UPDATED: Today on Yom Kippur, the most holy of Jewish holidays, does historic Hollywood have much to atone? Or to applaud? Listen here on Warren Olney’s Which Way, LA? as historians discuss whether the pre-WWII Jewish heads of Hollywood studios conspired with Hitler to censor the content of American films – or whether the moguls spied on German agents sent to spread the message and tactics of the Third Reich. One new book calls the Hollywood chiefs “collaborators” while the other says they were secretly foiling the plots of Nazis. The books, one published and the other still under way, tell opposite stories about LA’s Jewish studio heads in the 1930s as Adolf Hitler was taking power and creating Germany’s anti-Semitic Nazi regime. David Denby in The New Yorker also looks at a third book, Hollywood And Hitler, 1933-1939 by Thomas Doherty, a professor of American studies at Brandeis University. The other scholarly works are Ben Urwand’s The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler by the junior fellow of the Society of Fellows at Harvard University, and Steven Ross, USC Professor of History and former Department Chair and author of the forthcoming Hitler in Los Angeles: How Jews and Their Spies Foiled Nazi And Fascist Plots Against Hollywood And America. The latter two authors agree on one thing: Hitler thought Hollywood had created the world’s greatest propaganda machine.
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