(Above: Max Fuchs, left in prayer shawl, October 29, 1944, during the first Jewish service broadcast from Germany since the rise of Hitler. Americans listened live on NBC Radio. Photo courtesy Max Fuchs.)
GI Jews: Jewish Americans in World War II, a 90-minute documentary focusing on more than 550,000 Jewish Americans who served in the US Armed Forces during the conflict, premieres on PBS stations today at 10 pm ET (but check local listings). It then goes online tomorrow, which is also Holocaust Remembrance Day.
GI Jews features more than 25 new interviews with Jewish-American veterans about their World War II experiences. Those interviewed include entertainment icons Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner; statesman Henry Kissinger; the late Bea Cohen, who was a member of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps; and Private First Class Max Fuchs, who served as cantor at a historic Jewish service in Aachen, Germany that was broadcast live by NBC Radio on October 29, 1944:
“While Jewish Americans’ relationship to the Holocaust has been covered extensively, the extraordinary experiences of these servicemen and women bring the well-known saga of World War II to life in a new way and with a uniquely Jewish perspective,” said the film’s producer and director, Lisa Ades (an Emmy nominee for New York: A Documentary Film).
After today’s over-the-air premiere, which anyone can see free with a TV antenna, GI Jewish Americans in World War II will be available for free streaming starting tomorrow at pbs.org/gijews.
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