From Filming to Fighting

Stevens_And_His_Crew_France_1944John Ford, Samuel Fuller, and George Stevens produced some of the most popular and critically acclaimed classic movies of all time. Their work ranges from drama to romance to westerns, and they also directed films inspired by their experiences on the battlefield. From February 16 to August 3, the Dallas Holocaust Museum’s special gallery exhibit, Filming the Camps: From Hollywood to Nuremberg John Ford, Samuel Fuller, George Stevens, showcased these directors and their documentation of World War II.

When he began his directing career in the 1930s, George Stevens created light-hearted films such as Swing Time (1936) and Gunga Din (1939). In the 1940s, he enlisted in the army to oversee the Combat Motion Picture Unit (IMDB). During his four years overseas, he witnessed tragic events that affected his filmmaking. Stevens responded by creating movies that captured the human experience and influenced viewers. He wanted his films to have profound meaning and moved away from lighthearted entertainment. His more serious post-WWII films include Oscar nominees A Place in the Sun (1951) and Shane (1953).

Samuel Fuller, known for his low budget and progressive films, is the only featured filmmaker who did not make his directing debut before the war. Before WWII, he aspired to be a journalist. At age 12, Fuller started in the newspaper business as a paperboy, and by age 17 he was a crime writer for the San Diego Sun. His strong writing skills landed him in Hollywood as a screenwriter, but when WWII broke out, he enlisted in the army. The war became the inspiration for some of his most popular films. After the war, Fuller continued writing screenplays and directed his first film, I Shot Jesse James (1949). The screenplays for many of his post-war movies addressed progressive topics for the time, such as interracial relationships in The Crimson Kimono (1959) and feminism in The Naked Kiss (1964). Fuller’s most popular film, The Big Red One (1980), was based on his personal experiences in WWII.

John Ford directed many popular classic movies such as Stagecoach (1939), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), and How Green Was My Valley (1941). To this day, he holds the title for the most Oscars won in the category of Best Director (4). Though he was most popular for western films, his Oscar acclaim comes from his more serious dramas. When WWII started, Ford went straight to the front lines to film the action, and for two consecutive years released Academy Award-winning short documentaries, The Battle of Midway (1942) and December 7th (1943). These films were the first color footage from the war released to the American public.

During The Battle of Midway, the narrator reminds the viewer, “…yes, this really happens.” It was vital to Ford that he successfully portrayed the arduous acts of war. “We assume that many Americans simply do not believe the stories of mass killings of Jews and Anti-Nazi Christians… Those stories are so unfamiliar to the common experience of most Americans that they seem unbelievable” – “Caption Sheets” Units No. 5,6 and 7, titles “Dachau Atrocities.” The directors showcased in Filming the Camps helped American civilians understand the full complexities of war and the Holocaust. As well as assisting the American public, the film and photography captured were also an important factor during the post-war trials. “Human memory is faulty, and because objects constituting physical evidence decompose, change or are lost, it is important that a contemporary record be made of the event in such a form that will constitute an acceptable proof of the occurrence, and afford a method of locating, and afford a method of locating principals and witnesses so far as many be possible at some future time,” – John Ford, wrote in his “Report of Officer Returning from the Field.” The Filming the Camps exhibit exposes the harsh realities of war and the Holocaust uncovered by these directors.

Beginning September 7, 2017, the Museum will present the new special gallery exhibit, Fighting for the Right to Fight: African American Experiences in WWII.

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In 1896, Plessy vs. Ferguson held in favor of racial segregation, maintaining that public institutions were to be kept “separate but equal.”  Almost 45 years later, this system was still prevalent in much of America. In the south, segregation was embodied in the Jim Crow laws.

Executive Order 8802, issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1942, opened war industries to African American workers. However, black soldiers were still segregated from their white counterparts, often forced to work non-combat jobs (as cooks, logistics, stewards, etc.) without proper training. Despite segregation and other obstacles, many African Americans joined the war effort. As American soldiers fought against Nazi ideology, institutionalized prejudice flourished at home. The new exhibit, Fighting for the Right to Fight, uncovers the struggles African Americans faced when trying to fight in WWII.

