BALTIMORE, MD.- The Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust’s award-winning exhibition, Ours to Fight For: American Jews in the Second World War, will begin its national tour at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, 15 Lloyd Street, in Baltimore, MD from February 24 through July 27, 2008. Ours To Fight For was named the grand-prize winner of the Excellence in Exhibition Competition at the American Association of Museums Annual Meeting in New Orleans in 2004. Citing the exhibition’s use of the first-person narrative, the judges felt this approach engaged museum visitors and allowed them to make connections with the experiences of soldiers 60 years ago and troops serving today. This is the first stop of a national tour for the exhibit, which was originally presented at the Museum in New York from November 11, 2003 through December 31, 2006.
The exhibition examines the role of the men and women who served in the American armed forces on and off of the battlefield. It focuses on the way the war was experienced by these participants and by Jews in particular. The voices of the soldiers and sailors, airmen and marines, WACs and WAVEs drive this exhibition. Presented in video, audio, and as written “labels,” these testimonies become, in a sense, exhibition artifacts that place the letters, documents, military paraphernalia, and images in the exhibition into a human context. The voices are drawn from more than 400 interviews the Museum conducted with Jewish servicemen and women throughout the country. The exhibition powerfully illustrates what it was like to be American – and Jewish – in a time of war. The exhibition is both particular and universal, and profoundly moving.
“Ours to Fight For was a ground-breaking exhibition. Visitors repeatedly asked us to make it permanent and colleagues insisted that we create a traveling version. We were moved by the response and are delighted to make a traveling version a reality,” said Louis D. Levine, Director of Collections and Exhibitions.
While the focus of the exhibition is primarily on Jewish Americans serving during World War II, visitors will also use an interactive program that allows them to examine the experiences of other minority groups. The interactive gallery will present a selection of interviews with African-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Chinese-Americans, Native Americans, Mexican-Americans, and Puerto Ricans, as well as Jews who served in other Allied armies (British, Russian) who contributed to the fight to preserve democracy. The kiosks in this gallery will enable visitors to explore the archival material in the Museum’s collection to learn about other experiences and voices not covered elsewhere in the exhibition.
Companion Volume - The accompanying publication, Our To Fight For: American Jewish Voices from the Second World War, presents twelve longer narratives of servicemen and women. With an introduction by Manhattan D.A. Robert M. Morgenthau, who served as a Lieutenant Commander in the navy, and an afterword by Tom Brokaw, the companion book is divided into three thematic sections that explore motivations for fighting and the Jewish experience of military life, the shock and horror that swept through U.S. forces upon discovery of the concentration and death camps, and the state of American racial and ethnic relations in the pre- and postwar periods. The book delivers these stories through the spontaneity and immediacy of veterans’ oral testimony.
Educational Resources - Exhibition materials include two comprehensive guides — one for students and one for teachers. The guides include suggested questions and activities for the classroom that will enhance existing World War II curriculum. All of Ours to Fight For: Americans in the Second World War is a student workbook for grades 7-12 that explores American involvement in the Second World War from the home front to the front lines. The workbook includes a chronology, timeline, glossary, and activities for students. All of Ours To Fight For: Americans in the Second World War Teacher's Guide consists of two sections that augment and extend the exhibition workbook and museum visit. The resources section provides a chronology, glossary, bibliography, list of films, and websites. The activities section contains a series of questions and activities aligned with National Standards and New York State Core Curriculum.