The Times-Picayune on the Holocaust
The newspaper in New Orleans with the longest history is The Times-Picayune. It was established in 1837. For people in the city and the region, the Picayune was a major source of information about the Nazi persecution of the German Jews, and the Nazi attempt to murder all of the Jews in Europe between 1939 and 1945.
Not everyone who read The Times-Picayune was sympathetic to Jewish suffering. Anti-Semitism was very strong in the country and no where stronger than in the Southern states. Perhaps not surprisingly, anti-Semitism intensified during the war, at the very hour when the Jews in Europe were being massacred in unheard of numbers. A 1943 poll suggested that a majority of Americans believed Jews were a greater threat to the country than Germans or Japanese, with whom the country had been at war for two years.
What information about the Jewish tragedy was available to readers of The Times-Picayune? What articles were published? What did they report? On what page did they appear? In other words, what importance did the editors of the Picayune attribute to the article? When they relegated to page 2 the article describing the gassing of 1,715,000 Jews at Auschwitz, the editors made clear what was important to them, and what they believed readers wanted. The Picayune published several editorials on the fate of the European Jews. We include those editorials here together with the Picayune’s editorials on Hitler’s rise to power and on the course of the war. In addition, we include cartoons that drip of political satire and that are often more insightful than the editorials.
Reading old issues of The Times-Picayune is a lesson in history and an exercise in critical thinking. We have the benefit of hindsight. We know how history turned out. We can judge the accuracy of the reporting. What was left out? We can read between the lines. What machinations were at work? And finally, we can pick up rich details and quotes from the newspaper that never made it into the history books.