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Films Referencing The Holocaust

The Holocaust was not a known quantity in the years when America was intent on fighting World War II. After the war, knowledge of the Holocaust would increase, beginning with the terrible pictures sent around the world as the Allies liberated the prison camps and discovered what had been taking place in them. References to these events then made their way into a number of post-war films, among them Crossfire, Gentleman's Agreement, and The Stranger. During the years of the war itself, though, anti-Semitism was barely a subject at all in Hollywood films in spite of the fact that Hollywood was known as a "Jewish" industry because of the number of studio heads and producers who were Jewish.

Judith E. Doneson wants to call the films reflecting anti-Semitism around this time Holocaust films and offers a definition for such works:

Let us say, simply, that this includes any films that reflect what historian Raul Hillberg describes as a step-by-step historical process, beginning with the laws of April 1933, which removed Jews from the civil services in Germany, and ending in 1945, when the last concentration camps were liberated and the war ended. This includes the gradual evolution to destruction, as well as the destruction itself, which culminated in the death of six million Jews (Doneson 8).

By this definition, the set of Holocaust films includes those made capturing the earliest persecutions of the Jews in Germany as well as those influenced by the Holocaust. This is a broad definition that extends the idea of the Holocaust film to the era before the Holocaust actually started.

The earliest film identified as a Holocaust film by Doneson is The House of Rothschild (1934), and she says that this seems to be the first American film made in response to the implementation of the initial Nazi anti-Jewish laws in Germany. This is also the fist film to focus on anti-Semitism:

Although the tone of the film is ambiguous, its maj...

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Films Referencing The Holocaust. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:55, December 13, 2019, from