African Americans joined the war effort hoping to inspire change in America. The Double V Campaign, which spread like wildfire in black communities, called for a victory overseas and a victory for American minorities at home. It began in 1942 when a black man from Wichita, Kansas wrote to The Pittsburgh Courier:

Should I sacrifice my life to live half American?…[Is it] too much to demand full citizenship rights in exchange for the sacrificing of my life? Is the…America I know worth defending? Will America be a true and pure democracy after this war?…I suggest that while we keep defense and victory in the forefront that we don’t lose sight of our fight for true democracy at home.–James G. Thompson.

After the war, African Americans expected improvements in society, but conditions remained stagnant. Over the next decade, racial tensions grew. Brown vs. Board of Education (1954) which banned segregation in public schools led to the official start of the Civil Rights Movement. Sit-ins, marches, freedom rides, and rallies pushed the limits of race relations in the nation and drove the government to institute necessary legislation against segregation.

Upstanders emerged to oppose hate, injustice, prejudice, and ignorance. People like Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Thurgood Marshall inspired others to stand up and fight for what they believed.

The Civil Rights Movement demanded that the treatment of minorities in America change. Current events bring home the point that this is a work in progress. The Museum special exhibits discussed here will inspire visitors to continue to stand up against injustice and hatred.

Sources:

http://hcl.harvard.edu/hfa/films/2015junaug/fuller.html

http://www.filmsite.org/bestdirs.html

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0828419/bio

http://www.vahistorical.org/collections-and-resources/virginia-history-explorer/civil-rights-movement-virginia/turning-point

http://www.pbs.org/thewar/at_home_civil_rights_minorities.htm

https://www.biography.com/people/john-ford-9298806

http://www.righttofightexhibit.org/home/http://www.righttofightexhibit.org/home/

Millennial Month 2017

In June 2017, the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance hosted the second annual Millennial Month and Millennial Nights events. During the month, millennials could enter the Museum for any amount. They could pay $10.00 or 10 cents. All donations received supported the Museum Experience Fund, a fund established by the Museum in 2013 to pay for admission and transportation costs of low-income students from surrounding areas in 5th through 12th grade.

As part of Millennial Month, the Museum offered three evening events on June 13, June 20, and June 27. Millennials were invited to the Museum for docent-led tours of the exhibits, live music, food, drinks, and a sneak peek of the future Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum.

Sponsors for the events included Tutta’s, P.F. Chang’s, Pegasus City Brewery, Peticolas Brewing Company, Whisk Crepes Café, Sprinkles Cupcakes, Painting with a Twist, Shakespeare Dallas, Truck Yard Dallas, Pei Wei, Kenny’s, Trader Joe’s, El Fenix, and Studio Movie Grill.

Musicians Tyler Brown, Joey Alcatraz, Goat Stampede, and Droo performed at the events, and photographers Silvia Chavez, Tristan Gulley, and Mark Nardecchia captured pictures of guests who attended the Millennial Nights events.

Nearly 50 people attended each of the first two nights, and 123 people were present at the event’s final night.

During Millennial Month, millennials donated a generous $8,996.11 to be used for the Museum Experience Fund. This amount allows 782 students to visit the Museum free of charge.

The Museum is dedicated to teaching the history of the Holocaust and advancing human rights to combat prejudice, hatred, and indifference. Millennial Month serves as a reminder that millennials have the opportunity to continue our mission through activism and community involvement.

– Janet Montealvo Hitt, Marketing Coordinator, Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

Samuel Fuller Film Screenings in July: The Big Red One and Falkenau, the Impossible

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Director Samuel Fuller (Emil Weiss)

Acclaimed Hollywood director Samuel Fuller is featured in the Museum’s current special gallery exhibit Filming the Camps: From Hollywood to Nuremberg—John Ford, Samuel Fuller, George Stevens. Fuller was born in Worcester, Massachusetts to Jewish parents in 1912. He later moved to New York City and became a crime reporter at the age of seventeen. Fuller joined the U.S. Army during World War II and was assigned to the 16th Infantry Regiment, First Infantry Division, nicknamed “The Big Red One” for the red “1” patch worn on the shoulder of the Division.

The First Infantry Division took part in the Allied invasion of North Africa and Sicily, and the unit stormed Omaha Beach on D-Day in 1944. In 1945, Fuller witnessed the liberation of Falkenau concentration camp, a subcamp of the Flossenbürg concentration camp. He was asked by his commanding officer to film the atrocities of the camp with his camera, a gift from Fuller’s mother. His footage became part of the French documentary Falkenau: the Impossible.

