85 years ago Time Magazine published a cover story about Hitler’s campaign of blame against JewsBreaking News
Few are as aware that the news is the first draft of history as is the team behind a recently opened exhibition at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). To put together Americans and the Holocaust, they combed through the German news column in more than a decade’s worth of issues of TIME magazine — and parallel sections from many other magazines and newspapers — and what they found refuted a persistent, though oft-debunked, myth about World War II and the Holocaust: the idea that, as the museum puts it, “Americans lacked access to information about the persecution of Jews as it was happening.”
Looking at the news that publications like TIME ran in the 1930s and ’40s shows that, in fact, Americans had lots of access to news about what was happening to Europe’s Jewish population and others targeted by the Nazi regime. But it also highlights a central truth about this period — and human beings in general. Reading or hearing something is not the same as understanding what it truly means, curator Daniel Greene tells TIME, and there’s a wide “gap between information and understanding.”
Case in point: Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels, Nazi propaganda minister, on the cover of the July 10, 1933, issue of TIME Magazine, from 85 years ago this Tuesday.
Though TIME’s 1933 article, about Hitler’s new cabinet, didn’t yet treat Hitler with complete seriousness — he was referred to as a “Vegetarian Superman” — it didn’t pull punches on the ideas behind his ascent. The article presented as fact that the consolidation of Nazi rule had lifted the spirit of the German people, even as the world watched warily, and explained that one tactic above all was helping Hitler and Goebbels with that uplift: “explaining away all Germany’s defeats and trials in terms of the Jew.”
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