Media Accounts

Question

What media accounts of the Nazi concentration camps did the average [Gentile] American have access to from 1960 or so to 1970?-- Life magazine, Readers' Digest, Newsweek, the popular press, and any widely available books, etc.

This information will be used in my Ph.D. dissertation. I am interviewing Gentile Americans who were born between 1945 and 1960, some of whom remember reading about the Holocaust when they were teenagers, but they don't remember exactly where they read the accounts.

Yale F. Edeiken answers:

Hello. I am one of the people who answers questions for The Holocaust History Project. As a member of the generation you are studying (although I am Jewish), I will attempt to relate what I remember. Perhaps other member of our group will supplement this answer.

At the beginning of the period you are studying was the Eichmann trial and, towards the end, the Arab-Israeli War of 1967. During both of these periods there was a flood of information about the Holocaust in the popular press. This was especially true during the Eichmann trial but most people do not remember that there was similar coverage in 1967. At the beginning of this period Life magazine published an interview with Eichmann made before his capture; it was quite a sensation. The talking heads of that day were sure that the combined Arab forces would make short work of Israel and that there would be another Holocaust. Shirer The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

Uris Exodus and Mila 18 while novels they were widely read. There was also another popular novel The Last of the Just (John Hersey?) which concerned the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

The Diary of Ann Frank This was widely read in American secondary schools.

Hannah Arendt Eichmann in Jerusalem was also widely read in secondary schools and colleges.

In addition I well remember a series of mass market paperbacks published by Ballantine Books under the general heading of military history. These had lurid covers which belied the often scholarly material inside. Lord Russell's The Scourge of the Swastika was published in this manner. I believe that Kogon's The Theory and Practice of Hell was also published by Ballantine. They also produced less well-known books such as Comer Clarke's Eichmann: the Man and his Crimes and Will Frischauer's The Rise and Fall of Hermann Goering. Thus there were quite a few paperbacks on drug-store racks with blurbs like "The savage truth about Adolf Eichmann, commandant of Hitler's ovens and gas chambers, who ruthlessly murdered over 6,000,000 Jews."

I can remember few movies that dealt directly with the Holocaust. Although Exodus was made into a movie, the descriptions of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and Auschwitz did not survive the translation into the movie. On the other hand, many who saw the film might have been inspired to read the book. Likewise "Judgment at Nuremberg" (based on the medical trials) was a highly regarded movie. The final movie I remember was the George Steven's version of The Diary of Ann Frank.

I am sure that there were TV shows in this era as well. There was one "Twilight Zone" episode about a concentration camp commander who returns to a concentration camp full of the ghosts of the people he murdered. I am sure that at least one of series of short documentaries on CBS known as "The Twentieth Century" concerned the concentration camps.

I hope that this information is helpful.

Yale F. Edeiken
The Holocaust History Project

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