In July, the Dallas Holocaust Museum presents two film screenings that accompany the current special gallery exhibit Filming the Camps: From Hollywood to Nuremberg—John Ford, Samuel Fuller, George Stevens:

The Big Red One

Thursday, July 13, 2017 at 7 p.m.

Studio Movie Grill (Spring Valley and 75)

Free. RSVP through Eventbrite.

The Big Red One stars Lee Marvin and Mark Hamill as a sergeant and a soldier of the U.S. First Infantry Division, a group of GIs who witness the armed conflict in North Africa and Sicily, Omaha Beach, and Belgium. The unit liberated Falkenau concentration camp and saw the horrors of the Holocaust in Czechoslovakia. The film, based on Fuller’s personal experience during World War II, depicts his service in the First Infantry Division and the liberation the infamous concentration camp.

Falkenau, the Impossible

Sunday, July 16, 2017 at the Museum, 2 p.m.

Free. RSVP required through Eventbrite.

Emil Weiss’s 1988 documentary Falkenau, the Impossible features interviews with Fuller at the site of Falkenau concentration camp. The documentary also includes original footage shot by Fuller of the camp.

Filming the Camps is on view at the Museum now through August 3, 2017. The exhibition, curated by historian and film director Christian Delage, was designed, created, and distributed by the Mémorial de la Shoah (Paris, France), and made possible through the generous support of SNCF.

Community Partners: VideoFest, Dallas Jewish Film Festival, Denton Black Film Festival, 3 Stars Jewish Cinema

– Janet Montealvo Hitt, Marketing Coordinator, Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

Jewish Resistance: Yom Hashoah 2017 Honors Upstanders on Holocaust Remembrance Day

On Sunday, April 23, the Dallas community came together at Temple Emanu-El to remember the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust and to honor those who survived.

The theme of Yom Hashoah 2017 was Jewish resistance. On Holocaust Remembrance Day, music, testimonies, and prayers were used to reinforce the message that Jewish resistance in the Holocaust must be remembered and honored in today’s time.

“We are here tonight in a society stricken with amnesia to remember,” began Rabbi David Stern, addressing a crowd of over 500 individuals in the Stern Chapel. “We are here tonight in a world which too often turns a deaf ear to the cry of the oppressed to listen. We are here in a culture which makes it easy to harden our hearts to the suffering of others, to open our hearts to their struggles. We are here to affirm that ‘never again’ means ‘never again’ to us, ‘never again’ to anyone.”

The powerful words “Never Again” are a reminder to all that the tragedy of the Holocaust must not happen again. However, these words have recently lost some of their effects as evidenced by the rise in hate speech and antisemitism across the nation, including Texas. When being a bystander to hatred seems like an easy path, we must stand up and remember those who resisted and fought for others in the face of unspeakable horrors and death.

Holocaust survivors sat in the first rows at the commemoration. Their strength and unrelenting faith serve as evidence to what humans can endure and overcome with enough hope and courage.

“Resistance of any kind during the Holocaust required great courage,” said Museum President and CEO Mary Pat Higgins. “Today we remember and marvel at Jewish resistance during the Holocaust, the armed resistance in ghettos and death camps across Poland most notably the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and the Sonderkommando uprisings in the death camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka and Sobibor.”

The Jews had everything taken away from them by the Nazis and their oppressors. Without family, food, weapons, or freedom, many refused to be completely dehumanized and stood up for themselves and others by participating in resistance activities.

To further speak on the theme of Jewish resistance, the testimonies of three Holocaust survivors who fought against Nazi oppression were read aloud by their respective children.

Mark Jacobs read the testimony of his father Mike Jacobs; Julie Meetal Berman read the testimony of her father Les Mittelman; Marsha Gaswirth read the testimony of her father Leon Bakst.

Following each testimony, a member of the Israeli Scouts joined a speaker to light two of the six white candles used to signify the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust.

The Honorable Florence Donald Shapiro, the Museum’s Chairman of the Board, ended the evening with a powerful message to all in attendance.

“The education the school students receive in the Museum, and how we honor our survivors, their lost loved ones, and the victims of the Holocaust, is through these stories, through this education. This is how we honor the children of the Holocaust: by educating the children of today. In the year 2017, this is how we continue our resistance.”

