This is a review of some of the major publications on the subject of the Holocaust.
This paper looks at several books that have been written about what the world knew about the Holocaust and what was or wasn’t done with that information. The author looks at David Wyman’s book, “Abandonment of the Jews and Peter Novick’s book `The Holocaust in American Life,` which deal with what and when the United States knew about the Holocaust and why it did not do anything with the information it had. It also looks at the writings of Walter Laquer, Martin Gilbert and Raul Hilberg, who detail the information that was coming out of Europe during WWII. The author examines the information, its sources, and traces what was done with it, once it was documented by the Americans. The message that the author is trying to convey is that everyone knew, but did nothing. The question of why they did nothing, is the central theme of this position paper.
`Initially, Novick points out, the Holocaust was viewed as a part of history, an aspect of the barbarism that prevailed during the period, but it was turned into a myth, the bearer of `eternal truths` not bound by historical circumstances; it came to symbolize the natural and inevitable terminus of anti-Semitism. The Holocaust, came to symbolize the impasse of modern society and its moral collapse. Novick emphasizes that these views were compounded by a generally rightward shift by better-off Jews from the social activism of a previous era, arising from the general income gap developing within society as a whole. `By the 1970s, Jews were preeminent among the `haves` in American society and the gap between Jews and non-Jews, in income as well as in representation in all elite positions, widened over subsequent decades. For a large number of Jews, they had everything to lose and nothing to gain from the more equal distribution of rewards which had been the aim of liberal social policies. It ceased to be true that Jews were markedly more liberal than other Americans of similar age, education and income when it came to bread and butter issues.` (Novick, 1999) A systematic effort was made to instill the memory of the holocaust because the Jewish identity had to be maintained and nurtured.`