City Life Org – New-York Historical Society Presents Confronting Hate 1937–1952, an exhibit examining an early national advertising campaign that combated anti-Semitism
Image: Eric Godal, “Crush them all”, [1945CollectionoftheAmericanJewishCommittee[1945CollectionduComitéjuifaméricain
Showing from July 28, 2022 to January 1, 2023, Confront the hate Reveals the American Jewish Committee’s Groundbreaking Campaign to Combat Bigotry
This summer, the New York Historical Society presents Confronting Hatred 1937–1952, a timely exhibit that explores the revolutionary campaign launched by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in 1937 to combat growing anti-Semitism in the United States during the interwar period. From July 28, 2022 to January 1, 2023, the exhibition examines the campaign’s story through vibrant posters, engaging comic strips, newspaper advertisements, radio spots and television cartoons that have never been exhibited to the public.
“Confront the hate is an insightful exhibit that demonstrates the power of advertising and public service campaigns and how they can be used as weapons for good,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of New-York Historical. “With hate crimes and violent rhetoric on the rise again in our country, it is important to remember the different ways Americans have dealt with bigotry in the past. We hope that visitors will leave with a better understanding of how monumental changes in the media industry were used to educate the public then and continue to influence us today.
“The ability of a Jewish advocacy organization, on the eve of World War II, to conceptualize and implement a national media campaign against anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred, testifies to the vision of individuals creative people committed to preserving and strengthening our pluralist democracy. said David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee (AJC). “The valuable collection of media documents, discovered by AJC Archives Director Charlotte Bonelli, is more than a glimpse into a period of American history that continued through the late 1940s. It’s surprisingly relevant today amid rising anti-Semitism and other forms of hate that exemplify the saying “what begins with Jews doesn’t end with Jews” and ultimately threatens values. that underpin our democratic society.
In 1937, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) launched an unprecedented media campaign to combat the rise of anti-Semitism which then gripped the United States. Under the direction of advertising director Richard Rothschild, a pioneering multimedia advertising campaign was organized to combat “all forms of bigotry”. Rothschild, along with AJC radio executive Milton Krents and AJC public information officer Ethel Phillips, have joined forces with dozens of “allies” – artists, writers, political leaders, women’s groups and of churches, politicians, magazine and newspaper editors, public figures and celebrities – to spread anti-hate messages across the United States. What began as a campaign against anti-Semitism has evolved into a vigorous campaign to combat all forms of bigotry.
Writers such as Pulitzer Prize-winning author Stephen Vincent Benét and New York cartoonists Eric Godal, Carl Rose and Bernard Seaman were among those enlisted to create radio scripts, flyers and brochures, posters , comic books, magazine and newspaper articles, and cartoons that graphically confront racism, nativism, and anti-Semitism and champion democratic values and understanding. Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra were among the celebrities who stepped up to spread the campaign messages.
Highlights include the first poster created for the National Labor Service campaign after World War II in response to perceived anti-Semitism among union members. “Crush them all!” by Eric Godal, who had himself fled Nazi Germany, depicts a typical American worker swatting flies representing various forms of discrimination. Many of the campaign’s cartoons, inserts and public service announcements were designed by Bernard Seaman, longtime art director of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) and editorial cartoonist for the AFL-CIO News. “Spring Cleaning” depicts Uncle Sam and a man symbolizing American labor throwing a figure symbolizing racial hatred into the trash. comics such as They got the blamewhich tells the story of the scapegoat, and Nuestro Futuro: Free Men or Slavescreated for distribution in Central and South America, show how the AJC, in conjunction with the US government, used this popular media form to combat the spread of Nazi propaganda in that region of the world.
The exhibition also chronicles the rise of mass media. AJC Radio—a division that produced broadcasts in cooperation with NBC and WOR to inform Americans of the dangers of Nazi anti-Semitism and the progress of the Allies in World War II—followed by AJC Television in the late 1940s and into the early 1950s also joined the fight against American Hatred. The exhibit includes the first radio broadcast of a Jewish church service from Nazi Germany conducted by Jewish American GIs in 1944. The historic broadcast is punctuated by the staccato of cannons and booming gunfire as the chaplain Sidney Lefkowitz was leading a church service for 51 American GIs with PFC Max Fuchs, a native of New York who served as acting cantor.
Confront Hate is organized in conjunction with the American Jewish Committee and curated by Debra Schmidt Bach, Curator of Decorative Arts and Special Exhibits at the New-York Historical. Charlotte Bonelli, director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) Archives & Records Center, discovered the collection at AJC headquarters, researched this chapter in AJC history, and approached New York- Historical with the idea of this exhibition.
On September 21, scholars explore the US-Israel relationship and its impact on the Jewish people, while on September 29, experts examine contemporary social and political divisions and provide historical context for underlying tensions that have persisted throughout modern American history. On December 6, architect Daniel Libeskind, who designed the Jewish Museum in Berlin, is joined by Antonia Monda in a wide-ranging conversation that includes the history of anti-Semitism in Europe.
For young people, the Read the Story Family Book Club reads hollow wolf by Lauren Wolk and meets on October 2 to discuss the book’s World War II setting and its portrayal of the fight against injustice. Private group tours can also be arranged throughout the exhibition.
Major support to Confront Hatred 1937–1952 is provided by the David Berg Foundation, Robert and Bobbie Falk, MaryAnn Freiburg, Joan Kasner, Sid and Ruth Lapidus, The Lerner Foundation, Estate of the Honorable Judith Moss, Curtis Schenker and Livia Schenker. Additional support is provided by Mindy and Jon Gray, Isabel and Peter Malkin, Linda Snyder, and the Charles and Mildred Schnurmacher Foundation.
Exhibits at New-York Historical are made possible by Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang and Oscar Tang, the Saunders Trust for American History, the Evelyn & Seymour Neuman Fund, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with support from the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature. WNET is the media sponsor.
About the New York Historical Society
Discover 400 years of history through groundbreaking exhibits, immersive films, and thought-provoking conversations between renowned historians and public figures at the New-York Historical Society, New York’s premier museum. A great destination for history since 1804, the Patricia D. Klingenstein Museum and Library conveys the stories of the diverse populations of the city and country, expanding our understanding of who we are as Americans and how we have become. Always up to the challenge of bringing to light little or unknown stories, New-York Historical will soon inaugurate a new annex housing its Academy for American Democracy as well as the American LGBTQ+ Museum. These latest efforts to help shape the future by documenting the past join New York Historical’s DiMenna Children’s History Museum and Women’s History Center. Digital exhibitions, applications and our For the ages podcast allow visitors from around the world to dive deeper into the story. Connect with us at nyhistory.org or @nyhistory on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, YouTube and Tumblr.