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Christopher M. Sterba's Good Americans: Italian And Jewish Immigrants During The First World War Review

966 words - 4 pages

World War I not only had a significant impact on the individual people of the United States, but also on the American society as a whole. In Good Americans: Italian and Jewish Immigrants During the First World War, Christopher M. Sterba writes the personal account of two distinct regiments of the United States military composed of Jewish and Italian immigrants, from New York City and New Haven respectively. Sterba argues that the involvement of these regiments in the war, along with other immigrants who were active in the war effort for the United States, created an opening for Americanization, which society had never before accepted. The Italians of New Haven had successfully solidified their colonia by 1917. They made up a large portion of the city's population and were able to create many amenities of a town, such as churches and schools. The Italians were trying to create a new home and their progress was evident. Unlike the Jewish immigrants of New York, the Italians supported the war efforts of the United States from the beginning, mainly because Italy was an ally and directly involved in the war. The Italians felt they were aiding their mother country by helping the United States. Sterba says, "Between the insistent support of their adopted country and the drive for salvation that characterized the struggle in Italy, colonia residents became the most outspokenly prowar population in the city" . In direct contrast with the Italians, the Jews of New York were divided about the involvement of the United States in the Great War. One and a half million Jews called New York home in 1917. The Jews were greatly divided by their ethnic heritage. The Italian immigrants had one mother country while the Jewish population came from several different countries, which were fighting on different sides of the battlefield. Sterba divides the Jews into two main groups: the older German Jewish community and the newer Eastern European Jews. Originally, the German Jewish community was prowar while the Eastern European Jews were against the war because of their disrespect for one of the allied nations, Russia. These newer Jews had left Russia to escape the czarist political powers and actually hoped for the defeat of their mother country. The opinion of the Jewish population began to consolidate after the Balfour Declaration which allowed for a Jewish Nation in the Middle East. Zionism became a uniting factor in the war effort for Jewish Americans. The first signs of Americanism were not seen by the immigrants at home, but by the immigrants who traveled overseas. To the soldiers in Europe, they were now seen as Americans fighting for the American army, not Italians or Jews. This view overseas by the Europeans also aided in enhancing their own personal feeling...

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