The U.S. and the Holocaust: The value of a Ken Burns film and the truth yet to be fully told
The evil ones in the three-night documentary on PBS, “The U.S. and the Holocaust,” are of course the Germans, who under Hitler decided to kill all 9 million Jews in European countries under their control and achieved two-thirds of their goal.
But there are other villians in the six-hour film from Ken Burns, Lynn Novick and Sarah Botstein: Anti-Semites in the United States who sought to keep out Jews fleeing for their lives and the craven officials of the State Department, led by Assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long, the man in charge of visas, who put up every roadblock he could as millions died.
Long wasn’t in the film’s Sunday night Part 1, but he figures prominently tonight and tomorrow. His is a horrible legacy of the State Department, turning away people who were then murdered. But even decades later, the State Department failed to act vigorously enough on Nazis and justice.
From the 1980s through the Obama years, State refused again and again to expel Nazi war criminals who the Department of Justice had uncovered hiding in America and against whom it had won court-approved deportation orders. The diplomats didn’t want to ruffle feathers with European friends for them to take back their death camp guards. So these Nazi criminals stayed here and died here, again and again.
Rep. Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has demanded in writing that State answer for their causal callousness on coddling Nazi persecutors who should have kicked out of this country. But Foggy Bottom remains mum.
Secretary of State Tony Blinken is a Jew whose stepfather survived Auschwitz. He must direct the department’s historian to produce a report on what happened with the old Nazis and why.
As for Nadler, he’s given State more than enough time. He must now insist that the Department of Justice turns over its files showing how their colleagues in the government protected the Nazis and disgraced America.
Otherwise, the filmmakers will need to produce a sequel.