Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Culture

Hollywood’s War on Hate

An exhibit at the New York campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion shows Hollywood movie posters from the Holocaust era. The posters, part of lawyer Ken Sutak’s personal collection, offer a glimpse into the Hollywood of the 1930s and ’40s, revealing how the film industry independently went to war against the Nazis starting in 1935 — six years before the United States.

Two of the largest studios, United Artists and Warner Bros., chose not to bow to German pressures to ban Jewish film employees and restrict the content. The American government also imposed sanctions on the industry under the guise of wishing to remain “neutral.” But Hollywood did not comply. Warner Bros., which was shaped by Jewish immigrants Harry Warner and his brothers, rejected the pressure to comply with the German government and instead chose to make pointedly anti-Nazi films. United Artists — run by Charlie Chaplin, among others — reorganized its distribution in Germany and retained its Jewish employees. And Chaplin would add a very personal touch in 1940 when he starred in “The Great Dictator,” a satire of Adolf Hitler and Nazism.

“Cinema Judaica: The War Years” runs through July 7.

A message from our editor-in-chief Jodi Rudoren

We're building on 127 years of independent journalism to help you develop deeper connections to what it means to be Jewish today.

With so much at stake for the Jewish people right now — war, rising antisemitism, a high-stakes U.S. presidential election — American Jews depend on the Forward's perspective, integrity and courage.

—  Jodi Rudoren, Editor-in-Chief 

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.