– Janet Montealvo Hitt, Marketing Coordinator, Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

THE DOUBLE-V ASPIRATIONS OF AFRICAN AMERICANS WHO FOUGHT IN WWII

I am a Negro American

Out to defend my land

Army, Navy, Air Corps—I am there.

I take munitions through,

I fight—or stevedore, too.

I face death the same as you

do everywhere.

 

I’ve seen my buddy lying

Where he fell.

I’ve watched him dying

I promised him that I would try

To make our land a land

Where his son could be a man—

And there’d be no Jim Crow birds

Left in our sky.

 

So this is what I want to know:

When we see Victory’s glow,

Will you still let old Jim Crow

Hold me back?

When all those foreign folks who’ve waited—

Italians, Chinese, Danes—are liberated.

Will I still be ill-fated

Because I’m black?

 

Here in my own, my native land,

Will the Jim Crow laws still stand?

Will Dixie lynch me still

When I return?

Or will you comrades in arms

From the factories and the farms,

Have learned what this war

Was fought for us to learn?

Langston Hughes1

Throughout American history, African Americans have served in the U.S. military and defended the country that purchased them as slaves and, once freed, continued to deny them civil rights. The Buffalo Soldiers, a segregated unit, were members of the 10th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army, formed on September 21, 1866, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.  They served in the Border War, Philippine-American War, Spanish-American War, and WWI. Despite their service, the military continued to disparage African Americans and treat them as inferior and incapable.

Efforts and a loose activism to gain employment freedom along with better wages and treatment began in the 1920s. The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP), founded in 1925 by A. Philip Randolph, lobbied with other activists for such provisions due to the systemic employment discrimination faced by African Americans across the U.S.  In 1935, the BSCP was legitimized when it gained full affiliation as a union with the American Federation of Labor (AFL).  With this affiliation, it became the International Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and Maids.2

World War II was a turning point. In advance of U.S. entry into the war, Randolph contacted NAACP leader Walter White, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia of New York, and Eleanor Roosevelt, the First Lady. Together, they inspired President Roosevelt to sign Executive Order 8802 in June 1941.  The order outlawed discrimination in unions and in companies doing business with the government and established the Fair Employment Practices Committee to oversee compliance.  The order stated that “there shall be no discrimination in the employment of workers in defense industries or government because of race, creed, color, or national origin.”3

Before this order, minorities were restricted to the lowest paying jobs. The changes mandated by the order were not immediately accepted and implemented by industry across the U.S.  In particular, Southern states resisted.  Additionally, while the Executive Order focused on employment, it did not mention the military. There, segregation and discrimination continued.  Still, a million African Americans enlisted.

Double Victory became the battle cry, first, victory over fascism abroad and then, victory over racism at home — military desegregation, the abolition of the Poll Tax, integration of higher education and housing, and a right to medical care. African American soldiers returned home to the familiar Jim Crow status quo.  Their disappointment and unwillingness to remain second-class citizens energized the movement towards civil rights.

References:

1Excerpted from, https://www.poets.org, Langston Hughes poem Will V-Day Be Me-Day, Too? 1994

2RECORDS OF THE BROTHERHOOD OF SLEEPING CAR PORTERS, Series A, Holdings of the Chicago Historical Society and the Newberry Library, 1925–1969, Part 3: Records of the BSCP Relations with the Pullman Company, 1925–1968, Edited by William H. Harris A microfilm project of UNIVERSITY PUBLICATIONS OF AMERICA, An Imprint of CIS.

3 Fair Employment Practice Committee, Wikipedia

Notes: Executive Order 8802: Prohibition of Discrimination in the Defense Industry (1941), Our Documents, Executive Order 8802 dated June 25, 1941, General Records of the United States Government; Record Group 11; National Archives

The Tuskegee Airmen

9.7.17_ExhibitOpening_AH_8327-X3Constant reminders that African Americans were inferior to white people marked towns and cities in the first half of the 20th century. Signs labeled “colored,” and “white” were highly visible by design, meant to constrict freedom based on the color of one’s skin. Heroically, many African American men and women refused to accept these labels, determined to prove their intelligence, strength, and fortitude by fighting for their right to fight. Ultimately, their battle focused on civil rights during and after World War II.

