Ellin BessnerMar 18, 2023
Canadian Jews, the Military, and World War II
New Jewish Press 2018
Today I talked to Ellin Bessner about her book Double Threat: Canadian Jews, the Military, and World War II (New Jewish Press, 2018).
"He died so Jewry should suffer no more." These words on a Canadian Jewish soldier's tombstone in Normandy inspired the author to explore the role of Canadian Jews in the war effort. As PM Mackenzie King wrote in 1947, Jewish servicemen faced a "double threat" - they were not only fighting against Fascism but for Jewish survival. At the same time, they encountered widespread antisemitism and the danger of being identified as Jews if captured. Bessner conducted hundreds of interviews and extensive archival research to paint a complex picture of the 17,000 Canadian Jews - about 10 per cent of the Jewish population in wartime Canada - who chose to enlist, including future Cabinet minister Barney Danson, future game-show host Monty Hall, and comedians Wayne and Shuster. Added to this fascinating account are Jews who were among the so-called "Zombies" - Canadians who were drafted, but chose to serve at home - the various perspectives of the Jewish community, and the participation of Canadian Jewish women.
Mel Rosenberg is a professor emeritus of microbiology (Tel Aviv University, emeritus) who fell in love with children's books as a small child and now writes his own. He is co-founder of Ourboox, a web platform with some 240,000 ebooks that allows anyone to create and share flipbooks comprising text, pictures and videos.