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The U.S. and the Holocaust (2022)


LuckyDan
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Airs tonight on PBS. Anyone planning on watching this? From an interview I saw yesterday, Burns and his team seem to be making a political point about today's U.S., timed for election season. I hope I'm wrong. 

 

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And my local PBS station is airing it at 8, 9, and 10.  It's a hard topic to avoid some political view isn't it?  Maybe we could have done more, but as with any look at history, it's easy to apply today's opinions and mores to a period we didn't live--I'm old but not that old.  My only personal experience remotely related to the Holocaust: about 1960, at a restaurant, asking my dad why our server had numbers on her arm.  My question is we are urged to never let it happen again , but would I have the courage to hide someone?  Would I be willing to speak out if I knew doing so would put me in a concentration camp?  Sadly, I'm not that brave.  Watch the film Nuremburg Trials (is that it's name? Spencer Tracy, Marlene Dietrich, Burt Lancaster, Judy Garland)  I'm like the German couple who care for Spencer Tracy: We're just little people, what could we do?

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15 minutes ago, kim s said:

And my local PBS station is airing it at 8, 9, and 10.  It's a hard topic to avoid some political view isn't it?  

It is, Kim, and thanks for the thoughtful reply. Burns is usually quite objective with his presentations even if he is open about his personal views. In an ABC interview yesterday he specifically mentioned the Venezuelans in the news this week as if there is some comparison to be made. I was disappointed to hear that. 

15 minutes ago, kim s said:

Maybe we could have done more, but as with any look at history, it's easy to apply today's opinions and mores to a period we didn't live--I'm old but not that old.  

It's too easy and it is self-congratulatory. Bill Maher got off a good one recently, saying it's a way to "feel superior to George Washington because you have a gay friend, and he didn't. If he lived today, he would have one, and if you lived then, you wouldn't!" 

It's like when I consider the 60s protesters, I have to ask, would I have had the stones to go to Vietnam? I don't know. Probably not.

And it's Judgement at Nuremberg. Yes. Great movie.

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45 minutes in and so far I'm watching a straight-up propaganda piece.  

Burns has said here that Hitler was inspired by the U.S. treatment of native Americans, and that German conservatives brought Hitler into power because they feared leftists.

He has said in the past he is not an historian but a filmmaker whose subject is history.

Still he and his writer should know settling the American west was not so simple a matter, that native Americans were encouraged to assimilate and those who chose not to were allowed to have sovereign lands. No it wasn't pretty or easy but, goddam, the same as the Nazis? 

And European leftists were not exactly Democrats. 

He knows this.

Oh. And Emma Lazarus wrote a poem, not United States immigration policy. 

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The first segment, "The Golden Door" is effective in describing the U.S.'s reluctance to get involved in another European conflict, and there is a fair comparison to make to our own times with both American leftists and MAGA very vocal about avoiding any conflict ("It's not our business!") but Burns and Botstein don't seem to want to address that comparison directly. Maybe that's where they're headed, but so far I'm not getting that impression.

They choose instead to focus on comparing America's racial consciousness as the reason then (fair) and by inference, now (unfair) for concerns about uncontrolled immigration. Our current immigration policy is race-blind.

The film touches on the Hollywood blackout of any criticism of Hitler's Germany in American films of the time. I am very interested to see if and how it will address the reaction of the Communist Party USA activists working in Hollywood to the Hitler-Stalin Pact, when they shifted to an openly pro-Nazi position, then overnight to an anti-Nazi position when Hitler broke it.

Otherwise, this is another Florentine Film, rich in crisp historic imagery and deft story telling. I did like the segment on eugenics, "The Science" of it's time, and the name-checking of Margaret Sanger as one of its champions, but even then Burns won't tell us also that Margaret Sanger was the founder of Planned Parenthood and that its purpose was eugenics. He knows that. 

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17 hours ago, LuckyDan said:

45 minutes in and so far I'm watching a straight-up propaganda piece.  

