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Journal ArticleDOI

The First Wave of American “Holocaust” Films, 1945–1959

01 Feb 2010-The American Historical Review (Oxford University Press)-Vol. 115, Iss: 1, pp 90-114
About: This article is published in The American Historical Review.The article was published on 2010-02-01. It has received 14 citations till now. The article focuses on the topics: The Holocaust.
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01 Jan 2019
TL;DR: In this article, the authors argue that these individual digital images function as objects of postmemory, contributing to and cultivating an accessible visual and digital archive of the Holocaust, and demonstrate that though the number of Holocaust survivors become fewer in number, the act of remembering the genocide can be coded into the everyday behaviour of the amateur photographers featured in this work.
Abstract: Everyday people make use of Instagram to visually share their experiences encountering Holocaust memory. Whether individuals are sharing their photos from Auschwitz, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, or of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, this dissertation uncovers the impetus to capture and share these images by the thousands. Using visuality as a framework for analyzing how the Holocaust has been seen, photographed, and communicated historically, this dissertation argues that these individual digital images function as objects of postmemory, contributing to and cultivating an accessible visual and digital archive. Sharing these images on Instagram results in a visual, grassroots archival space where networked Holocaust visuality and memory can flourish. The Holocaust looms large in public memory. Drawing from Holocaust studies, public history, photography theory, and new media studies, this dissertation argues that the amateur Instagram image is far from static. Existing spaces of Holocaust memory create preconditions for everyday publics to share their encounters with the Holocaust on their own terms. Thus, the final networked Instagram image is the product of a series of author interventions, carefully wrought from competing narratives and Holocaust representations. The choice to photograph, edit, post, and hashtag one's photo forges a public method for collaborating with hegemonic memory institutions. This work brings together seemingly disparate sources to find commonality between Instagram images, museum guestbook entries, online reviews, former concentration camps, and major Holocaust memorials and museums. This research, one of the first studies of Holocaust visual culture on Instagram, underscores the fluidity of Holocaust memory in the twenty-first century. While amateur photography at solemn sites has sparked concern, this dissertation demonstrates that though the number of Holocaust survivors become fewer in number, the act of remembering the genocide can be coded into the everyday behaviour of the amateur photographers featured in this work. This work not only shares authority with everyday publics in their efforts to remember and memorialize the Holocaust but reminds us that seemingly small and individual acts of remembrance can coalesce, contributing to a fluid and accessible archive of visual memory.

19 citations

Journal Article
TL;DR: Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1943) channeled Warner Bros.'s longstanding anti-German and anti-Nazi stance into themes of group identity and collective resistance to the Nazis, an approach promoted by the new Office of War Information.
Abstract: No figure in fact or in fiction embodies absolute evil as much as the Nazi. The American-movie Nazi drew its initial presence and force from the sheer enormity of Nazi destructive impact on the real world, the Nazis' own projection of their dark drama onto the movie screens of that world, and the emigration of much German, European, and Jewish talent to Hollywood in the 1930s. Meanwhile, Hollywood largely avoided the subject of Nazism for political and economic reasons. From 1941 on, however, the Nazi figure assumed a place in a wide variety of movie genres, not only because of the fervor of war, but because the Nazi allowed Hollywood to engage American issues of class, race, and power without indicting American culture itself.Hollywood movies about the First World War caricatured Prussian officers as bearers of the arrogant rot at the top of Old World society. This type of "pre"-Nazi figure was evident even in the urbane officer in Man Hunt (Fritz Lang, 1941) in contrast to the thuggish party leader (Confessions of a Nazi Spy [Anatole Litvak, 1939]).Such urbanity usually conceals thuggishness, however. Erich von Stroheim's portrayal of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in Paramount's Five Graves to Cairo (Billy Wilder, 1943) recalls Stroheim's earlier portrayals of Prussians, but it adds the menace of Nazi racism. Wilder, an Austrian-Jewish emigre, indirectly exposes the Nazi persecution of Jews when Rommel notes that there is no Moses to part the Red Sea for the British and when Rommel rages, in German, at officers dallying with a French hotel maid: "Is this the German army or a Jews' school?" The movie elliptically refers to the Final Solution (articulated formally in early 1942) when Rommel observes ominously about prison camps that "we can use paper in Germany, a great deal of paper," hinting at the bureaucracy of euphemisms used in Nazi communications (Sonderbehandlung- "special handling"-being the most infamous).Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1943) channeled Warner Bros.'s longstanding anti-German and antiNazi stance into themes of group identity and collective resistance to the Nazis, an approach promoted by the new Office of War Information. Colonel Strasser, as played by German emigre Conrad Veidt, is Teutonic in the aristocratic Prussian style without being self-stereotyped like von Stroheim and so exudes a more modern malevolence a la Nazi. He, like Rommel, sports no aristocratic "von." His name has a utilitarian, even proletarian, simplicity and directness to it. He wears the uniform of the Luftwaffe, the most recent and Nazified of the German armed services, and he arrives in an airplane. The German army officers around him are a blend of arrogance and officiousness, described and dismissed by Rick's Russian bartender as "Germans boom, boom, boom, boom."The Nazi uniform is, in other words, dapper camouflage for thugs-typically played, ironically, by the sorts of people the Nazis despised. More than any other wartime American film, Casablanca's production resounds with the powerful voice of recent emigrants, many of them Jewish, from fascist Europe. Director Curtiz was from Hungary. Veidt had fled Germany with his Jewish wife. Peter Lorre, born Laszlo Lowenstein in Hungary, plays Ugarte, an oily but hapless trader in refugee souls.1 But even though many of the crew and cast, as well most of the twelve German-speaking actors, were Jewish, there is famously no mention of Jews in Casablanca, or indeed of religion or race at all. Unlike Once Upon a Honeymoon (Leo McCarey, 1942), Address Unknown (William Menzies, 1944), Tomorrow the World (Leslie Fenton, 1944), and None Shall Escape (Andre de Toth, 1944), the Nazi in Casablanca appears not to be presented in the context of a war against the Jews. This tactic reflected the concern among Jewish studio heads in Hollywood that America, with its own obvious history of anti-Semitism, would interpret the war (or the film's representation of it) as a defense of Jews. …

