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NIMBYs and Hitler: Readers Respond

Paul Teetor's critique of Ben Urwand's new book taking on Hollywood's supposed pact with Hitler, The Collaboration, drew raves last week ("Hindsight in Hollywood," Sept. 13).

Scottzwartz writes, "Urwand's book is actually worse than no book, as it obfuscates the major factor in Hollywood's Go Lightly on the Nazis prior to WWII — the Hays Office. While the German government had sent Georg Gyssling to influence American films, Gyssling's actions were far less influential than those of the rabid anti-Semite Joseph Breen, who decided which movies received the Hays Office's Production Code seal. In the 1930s, films that did not have the seal were financial flops. Breen considered any movie which was in any way critical of Hitler to be unfair to the German people, and he would withhold the Production Seal.

"Today, most people do not realize how many Americans in the 1930s were very pro-Nazi and extremely anti-Semitic. Breen understood. He warned Hollywood producers who disagreed with him, writing, 'There is a strong pro-German and anti-Semitic feeling in this country ... and while those who are likely to approve of an anti-Hitler picture may think well of such an enterprise, they should keep in mind that millions of Americans might think otherwise.' " Yikes.

Edward Ryan writes, "There is a parallel to Hollywood's 'collaboration' with Hitler in the deafening silence of the Communist Party about their Nazi counterparts, up to the severance of the German-Soviet non-aggression pact. While Jewish extermination didn't commence until after the '30s, other groups had been targeted and general persecution was under way throughout that decade, with protest from many quarters. Is it only a parallel? Were the cited thousands of screenwriters breaking party discipline by their anti-Nazi position? And thanks to Paul Teetor for another fine essay."

Come to My Backyard

Is Sherman Oaks getting hosed with a questionable location for a new fire station? Neighbors interviewed by Patrick Range McDonald ("Firehouse War Over Land With Dirty Past," Sept. 13) said yes. Reader MikeP disagrees. "Living next to Fire Station 88 has made my homeowner's insurance plummet compared to when I lived on Ventura Boulevard," he writes. "Inexpensive double-paned windows means I almost never hear the sirens from one of the busiest stations in the Valley (and my cooling and heating bill dropped, too). I have zero complaints about having a station literally outside my front door! These idiots just have a bad case of NIMBYism and should be ashamed of themselves, and the L.A. Weekly should change its name to the L.A. Bogus Rant if it's going to publish stuff like this as 'real journalism.' "

Worddrs has a different take. "Another important piece by Patrick Range McDonald," he writes. "Thank you."

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