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Hollywood Heroes: Saviors Behind the Silver Screen

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Hollywood Heroes: Saviors Behind the Silver Screen

Derek Scott, Illustrator

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Derek Scott

Illustrator

 

It’s no doubt that Hollywood has poor reputation for being awful human beings.

Whether its animal abuse, exploitation, or racism Hollywood will do anything that would either save them money or make them money.

Sure, they’ve done some good things like change the way the public views civil rights, but the most heroic thing done by anyone in Hollywood has gone unnoticed for close to a century.

In the winter of 1933, during Hitler’s rise to power, the Polish knew that they were in trouble.

Racism against anyone with Jewish blood was already strong, and with a violent man gaining power, the most concentrated population of Jews was in trouble.

A woman by the name of Johanna Rockmann wrote a letter. A letter that gave hundreds people hope.

In the letter she requests something very important.

Much like today there were restrictions on refugees coming to America, they needed something called an affidavit, which was basically a guarantee of financial support.

The letter was addressed to Harry Warner, the co-founder of Warner Bros. Studios, however it had Hirsch Moses on the letter.

She used this name because it was his Jewish name given to him when he was born in Poland, reminding him of whom he was and where he was from. He obliged.

The letter from Rockmann was just the first action in the domino effect that caused more and more Hollywood moguls to go the extra mile to save the lives of Jews in Europe.

Some people didn’t get a letter like Harry; some people had other reasons for helping, like Carl Laemmle (lem-lee).

Carl Laemmle was a German Born Jew who refused to leave his European life behind when moving to America; he kept in touch with his family and made frequent trips to Europe.

It’s because of this that Carl didn’t hesitate to give people jobs to get keep them from being rounded up and killed. He immediately moved his family and friends to Los Angeles and urged others let him bring them to America.

To him, it wasn’t just a good deed it was a responsibility.

Not all Hollywood executives could bring people over, but they helped by producing tons of anti-Nazi propaganda, which was used to influence people to support the US fight for peace in Europe.

But don’t forget that the affidavit was a proof of financial support, which means they had to work.

They were the Bosses of Hollywood, so of course they gave them acting jobs with roles including the Munchkins in the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz” and extras in the 1942 film “Casablanca”.

Its unknown as to how many Jews were saved by Hollywood’s elite, but it’s estimated to be in the hundreds.

About the Writer
Derek Scott, Illustrator

Derek Scott is a Senior and first-year Smoke Signals member. He's a fan of burritos and listens to the The Offspring's "The Kids Aren't Alright" on repeat.

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Hollywood Heroes: Saviors Behind the Silver Screen