Most people are familiar with the Tuskegee Airmen. They are legendary.

In the Museum’s exhibit Fighting for the Right to Fight: African American Experiences During WWII, the exhibit centerpiece focuses on the Tuskegee Airmen, the famous Red Tails pilots whose incredible war exploits became a symbol of African-American participation in World War II. The Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance opened the exhibit on September 7, 2017. Speakers included former Tuskegee Airmen Flight Officer Robert T. McDaniel, Mrs. Erma Bonner-Platte, widow of Tuskegee Airmen instructor Claude Platte Jr., and Dr. J. Todd Moye, Professor of History at the University of North Texas.

Dr. Moye moderated a panel between McDaniel and Bonner-Platte which he began by providing historical background on the discrimination African Americans faced when attempting to enlist and/or serve in the armed forces.

“The title of the exhibit Fighting for the Right to Fight is not just rhetoric…African Americans had to fight for the right to serve their country in World War II in significant numbers and in significant roles,” said Dr. Moye. “The plan coming out of World War I based on supposedly scientific studies—of course we all know they are not scientific—purported to show that African Americans who had served in World War I did not have the leadership qualities, did not have equal intelligence to whites, could not be expected to serve as officers, certainly could not lead white troops, etc., etc.”

Segregation, upheld by the landmark case Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), along with Jim Crow laws, restricted the civil liberties of African Americans in every sector of society, including the military. African Americans were rejected from serving in the Army Air Services during World War I. This racial discrimination fueled the NAACP and others to work for change in military policies.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a presidential decree that allowed African Americans to join the war effort during World War II. After the decree, the U.S. Army Air Corps trained a limited number of black pilots in Tuskegee, Alabama. The 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group became known as the Tuskegee Airmen.

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Pictured Left to Right: Dr. J. Todd Moye, Erma Bonner-Platte, Former Tuskegee Flight Officer Robert T. McDaniel

Former Tuskegee Airmen Flight Officer Robert T. McDaniel attended I.M. Terrell High School in Texas and was drafted into the armed services in 1943. He was later accepted into the U.S. Army Air Corps.

“Of course, [the air force] didn’t really want black folks flying planes because they thought that they weren’t intelligent enough and that they didn’t have the dexterity to operate machines and everything as though you were different physically simply because you were the wrong color,” said McDaniel. “Well, we were not aware of this because we had outstanding teachers at my school.”

McDaniel’s drive, intelligence, and skills led him to surpass the benchmarks for acceptance into the air force as established by the U.S. War Department. McDaniel and Bonner-Platte’s husband, Claude Platte Jr., were two of the 922 pilots trained in Tuskegee, Alabama between 1941 and 1946.

The Tuskegee Airmen proved themselves to be some of the best pilots in the U.S. Army Air Forces. Their first-rate skills and abilities earned them the respect of other bomber crews who often requested them as escorts. The Tuskegee Airmen had a much better record than bombers flown by white pilots.

The accomplishments of the Tuskegee Airmen showed the world that African Americans deserved more recognition and respect than they had received at home. The end of the war reinvigorated their desire for equality and catalyzed the Civil Rights Movement.

During the exhibit opening, a member of the audience asked McDaniel and Bonner-Platte what messages they might have for the next generation of students regarding their experiences during World War II.

“I want young people to know that they can do anything that any other person can do, with no exceptions, and that they shouldn’t let anyone discourage them from any occupation that they desire to pursue,” said McDaniel.

Bonner-Platte answered the question by recalling a story her husband had repeated many times. When he was a young boy, Platte looked in the air and saw an object flying overhead. He ran up to his father and asked what it was. His father explained it was an airplane, and the man he saw in it was a called a pilot. Platte knew immediately that that’s what he wanted to be when he grew up.

“His father said, ‘son, I’m sorry, but you can’t do that because you’re a negro and they don’t let negroes fly planes,” said Bonner-Platte. “[Claude’s] answer to his father was “I don’t care! When I get big, that’s what I want to be!”

Platte’s father encouraged his son’s passion for aviation by taking his family to Meacham field to watch the planes land and take off. Platte later found himself in Tuskegee in 1939 and joined the Tuskegee Airmen.

The tenacity and determination these men exhibited during a time of segregation, discrimination, and racial inequality serve as an incredible example of perseverance and inspiration for all ages.

