Narrator: For over a half a century Hollywood films have dealt with Nazism and the Holocaust in complex and often contradictory ways. Marked by outrage and indifference, compassion and ignorance, the need to understand and the desire to forget. And yet while this most horrific chapter in modern world history happened far from America's shores, it has been American movies, perhaps more than any other medium, that have shaped how we understand and remember these events.
Narrator: Long before the Second World War, Hollywood and Germany already had a complex relationship. In the late 1920s Germany meant big business for the studios, accounting for 10% of a foreign market that sustained the film industry. So from the moment Hitler became Chancellor in 1933, Hollywood treated Nazism with kid-gloves.
Neal Gabler: The ethos of Hollywood is, first of all, that it is the art of the middle. Which means that it is meant to appeal to everyone. Hollywood's main function is to enable the audience to come to terms with whatever it's watching. Whether it's romance, whether it's politics. And I think Hollywood is the means by which most people, for better or worse, come to terms with the Holocaust.
Michael Berenbaum: We had information, and we had the information early. We didn't act on that information.
Branko Lustig: We were sitting at the concentration camp at Auschwitz, and an American plane was flying over our head. If the American bombers would put only one bomb on the railway stations before Auschwitz, then 400,000 Jews that came in the last moment from Hungary that were killed, they will not be killed.
Anne Frank: [from The Diary of Anne Frank] I think that the world may be going through a phase, the way I was with mother. It'll pass. Maybe not for hundreds of years. But some day...
Michael Berenbaum: Toward the end of "Anne Frank", she says what is emblematically American.
Anne Frank: I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are really good at heart.
Michael Berenbaum: The reality is you can't come out of understanding the Holocaust by saying that you believe that people are good at heart. People may be good at heart, but the Holocaust is certainly no manifestation of that.
Michael Berenbaum: In a world of relativism we don't know what is bad and we don't know what is good. But the one thing we can agree upon is that this is absolute evil.