American Experience (1988– )
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America and the Holocaust: Deceit and Indifference 

As the campaign to force Jews out of Germany ramps up, the American government blocks efforts to help rescue many of these displaced persons, and Americans' antisemitism only seems to get worse.


Marty Ostrow (as Martin Ostrow)


Marty Ostrow (as Martin Ostrow)


Hal Linden


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Episode cast overview:
Hal Linden ... Narrator (voice)


As the campaign to force Jews out of Germany ramps up, the American government blocks efforts to help rescue many of these displaced persons, and Americans' antisemitism only seems to get worse.

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Plenty of shame to go around
1 February 2014 | by dimpletSee all my reviews

Words cannot begin to express how sad and depressed I am after watching this documentary. But, then, I am Jewish. I could not help but feel that most Gentiles even today might feel the actions by the State Department and many America first organizations in opposing the admission of Jewish refugees from the Nazi Holocaust were reasonable -- that is, if they could be bothered to watch this.

Several important facts should be noted: American Jews and Jews around the world were virtually powerless in pressuring governments to support the admission of Jewish refugees; America did little and Canada did next to nothing. This puts the lie to that fiction, "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" (which was disseminated in America by Henry Ford).

Yet in my travels I have found educated, middle class people in Asia who believe the Protocols are an absolutely true description of how Jews secretly control the world. This is not just Muslims, but Hindus in India, as well as teachers in Korea, and elsewhere. Hitler is, I am told, presented as a role model of a great world leader in schools in China today.

Although Jewish refugees were turned away during WWII, in the decades after, America established a generous policy of admitting refugees from around the world. This provides real solace that those millions of deaths were not entirely in vane.

There is a great deal of information in this documentary, backed up by powerful imagery, such as the footage of American Nazi rallies. Eric Sevareid talked about seeing this, and visiting the living rooms of home- grown Nazis in the Midwest before Pearl Harbor. We see footage of Kristallnacht, and descriptions by Kurt Klein of his parents' home being destroyed by his classmates and neighbors.

Without the complicity of the German people, the Nazi Holocaust could not have taken place. Yet I cannot hate the Nazis nor the Germans for this because I know that the same seeds of hate existed in America, in the Ku Klux Klan, the American Nazis, the anti-semites, the racists, and this hate continues on in the contemporary American political scene.

It is probable that this, and this documentary, are reasons that Republicans try repeatedly to eliminate all government support for public broadcasting in America. However, most Americans are decent people, and most would have supported the admission of Jewish refugees had it not been for pressure groups, politics, and WASP domination of the State Department.

The America first attitude stated by a member of the Patriotic Order Son's of America sounds reasonable, except when you consider that America was settled and built by immigrants (who largely stole land from the Indians) and refugees, and that by refusing admission of Jewish refugees, they were complicit in their extermination.

I recently watched and reviewed Hitler's Children - 2011. That was difficult to watch, but this was far, far more painful; I had difficulty finishing it. I doubt many Americans will watch it. America has done much in its history we can be proud of. But it is also important that we face our collective guilt and shame honestly.

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6 April 1994 (USA) See more »

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