11 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors argue that we are mistaken if we look in the past for representations of what we recognise today as "the Holocaust" or if we treat the apparent marginalisation of the Jewish experience as a sign of malevolence.
Abstract: During the 1990s historians began paying attention to how societies in the postwar era reflected on the destruction of Europe's Jews between 1933 and 1945 and soon a consensus evolved that there had been a brief burst of media coverage and outrage related to the liberation of the concentration camps and war crimes trials in 1945–46 which soon faded. However, from 1999 a number of historians looking at the USA and other countries went beyond the identification of a postwar ‘silence’. They argued that it was broken by a deliberate effort of Jewish organisations, mainly in America, for the purpose of creating sympathy for Israel and the Jews more generally. This contribution re-assesses recent trends in the scholarship concerning post-war responses in Britain to the Jewish catastrophe of 1933–45. It argues that we are mistaken if we look in the past for representations of what we recognise today as ‘the Holocaust’ or if we treat the apparent marginalisation of the Jewish experience as a sign of malevolence o...

11 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
01 Oct 2015
TL;DR: Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds (2009) as discussed by the authors is a satire of the movie version of The Diary of Anne Frank (1952) adapted for the silver screen by George Stevens and George Stevens.
Abstract: I think America is one of the only countries that has not been forced . . . to look [its] own past sins in the face. And it's only by looking them in the face that you can possibly work past them.1-Quentin TarantinoDespite the fact that the Holocaust took place on another continent and directly involved few Americans, this event has become integrated into the fabric of the American story. The trauma of the Holocaust entered American mainstream consciousness with the publication in English of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl in 1952, which met with wild success when it was adapted for the silver screen in 1959 as The Diary of Anne Frank (George Stevens, USA). American awareness of the Final Solution was reinforced for later generations with the premiere of the television miniseries Holocaust (Marvin J. Chomsky, USA, NBC) in 1978 and again with the release of Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List (USA) and the opening of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1993. With the proliferation of Holocaust memorials and representations in the American arts since the landmark date of 1993, the Holocaust has been transformed in the United States from a specifically Jewish trauma into a broadly defined mainstream American experience.2 America's adoption of European Jewish history is part of a process by which the story of the Holocaust-and America's presumed role in ending it-is incorporated into "the fundamental tale of pluralism, tolerance, democracy, and human rights that America tells about itself."3 Peter Novick confirms this trend in his study The Holocaust in American Life, observing that "the Holocaust has come to be presented-come to be thought of-as not just a Jewish memory but an American memory."4In its use of postmodern parody, Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds (USA, 2009) calls attention to American culture's appropriation of Holocaust memory through its conflation of Jewish and American identities in the elite fighting unit that gives the film its title. The film's self-conscious Americaniza-tion of the Holocaust functions as a critique of American popular culture's tendency to adopt Holocaust trauma as a screen memory, a means of displacing or repressing its own historical guilt-traumas. Rather than participating in this phenomenon, however, Inglourious Basterds uses parody to lay bare the ways in which American film representations of the Holocaust have shaped, and in some cases have distorted, public cultural memory of the event. Unlike earlier Holocaust films that endeavored to seamlessly integrate a specifically Jewish history into the broader fabric of the American story, Inglourious Basterds calls attention to its Americanization of the Holocaust through its ironic revision of history. Tarantino confirms this reading, explaining that the film broadly examines "the tragedy of genocide. I'm dealing with the Jewish genocide in Europe, but my Jews are going native and taking the roles of American Indians-another genocide. Then there's a King Kong metaphor about the slave trade, that's another genocide."5 Through this revision the film challenges the primacy of the Holocaust as an American memory and consequently draws attention to America's reluctance to confront its own legacy of racial prejudice.Moreover, the film unsettles received representations of America as the liberator of Europe's Jews from their Nazi oppressors, and in this way acts in a manner similar to what Linda Hutcheon has called historiographic metafiction-what I term "historiographic metacinema"-which locates in popular film representations of the Holocaust a complicated intertextual relationship between history and fiction.6 As historiographic metacinema-the film clearly "situate[s] itself within historical discourse without surrendering its autonomy as fiction"7-Inglourious Basterds prompts us to question the reliability of films as instruments of public memory by calling attention to the cinematic strategies by which they represent the Holocaust. …

