The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust, 194

"Science," the Greek word for knowledge, when appended to the word "political," creates what seems like an oxymoron. For who could claim to know politics? More complicated than any game, most people who play it become addicts and die without understanding what they were addicted to. The rest of us suffer under their malpractice as our "leaders." A truer case of the blind leading the blind could not be found. Plumb the depths of confusion here.

Re: The Abandonment of the Jews: American and the Holocaust,

Postby admin » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:00 pm


Until 1944, despite severe anti-Semitic restrictions, Hungary had permitted its large Jewish population to live in a semblance of peace, It had even served as a refuge for several thousand Jews from Poland and Slovakia. But on March 19, 1944, fearing that Hungary would defect to the Allies and angry at its failure to deport the Jews into Nazi hands, Hitler sent occupying forces into that nation. The arch-organizer of deportation, Adolf Eichmann, arrived in Budapest soon afterward and, drawing· on extensive Hungarian collaboration, set his operation in motion. In mid-April, concentration of Jews into central locations began. On May 15, mass deportations to Auschwitz commenced. [1]

Eichmann had divided Hungary into six geographical zones. He planned to dispatch the Jews to Auschwitz, zone by zone, until the provincial areas were cleared. Then Budapest, the last zone, would be emptied of Jews, thus completing the "final solution" in that country. [2]

The concentration process was utterly inhumane and the suffering on the death trains worse yet. Jews were crowded, with little food or water, into ghettos, brickyards, and tobacco sheds, where they remained for two to four weeks. Conditions everywhere resembled those of the 15,000 Jews in a brickyard at Kosice. One of them smuggled out a letter:

I am afraid I cannot stand it for long, for we are suffering beyond description. We lie in the dust, have neither straw mattresses nor covers, and will freeze to death. The place is sealed, I do not see any way out.... We are so neglected, that we do not look human any more. There is no possibility for cleaning anything. We have not taken off our clothes since coming here. Best greetings to you all, pray for us that we shall die soon. [3]

If the writer of that letter did not perish in the brickyard, he encountered a hell even worse on the deportation train. A report smuggled to Switzerland by the Jewish underground revealed that in mid-May four trains began leaving Hungary daily for Auschwitz. Each carried about 3,000 Jews closely packed in sealed freight cars. During the two-to-three- day trip, the victims were pressed together, standing, without water or sanitary facilities. Hundreds died on the way. [4]

Convinced that accounts he was hearing were exaggerated, the first secretary of the Swedish legation in Budapest looked for himself. In one brick factory, he found 10,000 Jews herded into an area so small they had to stand, pushed closely together, old and young alike, with no sanitary facilities. Many died standing up. He also witnessed Jews being loaded into boxcars, eighty to a car, and the doors being nailed shut. [5]

Fully detailed reports took a few weeks to get to the Allied world. But the basic information came out almost immediately. At the start of April, even before concentration began, Gerhart Riegner of the World Jewish Congress in Geneva telegraphed Stephen Wise that he had reliable reports that the Germans planned to exterminate the Jews of Hungary. Registration of Jews and yellow-star identification were under way. After these typical preliminary steps, Riegner warned, concentration and deportation would surely follow. In late April, a United Press report from Zurich disclosed that 300,000 Jews had been concentrated in collection centers in Hungary. On May 10, a New York Times story from Istanbul, derived from neutral diplomatic sources in Budapest, revealed that the Hungarian government "is now preparing for the annihilation of Hungarian Jews." [6]

On May 18, only three days after the mass deportations began, the Times reported that the first transports of Jews had left the Carpathian provinces for "murder camps in Poland" At the same time, the War Refugee Board received essentially the same information via London from the Jewish Agency for Palestine. WRB inquiries to neutral governments with diplomatic missions in Hungary soon confirmed the news. Less than six weeks later, McClelland telegraphed the board that "at least 335,000 Jews already have been deported." He had "little doubt" that the destination was the extermination camp at Auschwitz. [7]

Because of the extreme difficulty of direct rescue from Hungary, surrounded as it was by Axis territory, the WRB had to rely heavily on psychological approaches. In April, when it first learned of the impending danger, the board sent stern warnings to Hungary through neutral channels. Directly after the deportations started, it urged the five neutrals, the Vatican, and the International Red Cross (IRC) to assign additional diplomatic personnel to Hungary. The presence of a larger number of foreign observers might act as a restraining influence. Sweden and the Vatican soon complied; the IRC did eventually. Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, and Turkey did not. The WRB also appealed to the neutrals to grant protective citizenship documents to Hungarian Jews who had family or business ties to their countries. Turkey did not participate, but the cooperation of the other four ultimately contributed to the safekeeping of thousands of Jews. [8]

From Washington, the WRB launched an intensive propaganda campaign to persuade the Hungarian government to stop the deportations. For many weeks, a barrage of threats and warnings buffeted the country. At the board's urging, several prominent Americans put the Hungarian people and their government on notice that sure retribution would follow if persecution of the Jews continued. Others aimed their words at the Hungarian conscience. [9]

President Roosevelt condemned the Nazi atrocities and promised that "none who participate in these acts of savagery shall go unpunished." Secretary of State Hull reemphasized Roosevelt's warning twice in a three-week period. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in highly unusual actions, directed strong statements at the Hungarians. So did Alfred E. Smith. His message was cosigned by seventy-one prominent Christians, including nearly a score of governors and four Nobel Prize winners. Hungarian-American leaders castigated the Budapest government for betraying "every Hungarian tradition" and urged their former countrymen to "redeem Hungary's honor" by helping the Jews. Archbishop Francis]. Spellman of New York recorded a message for broadcast to the heavily Catholic country. He emphasized that persecution of the Jews was "in direct contradiction" to Catholic doctrine. [10]

