Silence in the American Textbooks
Despite the passage of twenty-five years since the end of the war and the revealing of the Nazi horrors in the death camps, America’s textbook writing historians demonstrate a failure in understanding that European history of the 1930s and 1940s requires re-examination. How did so many gentiles acquiesce or actively participate in the destruction of European Jewry? Three important factors play a part: i. Christian culture (antisemitism); ii. modern nationalism (Jews were nationals of Jewish persuasion); and iii. patterns of American absorption of immigrants in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (Jews were absorbed into the USA as nationals of their countries of origin). Gentile–Jewish relations are hardly found in the indices of historical texts. Maps do not portray the death camps. The US remained silent about the hounding of Jews in Germany in the 1930s and hardly responded to the liquidation of Jews during the war years. American universities remained indifferent. H. Stuart Hughes is an exception on the subject of Gentile–Jewish relations and relates to the persecution of Jews from 1933 to 1945. Solomon F. Bloom, too, provides a guide for moving the destruction of European Jewry into the mainstream of World War II history. R.R. Palmer and Joel Colton refer to genocide in a meaningful way. Michel Francois refers to the sin of omission — ignoring the lives of those in peril — in London, Washington, Moscow, and the Vatican. New paradigms regarding Gentile–Jewish relations must be explored so that different kinds of historical textbooks may be written.