In a growing number of states the teaching of the Holocaust in public schools is legislatively mandated, laments Professor Novick
Holocaust in American Life
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SINCE the 1970's the Holocaust has come to be mentioned -- come to be thought of -- as not just a Jewish memory but an American memory. In a growing number of states the teaching of the Holocaust in public schools is legislatively mandated. Instructions for conducting "Days of Remembrance" are distributed throughout the American military establishment, and commemorative ceremonies are held annually in the Capitol Rotunda. Over the past twenty years every president has urged Americans to preserve the memory of the Holocaust. The operating expenses of the Washington Holocaust Museum -- originally to have been raised by private contributions -- have been largely taken over by the federal government. In Boston, the New England Holocaust Memorial is located on the Freedom Trail, along with Paul Revere's house and the Bunker Hill Monument. Public officials across the country told Americans that seeing Schindler's List was their civic duty. How did this European event come to loom so large in American consciousness?
A good part of the answer lies in the fact -- not less of a fact because anti-Semites turn it into a grievance -- that Jews play an important and influential role in Hollywood, the television industry, and newspaper, magazine, and book publishing worlds. Anyone who would explain the massive attention the Holocaust has received in these media in recent years without reference to that fact is being naive and disingenuous. This is not, of course, a matter of any "Jewish conspiracy" -- Jews in the media do not dance to the tune of "the elders of Zion." It's not even a matter of Jews in the media per se, which is an old story, but of what sort of Jews. Beginning in the 1970's, a cohort of Jews who either didn't have much in the way of Jewish or were diffident about voicing the concerns they did have came to be replaced by a cohort that included many for whom those concerns were more deeply felt and who were more up-front about them. In large part the movement of the Holocaust from the Jewish to the general American arena resulted from private and spontaneous decisions of Jews who happened to occupy strategic positions in the mass media.
But that movement was not completely private and spontaneous. [....] Blu Greenberg, the wife of Rabbi Irving Greenberg, wrote that she had originally favored exclusively Jewish commemoration of the Holocaust [....] After attending an interfaith Yom Hashoah ceremony, however, she found it "moving and comforting to see Christians share tears with us, acknowledge Christian guilt, and commit themselves to the security of Israel."
From: Peter Novick, "The Holocaust in American Life", Houghton Mifflin & Co., 1999, Boston, p. 207-208