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Burns Revisits American Holocaust Role

Preview: The U.S. and the Holocaust, premiering Sunday, September 18 on THIRTEEN, the New York City metropolitan region’s PBS station.

How can we learn from the past? That is the profound question we face in the new documentary, The U.S. and the Holocaust, a three-part, six-hour series, directed by Ken Burns, Lynn Novick, and Sarah Botstein, with narration by Peter Coyote. The film explores America’s response to one of the greatest humanitarian crises of the 20th century. Inspired in part by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s “Americans and the Holocaust” exhibition, the film examines the rise of Hitler and Nazism in Germany in the context of global antisemitism and racism, the eugenics movement in the United States, and race laws in the American South – revealing how as the catastrophe of genocide unfolded in Europe, the U.S. took in only a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of refugees trying to escape the Holocaust. Read more about the film and learn about free panels to attend, below.

Through riveting firsthand testimony of witnesses and survivors who endured persecution and violence as their families tried to escape Hitler, the series delves deeply into the tragic human consequences of public indifference, bureaucratic red tape, and restrictive quota laws in America. It tackles questions relevant to our society today, including how racism influences policies related to immigration and refugees, and how governments and people respond to the authoritarian states that manipulate history and facts.

“History cannot be looked at in isolation,” Ken Burns says. “While we rightly celebrate American ideals of democracy and our history as a nation of immigrants, we must also grapple with the fact that American institutions and policies, like segregation and the brutal treatment of indigenous populations, were influential in Hitler’s Germany. And although we accepted more refugees than any other sovereign nation, America could have done so much more to help the millions of desperate people fleeing Nazi persecution.”

Read entire article at Thirteen