For weeks, the Office of War Information and the BBC broadcast these messages to Hungary and other parts of Europe. The OWI had them publicized throughout the neutral European press and radio. And Allied aircraft dropped them into Hungary in pamphlet form. [11]

In parallel with its propaganda drive, the WRB pressed the neutral nations, the International Red Cross, and the Vatican to urge the Hungarian government to stop the deportations. On June 25, Pope Pius XII telegraphed a personal appeal to the Hungarian head of state, Regent Miklos Horthy. Shortly afterward, the king of Sweden, Gustav V, also sent a personal plea to Horthy, asking him, "in the name of humanity," to save the remaining Jews. But the International Red Cross, fearful that it might antagonize Germany and find itself excluded from its important work for war prisoners, hesitated to intervene. [12]

Continued pressure from the board and discussions in late June between Red Cross leaders, the Czech minister to Switzerland, and spokesmen for the World Jewish Congress finally persuaded the IRC to act. The spur was a shocking, detailed report on Auschwitz that the WJC and the Czech minister had recently received. [13]

IRC president Max Huber dispatched a handwritten letter to Horthy that summarized the new revelations about Auschwitz and requested detailed information on what was happening to the deported Jews and where they were now. The IRC offered to send a mission to Hungary to be present at the deportations, help with food and medicine, and assist the deportees at their destination. [14]

Huber's message raised extremely sensitive issues in Hungary and kept the heat on the Horthy government. But by July 6, the day it was sent, the earlier pressures, along with Germany's declining military situation, had already induced Horthy to stand up to the Nazis at last and insist that the deportations halt. By then, the Hungarian provinces had been cleared. Almost 440,000 Jews were gone. But most of Budapest's 230,000 Jews were still in the capital. The appeals from the Pope and the king of Sweden, stimulated in part by the WRB, had been especially important in stopping the deportations. So had a very sharp warning that the WRB had dispatched through Swiss government channels on June 26. The board's other diplomatic efforts and its propaganda campaign had also played a significant part in the change of policy. [15]

But Horthy's control of the situation was shaky. The deportations might resume at any time. On July 18, however, hopes rose for the Jews in Budapest. In a startling reply to the International Red Cross, Horthy offered to permit emigration of all Jewish children under ten who possessed visas to other countries and all Jews of any age who had Palestine certificates. He also invited the Red Cross to provide relief to the Jews in Hungary. [16]

Horthy's overture put the pressure squarely on the United States and Britain. Within ten days, the WRB was prepared to assure that the United States would find havens for all Jews let out of Hungary. But because Horthy had directed his proposal to both the Western Allies, the board did not want to act alone. On July 29, it informed the British that it would wait until August 7 for them to join in accepting Horthy's offer. [17]

August 7 passed with no decision from London, but the board decided to wait a few more days. The British were searching for a way out of their dilemma. They were alarmed at the pressure that acceptance of Horthy's proposal would place on their Palestine policy, yet they were unwilling to bear the onus of rejecting the offer. As usual where Jews were concerned, the British leadership was far more impressed with "the practical difficulties of dealing with a large flow of refugees" than with the alternative-their annihilation in Nazi killing centers. [18]

One British solution, to hand the Horthy proposal over to the Inter. governmental Committee, offered the obvious advantage of indefinite delay. But the WRB rejected that. The British next proposed a joint statement in which they would pledge, "to the extent of their resources," to cooperate with the United States in caring for the Jews who got out of Hungary. The WRB saw this as hardly any commitment. It asked Morgenthau and Josiah DuBois, then in London on other business, to try to bring the British around. Morgenthau talked with Churchill and Eden. DuBois and John Winant, the American ambassador, held long discussions with members of the Foreign Office. These steps finally brought results. On August 17, thirty days after Horthy had made his overture, and almost three weeks after the WRB had begun to press the British, the two governments publicly issued a state ment accepting responsibility for finding havens for all the Jews allowed out of Hungary. [i] [19]

Fleetingly, it looked as though mass evacuation from Budapest might take place. The WRB, guaranteeing financial help and prompt removal of the refugees, urged the neutral states to open their borders. Switzer. land offered td take 13,000 Jews on a temporary basis. Sweden was ready to accept 10,000 children. The State Department agreed to issue 5,000 visas for children. Hirschmann and Steinhardt cleared the way for a large flow through the Balkans to Palestine by obtaining transit permission from the Rumanian, Bulgarian, and Turkish governments. [21]

But no Jews ever left Hungary under the Horthy proposal. While the Americans and British had been negotiating, the Nazis had barred the doors. It soon became clear that the Germans, who controlled Hungary's borders, had determined to prevent Jewish emigration. [ii] [22]

Although it could not be implemented, the American-British guarantee to accept responsibility for relocating the Hungarian Jews constituted a major breakthrough in the Allied response to the Holocaust. But it came very, very late. The same assurances might have significantly altered the course of the Holocaust had they been made during 1942, or when Rumania offered to release 70,000 Jews in early 1943, or at the Bermuda Conference, or even in April 1944, when the danger signals arose in Hungary. But by August 1944 most possibilities for rescue by evacuation had passed.

As for the Horthy offer itself, quick Allied action might have caught the Nazis off balance and succeeded in bringing numbers of Jews out to safety. But no matter what the outcome might have been, the month's delay in responding remains unconscionable. The outside world had clear knowledge of the peril that hung over the remaining Hungarian Jews.

