FDR defenders enlist TV critics to refute Holocaust film

Weeks before the debut of an American Experience film on the U.S. response to the Holocaust, defenders of President Franklin Roosevelt undertook a quiet campaign to influence and later discredit historical analysis presented in “America and the Holocaust: Deceit and Indifference.” In the disturbing film, aired April 6, 1994, producer Marty Ostrow argued that the Roosevelt Administration knew that the Nazis were systematically slaughtering Jews and followed a policy of not rescuing them. The critics’ complaint, in the words of William vanden Heuvel, president of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, was that the film was “one-sided and grossly unfair, indifferent to the truth and deceitful in concept.” But when series producers sat down to evaluate the advance criticism with Ostrow and his team of historical advisors, they came to a different conclusion. “We came out of those meetings with confidence that the film was not only accurate, but it said what the authors of the film wanted it to say, and that they were on good ground,” said Judy Crichton, executive producer.