TIME/LIFE and Historical Memory

ANECDOTE RECEIVED BY E-MAIL: “Mrs. Clare Booth-Luce, the wife of Henry Luce, the founder of TIME magazine, was a well-respected and highly-informed writer and journalist.

“It must have been in the late ‘60’s that she said, at a gathering of academics and politicians, to a prominent Jewish leader (it may have been Nachum Goldman), “I really feel that the Jews should stop commemorating the Holocaust. Why don’t you get on with life, put all those experiences, however painful they may be, behind you and concentrate on the future?”

“Nachum Goldman stood silent for a moment; then, with brightly shining eyes and a warm smile on his face, he said, “Mrs. Luce, these are exactly my sentiments when I hear people talk about the Crucifixion!”

The anecdote is attributed to an American novelist named Nathan Gold, but I have been unable to corroborate. However, I have a copy of LIFE Magazine’s Picture History of World War II. Published in 1950, it contains not a single mention or image of the Holocaust or the death camps. I guess the Luces managed to put the Holocaust behind them pretty quickly.

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2 Responses to TIME/LIFE and Historical Memory

  1. Jesse Rubin says:

    I just received this Clare Booth-Luce story/quote. As with you and me, the same exact email was written on other sites. I have been unable to find any information directing me to the legitimacy of this “quote.” Please let me know the source, as i feel uncomfortable sending it on until I have this information.
    Thank you.

    • At the start of her essay, (“OF CHRISTIAN HEROISM”) (CYNTHIA) Ozick includes a quote by Herbert Gold:

      “There is a story about Clare Booth Luce complaining that she was bored with hearing about the Holocaust. A Jewish friend of hers said he perfectly understood her sensitivity in the matter; in fact, he had the same sense of repetitiousness and fatigue, hearing so often about the Crucifixion.” (167)

      There are a few other references to the anecdote if you google “Clare Booth Luce forget the Holocaust.” Elsewhere, Luce is cited for being an ardent supporter of Israel, but Israel gets support from lots of people to whose motives I don’t subscribe. The 1950 TIME/LIFE WW II book in my possession – with no mention of death camps or the Holocaust – is evidence that the Luce empire wasn’t completely devoted to an impartial account of 1939-45. In my childhood memory, TIME/LIFE exploited “revelation” about the Holocaust long, long after 1945, when the fate of Nazism’s victims was common knowledge among those who made it their business to know. Controlling public awareness of the Holocaust may have had benefits for the American ruling class, whose culpability in in failing to rescue Jews and others during the war, and the reported OSS/CIA recruitment of Nazi secret agents during and after ’39-’45, might have raised a few questions about the so-called “good war’s” 65 million dead, and “the best generation.” The case might be made that Luce was the true founder of the so-called “Holocaust industry” cited by cynics and worse in recent years. Add reports that Luce sat on the Zapruder footage of the JFK assassination and cooperated with its tampering by unknown agents, and anecdotes such as the above aren’t difficult to believe. They don’t appear to have shrunk from promoting the interests of their class. Thanks for your comment.

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