Even though the emigration proposal collapsed, Horthy had opened the possibility of survival for the more than 200,000 Jews in Budapest. The deportations had stopped. The Red Cross accepted the invitation to bring in relief supplies. And neutral diplomats and the papal nuncio devised ways to safeguard tens of thousands of Jews from the Nazis and Hungarian fascists. Palestine visas offered some protection. Thousands of them came in through Catholic diplomatic couriers and the nunciature. Baptismal certificates were issued. The Swedish, Swiss, Spanish, and Portuguese legations provided thousands of protective documents and visas. (Zionist youth groups forged thousands of additional papers.) The neutral legations, the church, and the Red Cross also protected thousands of Jews by keeping them in buildings that they placed under their extraterritorial jurisdiction. [24]

The Swiss and especially the Swedish legations led in this unusual venture in mass preservation of Jewish lives. At the center of the effort was Raoul Wallenberg, one of the main heroes in the entire struggle to counter the Holocaust, The thirty-one-year-old architect and businessman, member of a leading Swedish diplomatic and banking family, met with the WRB's Iver Olsen' in Stockholm in June 1944, He offered to go to Hungary to do what he could for the Jews there, At Olsen's suggestion, the Swedish government appointed him an attach" to its Budapest legation, In practice, though, Wallenberg served as the WRB's representative in Hungary, Through Olsen and the Swedish Foreign Office, the board sent him suggestions for action and the funds for his mission. [25]

Working with a staff of over 300 people, largely volunteers, Wallenberg developed relief projects, but threw most of his efforts into plans to bring Jews under Swedish protection, Soon after arriving in Budapest, he rented a building, applied Swedish extraterritorial status to it, and used it as a safe haven for several hundred Jewish religious leaders, He also persuaded the Swedish government to allow the legation to issue special protective passports to Hungarian Jews, With time, he brought several additional buildings under Swedish extraterritoriality and expanded the passport scheme, By these means, Wallenberg ultimately saved at least 20,000 Jews. [26]

For three precarious months after Horthy terminated the deportations, conditions for the Budapest Jews, though bad, remained survivable, Then, in mid-October, with the Russians only one hundred miles east of the capital, Horthy moved for an armistice with the Allies, Reacting swiftly, the Nazis forced him to resign as head of state by threatening to kill his son, They then installed a puppet regime under Ferenc Szalasi and the fascist Arrow Cross party, Almost immediately, the fervidly anti-Semitic Arrow Cross loosed a reign of terror against the Budapest Jews, slaughtering thousands, Throughout that fall and winter, beating, plundering, and murdering continually broke out, During the final two months before the Red Army conquered the city, the Arrow Cross killed more than 10,000 Jews and left them in the streets or in the Danube's freezing waters. [27]

The most barbaric episode during the Szalasi regime took place in November, Deportations began again, but not to Auschwitz. (The rail systems had collapsed, and the Auschwitz killing operations were soon to be shut down,) The Nazis needed labor 120 miles to the west, across the Austrian border, So they drove approximately 40,000 Jews on foot, through bone-chilling rains, toward Austria, On the march, 15 to 20 percent either died or fell out from exhaustion and exposure and were shot, Those who reached Austria but were judged unfit for hard labor were pushed back across the border into Hungary and driven into the woods to die of starvation, exposure, and disease. The horrible consequences of the marches, especially the high death rate among the women, finally became too much even for Szalasi. On November 21, he stopped the deportations. [28]

The Szalasi period put Raoul Wallenberg to his severest tests. The day after the Arrow Cross came to power, his mostly Jewish relief staff completely disappeared. The next day, he located them, one by one, and moved them to safer locations. At about the same time, the Szalasi regime declared all the protective passports void. Wallenberg managed to get that ruling retracted. Once, an armed patrol entered an area of Swedish protected houses and began to seize Jews. Wallenberg appeared and shouted, "This is Swedish territory.... If you want to take them you will have to shoot me first." The Jews were released. Again, when he learned that eleven people with Swedish passports had been put on a train for Austria, Wallenberg pursued it by automobile, caught it at the last stop before the border, and took the eleven off. At the time of the ghastly marches to Austria, he carried food and other supplies to the victims. And he succeeded, by various pretexts, in removing hundreds of Jews from the columns and returning them to protected houses in Budapest. [29]

During the Szalasi government's four months of terror, tens of thousands of Budapest Jews perished. When the Russians finally captured the city, in mid-February 1945, about 120,000 Jews remained alive. The Budapest Jews had suffered disastrously at the hands of the Arrow Cross. Nevertheless, the survival of 120,000 was a significant accomplishment under the circumstances. All were on the brink of extermination in July, and throughout the fall and winter they were trapped by a murderous government. The forces from the outside world that had pressured Horthy in the spring and the later protective measures inside Budapest were crucial in saving those 120,000. The War Refugee Board had been a decisive factor in both efforts. [30]

How much of this was Raoul Wallenberg's work? He was directly responsible for rescuing the 20,000 Jews housed in Swedish buildings and protected by Swedish papers. Similar measures by the Swiss, Spanish, and Portuguese legations, the nuncio, and the Red Cross helped save numbers estimated at from 11,000 to 30,000. Wallenberg was indirectly responsible for much of that achievement, for his example had influenced the others to expand their operations. Another 70,000 Jews who survived were huddled in the Budapest ghetto. For them, too, Wallenberg's actions were critical. Besides providing what food he could, he forestalled several Arrow Cross attacks on the ghetto. Finally, as the city was about to fall, plans were under way for the last-minute destruction of the ghetto and its inhabitants. Wallenberg's threat of sure postwar punishment in a confrontation with the SS commander of Budapest may have been the decisive factor in stopping that scheme. [31]

In the end, Wallenberg fared worse than the miserable Jews he saw through the devastation. He incurred the wrath of Eichmann as well as the Arrow Cross, and in the final weeks the Germans and the Hungarian fascists tried to hunt him down. The young Swede evaded them by hiding in different houses from night to night. But what the Nazis dared not or could not do, the Soviets did. [32]

