Bank of America Funded Holocaust Documentary By Ken Burns


Leaders at Bank of America provided corporate funding for a new documentary exploring how people in the United States grappled with the Holocaust.

“The U.S. and the Holocaust,” a three-part, six-hour series by Ken Burns is running on PBS this week and all the episodes are available online.

On a PBS website promoting the documentary, it says, “Americans consider themselves a ‘nation of immigrants,’ but as the catastrophe of the Holocaust unfolded in Europe, the United States proved unwilling to open its doors to more than a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of desperate people seeking refuge… Did the nation fail to live up to its ideals? This is a history to be reckoned with.”

Burns thanked Bank of America for the corporate funding on Twitter.

Burns included a special shout-out for Sheri Bronstein, Bank of America’s chief human resources officer.

In a later Tweet, Burns says he has never made a more important film.

Bronstein wrote on LinkedIn that the bank has partnered with Burns for more than a decade to advance a greater understanding of history and drive inclusion for all.

Bronstein asked people to watch the documentary.

“This film explores how the American people grappled with one of the greatest humanitarian crises of the 20th century. I hope you’ll tune in with me for the premiere of this powerful program,” Bronstein wrote.

Critics have called the series “a chilling warning” and “distressingly topical.”

Television Critic Robert Lloyd wrote in a review published in the Los Angeles Times that the documentary by Burns is a warning.

“American nativism, xenophobia, and white supremacy, having been given cover by the previous president, are renascent; the Anti-Defamation League found a 61% increase in attacks on Jewish institutions from 2020 to 2021,” Lloyd wrote.

Lloyd mentioned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Putin’s imperial fantasies, but pointed out current conditions in America.

“This is not Nazi Germany, but to judge by the news, there are some who wish it were, and from recent attacks on libraries to the failed putsch of Jan. 6, 2021, there are echoes enough,” Lloyd wrote.

Daniel Fienberg wrote for The Hollywood Reporter that the documentary, which Burns created with Lynn Novick and Sarah Botstein, is a cautionary tale.

“Unfortunately, at a moment at which ‘America First’ rhetoric and anti-immigrant, anti-refugee sentiment remain fervent, as one state after another uses coded language to outlaw the teaching of any piece of our history that dares to deviate from a discernibly false narrative of American exceptionalism, The U.S. and the Holocaust stands as one of the most vital projects in Burns’ five-decade relationship with PBS,” Fienberg wrote.

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