In an effort to promote an image of Allied unity on the eve of Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Western Europe, a Joint Anglo-American Film Commission was established with the goal of making a series of short documentaries on the liberation of the continent. Unfortunately, despite the prior planning, the plans for a series of joint films fell victim to competing ideologies about how to showcase the allied campaign. In an effort to salvage the situation the American film maker George Stevens was brought in to make a single long documentary, highlighting the campaign from D-Day to VE-Day. The resulting film, The True Glory, won an Oscar for best documentary of 1945, but in fact was the result of a failure of Allied film propaganda policy.
Remembered today as one of the great popularizers of Jewish history, in the inter-war year the Anglo-Jewish historian Cecil Roth was unable to secure an academic appointment until 1939. As such he turned to writing popular history as a means of support, and while some academic historians discounted his work (then and now), an examination of Roth’s correspondence with individuals such Henry Hurwitz of the Intercollegiate Menorah Society, reveal that Roth worked assiduously to develop an approach to history that would be both academically sound and “useful” to those readers who wanted to understand the contours of Jewish life.
After the liberation of North Africa, in 1943, it was discovered by policy makers within the Grand Alliance that both the British and Americans were in the process of making documentary films about the Operation Torch campaign. Fearful that separate films would highlight potential dissension with the Anglo-American alliance, the director Frank Capra was dispatched to London to coordinate his U.S. Army documentary with his British counter-parts. Instead of a smooth process, the joint film project bogged down in inter-service and inter-allied rivalry’s that delayed the completion of Tunisian Victory for over a year.
Throughout much of his career the Anglo-Jewish historian Cecil Roth visited the U.S. and lectured to American Jewish students. Indeed, his first academic appointment was as a visiting professor at the Jewish Institute in Religion in New York City, and he was a regular teacher at the summer institutes of the Intercollegiate Menorah Society. Yet, he only wrote one short article (in 1963) that focused exclusively on American Jewish history, which was commissioned by Jacob Rader Marcus, the “Dean of American Jewish Historians.” An examination of Roth’s correspondence over a thirty plus year period reveals that his discussions of the nature and purpose of Jewish history was largely shaped by his relationship with American Jewry.
Martin Buber is one of the luminaries of modern Jewish thought, and yet prior to 1944 his work was little known in the Anglophone world as few of his books had been translated into English. In 1933, Buber asked Adolph Oko, the Librarian of the Hebrew Union College (H.U.C.) in Cincinnati, Ohio to help him find a publishers for his work. The correspondence about securing a publisher between Buber and Oko eventually expanded to include the theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel (then teaching at H.U.C.) and the historian Hans Kohn, a former student of Buber who was now a refugee teaching in the U.S.