More than 250,000 Jews served in the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I. Yet, their stories – and the stories of those who remained in the U.S. during the war – often remain untold.
Hailed by Time magazine as “a deep dive into a strange, history-shaking year” and by the New York Times as “remarkably prescient”, For Liberty: American Jewish Experience in WWI, the latest special exhibition at the National WWI Museum and Memorial, portrays what life was like as an American Jew on the home front and the battlefield through remarkable stories and unique artifacts.
“One of the most noteworthy aspects of this exhibition is the unique perspective it provides,” said National WWI Museum and Memorial Senior Curator Doran Cart. “Seeing these extraordinary objects in person and gaining a deeper understanding of American Jewish lives during WWI is a truly incredible experience.”
Featured objects from the exhibition include a letter from American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) leader Louis Marshall appealing to Jewish philanthropists like Julius Rosenwald to support the Ten Million Dollar Fund, American Jewish composer Irving Berlin’s draft registration card, and a handwritten draft of The Balfour Declaration by Leon Simon from July of 1917, the document that eventually paved the way for the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel.
The trials and tribulations and the lasting effects of WWI on the American Jewish population are also shown through artifacts such as a map that notes the amounts pledged to the JDC for Jewish war sufferers and a poster showing a shipment of kosher meat being loaded onto the SS Ashburnin New York City, bound for Danzig, Poland.
This special exhibition will be open to the public at the National WWI Museum and Memorial from Friday, June 29 – Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018.