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The Uncivil Servant: German Cinema in Nazi Times

by Mitchell Abidor   OCCASIONALLY DERIDED for being too broad and hasty in its estimation of individual films, Siegfried Kracauer’s 1947 study, From Caligari to Hitler, nevertheless stands as a classic of film criticism. Its old-fashioned, Old-World vision of German cinema from its beginnings until the arrival in power of Hitler, and its focus on the unity […]

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Eichmann and Budapest’s Judenrat

On this date in 1944, two days after occupying Hungary, the Nazis set up a Jewish Council (Judenrat or Zsidó Tanács in Hungarian) in Budapest, headed by a banker, Samu Stern. At the same time, Adolf Eichmann was meeting with Hungarian Interior Ministry officials: “That evening,” he would later write, “the fate of the Hungarian […]

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The Uncivil Servant: Richard Wagner, Made (Too) Simple

by Mitchell Abidor   Discussed in this essay: Being Wagner: The Story of the Most Provocative Composer Who Ever Lived, by Simon Callow. Vintage, 232 pages, 2017   IN THIS AGE of doorstop biographies, the actor and biographer Simon Callow’s breezy 200+ pages on Richard Wagner, Being Wagner, appear to be a quirky, quixotic venture. How to squeeze so tumultuous a […]

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The Rosenbergs Go On Trial

The trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg began on this date in 1951. Charged with conspiracy to commit atomic espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union, they would become the first civilians executed as spies in U.S. history — on June 19, 1953. Opposition to their sentence became an international cause, with Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert […]

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Emperor Constantine and the Jews

Constantine the Great, emperor of Rome from 306 to 337 CE, and the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity (in 312, according to legend), was born on this date in 280. Constantine ceased the persecution of Christianity in the Roman Empire in his Edict of Milan (313), and built the Church of the Holy […]

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The Jewish Chicken Farmers of Petaluma: Why Remember?

Part 2 by Kenneth Kann To read Part 1, click here.   I CONDUCTED hundreds more interviews in the years ahead: the children of the immigrants, the grandchildren, and the new suburban settlers who inherited the community. The immigrant children were the generation of my own American-born parents. Here was an assimilation drama. They grew up […]

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