-Janet Montealvo Hitt, Marketing Coordinator, Dallas Holocaust Museum

YOM HASHOAH 2017 Commemorated on April 23, 2017 at Temple Emanu-El

The day of Holocaust remembrance was established in 1951 by the State of Israel to memorialize the 6 million Jews who were murdered in the Shoah, a Hebrew word meaning The Destruction. The Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance annually commemorates Yom Hashoah at a community-wide event as part of its mission to teach the history of the Holocaust and advance human rights to combat prejudice, hatred, and indifference.

The day’s full name is Yom Hashoah VeHagevurah which translates to “day of the Catastrophe and Heroism.” The use of the longer name is especially appropriate at this year’s Yom Hashoah program which remembered those who perished and highlighted the testimonies of resistance of three Holocaust survivors: Mike Jacobs, read by his son Mark Jacobs; Les Mittelman, read by his daughter Julie Berman; and Leon Bakst, read by his daughter Marsha Gaswirth.

While you’ve missed the beautiful voices of the choir mingled with the singing of the Israeli Scouts and powerful words from Rabbi Stern, Mary Pat Higgins, President and CEO of the Dallas Holocaust Museum, and Florence Shapiro, Chairman of the Board for the Dallas Holocaust Museum, here are synopses of the three testimonies.

Survivor and Partisan, Leon Bakst

In 1941 Germany invaded Evia, Poland where Leon Bakst lived with his family. The Nazis forced them to live in a ghetto. There the guards once ordered young men, including the Bakst brothers, to dig two massive trenches just outside the ghetto walls. Two days later the Nazis murdered over a thousand of their neighbors, and the trenches became mass graves.

Leon and his brother were eventually separated from their family and sent to a Nazi Labor Camp. They managed to escape and joined a group of Jewish partisans—the famed Bielski Brothers Partisans. Often aided by the Soviets, the partisans destroyed German communication lines, intercepted trains and protected hundreds of others who could not fight.

Survivor and Partisan, Mike Jacobs

Born to Moshe and Dora Jakubowicz in Konin, Poland, Mendel Jakubowicz was the youngest of six children. Shortly after the Nazi occupation of Poland, the Jakubowicz family was forced to relocate to the ghetto in Ostrowiec. There “Mike” joined the resistance movement, aiding in derailing trains as well as buying guns for the underground. Sent to Auschwitz, he continued his resistance fashioning guns and passing them to the Sonderkommando who used them in an uprising. Mike survived a death march and was ultimately liberated from Gusen II a subcamp of Mauthausen.

Survivor and Partisan, Les Mittelman

Les Mittelman was born in Debrecen, Hungary, the third of 4 children. When the war began he enlisted in the Hungarian army as required of all Jewish men over 18. Jewish enlistees were sent to Hungarian forced labor battalions and severely mistreated. Les was forced to place land mines and undertake other dangerous tasks. Eventually, he escaped and joined partisans attached to the Polish Home Army. He blew up tunnels, train tracks and bridges to sabotage the Nazis, all while hiding his Jewish identity as he would have been killed by his fellow partisans. After the war, Les, with his wife Magda, also a survivor, made their way to Israel. There he again picked up arms to fight—this time for the Haganah—what became, in 1949, the army of the new state of Israel.

A full-house attended the April 23rd at Temple Emanu-El, Stern Chapel. If you were not present watch the website, DallasHolocaustMuseum.org for next year’s commemoration.

Nuremberg: The Trial of Firsts

The Nuremberg Trials were the first of their kind. They started on November 20, 1945, with more than 20 indicted Nazi leaders in the dock accused of the most horrendous war crimes.  Their trial lasted ten months.

To put this historical context: the Nazi Party held a massive rally in the city of Nuremberg in 1933 shortly after Hitler became Chancellor. Such events were not unusual; the Nazi party staged annual Nuremberg rallies in the 20s and 30s. Hundreds of thousands of the parties’ faithful attended the extravaganzas of music, parades, rousing speeches cloaked in pomp and circumstance, and propaganda.

William L. Shirer, a correspondent for the Columbian Broadcasting Service in Berlin and author of the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, described in his diary what he saw at the Nuremberg Rally at on September 7, 1935.

