April ’78 in the Exponent: ‘Holocaust’ on TV


Landmark Miniseries Covered in Depth

Passover was fast approaching, but the cover (and several pages inside) of the April 14, 1978 Jewish Exponent focused on the miniseries Holocaust, which was set to air from April 16 to 19 on NBC.

Miniseries were a big deal on network television those days, following the success and impact of Roots, and the nine-and-a-half-hour Holocaust was both a ratings success and a cultural landmark.

Holocaust is not merely a rendering of a portrayal of a heinous event which affected an ethnic people — it is a cogent presentation of a time of tyranny that should not be relegated to the shadows of the American conscience,” the Exponent reported. “As an educational tool, Holocaust has spurred many discussions in the academic community. Public and private schools, colleges and universities are using the program as a springboard for meaningful dialogue and introspection.”

The miniseries boasted an impressive cast, including Joseph Bottoms, Tovah Feldshuh, Michael Moriarty, James Woods and an up-and-coming actress named Meryl Streep, who won a Primetime Emmy for her role as Inga Helms-Weiss, a Christian married to a Jewish artist. The award was the first major honor for the legendary actress, who won an Oscar a year later for her role in Kramer vs. Kramer.

In all, Holocaust won eight Emmy Awards and two Golden Globes.

The main story for Holocaust centered around the fictional German Jewish Weiss family and the hardships they faced, giving viewers a look at one point at the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. A second plotline followed the rise and fall of a lawyer from Berlin who joins the SS.


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