On January 17, 1945, Wallenberg left the city for Russian occupation headquarters at Debrecen, apparently to request emergency relief assistance for the Budapest Jews. He was never heard from again. In June, responding to a Swedish government inquiry, Moscow advised that its last information, dated January 18, reported Wallenberg under the protection of Soviet troops. Continued inquiries finally, in 1957, elicited an official Soviet statement that he had died of a heart attack in a Russian prison in 1947. But in the years since, reports have persistently surfaced indicating that he has been seen alive, in the Soviet prison system. [iii] [33]

Why the Russians seized Wallenberg is a mystery. It may be that his American connection aroused Soviet suspicion that he had been planted in Budapest as a spy. Perhaps the Russians were also aware that the WRB representative in Sweden, Iver Olsen, who was in regular contact with Wallenberg, was an OSS operative, and from this they inferred a Wallenberg tie to the OSS. [35]

Another sequence of events that arose out of the Hungarian Jewish tragedy also left an enigmatic trail. On May 19, 1944, four days after the mass deportations to Auschwitz started, a small German aircraft touched down at Istanbul and discharged two Hungarian Jews. One, Joel Brand, was a leader of the Relief and Rescue Committee, a Hungarian Zionist organization involved in refugee aid and small-scale escape projects. The other, Andor ("Bandi") Grosz, a convert to Christianity, made his living as a small-time secret agent. [36]

Grosz's orders, which emanated from the SS, were to arrange for a meeting between high Nazi officials and upper-level American and British officers to discuss a separate peace between Germany and the Western Allies. The real objective of Brand's mission is still unclear. But recent scholarship indicates rhat it, too, was an attempt by SS Chief Heinrich Himmler to bypass Hitler and, using the Zionist leadership as a channel, to contact the Western Allies concerning the possibility of a separate peace. [37]

The proposal that Brand carried to the Zionists of the outside world was given to him in Budapest by Adolf Eichmann. On its face, it was fantastic. Eichmann offered to release one million Jews in return for 10,000 trucks (to be used, he stated, only on the eastern front) and sizable amounts of coffee, tea, cocoa, and soap. He also mentioned the possibility of an indefinite amount of foreign currency. Eichmann told Brand that he would let an initial group of several thousand Jews leave Hungary as soon as the Allies agreed to send the trucks. [38]

None of Eichmann's requirements were hard-and-fast, however. This convinced Brand that further negotiations could -- and must -- be pursued. In his view, the only way to stop the death trains was for him to return to Budapest within a very few weeks with some indication that the Allies did not reject the scheme. He believed that trucks were not essential, that the deportations might be halted if Britain and America expressed an interest in further negotiations. [39]

Brand left Turkey for Syria, where he was to meet Mushe Shertok, political secretary of the Jewish Agency. He reached Aleppo on June 7, only to be arrested by British authorities. After allowing him to confer with Shertok, the British took Brand to Cairo and held him there for more than three months. They also picked up Grosz. They kept him in detention in Cairo, too, and his mission ended at that point. But Brand's ordeal was far from over. Convinced that his lengthening absence from Budapest was angering the Gestapo, he became increasingly distraught about the fate of his family and the continuing deportation of Hungarian Jewry. [40]

Jewish leaders in Palestine recognized that Eichmann's conditions could not be met, but hoped that something useful might come out of the Nazi overture. During June and July, they pressed the British to keep the negotiations going and to send Brand back to Budapest so the Nazis would not conclude that the proposal had been rejected. Hirschmann, who interviewed Brand in Cairo on orders from the War Refugee Board, took the same position-as did Steinhardt. In Washington, Morgenthau and Pehle, with the express concurrence of President Roosevelt, strongly supported continuing negotiations in the hope that Eichmann's offer might be the forerunner of other proposals. [41]

In Britain, however, the proposition drew implacable opposition. Within the Cabinet Committee on Refugees, fear surfaced that negotiations might "lead to an offer to unload an even greater number of Jews on to our hands." The Foreign Office took the position that the scheme was either blackmail or an attempt to disrupt the war effort by sending out a flood of refugees. Accordingly, it should not be pursued any further. [42]

Then, in mid-June, the Soviet government, which had been informed of the Eichmann offer by the British and Americans, declared that it was absolutely impermissible "to carry on any conversations whatsoever with the German Government" on this question. The Russian reply, along with an order from Churchill on July 7 that there should be no negotiations at all with the Germans, ended any chance of an official American or British follow-up. In mid-July, that conclusion was reinforced when the British interrogation of Grosz in Cairo indicated that Himmler's real objective in the affair had been to extend feelers regarding a separate peace. The British saw it as a trap, an attempt to split the Western Allies from the highly suspicious Soviets. The Foreign Office, to scuttle the entire risky business, leaked the story to the press. [43]

The Brand affair produced two concrete results. Not long after Brand left Hungary, Dr. Rudolf Kasztner, leading Hungarian Zionist, informed Eichmann that a report from Turkey indicated Allied acceptance in principle of the German offer. Now, said Kasztner, the Nazis should provide evidence of their seriousness. At the end of June, after extracting a sizable ransom from the Hungarian Jews themselves, Eichmann permitted a special transport of almost 1,700 Jews to leave Hungary. Supposedly bound for Spain and freedom, the train instead delivered its passengers to Bergen-Belsen. The second ransom transaction to emerge from the Kasztner-Eichmann negotiations involved some 18,000 Hungarian Jews scheduled for deportation to Auschwitz. They were diverted to labor projects near Strasshof, Austria. About 75 percent of them survived the war. [44]

Unlike the British government, the War Refugee Board was unwilling to break entirely clear of the Eichmann-Brand overture. In August 1944, responding to a German initiative, the board decided to pursue the matter indirectly, through sixty-two-year-old Saly Mayer, the Joint Distribution Committee's representative in Switzerland. [45]