10 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the authors analyse the treatment of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) by Zinnemann in The Search, a 1948 film set in the context of displaced persons in post-1945 Europe.
Abstract: This article analyses Fred Zinnemann's 1948 film, The Search, setting in the context of displaced persons in post-1945 Europe. We concentrate on Zinnemann's treatment of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), arguing that this is central to the film. We also consider the film's references to Americanism, Zionism, gender equality, and children's wartime experiences.

7 citations

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01 Sep 2004
TL;DR: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn as mentioned in this paper is a classic story about a working-class family in the early 1930s, and it was adapted for TV by Lillian Smith and Lola Hansberry.
Abstract: Acknowledgments Part 1. Ordinary Families, Popular Culture, and Popular Democracy, 1935-1945 Radio's Formula Drama Popular Theater and Popular Democracy Popular Democracy on the Radio Popular Democracy in Wartime: Multiethnic and Multiracial? Representing the Soldier The New World of the Home Front Soldiers as Veterans: Imagining the Postwar World Looking Back Stories Part 2. Making the Working-Class Family Ordinary: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn From Working-Class Daughter to Working-Class Writer Revising 1930s Radical Visions Remembering a Working-Class Past Instructing the Middle Class The Ethnic and Racial Boundaries of the Ordinary Making Womanhood Ordinary Hollywood Revises A Tree Grows in Brooklyn The Declining Appeal of Tree's Social Terrain Part 3. Home Front Harmony and Remembering Mama "Mama's Bank Account" and Other Ethnic Working-Class Fictions Remembering Mama on the Stage The Mother Next Door on Film, 1947-1948 Mama on CBS, 1949-1956 The Appeal of TV Mama's Ordinary Family "Trading Places" Stories Part 4. Loving Across Prewar Racial and Sexual Boundaries Lillian Smith and Strange Fruit Quality Reinstates the Color Line Strange Fruit as Failed Social Drama The Returning Negro Soldier, Interracial Romance, and Deep Are the Roots Interracial Male Homosociability in Home of the Brave Part 5. "Seeing Through" Jewishness Perception and Racial Boundaries in Focus Policing Racial and Gender Boundaries in The Brick Foxhole Recasting the Victim in Crossfire Deracializing Jewishness in Gentleman's Agreement Part 6. Hollywood Makes Race (In)Visible "A Great Step Forward": The Film Home of the Brave Lost Boundaries: Racial Indeterminacy as Whiteness Pinky: Racial Indeterminacy as Blackness Trading Places or No Way Out? Everyman Stories Part 7. Competing Postwar Representations of Universalism The "Truly Universal People": Richard Durham's Destination Freedom The Evolution of Arthur Miller's Ordinary Family Miller's Search for "the People," 1947-1948 The Creation of an Ordinary American Tragedy: Death of a Salesman The Rising Tide of Anticommunism Part 8. Marital Realism and Everyman Love Stories Marital Realism Before and After the Blacklist The Promise of Live Television Drama Paddy Chayefsky's Everyman Ethnicity Conservative and Corporate Constraints on Representing the Ordinary Filming Television's "Ordinary": Marty's Everyman Romance Part 9. Reracializing the Ordinary American Family: Raisin in the Sun Lorraine Hansberry's South Side Childhood Leaving Home, Stepping "Deliberately Against the Beat" The Freedom Family and the Black Left "I Am a Writer": Hansberry in Greenwich Village Raisin in the Sun: Hansberry's Conception, Audience Reception Frozen in the Frame: The Film of Raisin Visions of Belonging Notes Index

18 citations