The Voice Among the Silent: The Legacy of James G. McDonald (2014) is a documentary that is based on the recent discovery of the of diaries of the first U.S. Ambassador to Israel, James G. McDonald. The diaries reveal McDonald’s attempts to warn world leaders including President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the future Pope Pius XII about Adolf Hitler’s plans for the Jews. After a face-to-face meeting with Hitler, McDonald worked diligently to warn the world of the impeding doom he foresaw. Through humanitarian efforts, McDonald helped over a 2,000.00 Jewish refugees flee Nazi Germany. James G. McDonald served as the League of Nations’ commissioner for refugees and as an adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Chicago filmmaker Shuli Eshel says that, “A Voice Among The Silent urges people to speak up when they are confronted with evil. It is very important to bridge age, color, religion and hold hands together and fight for human rights and human justices. And it is very important at this stage in my life. And James McDonald did that and we can learn a lot from his activism, experience and foresight. ”
This controversial film confronts a myth about the former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the Holocaust. “And there are those who think that he did everything he could to save the Jews and there are those like me that think that he did very little. And the facts show that he did very, very little to save the Jews of Europe. The film has already confronted controversy even through FDR’s attitude to the Jews of Europe and has been documented in other films. People even today do not want to to tell the truth about what happened because they are worried that if you attack Roosevelt who was a Democrat, and by the way, so am I, the current president will be attacked. But my film has nothing to do with my political stance. It’s to do with the truth based on the meticulous diaries kept by James McDonald. And the truth is that Roosevelt was probably a little anti-Semitic and did not do much to save the Jews in Europe...I think that people had not learned enough about how to speak up and fight against genocide. And that is why the film that I made now is relevant to what happened under Clinton’s watch and what happened in Rwanda. It is relevant today as much as it was 80 years ago because it can happen again.”
The Voice Among the Silent will premiere in Chicago on November 9th at the Illinois Holocaust Museum in conjunction with Kristallnacht ("the night of broken glass") which was the beginning of the holocaust. “On November 9th 1939, the Jews were killed and sent to concentration camps. It was a horrible, horrible day for humanity, never to be repeated again.” Shuli noted.
Also, the film will be shown in Indiana University Cinema in early December in conjunction with the third volume of McDonald’s diary being released in the middle of November. The film will also be premiered in New York at a date to be announced. An educational screening of the film was moderated by Congresswoman Donna Christensen in April this year on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C, in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day.
With the help and support of James McDonald's daughter and other donors, Shuli was able to overcome one of the biggest challenges in making independent documentaries- funding. With her assistance, she was able to garner donations from private donors. In addition to the financial support for A Voice Among the Silent, photographs of Hitler that have never been seen before were donated to the project and can be seen in this film.
Read Women For Action's interview with filmmaker Shuli Eshelhttp://julene.womenforaction.org/2014/07/interview-with-award-winning-chicago_14.html
You can support history by visiting:
A VOICE AMONG THE SILENT: The Legacy of James G. McDonald