Michael Birdwell is only U.S. historian participating at Israeli Holocaust conference
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (July 9, 2009) – A Tennessee Tech University history professor is in a class all his own.
Michael Birdwell is the only historian from the United States who will be participating in a prestigious international workshop for Holocaust scholars next week in Israel.
He is among only 19 scholars worldwide who will be speaking at the event, presented by Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
“I am deeply honored and humbled by the invitation to speak at the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem,” Birdwell said. “It is because of my research into Warner Bros. that I was asked to participate, and I am deeply indebted to Betty Warner Scheinbaum and her courageous father and president of Warner Bros., Harry Warner. He risked the financial security of his company and his family by standing up to the Nazi regime when no other studio would prior to America’s entry into World War II.”
The Holocaust and Its Immediate Aftermath (1933-1947): The Press, Newsreels and Radio Broadcasts in Real Time will be presented July 13-20 at the Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.
Birdwell’s presentation, titled “Count Me Out: The American Film Industry and the Holocaust,” is scheduled for 11:45 a.m. on Wednesday, July 15.
The topic is based on his book, Celluloid Soldiers, which was published in 2000 by New York University Press and offers a historical look at the efforts of the Warner Bros. motion picture studio to make America aware of Nazi activity prior to World War II.
Birdwell was invited to participate in the workshop following his involvement last year with The Brothers Warner, a nationally televised American Masters documentary about the lives of Albert, Harry, Jack and Sam Warner — the Polish immigrant brothers who founded the legendary studio in 1923.
Other presentations at the Israeli conference will explore the impact of anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish propaganda from 1933 through 1947 in Germany, France, Poland, Italy, Hungary, the Soviet Union and other countries.
The conference will include such topics as “German Newsreels and the Holocaust,” “Challenging the Camera’s Eye: Radio and the Emergency of Public Holocaust Testimony,” “War Diaries Written by Dutch Gentiles and Their Interpretations of the Holocaust,” and “The Bystanders’ Perspective: Coverage of the Holocaust in the Canadian Print, Radio and Newsreel Media.”