Disney Educational Productions has enlisted comic book artist and activist Neal Adams to illustrate and narrate a new ten-part series of motion comics titled They Spoke Out: American Voices Against the Holocaust.
Ironically enough, Adams has actively fought against the work-made-for-hire provision of the copyright laws in the past, fighting on behalf of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster to have original art returned to them. Adams also took on an active role when he learned of Dina Babbitt who agreed to paint prisoners for Josef Mengele so that she and her mother could prolong being put to death. The art eventually landed up in the hands of the Auschwitz State Museum who later refused to return the artwork to Babbitt upon her request.
Details for the first five episodes have been released and are as follows:
La Guardia’s War Against Hitler – Fiorello La Guardia, the feisty mayor of New York City from 1934 to 1945, spoke out forcefully against Nazi Germany’s persecution of the Jews, despite political risks and the dangers faced by his own sister, who was imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp. La Guardia encouraged the boycotting of German goods, opposed U.S. participation in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, personally led anti-Nazi rallies, and promoted legislation to facilitate the U.S. rescue of Jewish refugees. “La Guardia’s War Against Hitler” is the story of a man who stood up for what was right at a time when too many people preferred to look the other way.
Voyage of the Doomed – The St. Louis, a ship carrying over 900 German Jewish refugees with visas for Cuba, was turned away at the port of Havana in May 1939. With the whole world watching, a heartbreaking drama unfolded off the coast of Miami, where the St. Louis hovered for three days, hoping for permission to land. Some Americans spoke up in support of admitting the refugees, but the Roosevelt administration and most of the public opposed opening America’s doors to these huddled masses fleeing Hitler. “Voyage of the Doomed” chronicles the tragedy of innocent men, women, and children who came within a stone’s throw of freedom, only to be sent back to Hitler Europe.
Walls of Paper – Researchers recently discovered that before Anne Frank and her family went into hiding in the infamous attic in Amsterdam, the Franks sought permission to immigrate to America. “Walls of Paper” follows the desperate attempts by Anne’s parents to overcome the harsh bureaucratic obstacles set up by the Roosevelt administration to discourage foreigners from coming to the United States. This episode sheds light on a deeply divided America, where former First Lady Grace Coolidge and other humanitarians lobbied for legislation to grant haven to German Jewish refugee children such as Anne, while opponents of immigration preyed on the public’s fears and prejudice in order to keep America’s doors closed.
Rescue Over the Mountains – This is the incredible but true story of Varian Fry, a young American journalist who led an underground rescue network that smuggled Jewish refugees out of Vichy France–including some of the world’s most famous artists, musicians and writers. As a world war raged around them, an ex-wrestler, a wealthy socialite, a rogue American diplomat, and a Unitarian minister helped Fry pluck 2,000 refugees from the Nazi inferno and spirit them across the Pyrenees Mountains to safety. Risking arrest and worse, these unlikely American heroes rose to the challenge in history’s darkest era.
Messenger from Hell – In the winter of 1943, a young Polish diplomat was asked to risk his life to alert the international community about the Nazis’ mass murder of the Jews. He said yes. This episode tells the harrowing story of Jan Karski, who was smuggled into the Warsaw Ghetto and a Nazi death camp so he could witness the atrocities against the Jews and report them to the world. Karski’s desperate missions to Great Britain and the United States and his frantic attempts to warn government leaders and the public about the raging Holocaust shed light on a troubling question: What did the international community know about the Nazi genocide–and when did it know it?
As part of the 2010 Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) Festival in New York City this weekend, Neal Adams will be part of a panel introducing the series along with production chief Lisa Clements and historian Dr. Rafael Medoff. As part of the panel, the first two episodes of the series will be screened. For tickets and more information, visit the MoCCA Festival site.
Disney Educational Productions promises to soon have video clips and additional information on the series available soon. You can check out the official site at THEYSPOKEOUT.COM.