Communicating through McClelland, the WRB emphasized to Mayer that no ransom arrangements were permissible and he must act only as a Swiss Jewish leader -- not as a representative of any American organization (including the WRB and the JDC). Mayer thus operated from an extremely weak position; he had almost no authority and could not agree to provide the Germans with what he knew they would insist on. [46]

Mayer's tactic was to deceive the SS negotiators into believing they would eventually get, if not strategic goods, at least monetary gain. With this bait, he sought to persuade them to stop the slaughter of the Jews and specifically to halt further deportations from Hungary. The WRB objective was for Mayer "to draw out the negotiations and gain as much time as possible." Meanwhile, it was hoped, the remaining Jews would be permitted to live, and Allied military advances would put an end to the extermination process. [47]

Mayer's opening thrust brought quick results. Before be would negotiate at all, he insisted on delivery to Switzerland of an initial installment of 500 of the 1,700 Hungarian Jews who had been sent to Bergen-Belsen. The discussions commenced on August 21, at St. Margarethen, on the Swiss-Austrian border. That very day, 318 Jews arrived from Bergen-Belsen. [48]

At that first meeting, Kurt Becher, a high SS officer who represented Himmler, demanded 10,000 trucks in exchange for the million Jews supposedly still alive in Nazi Europe. Mayer replied that he saw no chance of providing trucks. He suggested instead that the Germans prepare a list of scarce, but nonmilitary, materials that the United States might allow to go to Germany from neutral countries. [49]

In a series of follow-up meetings extending- over six months, Mayer ingeniously stretched out the negotiations, while still keeping the Germans interested. After the first meeting, he asked the WRB through McClelland (with whom he was in constant touch) to provide him with a substantial sum to use in leading the Nazis on. The board agreed, but stipulated that none of the money could be promised to the Germans without approval from Washington. Well before any funds were actually transferred, Mayer convinced the Nazis that he controlled at least 5 million Swiss francs ($1.25 million). He also shifted the discussions away from trucks to an offer to open an account in Switzerland on which the Germans could draw to buy nonstrategic goods. More time elapsed while the Nazis visited Switzerland to find out what might be available. Aware that the WRB would not permit any actual financial transactions, Mayer and McClelland recognized by late November that the ransom ruse had been played for all it was worth. [50]

In a bold stroke that was helped by the worsening German military situation, Mayer managed to turn the talks in another direction. He offered, in exchange for an end to the exterminations, to send food-into German-held territory for the International Red Cross to distribute to the surviving Jews. The Nazi negotiators, who had been claiming that the Jews were a drain on German resources, were willing to discuss the plan. McClelland backed it and endorsed Mayer's plea to the WRB to send $5 million to strengthen his bargaining position. The money arrived three weeks later, in early January. But the project did not materialize. [51]

What did Saly Mayer achieve? In August 1944, he succeeded in bringing out 318 of the Hungarian Jews held in Bergen-Belsen. In early December, the other 1,368 people in the original transport from Hungary also reached Switzerland. Apparently, Mayer's repeated insistence that their continued internment was impeding the discussions finally persuaded !he Germans to let them go. Beyond that, the negotiations had little or no practical effect. But despite the limited results, Mayer's endeavors touched on the heroic. He had almost nothing to work with, he received little support from the WRB, yet he invested tremendous effort in an almost hopeless cause. It was a gamble that he believed had to be taken. [iv] [52]

While Mayer's negotiations were unfolding, another Swiss-based rescue attempt secretly involved Orthodox rabbis in the United States in activities that led straight to Himmler. This scheme grew out of the rescue work of Isaac Sternbuch, his wife, Recha, and other Orthodox Jews, whose committee, HIJEFS, was the Swiss affiliate of Vaad Hahatzala. Vaad Hahatzala was a New York-based rescue committee sponsored by the Union of Orthodox Rabbis.

In the spring and summer of 1944, well before the Mayer negotiations began, Sternbuch and his associates were drawn into a plan to buy Jews out of Hungary by supplying Swiss-built tractors to the Nazis. This scheme originated with an Orthodox group in Hungary that had agreed with the Germans to exchange one hundred tractors for 1,200 rabbis and other leading Orthodox Jews. [v] But the Hungarians could not raise enough money for the deal and turned to Sternbuch for help. [54]

McClelland found out about the plan and opposed it, on the grounds that it would aid the German war effort. Bur Sternbuch went ahead anyway, and in July he secretly bought the first ten tractors, paying 170,000 Swiss francs. [vi] In September, he obtained 260,000 francs from Saly Mayer (from his JDC funds), which also went for tractors. Over the next few months, Mayer passed about 310,000 additional francs to Sternbuch for the same purpose. At least twelve and possibly as many as forty-three tractors were shipped into Axis territory without McClelland's knowledge. [56]

While the tractor project was still under way, Sternbuch's group opened up a connection with Himmler that had the potential for a major breakthrough. The key figure in this episode was sixty-eight-year-old Jean-Marie Musy, formerly president of Switzerland and member of the Swiss Federal Council. In fall 1944, Sternbuch asked Musy, who had turned strongly pro-Nazi in the 1930s, to intercede with Himmler for release of the Jews in Nazi concentration camps. Musy agreed, perhaps in hopes of rehabilitating his political reputation in Switzerland. Or perhaps he thought this step might open the way for a Nazi accommodation with the West, which he saw as the only chance to avoid a Russian takeover of Germany. [58]

For Sternbuch's committee, the advantages in working through Musy -- and they were of utmost importance -- were his past acquaintance with Himmler, his ability to gain direct access to him, and his status as a pro-Nazi neutral. Only Musy or someone like him could have confronted Himmler face-to-face on the Jewish issue and steered him toward release of the Jews. But there was an important disadvantage in proceeding through Musy. Sternbuch anticipated that McClelland would not be cooperative and might even oppose rescue efforts that included Musy, whom he distrusted, especially if they appeared to involve ransom. [59]

