Saturday, November 16, 2013

"Holocaust: The Untold Story" at the Newseum in Washington DC

The Newseum in Washington DC now offers a 56-minute documentary film made in 2001, “Holocaust: The Untold Story”, narrated by Peter Thomas.
The main thrust of the film is that for most of World War II, major newspapers, especially the New York Times, tended to bury reports of the concentration camps with small, unillustrated back page stories that did not attract much public notice.  For a long time, the stories did not acknowledge that Jews were usually the targets of Nazi roundups.  The NYT’s publisher, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, wanted to please Franklin Roosevelt, who at first resisted the idea that Jews were persecuted and should be encouraged to come to the United States. I recall seeing the film "Voyage of the Damned" by Stuart Rosenberg in New York City in 1976 when I lived there, at a big Upper East Side theater, 
The film, toward the end, shows some of the most graphic still photos of concentration camp victims ever, even more graphic that what is seen in the Holocaust Museum nearby.  The bodies are unbelievably emaciated and peculiarly hairless.  The film shows some of the mechanical details of the notorious gas chambers and crematoriums.
Various speakers and journalists (including Andy Rooney) say that the press should have done more.  But it was not deliberately negligent.  The downplaying of the Holocaust was the result of the way the whole industry worked.  Newspapers dominated the world, television did not exist yet, and not everyone had radio.

Is reporting on something itself "doing enough"? 
Anna Blech gives a lecture on the subject of this film on “Ted Talks”. 

There are other sidebars in the film, such as the idea that people got jobs writing “propaganda” for the Allies.  That would not make much sense in the Internet age. 

The Newseum also shows a diorama movie (extreme widescreen) on the fifth floor "The Thousand Days" about JFK's administration (30 min., including Cuban Missile Crisis) and various Kennedy family 8mm or 16mm home movies in exhibits on the sixth floor (the assassination) and ground floor (about the Camelot family), mostly color, many on the White House lawn .  

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