Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Best Years of Our Lives 1946 "And for what?"

The Best Years of Our Lives from 1946 is one of the best movies ever made. If you've never seen it, watch it. It's a great film to watch on Veterans Day. 

Hollywood was very careful about addressing anti-Semitism. Many Hollywood moguls were Polish Jews and they did not want to cause trouble. 

It wasn't until Gentleman's Agreement, in 1947, that America took on anti-Semitism directly, and prompted other films about prejudice. 

Strange that the Holocaust had just ended, and The Best Years of Our Lives had to tiptoe about one of the major issues of the war. In fact, America, for a long time, found it really hard to say, in so many words, that Nazis targeted Jews. One good source on this topic is Peter Novick's book, The Holocaust in American Life. 

Even after the war, those seeking help for war refugees asked public relations persons not to emphasize the Jewish identity of many refugees, fearing that Americans might not help if they knew that the recipients of their charity were Jews. 

Steven Spielberg's 1993 film Schindler's List was actually a groundbreaking film in being a big budget, mainstream audience film focused directly on the Holocaust. 

The Best Years of Our Lives features a short, unforgettable scene where an anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist alleges that Jews drew America into an unjust war against inoffensive Nazis and Japanese. 

The amazing thing about this scene is that the word "Jew" is never used. 

Nowadays, anti-Semitism is on the rise in this country. Anti-Semitic incidents are increasing. What has been called the worst attack on Jews in America, the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue shooting, just occurred. The shooter was operating on a conspiracy theory that has been promoted by Donald Trump.

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Bieganski the Blog exists to further explore the themes of the book Bieganski the Brute Polak Stereotype, Its Role in Polish-Jewish Relations and American Popular Culture.
These themes include the false and damaging stereotype of Poles as brutes who are uniquely hateful and responsible for atrocity, and this stereotype's use in distorting WW II history and all accounts of atrocity.
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