top radio personalities in Boston?Talk hosts from the 70s:JerryWilliams, Paul Benzaquin,

Donna Halper
Tue Dec 29 16:10:03 EST 2009

At 03:25 PM 12/29/2009, Dan.Strassberg wrote:
>It seems to me that, even before the word holocaust became reserved
>for the Nazi horrors of Word War II, it was usually applied to a
>special type of conflagration--one that occurred in nature (a forest
>fire, for example) as opposed to an inferno, which I think might have
>been the word of choice for such purposely set blazes as those used in
>metal fabrication (steel mills, for example). However, maybe I am
>imagining the distinction.

Well, since it came up as a topic of conversation (and since I teach 
this stuff-- the changing meanings of words and phrases), in the late 
1800s, newspapers used it to refer not just to burning people but to 
any mass slaughter of innocents, such as when in late July 1858, 
Muslims in what is today Saudi Arabia rounded up a large number of 
Christian citizens and according to press reports, brutally attacked 
them.  The New York Times referred to this as a holocaust of the 
Christian population, in describing how mobs set upon a group of 
Christians, including the British and French consuls, killing them 
all.   But yes, normally it was used to describe mass deaths in a 
fast-moving or raging fire.  The terms "inferno" and "conflagration" 
were also in common use, but holocaust seemed to carry the 
connotation of an especially major fire with extreme losses of life, 
such as when 71 people died in a fire in a Catholic church in Holyoke 
in May 1875.

The word's other meaning-- a massive loss of life in a catastrophic 
event, whether a fire or some other disaster, could occasionally be 
seen as far back as 1933, but usually as a result of referring to the 
large bonfires the Nazis made when burning books or setting Jewish 
stores on fire-- so it was still associated mainly with fire in the 
30s and much of the 40s.  Not many of the radio reporters of the 
1940s (whose scripts I've seen) referred to what the Nazis had done 
as a Holocaust at that time.

In 1948, when the declaration of independence for the state of Israel 
was announced, it referred to the "Nazi holocaust which engulfed 
millions of Jews," but it was only one of a number of terms used by 
the newspapers.  It would not be until the late 50s and early 60s 
that the term "The Holocaust" was finally established as the 
generally accepted terminology for what happened to the Jews in World War 2.    

More information about the Boston-Radio-Interest mailing list