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Not only for Jews, not only for Americans: "The USA and the Holocaust" is a documentary masterpiece - Voila! Culture


The new series examines how America viewed the Third Reich and its crimes against the Jewish people, and how a dark legacy of racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia casts a heavy shadow over its past and present

On video: Racheli Bartz - Ricks (Photo: Department for the Fight against Anti-Semitism)

Pilot Charles Lindbergh was in the 1930s and 1940s one of the most famous people in the United States.

Nevertheless, he was the first person in history to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a direct flight alone.

Like many others in his country, even after Nazi Germany began to conquer its neighbors, he expressed opposition to American involvement in World War II and entering into conflict with the Third Reich, which he respected.

Lindbergh visited Germany several times throughout the 1930s, and he and his wife, who saw Adolf Hitler as "a great leader slandered by Jewish propaganda", even considered moving to Wanze, that nice and quiet suburb of Berlin, which later became known for horrific circumstances that of course could not have been imagined at the time .

The relocation program was frozen following the Kristallnacht pogrom, where Nazis alongside ordinary citizens violently attacked Jews, raped women, damaged property and destroyed shops and synagogues.

"I admired the Germans throwing such a stone in the face. I do not understand these disorders. It seems contrary to their sense of order and wisdom. There is no doubt that they have a complex Jewish problem, but is it necessary to deal with it in such a senseless way?", he wrote.

Another time, following a sea voyage where he encountered Jewish refugees who were making their way to America, Lindbergh wrote in his diary that it would be better if the United States did not take in any more of them.

"Few Jews add strength and character to the country," he wrote then, "but too many create chaos."

In September 1941, when Europe was already engulfed in total war and mass murder but even before America joined it, Lindbergh accused that three groups were pushing for entry into the war: the Roosevelt administration, the British and the Jews - and warned that "great Jewish control and influence over the cinema, press, radio and our government is a great danger to our country".

Lindbergh's anti-Jewish sentiment, his opposition to entering the war and facilitating the immigration of Jewish refugees were not unusual in the United States of the time, even if they were not always so blatant.

Years of great economic depression, the memory of the devastation of World War I and a legacy of white American racism and xenophobia of various kinds had a profound effect on the way the American public and the administration in Washington responded to the rise of the Third Reich and its crimes against the Jews.

As I remember, Washington joined the war in the end and played a central role in its decision and in bringing the senior officials of the Nazi regime to justice, but did it really do everything it could?

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Not from the beautiful moments of the United States.

The Statue of Liberty at sunset (Photo: Reuters)

This is the subject that is at the center of "The United States and the Holocaust" - a documentary work in six parts created together for the American public broadcasting service PBS by the celebrated team of documentarians Ken Burns, Lynn Novick, Sarah Botstein and Jeffrey Ward - the same minds that were behind the wide-ranging documentary epic "The Vietnam War" " and a host of other successful and appreciated series over the years. After it was broadcast in the United States a few months ago, it is making its way to Israel, in the corporation starting tomorrow, and in about two weeks on the HOT8 channel.

It's a cliché to write about a series that is a must watch, but "The United States and the Holocaust" really is: a documentary masterpiece, with a sharp but not flat narrative, an abundance of details and well-organized archival materials, and a cutting honesty about the dark past of the United States (and on the other hand, (even towards her bravest and most beautiful expressions).Like any truly good work that deals with the past, it also sheds light on the present, and on the way in which this legacy still affects not only the extreme right in the United States and the growing anti-Semitism in it, but also the national debate The turmoil that has been going on in the last decade about immigration. I would recommend it to anyone, not just Jews or Americans, who want to understand in depth some of the most dramatic moments of the 20th century, and how much their influence is still present today.


The creators of the series Ken Burns, Lynn Novick and Sarah Botstein (right to left) (Photo: GettyImages, Dia Dipasupil - Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)

The next pair of chapters is early for the next three or four years, the outbreak of the war, and the public debate regarding joining it, as well as the slow percolation of the information about the murder of the Jews;

And the last two already deal with joining the fighting, the rescue efforts that the United States funded, and also the worn-out question of whether the American army could and should have bombed Auschwitz or not (the series expresses several positions on the subject, and does not decide between them).

Throughout, she reviews the actions of the White House, and presents President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor precisely as those who understood well what was happening and tried to promote a series of moves against Nazi Germany and in favor of the Jewish refugees;

the backlash to these efforts in the American political institutions and civil society, which stemmed from separatist, economic motives or sometimes outright anti-Semitism;

And also the view of American Jews who are concerned about what is happening and the internal debate between them.

The entry of the USA into the war was not taken for granted. Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin (Photo: GettyImages)

At the same time, and this is no less important, the series makes sure to review all the main moves of the persecution against the Jews and the mass murder of them and other groups - a story spiced up through the testimonies of individuals, Jewish refugees who managed to escape in time, as well as Holocaust survivors.

Israeli viewers will be quite familiar with these parts, but this review nevertheless serves several purposes: first of all, to illustrate the absurd equanimity that prevailed in America at the same time as the moral catastrophe raging in Europe;

To humanize these terrible events through real faces of people few of whom are still alive among us;

And also to teach today's Americans about this historical episode, according to a survey by the American Jewish Committee published last week, almost half of them are not sure, for example, how many Jews were murdered there.

These things are all the more important in the face of the consistent increase in anti-Semitic incidents and the spread of conspiracies against Jews in the United States in recent years.

Indeed, the series ends with a quick and alarming collage of anti-Jewish expressions from then to the present day, demonstrations of "white supremacy", conspiracy theories and hate crimes, attacks on synagogues and the horrifying rally in Charlottesville.

Faced with such phenomena, it is necessary to look straight ahead and use the most powerful weapons: truth and honesty - and this is exactly what the series does.

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To the full article

The legacy of hatred is still alive and well.

Neo-Nazi convention in Georgia, 2017 (Photo: Reuters)

The only complaint I have about "USA and the Holocaust" concerns a constant weakness in historical films and biographies, and that is the question of what happens after the story supposedly ends. It does not expand enough on the neo-Nazi movements in America and their crimes, nor on the way American culture has handled the memory The Holocaust and introducing it to the American public, for example in the cinema (on this topic, the documentary film "Imagined Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust" is recommended.) These are episodes that have many things to say about them, and they largely complete the story that the series tells.

The documentary work of "The United States and the Holocaust" is apparently conservative and formulaic, it has no pyrotechnics or visual adventurism: an archive, talking heads, a chronicle. The simplest in the world. But it is a mistake to think so: Burns and his team weave here a dizzying, sharp, sharp and human narrative, And even if its length is more than 300 minutes - it seems that not a single second is superfluous in it. It is a complex, decent and multi-layered story, but there is no doubling of meaning, ambiguity or sentimental assumptions about history. In other words: this is how it is done.

  • culture

  • TV

  • direct watch


  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt

  • United States

  • the holocaust

  • Ken Burns

  • Anna Frank

  • Nazis

Source: walla

All tech articles on 2023-02-02

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