New Book by NYU’s Diner Debunks Myth of Holocaust Silence Among American Jews


Silence about the Holocaust among American Jews is not supported by a trove of religious, cultural, and journalistic archival material, New York University Professor Hasia Diner concludes in her book, We Remember with Reverence and Love: American Jews and the Myth of Silence after the Holocaust, 1945-1962 (NYU Press, April).

Silence about the Holocaust among American Jews is not supported by a trove of religious, cultural, and journalistic archival material, New York University Professor Hasia Diner concludes in her book, We Remember with Reverence and Love: American Jews and the Myth of Silence after the Holocaust, 1945-1962 (NYU Press, April).

In fact, she writes, “American Jews told and retold details of the catastrophe in multiple forms. Over and over, men and women asserted the necessity of revisiting it in their institutions and organs of public opinion, in all its horrors. By virtue of belonging to the people who had been targeted for extinction and as the victims’ kin, both literal and metaphoric, they considered it their duty to recite the story of the six million.”

Diner adds that these actions “laid the foundation for the better organized, bigger, and more elaborately funded Holocaust projects of the last decades of the twentieth century.”

Diner’s work challenges the existing post-war narrative of the Holocaust that posits American Jews turned away from the genocide in Europe and instead focused on the comforts of suburbia and other benefits generated by the 1950s economic boom. Previous scholars have contended it was the offspring of Holocaust survivors who brought the horrors of World War II to the public sphere-a development that occurred in the 1960s as a result of either the Eichmann trial early in the decade or the June 1967 Six-Day War in Israel.

An exhaustive review of Jewish life in America over the nearly two decades following World War II reveals the extent to which the Holocaust was a fundamental component in families and communities.

“Some American Jews 500

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