’ He figured all Jews knew each other.

“That was also the first time I encountered racism,” says Reiner. “We were taking a signal battalion course and there was a black battalion — they didn’t have their own barracks so they were upstairs in our barracks, but we used the same toilet. One day I was peeing next to one of the black soldiers and when I got back to my foot locker, the guy next to me said, ‘You know who you were talking to? You notice he’s a [N-word]? You think a [N-word] can be smarter than a white man?’ I said, ‘Well, offhand, what about [actor] Paul Robeson?’ who spoke several languages, including Russian. He’d never heard of him. ‘I speak American,’ he said.”

“GI Jews” also explores how Jewish American soldiers felt fighting fascism while liberating loved ones still living in Europe.

“We knew how important it was for us to be there,” Reiner says.

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https://nypost.com/2018/04/10/world-war-iis-g-i-jews-fought-hitler-and-anti-semitism/

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