Search - American Experience - America and the Holocaust on DVD

American Experience - America and the Holocaust
American Experience - America and the Holocaust
Genres: Educational, Documentary, Military & War
NR     2005     1hr 30min

In 1937, Kurt Klein emigrated to the United States from Germany to escape the growing discrimination against Jews that had become a terrible fact of life following Hitler?s rise to power. Klein worked hard to establish him...  more »


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Movie Details

Genres: Educational, Documentary, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Educational, Biography, History, Crime & Conspiracy, Politics, Military & War
Studio: WGBH Boston
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 04/26/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 30min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 14
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Informative, well-done but flawed
Jeff | 09/15/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is really a very well done documentary about an area rarely covered and hardly known to the general pubic.

While America and her Allies deserve great credit for ending the hellish reign of the Nazis and thus playing the crucial role in the suvival of the remnant of the Jews in Europe (roughly some 250,000 people out of 6 plus million), they failed to act and even at times prevented actions that could have saved countless Jewish lives!

This documentary does an excellent job covering the basics: from the treachery of the US State Department, led by Breckenridge Small, who told consulates to obstruct the distribution of visas (some 50,000 were left unused when hundreds of thousands needed them to save their lives) to the Bergson group who ran provocative ads in major papers and performed a dramatic pageant to raise pubilc awareness.

In general, it's an eye-opener if you haven't heard this stuff and a well put together review and overview if you have.

There is stuff missing, however, and in my opinion some things were whitewashed. For instance, American Jewish leader Stephen Wise comes across pretty good in this documentary (and especially on the PBS website of the movie). In reality, this man did as much to hinder rescue as help it.

In August 1942, for instance, when reports of Nazi genocide reached Wise, he promised, under pressure from the State Department, not to publicize the news. "How could he pledge secrecy when millions of lives were involved?" asked Elie Wiesel twenty-five years later. "How was he not driven mad by the secret?" Seemingly, for Wise, loyalty to President Roosevelt and his administration, however misplaced came before exerting pressure to save lives. While the facts are stated in the documentary -- e.g. that he got the news in August but didn't publicize it till November -- it is not explicitly spelled out that Wise did anything wrong in withholding the information. The facts are not told with the necessary edge that paints Wise as a Roosevelt lackey whose loyalty cost countless lives.

Although the documentary mentions the promising opportunity in 1943 to save 70,000 Rumanian Jews it doesn't mention how Wise was one of those who attempted to block the efforts, or that in 1944, when public pressure built up for the creation of a special War Refugee Board, Wise testified before Congress against this proposal, or when 400 Rabbis marched on Washington it was Stephen Wise and his associates who persuaded Roosevelt against receiving the Rabbis.

My point is not to excoriate Wise (although he deserves it). And there were certainly other Jewish "leaders" who failed miserably as well. My point is that the documentary plays soft in spots when the truth demanded some hard hits.

In the end, though, it really is an excellent, broad documentary that covers the basics of a neglected area; a documentary that will make you better informed even as it makes your blood boil."
Punctures the bliss of ignorance
paul_howard | San Ramon, CA United States | 10/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Like so many others, I grew up in the era in which our history classes clearly taught that FDR and America were undisputed world heroes in handling the WWII/Holocaust era. The truth is more complicated than that, as this DVD shows. While politicians controlling America's immigration machinery fiddled, real human beings burned, and the disinformation campaign on top of this is surreal in its aggravation of the tragedy. Even having been an avid student of this era my entire adult lifetime, and having read or viewed a broad array of available materials, I found this DVD to add significantly to what needs to be understood and remembered. It is a prized addition to my collection."
Excellent, Eye-Opener
Sabina B. | California | 10/25/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Follows the tragic story of a man who's family perished in the Holocaust because of US State Department policies preventing their immigration, with further documentation offered by historians."