Jewish Soldiers in World War II


​Project Director: Prof. Simha Goldin



Dr. Galit Haddad:

Tel: 03-6405319 

Dr. Françoise Simcha Ouzan:

Tel: 03-6409679

Dr. Leonid Smilovitsky:

About the Project 


During World War II more than 1.5 million Jews participated in the fight against Nazi Germany as soldiers in the armies of the nations in which they lived.  This project focuses on various aspects of this fascinating phenomenon of Jewish history – the recruitment and service of Jewish soldiers across a number of countries.


The center held a series of international conferences, on December 8-10, 2014, on May 19, 2016, and on April 20, 2017. Based on these conferences, a collection of articles discussing a wide variety of countries and reflecting various aspects of the Jewish struggle is expected to be published in 2025, as a new volume of our academic series Michael: On the History of the Jews in the Diaspora.


The Center also held the online symposium: Patriotism, Combat, and Jewish Identity: The Experience of Jewish Soldiers in the Two World Wars. This event was organized by Dr. Françoise (Simcha) Ouzan and Dr. Galit Hadad; it took place on July 6, 2022 and it is available for viewing on the Center’s YouTube Channel.


During the 2021-2022 academic year, the Center, in cooperation with the Wiener Library for the Study of the Nazi Era and the Holocaust, the Department of Jewish History, and the Chaim Rosenberg School of Jewish Studies and Archaeology of the Lester and Sally Entin Faculty of Humanities at Tel Aviv University, held a series of online lectures open to the public, on the topic “Jewish Fighters in World War II and the Shoah”. The lectures, delivered by leading scholars in the field, are available on the Center’s YouTube Channel as well.


In 2018 the Center was awarded a generous grant by the Claims Conference in support of this innovative research.


Jews in the American Army in World War II: Experiences Abroad and Meaningful Encounters

Researcher: Dr. Françoise Simcha Ouzan


Dr. Ouzan’s research focuses on the personal narratives concerning American Jewish soldiers in French territories, the Pacific, India, and Europe during the course of World War II. Her work endeavors to compare captivity under the Japanese and the Nazis through available testimonies provided by families of prisoners of war. She has also conducted additional research on the liberation of death camps by Jewish soldiers for a forthcoming article. 

Dr. Ouzan’s new book True to My God and Country: How Jewish Americans Fought in World War II, was published by Indiana University Press in 2024.


Correspondence and Personal Documents as Historical Sources: Jewish Soldiers in the Red Army

Researcher: Dr. Leonid Smilovitsky 

This project examines the correspondence and personal documents of Jewish soldiers in the Soviet Army during World War II, which Dr. Smilovitsky is collecting and analyzing. 

His upcoming book: Jews in the Red Army is planned to be published as part of the Rethinking Diaspora series by De Gruyter.


Dr. Smilovitsky has also created a catalogue of the materials he used in his research and this catalogue is now available to researchers, students, and all who are interested in World War II. Access to the materials should be coordinated in advance with Dr. Smilovitsky.

To the catalogue >


The Experience of Captivity: Jewish Prisoners of War (1940–1945)

Researcher: Dr. Galit Haddad


As a result of the military disaster of the Battle of France, around 1.8 million French soldiers were sent to POW camps in Germany, including some 10,000 to 15,000 French POWs of Jewish descent. Despite their Jewishness, they were granted a relatively protected status behind the barbed wire and were repatriated to France at the end of the war. Based on previously unexplored archival materials, this study aims to uncover the multi-faceted captivity experience of the French-Jewish POWs who fell into German hands while fighting for France. It sheds new light on the extent of racial discrimination that Jewish POWs encountered in camps, and uncovers the contradictory role played by the collaborationist Vichy regime in shaping the fate of “their” prisoners of war of Jewish descent.

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