Sternbuch kept the plan secret from McClelland as long as possible. Communications about it between Sternbuch and Vaad Hahatzala were transmitted through Polish diplomatic cable facilities, thus circumventing the censors, the State Department, the WRB, and McClelland. (In New York, Vaad Hahatzala kept the secret correspondence in special files marked "Incoming -- Illegal -- Sternbuch" and "Outgoing -- Illegal Cables.") [60]

In early November, through the intervention of Walter Schellenberg, a high SS official, Musy talked at length with Himmler. From Sternbuch, he brought an offer of one million Swiss francs "and perhaps more" in return for the release of the remaining Jews, whose number Himmler estimated at 600,000. Himmler said that he could free the Jews but that he needed goods, particularly trucks, rather than money. The meeting ended without a decision. [61]

During November, further negotiations led to an agreement to release the Jews in exchange for several million Swiss francs. Without revealing details of the plan, Sternbuch asked McClelland to request ten to twenty million francs from the WRB to get the Jews out. Instead, McClelland advised the board not to back the scheme, because it was vague and unreliable and because the disreputable Musy was mixed up in it. [62]

In the meantime, Sternbuch had spelled out the new plan in a secret message to Vaad Hahatzala. It called for the release of 300,000 Jews in exchange for $5 million (20 million Swiss francs), or approximately $17 per person. The Jews would come out at the rate of 15,000 per month in return for monthly installments of $250,000. Aware that the proposition involved outright ransom, the people at Vaad Hahatzala nevertheless agreed to it and immediately launched a fund-raising campaign. Two weeks later, on December 5, they dispatched their first receipts, $107,000, to Sternbuch. By mid-January, they had sent nearly $150,000 more. [vii] [63]

The WRB did not learn of the scheme to ransom 300,000 Jews until January 24, when George Warren, the State Department's liaison with the board, reported that a representative of the Vaad had told him about the plan. The board promptly instructed McClelland to look into it. [65]

Meanwhile, in mid-January, Musy met with Himmler again. On February 1, back in Switzerland, he told Sternbuch what had been accomplished, again with Schellenberg's help. Himmler had lowered his requirements drastically. He would release virtually all the Jews, in weekly trainloads of about 1,200, if a token payment of 5 million Swiss francs ($1.25 million) were placed in a Swiss bank in Musy's name. Musy said the funds would not go to Germany-they would most likely be transferred, later on, to the International Red Cross. As proof of Himmler's seriousness, Musy reported, the first train would soon leave for Switzerland. [66]

Sternbuch told McClelland about the new development on February 6. McClelland thought the board would approve the deal, provided the money went into a double account that Musy could not touch without American approval. The next day, a train arrived at the Swiss border carrying 1,210 Jews from Theresienstadt. McClelland reported the apparent breakthrough to the WRB. Both he and Sternbuch suspected that Himmler's motive. was to find a way to extend peace overtures to the United States. [67]

The next move was up to the WRB. But Vaad Hahatzala did not leave it at that. Sternbuch had warned the Vaad that additional trains would not come out unless he received $937,000, the amount needed to fill out the $1.25 million that Himmler had specified. Unremitting pressure by Vaad leaders won WRB approval to transmit the money, on condition that it could not under any circumstances be used for ransom and that it be placed in an account jointly controlled by Sternbuch, McClelland, and the WRB. On March 1, a license was issued. The Vaad then obtained $937,000 from the JDC and dispatched it to Switzerland. [68]

Although it agreed to the transfer of funds, the WRB was very uneasy about this plan. Morgenthau, especially, feared that word of the Orthodox rabbis' covert activities might teach the press, along with the impression that the American government was paying ransom to the, Nazis to free Jews. There was also some concern about Vaad Hahatzala's illegal use of Polish communication lines, a practice that was now fully clear to the Treasury Department. Pehle and others had known about it for some time but had not blocked it. Pehle explained to Morgenthau:

We have never wanted to stop it, because they get results. Is it risky? Sure it is risky; this whole thing is risky; it is fraught with difficulty.... It is easy to stop, but it is a serious responsibility.

In the end, the board kept its hands off the Polish communication arrangement. [69]

In the meantime, in mid-February, Musy received word from Himmler's headquarters that the project would be halted unless articles appeared in the Swiss and American press giving credit to the Germans for releasing the Jews who had come out of Theresienstadt. Such reports were published. But if Himmler's purpose was to cultivate American opinion in preparation for a peace approach, his tactic backfired. The press reports came to Hitler's attention, and he snuffed out the project, ordering that not one more Jew was to leave German territory. More Jews did get out, but the Sternbuch-Musy-Himmler agreement was dead despite several weeks of determined effort by Musy to revive it. [70]

The Brand, Mayer, and Sternbuch-Musy episodes all raised the troubling problem of ransom. The WRB adamantly opposed paying the Nazis to let Jews out. The primary reason, of course, was that the compensation could aid the Axis war effort. The board was also concerned about public reaction in the United States if news spread that materials or money were going to the enemy to ransom Jews. WRB policy allowed bribery of lower officials and border guards on the grounds that saving lives outweighed any tiny advantage the Nazis might gain from those transactions. But that was quite different from payments of millions of dollars or strategically important goods. [71]

Three Jewish rescue organizations differed, in varying degrees, with the WRB's policy against ransom. In the midst of the Joel Brand affair, the Jewish Agency informed the British Foreign Office that, if it finally came to a question of money, "we believe that the ransom should be paid." It conveyed essentially the same view to the State Department. The World Jewish Congress did not press the issue, but it opposed the WRB's ban on ransom. A month before the deportations began in Hungary, the WIC foresaw the catastrophe and called on the board "to resort even to such extraordinary methods" as large-scale ransom. Later, it sharply criticized the WRB's strict policy against ransom in the Saly Mayer negotiations. [72]

