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Rachel Deblinger, Author
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America was a central character in the Holocaust stories told in the early postwar period. This is especially true for materials produced by American Jewish organizations that sought to motivate American Jewish and non-Jewish audiences to give money, volunteer, and advocate on behalf of Displaced Persons in Europe.

America served as a symbol for hope, a site of possibility, and the source of liberation in these narratives. The Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty were both commonly evoked images and American myths of freedom and prosperity were weaved through these narratives.

"A Parable for Easter"
A prime example is the radio broadcast, "A Parable for Easter." The drama was sponsored by the Citizen's Committee on Displaced Persons and aired for Easter in 1948. The show employed the Easter story of death and rebirth to tell the story of DP #234, who died in a DP camp in Germany and fought to enter the US zone of heaven. Since DP 234 had no nationality, he posed a problem for the Heavenly Messenger, a story which mirrored the experience of stateless DPs who had nowhere to go on earth and waited for years for quota numbers and visas to become available.

To address his dream of becoming American, the broadcast imagined a court made up of the American founding fathers, including Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and Ben Franklin. They are appalled by the US quota laws and after hearing the struggles of DPs and the limitations of US immigration policy, the founding fathers admit DP #234 to the US area of heaven because “he believes in the basic principles of freedom and liberty and if he had been admitted to the United States while mortal, he would unquestionably, have been a good citizen.”

Listen to the clip here to hear how the American Founding Fathers endorse DP immigration to the U.S. and how the best of American ideals are evoked to tell the stories of DPs >

Listen to "A Parable for Easter" in full at the YIVO Max and Frieda Weinstein Archives of Recorded Sound at the Center for Jewish History >
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