Removing the Stain: A Jewish Volunteer’s Perspective in World War Two

Type of resource
Author/collaborator
Title
Removing the Stain: A Jewish Volunteer’s Perspective in World War Two
Abstract
Based on the letters and diaries of Joe Jacobson, an "up-town" (Westmount) third-generation Jewish Montrealer, the author examines how Jacobson saw the Jewish situation and anti-Semitism in Canada, and how those perceptions framed Jacobson's attitudes and imperatives leading up to and during the first years after the outbreak of the Second World War. The author points out that having already excelled in football and hockey at McGill University, at a time when Jews were widely perceived as unathletic, Jacobson was confident that in future he could also excel in wider fields, as a Jew in gentile society. Yet he had to deal with the problem of anti-Semitism, "alarmingly prevalent and unavoidable." He saw himself as an ambassador to the gentile community who would help eradicate the stain of anti-Semitism. His diaries and letters, however, show an evolution in his attitudes towards his Jewish heritage after he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force as he integrated into Canadian war-time society. He acquired a snobbery towards lower-class and observant Jews, those who failed to enlist or were not of his own upbringing, class, and community. The diaries and letters end on the night of 28 January 1942, when twenty-three year old Flight Sergeant Joseph Alfred Jacobson failed to return from his twenty-fourth bombing operation over enemy territory.
Publication
Canadian Jewish Studies / Études juives canadiennes
Volume
Vol. 23
Pages
37-67
Date
2015
Language
en
URL
Citation
Usher, Peter J. “Removing the Stain: A Jewish Volunteer’s Perspective in World War Two.” Canadian Jewish Studies / Études juives canadiennes Vol. 23 (2015): 37–67. http://cjs.journals.yorku.ca/index.php/cjs/article/view/39928/36142.
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