This forgetfulness was a temporary sublimation, however, and images of the Holocaust in the American imagination began to recur. In 1961, Nazi mastermind Adolf Eichmann went to trial in Israel. The proceedings were publicized world-wide, and more than a hundred survivors testified in Jerusalem. Dorothy Rabinowitz analyzed the effect of the trial, writing that for many it was a "galvanizing force, bringing [American Jews] face to face with emotions theretofore repressed, with events whose full scope and reverberations had been kept, rumbling, beneath the surface of consciousness" (Linenthal 9).
The most salient event in the resurrection of the Holocaust in American memory, however, occurred in 1967 with the Israeli victory of the Six-Day War. The president of Egypt was quoted as desiring the extermination of the Jewish people, raising the unavoidable specter of a second Holocaust, but with one crucial difference-- the Jews effected a resounding victory. This provided the missing link in the story of the Holocaust-- that of destruction followed by redemption; the creation and fortitude of the state of Israel. The vision of the Holocaust was much easier to countenance if it was followed by the establishment of a Jewish nation.
The next event which spurred interest in the history of the Holocaust was the Vietnam War. Anti-war activists used images of Nazi atrocities to link the United States with the perpetrators of the Holocaust, equating the soldiers at My Lai with storm troopers. The lack of American action to destroy the camps during World War II was compared to the passivity of the public regarding military action in Vietnam. At the same time, universities all over the country began teaching courses focussed on the Holocaust. Raul Hilberg argues that "After the disorientation of Vietnam, [American students] wanted to know the difference between good and evil. The Holocaust is the benchmark, the defining moment in the drama of good and evil. . . Against this single occurrence, one would assess all other deeds. And so, memorialization began in earnest" (Linenthal 11).
The place of the Holocaust in the American consciousness was now firm. In 1978, NBC aired a miniseries, The Holocaust, which attracted an audience of 120 million people. Film historian Judith Doneson asserted that "people in Idaho, North Dakota, New York-- throughout the United States-- were now initiated, albeit in a simplified manner, into the world of Nazi genocide against the Jews" (Linenthal 12). Several weeks later, President Jimmy Carter announced the creation of a commission on the Holocaust, charged with deciding on a suitable American memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. The fifteen members would attempt to plan a physical embodiment of the lessons of inhumanity.