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Museum's project focuses on articles about the Holocaust · PDF file 2019. 12. 5. · Museum's project focuses on articles about the Holocaust Holocaust survivor Israel Loewenstein,

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  • Museum's project focuses on articles about the Holocaust

    Holocaust survivor Israel Loewenstein, 91, looks at a photo album at his home in Yad Hana, Israel, April 6, 2016. Photo: REUTERS/ Nir Elias

    PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Beth Moody recently noticed an online ad from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. It asked "citizen historians" to help the museum with a special research project.

    The museum wanted help tracking down old newspaper articles about the mass killing and imprisonment of European Jews during World War II. The terrible series of events is known as the Holocaust. It was carried out by German Nazis and was responsible for millions of deaths.

    The museum said it was interested in finding articles published in local U.S. newspapers from 1933 to 1945, the years the Nazis were in power.

    Moody quickly decided to help out.

    By Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, adapted by Newsela staff on 05.09.16 Word Count 841

  • Some Newspapers Did Not Run Certain Stories

    Moody put in six hours over two days searching online. She looked through articles that had been published in the Altoona Tribune, a Central Pennsylvania paper that is now out of business. She found stories connected with six of the 20 Holocaust-related events the museum is asking people to look for.

    It was what she did not find that will probably get the attention of the museum and scholars.

    The Altoona Tribune did not publish anything about the deadly anti-Jewish riots in 1938 known as Kristallnacht, she said. Nor did it write about the yellow stars Jews were forced to wear to identify themselves, or the extermination camps where Jews were taken to be killed. "There was nothing, and I looked very closely.”

    Why papers like the Altoona Tribune chose not to run stories about such historic events — when other papers did — is something experts will study closely. Scholars also want to know what effect the lack of coverage had. Did it undercut efforts to get the U.S. government to allow endangered European Jews to resettle in the United States?

    History Unfolded To Be Included In Database

    The project, dubbed History Unfolded, was officially announced on April 5. The museum hopes it will inspire thousands more volunteers like Moody to do similar research over the next two years. Some of the material that is gathered will be presented at a 2018 exhibit entitled “Americans and the Holocaust.”

    So far, more than 1,000 submitted articles have been placed in the museum's permanent online database.

    Technology has made such a project possible, because more and more old newspapers have been put online.

    However, the museum hopes people also will search offline. It is encouraging volunteers to dig into those forgotten small-town papers stored at local libraries.

    There already have been several studies of how larger newspapers such as The New York Times and Chicago Tribune covered the Holocaust. However, “we don’t really know anything about what small-town newspapers and regional papers told their readers,” said historian Aleisa Fishman, who is working on the project.

    Too Broad A Subject

    It would be almost impossible to ask volunteers to just research “the Holocaust” because the subject is too broad. Instead, the museum has come up with a list of 20 significant events during the 1930s and 1940s. The events range from the U.S. decision to participate

  • in the 1936 Olympic Games in Germany, to Kristallnacht in 1938, to the deportation of Hungarian Jews in 1944. Volunteers are asked to look for any coverage of these particular events.

    The goal, said Elissa Frankle, who is leading the project, is “to get at a question historians have been posing for a long time: What did Americans know about the Holocaust and when?”

    Journalism professor Laurel Leff says finding out "what Americans knew about the Holocaust at the time is a really important project.”

    She is the author of “Buried by The Times,” a widely praised 2005 book. In it, she argues that The New York Times downplayed coverage of the Holocaust.

    Leff, who is Jewish, said she grew up being told that “Americans did not know about the Holocaust” while it was ongoing.

    The Events Are The Same, But The Coverage Is Not

    When she lectures, she often hears two opposite stories from audience members: One audience member will say there was nothing in the newspapers about the Holocaust. Another will say they knew about it and went to rallies because of the stories.

    “Maybe there were two Americas, and maybe even two Jewish Americas,” she said. Perhaps some did know and some did not really know about the Holocaust at the time.

    Some of the first articles submitted to History Unfolded seem to support her viewpoint. They reveal very different coverage of the same events.

    For example, an article about the March 23, 1933, opening of the Dachau concentration camp appeared in Bangor, Maine’s Daily News under the headline: “Mistreatment of Jewish Race in Germany Ends.”

    Meanwhile, that same day in a paper in Fredericksburg, Virginia, another article on the opening of the camp appeared under a very different headline: “Sympathy Service by Friends of Jews.” The second article treated the camp opening as a distressing event and noted that a local Presbyterian church had held a service to pray for the safety of German Jews.

    “Those are very different views,” Frankle said.

  • Quiz

    1 The researchers in the article would be MOST likely to agree with which of the following statements?

    (A) The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum does not have enough significant information on the Holocaust.

    (B) Small-town newspapers were not as important as the larger papers in terms of providing Americans with information.

    (C) Most Americans knew about the Holocaust and they still did not want endangered European Jews to move to the United States.

    (D) Some Americans knew about the Holocaust while others did not because newspapers reported it very differently; some did not report it at all.

    2 Why did the author mention the two newspapers that each printed articles relating to the Holocaust on March 23, 1933?

    (A) to show that at least some newspapers in the United States wrote about the Holocaust

    (B) to show the only two local newspapers in the country that paid attention to the Holocaust consistently

    (C) to show that in some cases, small-town newspapers were actually writing more news about the Holocaust than the bigger newspapers

    (D) to show how differently newspapers would write about about the same Holocaust event, leaving their readers with extremely different ideas about what was going on

  • 3 Read the sentences from the section "Too Broad A Subject".

    Journalism professor Laurel Leff says finding out "what Americans knew about the Holocaust at the time is a really important project.” She is the author of “Buried by The Times,” a widely praised 2005 book. In it, she argues that The New York Times downplayed coverage of the Holocaust. Leff, who is Jewish, said she grew up being told that “Americans did not know about the Holocaust” while it was ongoing.

    Which word in these sentences MOST helps to define the word "downplayed"? What does the word "downplayed" convey?

    (A) important; "downplayed" gives the sense that The New York Times recognized how important the Holocaust was and tried to get their readers to care

    (B) buried; "downplayed" gives the sense that The New York Times did not treat the Holocaust as an important issue like it should have

    (C) praised; "downplayed" gives the sense that The New York Times was highly admired for its thorough coverage of the Holocaust

    (D) ongoing; "downplayed" gives the sense that The New York Times did not write many articles about the Holocaust because it was a confusing issue

    4 Read the paragraph from the section "Some Newspapers Did Not Run Certain Stories".

    Why papers like the Altoona Tribune chose not to run stories about such historic events — when other papers did — is something experts will study closely. Scholars also want to know what effect the lack of coverage had. Did it undercut efforts to get the U.S. government to allow endangered European Jews to resettle in the United States?

    Which answer choice is the best replacement of the word "undercut" as used in the sentence above?

    (A) support

    (B) weaken

    (C) criticize

    (D) encourage

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