Vaad Hahatzala and the Sternbuch group not only disagreed with the WRB but pursued ransom arrangements in defiance of board policy. Sternbuch did not shy at deception or illegality. "Some activities. necessary in our operations are punishable," he explained, but the "sacred cause"-saving Jews-required that they be carried on. Vaad Hahatzala responded to the Holocaust on the basis of its leaders' understanding of the requirements of Jewish law for the preservation of human life. A 1944 report by another agency correctly observed that Vaad Hahatzala was ('prepared to disregard any consideration other than the rescue of the maximum possible number of Jews." The Vaad itself referred to its position as a "Stop-at-Nothing" policy. This approach created some uneasiness. For instance, the head of the Joint Distribution Committee once stated, referring to transmission of rescue funds into Nazi Europe, "As regards the methods used by the Vaad Haha tzala, the less said the better." Again, the Vaad's tactics in the Musy- Himmler affair had alarmed Morgenthau and some others. But as Pehle testified, experience showed that "they get results." [73]


The Hungarian Jewish disaster had little impact on the American nation. War news, especially the. Normandy invasion and the rapid drive across France, dominated the public's attention. New York and Wash, ington newspapers reported on the Hungarian Jews, but on inner pages. In other cities, the information reached the newsrooms, but editors printed little of it. In July, a New Republic editorial under the bitter heading "Getting Used to Massacres" registered the widespread apathy: "Such news is received nowadays with a shrug of the shoulders." [74]

American Zionist leaders were far from apathetic about the slaughter in Hungary. But they had committed their resources to the Palestine commonwealth resolution introduced in' Congress in January 1944. Wise, Silver, and other top Zionists, seizing the opportunities offered by the national elections, worked through the summer and fall to secure Democratic and Republican support for the Palestine resolution. Responsibility for pressing the rescue issue fell to a second level of leaders in the World Jewish Congress and in the faltering American Jewish Conference. They consulted frequently with the WRB and submitted rescue plans to the Washington missions of the Vatican, the International Red Cross, and various foreign powers. Otherwise, except for one midsummer project, they took little action. [75]

To generate pressure for measures to save the Hungarian Jews, the American Jewish conference held a mass demonstration in New York City on July 31. More than 40,000 people packed Madison Square Park and adjoining streets for two hours in oppressive late-afternoon heat. Stephen Wise, other prominent Jews, and a few non-Jews spoke for swift action to save the remnant of European Jewry. The crowd endorsed a call for immediate implementation of Horthy's offer to release the Hungarian Jews. But no one in the seats of power listened, except the War Refugee Board, which was already doing what it could. [76]

Despite a distinct decline in activity during 1944, the Bergsonite Emergency Committee continued as the leading force in building pressures for rescue. When the Hungarian crisis broke, the committee formed alliances with Christian Hungarian-American societies and clergymen. One result was that leading Christian Americans of Hungarian descent telegraphed the Pope and President Roosevelt urging action to save the Jews in Hungary. They also dispatched messages to prominent Hungarians calling for an end to mistreatment of the Jews. Their statements were beamed into Hungary by OWI radio, as were excerpts from special services in support of the Jews that were held in Hungarian· American churches. [77]

Throughout the first half of 1944, the Emergency Committee had campaigned in full-page newspaper advertisements and at public meetings for opening Palestine to Jewish refugees. With the announcement of the Horthy offer, which appeared to release all Jews who had Palestine certificates, the Bergsonites accelerated their drive. They also turned once more to Hearst, who again provided substantial editorial support. And they went to Congress with resolutions calling on the President to urge Britain to open emergency camps in Palestine, where tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews could be sheltered in safety until the war ended. They could then; if necessary, be returned to Hungary or sent elsewhere. [78]

The Bergsonites saw the shelters plan as a way to open Palestine for the immediate emergency without getting the matter entangled in the politically difficult issues of the White Paper and Jewish statehood. Those questions, they concluded, could wait until after the war. This position paralleled that of the WRB. It had earlier decided to stay away from the controversy over the Zionists' Palestine resolution, but wanted pressure put on Britain to open Palestine at least as a temporary haven. [79]

The Palestine-shelters resolution quickly picked up important bipartisan backing in Congress. The Emergency Committee generated a flow of letters to Washington and claimed 500,000 signatures on petitions of support, which were presented to Congress by a small delegation of Orthodox rabbis and an archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church. But the proposal soon collapsed, largely because of opposition from the State Department and Zionist organizations. [80]

The State Department asserted that passage of the legislation would anger the Arabs and set off unrest in the Middle East. The Zionists persuaded key members of Congress, including Tom Connally and Sol Bloom (chairmen of the relevant Senate and House committees), not to act on it. They told the legislators that the plan was unnecessary because the few Jews who might get to Palestine from Hungary could enter under the remaining White Paper quota. Moreover, the Zionists strenuously opposed any plan to send Jews to Palestine with the understand ing that they might have to leave after the war. Such a concession, legitimized by the approval of Congress, might establish a precedent that could impair the Jewish claim to Palestine. [81]

Zionist opposition to the Palestine-shelters resolution was only one point of conflict with the Bergsonites that year. Acrimony reached the fever point in mid-May 1944 when the Bergson group purchased the former Iranian embassy building in Washington and declared it the headquarters of the newly formed Hebrew Committee of National Liberation. The Hebrew Committee, made up of the small Bergsonite core group of Palestinian Jews and patterned on the French Committee of National Liberation, set itself up as the government-in-exile for the Jewish (or Hebrew) state (yet to be established) in Palestine. At the same time, the Bergsonites launched a partner organization, the American League for a Free Palestine, a mass-membership body for Americans, Jews and non-Jews, who wished to support the goals of the Hebrew Committee. [82]

