‘What Were We Watching? Americans’ Responses to Nazism Through Cinema, Radio and  Media’

Pictured above: New Bedford Theatre, 1934. Photo credit Spinner Publications

Stories about World War II and the persecution of Europe’s Jews were a constant presence in American movie theaters and living rooms throughout the 1930s-1940s. Award-winning films such as “Mrs. Miniver,” “The Great Dictator,” and “Casablanca” shaped Americans’ understanding of the Nazi threat, while newsreels and radio programs offered a brief glimpse into world events and the range of opinions on the war effort.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum presents “What Were We Watching? Americans’ Responses to Nazism through Cinema, Radio, and Media” on Wednesday, November 14, at 7 pm at Arizona State University, Old Main, 400 E. Tyler Mall in Tempe. Parking is available at the Fulton Building. The program is co-presented with Arizona State University.

Panelists will discuss how Hollywood and leaders in entertainment and government battled for the hearts and minds of Americans. They include:

  • Daniel Greene, Curator of USHMM’s Americans and the Holocaust exhibition.
  • Kevin Sandler, Associate Professor in the Film and Media Studies Program at ASU and Editor, Reading the Rabbit: Explorations in Warner Bros. Animation.
  • Moderator: Mi-Ai Parrish, Sue Clark-Johnson Professor for Media Innovation and Leadership at ASU and former Arizona Republic publisher.

“This program helps us to understand how Americans were being informed and educated about the Nazi threat during the 1930s and 40s through the variety of different mediums available at that time,” said Marla Abraham, the Museum’s Western Regional Director. “It’s important to know the depths of influence that the entertainment industry and political leaders had in creating awareness to Nazism and the threat to European Jews during World War II.”

In the 25 years since it opened, the Museum has educated and inspired more than 43 million visitors, including more than 10 million children and nearly 100 heads of state. A permanent reminder on the National Mall in Washington of what can occur when the world fails to take action, the Museum inspires citizens and leaders alike to confront hate and indifference, end genocide and promote human dignity.

The Museum’s work is having a significant impact – here in Arizona and around the world. Hundreds of Phoenix area schoolteachers – and thousands more from all 50 states – are trained each year in how to make the Holocaust relevant and meaningful to young people. The Museum’s leadership programs are inspiring Arizona judges, police and military officers to heed the lessons of the Holocaust and understand their roles as safeguards of democracy. The Museum brings together policymakers, diplomats and heads of state to focus on ending the continuing scourge of genocide.

The “What Were We Watching? Americans’ Responses to Nazism through Cinema, Radio, and Media” program is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required at ushmm.org/events. For more information, contact the Museum’s Western Regional office at 310-556-3222 or email at western@ushmm.org.



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