In the beginning of Saving Private Ryan when they"re storming the bunkers, Caparzo hands Mellish a Hitler Youth knife and he gets very emotional over it (presumably over his Jewish background).

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I didn"t realize that the U.S. knew anything about what was happening in terms of the Holocaust at the time of Normandy. I remember in a Band of Brothers episode, where they stumble upon an abandoned concentration camp, and everybody seemed pretty clueless in terms of what was happening. I figured that the U.S. was pretty much in the dark in terms of Hitler"s plan.

When did the U.S. become aware of Hitler"s actions towards the Jews in Europe?

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asked Jan 7 "15 at 14:06

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This seems more like a question that belongs on History SE, but I"ll throw my $.02 in here...

TLDR: As early as 1933 but certainly by Nov. 24, 1942.

There is much debate on the topic of your question. The following is from the Holocaust Encylopedia


In August 1942, the State Department received a report sent by Gerhart Riegner, the Geneva-based representative of the World Jewish Congress (WJC). The report revealed that the Germans were implementing a policy to physically annihilate the Jews of Europe. Department officials declined to pass on the report to its intended recipient, American Jewish leader Stephen Wise, who was President of the World Jewish Congress.

Despite the State Department"s delay in publicizing the mass murder, that same month Wise received the report via British channels. He sought permission from the State Department to make its contents public. Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles asked Wise not to publicize the information until the State Department confirmed it. Wise agreed and after three months the State Department notified him that its sources had confirmation. On November 24, 1942, Wise held a press conference to announce that Nazi Germany was implementing a policy to annihilate the European Jews. A few weeks later, on December 17, the United States, Great Britain, and ten other Allied governments issued a declaration denouncing Nazi Germany"s intention to murder the Jews of Europe. The declaration warned Nazi Germany that it would be held responsible for these crimes.

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During the era of the Holocaust, the American press did not always publicize reports of Nazi atrocities in full or with prominent placement. For example, the New York Times, the nation"s leading newspaper, generally deemphasized the murder of the Jews in its news coverage. The US press had reported on Nazi violence against Jews in Germany as early as 1933. It covered extensively the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 and the expanded German antisemitic legislation of 1938 and 1939. The nationwide state-sponsored violence of November 9-10, 1938, known as Kristallnacht (Night of Crystal), made front page news in dailies across the US as did Hitler"s infamous prediction, expressed to the Reichstag (German parliament) on January 30, 1939, that a new world war would mean the annihilation of the Jewish “race.”

As the magnitude of anti-Jewish violence increased in 1939-1941, many American newspapers ran descriptions of German shooting operations, first in Poland and later after the invasion of the Soviet Union. The ethnic identity of the victims was not always made clear. Some reports described German mass murder operations with the word "extermination." As early as July 2, 1942, the New York Times reported on the operations of the killing center in Chelmno, based on sources from the Polish underground. The article, however, appeared on page six of the newspaper. Although the New York Times covered the December 1942 statement of the Allies condemning the mass murder of European Jews on its front page, it placed coverage of the more specific information released by Wise on page ten, significantly minimizing its importance.