“Another great pageant tonight. Two hundred thousand party officials packed in the

Zeppelin Wiese…, ‘We are strong and will get stronger,’ Hitler shouted at them. And

there in the flood-lit night, jammed together like sardines, in one mass formation,

the little men of Germany who have made Nazism possible achieved the highest state

of being the Germanic man knows the shedding of their individual souls and minds…

they were merged completely in the Germanic herd.”

Berlin Diary: the Journal of a Foreign Correspondent, 1934-1941 by William L. Shirer (1941).

The Bavarian city of Nuremberg was devastated by Allied bombing during the war. However, partly because Nuremberg had been the site of Nazi triumph and power highlighted by the notorious rallies held there, it was the location of choice for the trials of Nazi leaders indicted on one or more of four charges:

1) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of a crime against peace.

2) Planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression and other crime against peace.

3) War Crimes

4) Crimes against humanity.

Four judges who were, German, French, English and Russian speakers required immediate translations during the court proceedings. The solution was an instantaneous translation system created and provided by IBM.  The recently coined crime of “genocide,” was prosecuted for the first time at the trials was developed by Raphael Lemkin, a Polish-born lawyer who lost 50 members of his family in the Holocaust.

Also, for the first time, film provided indisputable evidence both of the war and the liberation of concentration camps. Hollywood directors John Ford, George Stevens and Samuel Fuller captured raw footage that became a documentary titled, Nazi Centration Camps. This film became crucial evidence, presenting the crimes the Nazis committed in an unflinching and authentic format to the court.

The Museum’s current special exhibit, Filming of the Camps, From Hollywood to Nuremberg: John Ford, Samuel Fuller, George Stevens, is viewable through August 3, 2017, at the Dallas Holocaust Museum. It introduces viewers to the three filmmakers who expertly filmed the liberation of the camps.  You’ll explore their experiences during WWII, see their footage and the incredibly detailed “captions” they wrote for the scenes they captured, and the impact of what they witnessed had on their lives.  The exhibit includes interviews with the directors as well.  Visit this Museum through August 3rd to learn about the using film as evidence during the Nuremburg trials. 

Subsequent trials ensued in Nuremberg, and other locations as Nazi war criminals who escaped to South and North America and beyond were found and brought to justice.

During the following seventy years since the Nuremburg Trials, famed Nazi hunters, such as Simon Wiesenthal, continued to research and ferret out Nazi war criminals and bring them to justice.  Join us for opening night of the play, Wiesenthal.

Sources:

The American Heritage World Picture Book of World War II by C.L. Sulzberger and the Editors of

American Heritage, The Magazine of History

 

Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent, 1934-1941 by William L. Shirer (1941)

http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/world-war-two/nuremberg-war-crime-trials/

http://www.history.com/news/history-lists/10-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-nuremberg-trials

.

http://www.wiesenthal.com/site/pp.asp?c=lsKWLbPJLnF&b=4441293

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/02/16/last-trial

“Filming the Camps: From Hollywood to Nuremberg—John Ford, Samuel Fuller, George Stevens” Special Gallery Exhibit Open to Museum Visitors

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Exhibit Curator Christian Delage Presents “Filming the Camps”

The Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance opened the new special gallery exhibit Filming the Camps: From Hollywood to Nuremberg—John Ford, Samuel Fuller, George Stevens on Thursday, February 16, 2017. Christian Delage, the exhibit curator, and Déborah Sinclair, Head of Touring Exhibitions in North America, for Mémorial de la Shoah, spoke at the opening reception. Delage pointed out many notable details about the three men, their filming, and the impact of what they encountered.

The Nuremberg Trials in 1945 used an unprecedented form of evidence—film of the war and the liberation of concentration camps. The raw footage compiled into a documentary titled Nazi Concentration Camps, became crucial evidence, presenting the crimes the Nazis committed in an unflinching and authentic format to the court.

John Ford, Samuel Fuller, and George Stevens, the directors featured in the exhibit, filmed the atrocities committed by the Nazis, particularly at the concentration camps of Dachau and Falkenau. The U.S. government wanted to capture the crimes and horror of the Holocaust to use as evidence. The use of a “single take” filming technique was used to ensure no one could claim the footage had been cut or modified.

