‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ to premiere Sept. 18


Arkansas PBS plans events around three-part series by Ken Burns, Lynn Novick, Sarah Botstein exploring the humanitarian crises

CONWAY, Ark. (Arkansas PBS) — “The U.S. and the Holocaust,” a film by Ken Burns, Lynn Novick and Sarah Botstein, explores America’s response to one of the greatest humanitarian crises in history in a new three-part documentary. The series will air on Arkansas PBS Sunday, Sept. 18, through Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 7 each night.

Inspired in part by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s “Americans and the Holocaust” exhibition and supported by its historical resources, the film examines the rise of Hitler and Nazism in Germany in the context of global antisemitism and racism, the eugenics movement in the United States and race laws in the American South. The series, written by Geoffrey Ward, sheds light on what the U.S. government and American people knew and did as the catastrophe unfolded in Europe.

Combining the first-person accounts of Holocaust witnesses and survivors and interviews with leading historians and writers, “The U.S. and the Holocaust” dispels competing myths that Americans either were ignorant of the unspeakable persecution that Jews and other targeted minorities faced in Europe or that they looked on with callous indifference. The film tackles a range of questions that remain essential to society today, including how racism influences policies related to immigration and refugees, as well as how governments and people respond to the rise of authoritarian states that manipulate history and facts to consolidate power.

Starting in early October, Arkansas PBS will present a series of screenings, panel discussions and educator forums in partnership with the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Fayetteville Public Library and Black River Technical College. The series includes a screening and panel discussion Thursday, Oct. 6, at 6 p.m. at the Fayetteville Public Library in partnership with U of A and the “America and the Holocaust” exhibit opening in November in Fayetteville. Additional information and updates will be available at myarpbs.org/holocaust.

“Conversations on the Holocaust: A Virtual Event Series” will accompany the documentary. Filmmakers and special guests will host the following hour-long discussions:

  • “The Holocaust and Refugees, Lessons for Today,” Thursday, Sept. 8, at 6 p.m. With Ken Burns, Sarah Botstein and Madlin Sadler. Moderated by Jake Tapper, CNN Anchor and Chief Washington Correspondent. Presented by PBS and the International Rescue Committee.
  • "The Holocaust and Authoritarianism Today," Thursday, Sept. 15, at 6 p.m. With Ken Burns, Lynn Novick, Michael Abramowitz (President, Freedom House) Moderator: Julia Ioffe, Puck. Presented by PBS and Freedom House.

Both events will be recorded and made available for streaming. Viewers may join the conversations on social media with #USandTheHolocaustPBS.

The broadcast of “The U.S. and the Holocaust” will be accompanied by educational materials for middle and high school classrooms, highlighting recent research and perspectives. The materials, which were prepared by PBS LearningMedia in collaboration with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and other leading Holocaust education experts, are available at the “Ken Burns in the Classroom” site. These materials include clips from the film, as well as other resources that connect to its core themes, such as immigration policy, racism, isolationism, discrimination and more.

“The U.S. and the Holocaust” will be available to stream for free on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video App, available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and VIZIO.

About “The U.S. and the Holocaust”

“The U.S. and the Holocaust” is a production of Florentine Films and WETA Washington, D.C. Directed by Ken Burns, Lynn Novick and Sarah Botstein. Telescript by Geoffrey C. Ward. Produced by Sarah Botstein, Lynn Novick, Ken Burns and Mike Welt. Edited by Tricia Reidy, ACE, and Charles E. Horton. Co-producer is Lucas B. Frank. Original music produced by Johnny Gandelsman. Cinematography by Buddy Squires, ASC, and Wojciech Staroń, PSC. Narrated by Peter Coyote. Voices include Adam Arkin, Hope Davis, Paul Giamatti, Olivia Gilliatt, Elliott Gould, Murphy Guyer, Werner Herzog, Josh Lucas, Carolyn McCormick, Joe Morton, Liam Neeson, Matthew Rhys, Meryl Streep, Bradley Whitford and Helena Zengel. The executive in charge for WETA is John F. Wilson. Executive producer is Ken Burns.

Corporate funding for “The U.S. and the Holocaust” was provided by Bank of America. Major funding was provided by: David M. Rubenstein; the Park Foundation; the Judy and Peter Blum Kovler Foundation; Gilbert S. Omenn and Martha A. Darling; The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations; and by the following members of The Better Angels Society: Jeannie and Jonathan Lavine; Jan and Rick Cohen; Allan and Shelley Holt; the Koret Foundation; David and Susan Kreisman; Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder; Blavatnik Family Foundation; Crown Family Philanthropies, honoring the Crown and Goodman Families; the Fullerton Family Charitable Fund; Dr. Georgette Bennett and Dr. Leonard Polonsky; The Russell Berrie Foundation; Diane and Hal Brierley; John and Catherine Debs; and Leah Joy Zell and the Joy Foundation. Funding was also provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and by public television viewers.

About Arkansas PBS

Arkansas PBS, Arkansas’s only statewide public media network, empowers learners of all ages by educating, informing, entertaining and inspiring communities. Arkansas PBS serves as a daily and essential resource for Arkansans by creating, sharing, celebrating and driving conversation around Arkansas stories and classic, trusted PBS programs through multiple digital platforms, including livestreaming at myarpbs.org/watch, on-demand services and YouTube TV, and the distinct channels Arkansas PBS, Arkansas PBS Create, Arkansas PBS KIDS, Arkansas PBS WORLD and Arkansas PBS AIRS on SAP. Members with Arkansas PBS Passport have extended on-demand access to a rich library of public television programming. Arkansas PBS depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. Additional information is available at myarkansaspbs.org. Arkansas PBS is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro), KETZ (El Dorado), KETS (Lee Mountain) and KETS (Forrest City).