Burns has said here that Hitler was inspired by the U.S. treatment of native Americans, and that German conservatives brought Hitler into power because they feared leftists.

He has said in the past he is not an historian but a filmmaker whose subject is history.

Still he and his writer should know settling the American west was not so simple a matter, that native Americans were encouraged to assimilate and those who chose not to were allowed to have sovereign lands. No it wasn't pretty or easy but, goddam, the same as the Nazis? 

And European leftists were not exactly Democrats. 

He knows this.

Oh. And Emma Lazarus wrote a poem, not United States immigration policy. 

I haven't seen it yet - I have it DVRed.  So I'm only going by your description here.

There are some parallels with U.S. Indian Removal actions in the 19th century and the removal of Jews from Germany to the east.  Did the U.S. take it as far as Germany?  No.  But people were forced off their land (and not necessarily in the west - refer to the removal of the Five Civilized Tribes from the SE US) and moved out against their will and died as a result.  They are similar, but not of the same magnitude.  Canada and Australia have similar tales to tell. 

The biggest difference is that Germany took it a step further beyond relocation to flat-out annihilation.   I don't believe this was ever the aim of the various U.S. policies , but it still had devastating results.

As far as sovereign lands go, they did give them land, and then the U.S. took those away too.   The relocated tribes were placed in Indian Territory.  This started out as a large swath of the Great Plains, down to the Red River (the border with Mexico - later the Republic of Texas).  Over time, as settlers pushed for territories to be organized in the northern and central plains, Indian Territory was whittled down parcel by parcel into what is essentially present-day Oklahoma (minus the No-Mans-Land of the panhandle).  Each time, tribes were relocated.  And then that was whittled down to essentially the eastern half of Oklahoma once the Land Runs started.  Tribes had long established their own governments, dating back to the early 1800s, but the U.S. dissolved these upon Oklahoma statehood, and forced the Indians to accept private ownership of land via the Dawes Commission allotment process.  It was only with the Indian Self-Determination Act of 1975 that re-established the tribal government systems.   Today it's boomeranged back, and the overlap between tribal, local and state jurisdictions can be very confusing.  For example, due to recent Supreme Court rulings, crimes committed by Indians within the historical boundaries of the various Indian nations in Oklahoma can only be tried in tribal or U.S. courts.  The state has no sovereignty in these cases.  The state has appealed.

 

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There are genocides through out history and today.  And there is some merit to not meddling into other country's affairs.  I believe the difference with the Holocaust was Germany was conquering foreign (to Germany) territories and countries, not keeping their atrocities (yes, I believe they were atrocities) in Germany.

I'm throwing out another idea.  The beginning of the film Three Faces of Eve, Alistair Cooke says any similarity to fact in biographical movies is completely chance.  I immediately thought of the film with Cary Grant about Cole Porter.  And I was aware that films are loose with the facts-why let the truth get in the way of a good story?  The last time TCM played Westworld a short of the making of followed.  Michael Chrichten(?) said we don't get our history from books.  What we know about ancient Rome, medieval Europe and the west is from movies.  That made me think, is what I know from movies or history books?

Did our past leaders move the native people because the only good Indian is a dead Indian?  because we didn't see them as people?   

After we helped in WWI to end the war to end all wars, and after the Great Depression, and in an era that news came by newspaper and radio, if you could get radio, a time of no or little commercial air travel-it takes 7 days by ship to get to Europe-would I care what those bickering Europeans are doing?

All this rambling was to say this:  I enjoy reading about history and now I focus on books written by people, not the politicians, by people who experienced the times.  I'm learning  what people thought at the time as opposed to what they were told to believe.

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1 hour ago, kim s said:

There are genocides through out history and today.  

Genocide was never U.S. government policy. 

1 hour ago, kim s said:

And there is some merit to not meddling into other country's affairs.  

There is meddling in the affairs of others, and there is standing up to tyrants.

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