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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Poignant Film about Shameful Facts of American History

On the third Wednesday of every month, as part of the Wednesday Wisdom program, we show informative and inspiring documentaries either stand alone or in series.  We have just finished the BBC Earth series “Nature’s Most Amazing Events” when we were awed each month with breathtaking cinematography illustrating some incredible events that show the cycles of life on this planet.  The next series will start on May 16.  We will be viewing at least some of the eight episodes of BBC’s The Power of Art, presented by Simon Schama.  From the website we find this description “This is not a series about things that hang on walls, it is not about decor or prettiness. It is a series about the force, the need, the passion of art...the power of art.”

In the interim, we will view and discuss a disturbing stand alone documentary that should not be missed.  Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 18, we are going to show the very graphic and piercing 1982 documentary Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die that poses the question, “Could the United States have stopped the Holocaust.”  A description from the Internet states: “The film combines previously classified information, rare newsreel footage, and interviews with the politicians who were in office at the time, to tell a behind-the-scenes story of secret motives and inane priorities that allowed for the death of millions.” The Los Angeles Times called it, “a devastating political story,” and the New York Times said the, ‘unadorned’ film tells a story not to be proud of.”[

 “Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die was the first documentary to examine America's roles during the Holocaust. It was initially seen as controversial, but has since become a part of US Holocaust Museum’s collection. The documentary received positive reviews from major publications. And the US Memorial Holocaust Museum has said, ‘It is a detailed, informative presentation of a complex topic, with oral testimony from a wide range of Jews and non-Jews involved with the issue of Jewish rescue.’”

 “The documentary points to the fact that while the Jews were being slaughtered, America refused to fully recognize the horror, but, as soon as the war was over, the nation was ready to address the inhumanity. Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die shows clips from a disturbing American propaganda film, Death Mills, which was intended to educate the German people about the crimes of the Nazi regime. Black and white footage shows concentration camps after their liberation. Emaciated bodies, still alive but with no chance of survival, lie motionless on the open fields. When the crematorium door is opened, showing the skulls inside, the narrator demands, ‘Don't turn away! Look!’ Once the evil had been committed and nothing could be done to change the awful reality, the public was ready to be shocked and horrified.”

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