America and the Holocaust: Deceit and Indifference

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“The film, America and the Holocaust: Deceit and Indifference, is about America’s involvement in saving the Jewish population from being subjected in the Holocaust. The film succeeds in persuading its audience, America and its citizens, that America could have been more active in saving the lives of many Jews. The film focuses on revealing the anti-semitic environment present in America during the early 20th century, biased immigration laws, and absolute indifference towards rescuing European Jews.

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Martin Ostrow, the director of the film, accuses America for prioritizing war and political motives such as forming allies future benefits rather than saving the diminishing Jewish population. Ostrow uses many filmmaking techniques to provide his subjective point of view on Roosevelt and the American government that decided to take no urgent action despite being aware of the situation in Germany and the Final Solution. This film uses interviews, the experiences of a Jewish refugee, archival footage, visuals, still shots and cutaways to persuade the audience of the validity of these accusations.

One of the strategies used is the freeze frame technique. This technique allows the film-maker to freeze the action on the screen to enhance the scene and capture the audience’s attention. The technique is used numerous times in the film to captivate the audience’s attention by freezing official photos, political cartoons, newspaper stills, and other important visuals. In the beginning of the film, photos of anti-semitic signs in New York are displayed to show the anti-semitic motives of many American citizens when Hitler came to power in Europe. In the film, the director zooms in on a bookstore in New York that reads Aryan Bookstore, and freezes at this sign for few seconds, so the audience is forced to stop and ponder on this still shot. This technique is used when newspaper clippings with shattering headlines are presented in the film as well. An example of the freeze frame is the headline Jews Defile Our Christmas, from National American Newspaper. Another example of such headline is Refugees Warned to Wait. These newspaper stills prove that America was busy winning the war, and chose to suppress the voices of many Jewish organizations that wanted Roosevelt to take action.

Another example of FDR’s lack of interest in assisting the Jews is the freeze frame of Roosevelt’s hand writing on a much debated 1930 congressional bill to rescue 20,000 German Jewish children: File No Action. FDR. The film then cuts to a footage of a ship full of children singing in English that are immigrating to America. Throughout the film, many newspaper headlines and official document freeze frames are used a still shots to expose the muddy political behavior and anti-semitic immigrations laws. Furthermore, the film uses the emotional story of a Jewish refugee, Kurt Klein.

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