Sept 2022 - A new documentary by Ken Burns, Lynn Novick and Sarah Botstein
Inspired in part by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s “Americans and the Holocaust” exhibition and supported by its historical resources, The U.S. and the Holocaust 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.
The U.S. and the Holocaust is a three-part, six hour series that examines America’s response to one of the greatest humanitarian crises of the twentieth century. Americans consider themselves a “nation of immigrants,” but as the catastrophe of the Holocaust unfolded in Europe, the United States proved unwilling to open its doors to more than a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of desperate people seeking refuge. Through riveting firsthand testimony of witnesses and survivors who as children endured persecution, violence and flight as their families tried to escape Hitler, this series delves deeply into the tragic human consequences of public indifference, bureaucratic red tape and restrictive quota laws in America. Did the nation fail to live up to its ideals? This is a history to be reckoned with.
Episode 1 "The Golden Door" (Beginnings 1938) After decades of maintaining open borders, a xenophobic backlash prompts Congress to pass its ﬁrst laws restricting immigration. Meanwhile, in Germany, Hitler and the Nazis begin their persecution of Jewish people, causing many to try to ﬂee to neighboring countries or America. Franklin Roosevelt and other world leaders are concerned by the growing refugee crisis but fail to coordinate a response.
Episode 2 "Yearning to Breath" Free (1938-1942) As World War II begins, Americans are united in their disapproval of Nazi brutality but divided on whether to act. Some individuals and organizations work tirelessly to help refugees escape. Meanwhile, Charles Lindbergh and isolationists battle with Roosevelt to try to keep America out of the war. Germany invades the Soviet Union and secretly begins the mass murder of European Jews.
Episode 3 "The Homeless Tempest_Tossed (1942- ) A group of dedicated government oﬃcials ﬁghts red tape to ﬁnance and support rescue operations. As the Allied soldiers advance, uncovering mass graves and liberating German concentration camps, the public sees for the ﬁrst time the sheer scale of the Holocaust and begins to reckon with its reverberations.