What we knew. When we knew it. If we wanted to know.
The newspaper in New Orleans with the longest history is The Times-Picayune, established in 1837. For people in the city and the region during the 1930s and ‘40s, this newspaper, relying on Associated Press articles, was a major source of information about the Nazi persecution of the Jews before the war and the extermination of the Jews during it.
Not everyone who read The Times-Picayune was sympathetic to Jewish suffering and cared to read about it. Anti-Semitism was strong in the United States, particularly in the South, and it intensified during the war. A poll conducted in 1943 indicated that a majority of Americans considered Jews a more dangerous enemy than Japanese and Germans.
Our purpose here is twofold:
- What information about the Jewish catastrophe was made available to readers of The Times-Picayune? What articles did the newspaper publish on this subject? When were these articles published and what did they report? On what pages did the articles appear?
The editors of The Times-Picayune published a number of editorials about the fate of the Jews. What opinions were expressed? Political cartoons also appeared on the editorial page. How might we interpret them?
- And what torments were our survivors, in the middle of the Nazi hell, enduring when these articles were published in the city that would later be their home?
We have culled the old issues of The Times-Picayune and assembled a Chronology of Destruction that juxtaposes Holocaust related articles from the newspaper with crucial moments in the war-time experiences of our survivors that we have excerpted from their documentaries.
This juxtaposition is a forceful reminder that the details in a newspaper article take on new meaning when we know the people who are the brunt of those details.
Reading old articles in The Times-Picayune is not only a history lesson but an exercise in critical thinking. This many years later we have the benefit of hindsight. We know what happened during the Holocaust and can judge the accuracy of the reporting. We can read between the lines and recognize what information was omitted and what machinations were at work.
We include an analysis of each article and a synopsis of the war-time event or diplomatic effort that it described.