Hollywood and the Holocaust: The Influence of Jewish Filmmakers in World War 2

The film industry exerts an enormous influence over us. Movies have the potential to greatly influence how we view issues, whether or not we sympathize with others, and what we do about problems. In the 1930s and 1940s, as America rested on the brink of World War 2, Hollywood had the opportunity to influence national sentiment towards the war. Given that many of the studio owners were Jewish, the industry likely had a different perspective than those in the government who turned away refugees and ignored information about the Holocaust.

I plan to research if and how these Jewish studio heads and actors attempted to influence American perspective on and involvement in World War 2 and the plight of Jewish refugees, whether it be through ideologies in their films, public stances they took, or other methods. I also will analyze the films which were produced with such intentions, either conscious or unconscious.

I believe that films are not simply for the entertainment of their viewers, but that they also have the potential to change and, in this case, save lives. This paper will help to illuminate the power of film to do so.