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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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Arthur Szyk, a “Soldier in Art”

by Bennett Muraskin   ALTHOUGH ARTHUR SZYK (1894-1951) is best known today for his Illuminated Hagaddah (1940), still widely used at Passover seders, he was in many ways a political artist, a self-described “soldier in art,” who used his talents to attack fascism, call for the rescue to European Jewry from Nazi-occupied Europe, promote the American war effort and make […]

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Brownshirt Violence and the Nazi Machine

by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: Stormtroopers: A New History of Hitler’s Brownshirts by Daniel Siemens. Yale University Press, 2017, 459 pages.   OUR DOMINANT image of the German streets, both during the rise to power of the Nazi Party and while it ruled, is of jack-booted men in brown uniforms beating opponents, threatening Jews, […]

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How Stalin Built and Buried Communism

by Mitchell Abidor   Discussed in this essay: Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, by Stephen Kotkin. Penguin Press, 2017, 1154 pages.   AT THE OPENING of Stephen Koptkin’s magisterial Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, the second volume of his biography of the Soviet leader and gravedigger of the revolution, Lenin has been dead for five years and Stalin, […]

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Fascism: What It Isn’t and How Not To Fight It

by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook by Mark Bray. Melville House, 2017, 259 pages.    MARK BRAY’S Antifa can perhaps be considered the definitive statement of the movement that leapt to the front page after the events in Charlottesville. Widely though not deeply researched, Bray’s book clearly lays out the historical […]

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Who You Callin’ a Fascist?

WHY IT MATTERS by George Salamon   “All one can do for the moment is to use the word with a certain amount of circumspection and not, as is usually done, degrade it to the level of a swearword.” —George Orwell, “What is Fascism?” Tribune (UK), 1944   ORWELL’S SUGGESTION survives unheeded today, as “fascist” and […]

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Hitler and the Art of the Deal

HIS RISE TO POWER AS A MASTER MANIPULATOR by Mitchell Abidor Published in the Summer 2017 issue of Jewish Currents Discussed in this essay: Hitler: Ascent 1889-1939, by Volker Ullrich. Alfred A. Knopf, 998 pages, 2016; On Hitler’s Mein Kampf, by Albrecht Koschorke. MIT Press, 78 pages, 2017. IT IS DIFFICULT when reading Volker Ullrich’s brilliant and absorbing […]

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Toronto’s Christie Pits Riot

A championship softball series between a predominantly Jewish (and Italian) baseball team, the Harbord Playground, and St. Peter’s, a team sponsored by a Catholic Church, led to a five-hour riot on this date in 1933 after supporters of St. Peter’s’ victory displayed a large swastika for the second time in two nights. The Toronto Daily Star […]

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Micro-Organisms and the Nobel Prize

Salvador Lurie, a Nobel Prize-winning Italian microbiologist who was shunned by Mussolini and forced to flee to the U.S. by Hitler, was born in Turin on this date in 1912. Lurie and his co-winners of the 1969 Nobel, Max Delbrück and Alfred Hershey, studied the genetic structures of viruses and bacteria. The 1943 Luria-Delbrück experiment showed that genetic mutations occur […]

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Channel Esther: The Last Laugh

by Esther Cohen Discussed in this essay: The Last Laugh, documentary film directed, photographed and edited by Ferne Pearlstein, with jokes by Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Sarah Silverman, Robert Clary, Rob Reiner, Louie C.K., Susie Essman, Harry Shearer, Jeffrey Ross, Alan Zweibel, Gilbert Gottfried, Judy Gold, Larry Charles, David Steinberg, Abe Foxman, Lisa Lampenelli and […]

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