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The first time Hollywood exposed the Holocaust

Exactly 70 years ago, Hollywood’s top stars got together to expose the Holocaust.

It was early 1943, and Hitler’s armies were finally in retreat from North Africa and the Soviet Union. D-Day was more than a year away, and the Nazis had murdered almost three million Jews.

Since the start of the war, eyewitness accounts of mass shootings and death camps had made their way to governments around the world. “Rescue through victory” remained the official Allied strategy, and the killings receiving little attention.

As the genocide reached its apex, Hollywood decided to take action.

A seasoned journalist and screenwriter, Ben Hecht was the first celebrity to publicize the Holocaust. Hecht’s February 1943 essay, “The Extermination of the Jews,” rang warning bells even as the US State Department buried reports of genocide.

“Of these 6,000,000 Jews of Europe, almost a third have already been massacred by Germans, Romanians, and Hungarians,” Hecht wrote in Reader’s Digest. “The most conservative of scorekeepers estimate that before the war ends at least another third will have been done to death.”

Not content with writing op-eds, Hecht decided to do what he did best — put on a sweeping drama. An Oscar-winning screenwriter who contributed to “Gone With the Wind” and scripted “Scarface,” Hecht knew how to stir emotions and frame an epic story.

via The first time Hollywood exposed the Holocaust | The Times of Israel.

March 10, 2013 Posted by | Auschwitz, This Day In History | , , | Leave a comment

   

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