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Passover 1945 | April 2, 2021

Passover 1945

Vice President Truman’s Passover Address to the the U.S. Armed Forces in Europe

The traditional Passover greeting, chag Pesach samech, must have carried indescribable joy in 1945. The Second World War was nearly over, and victory over Nazi Germany was certain when, on March 26, then-Vice President Truman delivered his Passover address at the Jewish Welfare Board. His remarks, below, were broadcast from Washington, D.C. to the “Jewish men and women in the Armed Forces.”

Among those who were listening were the U.S. Army Soldiers serving with the 42nd Infantry Division in World War II. Pictured above, they celebrated the Jewish holiday of Passover in Dahn, Germany, just over a month before the German surrender. According to the Times Union, Chaplain (Maj.) Eli Bohnen, a rabbi serving with the division and his assistant Cpl. Eli Heimberg created a division Haggadah – the text recited at the Seder on the first two nights of the Jewish Passover, including a narrative of the Exodus – specifically for the Passover Seder. The division Haggadah is believed to be the first Jewish ritual printing in Germany since the rise of the Nazis to power in 1933.

The U.S. National Guard image is courtesy of the 42nd Infantry Division archives. The speech is part of the collection of the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum.

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