2021 Winner: Remember Us: Holocaust Representations in European-Jewish Émigré Film, 1942-1945

Project Information
Remember Us: Holocaust Representations in European-Jewish Émigré Film, 1942-1945
JWST 195A/195B - Senior Thesis Reading/Writing
The Jewish and European émigré directors of wartime America tasked themselves with the difficult mission of warning the public against the Nazi threat to Jewish life in Europe. The heightened anti-immigration, isolationist, and nativist attitudes of the 1930s and early 1940s provided an unstable background for émigré directors to tackle controversial subjects in their films. Building on their own experiences with Jewishness and exile from Europe, Ernst Lubitsch, Andre De Toth, and Fred Zinnemann produced the first Holocaust films between 1942 and 1944, over thirty years before American audiences became familiar with the Holocaust as a concept and a unique historical event. Through historical analysis of these Holocaust productions and their directors, and against a backdrop of xenophobia, antisemitism, and censorship in order to argue that Hollywood failed to fulfill the pledge made by the War Activities Committee of the Motion Picture Industry to provide an essential wartime education for the American public. Fundamentally, Hollywood studio heads (each holding their own Jewish identities) and the Production Code Administration stymied efforts by individual European émigré filmmakers to combat American xenophobia and antisemitism in order to remain in control of a studio system that had avoided serious consideration of Jews or of Jewish issues on screen for at least a decade before news of the Holocaust reached the United States.
The 16-page section I'd suggest the Humanities Undergraduate Program Directors focus on is pages 1-9 (stop at Historiography Review) and pages 94-101 (beginning with Approaching Modern Holocaust Memory).
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  • Maya Catalina Gonzalez (Cowell)