Film Screening: America and the Holocaust

January 25, 2007 picture-19It was our first event of 2007, and our first at the JCC in Manhattan. We watched the PBS documentary "American and the Holocaust". The film addresses America's reaction to the plight of European Jewry, from Kristallnacht to the end of the war: American anti-Semitism, economic considerations, the politics of the State Department and White House and the conscious effort to cover up the evidence of genocide. The film also tells the stories of those in America, notably the Bergson Group, who worked to open doors for refugees and stop the Holocaust. German-Jewish refugee Kurt Klein is featured throughout the film. Klein managed to emigrate to the US from Nazi Germany in 1937. He unsuccessfully struggles against the U.S. government's bureaucracy to bring his parents to America.

Afterwards, we discussed whether the film changed the view we had about America's in the Holocaust as one of liberator. We felt it did, but minimally. Some of us had already known about the U.S. military choosing not to bomb the rail lines to the camps, and we debated what went into that decision. Some of us felt that this shameful episode further highlights how the Jews were, on a whole, left to their own fate. We ended up discussing whether some of these same social, political and bureaucratic problems during World War II have repeated themselves in subsequent genocides, with specific references to the Rwandan genocide in '94 and the one going on in Darfur since '04.