The first panel of Filming the Camps shows the name of the exhibit in stark grey letters on a black background. Music from George Stevens’ 1936 musical Swing Time emanates from the panel calling to mind the pre-war light-hearted comedy starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

“I didn’t want to immediately shock [visitors], so the exhibit starts with the music coming from Swing Time 1936, and you can see Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing,” said Delage, referring to the first panel of the exhibit. “That’s what I wanted the visitors to be confronted with.”

Influenced by the Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will, George Stevens joined the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War II and headed a film unit under General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Stevens’ unit included a team of 44 filmmakers and writers and shot footage documenting D-Day with his personal 16mm home movie camera. His footage is some of the only color films of World War II.

During his four years of service, he filmed the liberation of Paris and the horrific scenes of the infamous Dachau concentration camp. Stevens’ footage of the camp became crucial evidence in the Nuremberg Trials.

Renowned director John Ford was well known before the war for westerns such as Stagecoach and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance as well as the films The Grapes of Wrath and How Green Was My Valley. During World War II, Ford commanded the Field Photographic Branch under the Office of Strategic Services and made propaganda films for the U.S. Navy Department. He won back-to-back Academy Awards during this time for his documentaries, The Battle of Midway and December 7th.

Samuel Fuller served as a soldier in the 1st Infantry Division, nicknamed “The Big Red One.” He captured footage of the liberation of Falkenau, a sub-camp of Flossenbürg concentration camp, under the orders of his captain with a camera Fuller’s mother sent him.

In 1945, Ford created a documentary of the war incorporating Stevens’ footage of Dachau. The film, shown first to American audiences, was used as evidence of Nazi crimes at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. Ford also documented the Nuremberg Trials. The footage showed the dead at Dachau, disoriented and emaciated survivors, children, guards, and tools used on the victims.

The courtroom at the Nuremberg Trials set up a focal placement of the film screen, and the judges watched the documentary evidence three separate times during the trial. The Nazi prisoners on trial watched the film along with the public.

“The criminals were confronted [with] their crimes, and the graphic footage disturbed most of them,” said Delage. “We know that because a psychologist named [Gustave] Gilbert watched them during this screening [and] on a daily basis so he was writing notes and we know exactly what each defendant thought during this moment.”

The war and the camps deeply affected the three directors and their future work.

Following the war, Stevens’ films gravitated toward more serious subjects. He went on to direct the Academy-Award winning films Shane, Giant, and The Diary of Anne Frank. After the war, Fuller directed many films including The Big Red One, based on his wartime experiences.

The lively music at the start of the exhibit serves to show what the directors, namely Stevens, did before the war and how unprepared the filmmakers and the public were to face the horrors of the Holocaust.

“[Swing Time] is what George Stevens did before going into World War II,” said Delage. “That’s why he’s so sad in the photo you can see at the top [taken at the Nuremberg Trials] because his life was never the same after and the same for John Ford and the same for Sam Fuller.”

The exhibition contains film and photographs of World War II as well as clips from the filmmakers’ pre-war films.

The exhibition, curated by historian and film director Christian Delage, was designed, created, and distributed by the Mémorial de la Shoah (Paris, France), and made possible through the generous support of SNCF.

This presentation was made possible through the support of the Consulate General of France in Houston, the Embassy of France in the United States, and SNCF.

This presentation is sponsored by the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau, Studio Movie Grill, the Consulate General of France in Houston, the Embassy of France in the United States, and SNCF, and is on view at the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance February 16—August 3, 2017.

Community Partners: VideoFest, Dallas Jewish Film Festival, Denton Black Film Festival, 3 Stars Jewish Cinema

– Janet Montealvo, Marketing Coordinator, Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

Public Statement Concerning Recent Antisemitic* Acts in the U.S.

 

By now, all of us know well the dangers of unchecked prejudice and hatred. In spite of this knowledge, a growing tide of antisemitic acts and words is sweeping across our country–Jewish cemeteries and other memorials are being desecrated, 69 bomb threats have been made to dozens of Jewish Community Centers, Jewish students are threatened on our nations’ campuses, and anti-Jewish and anti-Israel social media rants are appearing with frightening regularity. The mission of the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance is to teach the history of the Holocaust and advance human rights to combat prejudice, hatred, and indifference. In light of our mission, we call upon every American to become an Upstander; to take action against prejudice, hatred and indifference by speaking up against these acts whenever and wherever you can.

*The Museum purposely chooses to spell antisemitic this way.