EXCLUSIVE: Records Show Military Surveyed Troops’ Attitudes Towards Jews In 1940s

On Tuesday, the Wonk Room traveled to the National Archives to recover some of the surveys the military conducted about the troops’ attitudes towards black people between 1942 and 1946. Despite the surveys’ clearly racist results, the military pushed forward and integrated the forces. We also discovered that although the racial polls were smaller, they shared common questions with the recently distributed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell survey. Both questionnaires operate from the majority perspective, on the disquieting assumption that there something inherently problematic with minorities.

Yesterday I returned to the National Archives to recover a military survey administered between 1946 and 1947 about troops’ attitudes towards not only black people, but also Jews. In one part of the survey, non-Jewish, white troops were asked to mark “agree” or “disagree” to a series of statements “mostly about stereotypes” of Jews.

Consider these:

  • There is nothing good about Jews.” (Agree: 86%, Disagree: 13%)
  • “Jews are out to rule the world.” (Agree: 27%, Disagree: 73%)
  • “The Jews always get the best of everything.” (Agree: 30%, Disagree: 70%)
  • “You can always tell a Jew by the way he looks.” (Agree: 61%, Disagree: 39%)
  • “Jews are the biggest goldbricks in the Army. (Agree: 51%, Disagree: 49%)
  • “A Jew will always play you for a sucker.” (Agree: 48%, Disagree: 52%)
  • It’s interesting that these questions were even asked, since — as the survey itself notes — “no official Army action was being considered with respect to Jewish soldiers.” About 8 of the 13 statements on Jews presented to the troops bear a disturbingly negative connotation.

    Read the entire survey:

    Survey on Jews

    Nina Bhattacharya