The regular Zionist organizations attacked this Bergsonite venture with a vengeance. They saw it as an attempt to wrest the leadership of the world Zionist movement from the long-established Zionist bodies -- and wreck them in the process. The Jewish press and non-Zionist Jewish groups were also outraged at the effrontery and flamboyance of the young "adventurers" from Palestine. The Bergsonites, to their own dismay, had incurred the full wrath of American Jewry. [83]

Frustrated by what they considered the ineffectiveness of the regular Zionist movement, the Bergson group had sought to form a new spearhead for Jewish nationalism. They had also hoped that the Hebrew Committee, like the French Committee, might open contacts at the world diplomatic level (foreign governments, International Red Cross, Vatican, UNRRA) -- contacts that could help the rescue cause. They did create a small, rival Zionist movement that remained active until the emergence of the state of Israel. And they achieved some minor gains in. the rescue area. But the main outcome was to crystallize a solid front of angry opposition all across the American Jewish community. [84]

The rush of animosity took a heavy toll on Bergsonite rescue activities. Inevitably, the barrage of attacks on the Hebrew Committee and the American League for a Free Palestine injured the older organization, the Emergency Committee. Zionist publicity, along with systematic Zionist pressure on prominent Americans to dissociate them selves from all Bergsonite enterprises, cost the Emergency Committee important support. Furthermore, the Emergency Committee, along with the two new committees, spent considerable time and energy countering the widespread and continuing assaults. The Emergency Committee did not go under. But never again was it as effective as it had been before. [85]



[i] To obtain British approval, Winant had to endorse a secret subsidiary statement that protected Britain's Palestine position in case large numbers of Jews should actually get out of Hungary. In it, the United States agreed "not to face the British Government with a practical impossibility" in regard to taking in refugees. In short, the United  States accepted most of the responsibility for finding places of refuge. [20]

[ii] A few thousand Jews did escape to Rumania, and a few hundred others to Yugoslavia. A small Jewish underground operation kept an outlet to Rumania open until mid-September.  By then, though, the Russians had advanced the battle zone into eastern Hungary, and access to Rumania had been cut off. [23]

[iii] The most convincing of these accounts appeared in 1979. It pointed to the possibility that Wallenberg was alive and in reasonably good condition as late as 1975. [34]

[iv]  Mayer and others have since credited the negotiations with several achievements. The talks possibly played some small part in Himmler's decision in the fall of 1944 to bring the extermination program to a halt. But solid evidence is lacking. The discussions did not put any brake on deportations. Although it is true that Eichmann never got the trains moving from Hungary again after Horthy stopped them in July, there is no proof  that the Mayer negotiations influenced that situation. Nor did they impede the deportations to Auschwitz from many parts of Europe that went right on through the summer and into the fall of 1944. [53]

[v]  The available documentation does not make clear whether this was an independent project or whether it represented part of the payment (or a confirmation payment) for the deal that sent the 1,700 Jews to Bergen-Belsen and eventually to Switzerland. [55]

[vi] Sternbuch explained to Vaad Hahatzala headquarters, "We need part of the money for bribes to save people. But we cannot tell about it McClelland." (i.e., we cannot tell McClelland about it.) The message bypassed American censorship through the cooperation of Polish diplomats in Bern and New York.

Historians have credited Saly Mayer with bringing the 318 Hungarian Jews out of Bergen-Belsen in August 1944. But Sternbuch persistently claimed that the tractor deal he completed in July was at least partly responsible for freeing that group. [57]

[vii] On December 6, Sternbuch informed the Vaad that as a result of these negotiations a train with 1,400 Jews from Bergen-Belsen would soon reach Switzerland. The transport, carrying 1,368 Hungarian Jews, arrived that night. Historians have generally agreed with Saly Mayer's assertion that his negotiations brought this convoy out. But Sternbuch's work, possibly the tractor deliveries, might have been a factor. [64]
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Re: The Abandonment of the Jews: American and the Holocaust,

Postby admin » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:10 pm

Part 1 of 2


Central to the War Refugee Board's work were the rescue operations conducted by its representatives overseas. At the same time, though, the board pushed forward on other fronts. It appealed to Allied leaders to issue war-crimes warnings, it searched for havens for escaping refugees, and it tried to send relief supplies into the concentration camps.

War Crimes Warnings

The WRB was convinced that explicit threats of postwar punishment for those involved in harming Jews could contribute importantly to saving lives. By 1944, with Germany clearly headed for defeat, such threats should carry substantial weight. The board believed that Axis satellites would be especially responsive to that pressure. [1]

The WRB planned to create a psychological warfare campaign around a stem new war-crimes declaration to be obtained from the President. Roosevelt and other Allied leaders had issued several state ments condemning Axis atrocities and promising postwar punishment of war criminals. But only two had referred specifically to Jews, the last in December 1942. The failure to mention atrocities against Jews was especially glaring in the important war-crimes declarations proclaimed at the Quebec Conference of August 1943 and the Moscow Conference two months later. There was concern that the Nazis had concluded that the Allies did not care if they went on slaughtering Jews. [2]

The board drew up a declaration that focused on the killing of Jews. Morgenthau, Stettinius, and McCloy endorsed the draft, and it went to the White House. On March 24, 1944, the President released a weakened, though still valuable, war-crimes statement. The WRB's emphasis on Jews had been dropped from the first paragraph to the fourth. The intervening paragraphs called attention to ten other victimized peoples and to American prisoners of war murdered by the Japanese. Yet the part on the Jews was strong. It condemned their "wholesale systematic murder" as "one of the blackest crimes of all history." [3]

Nevertheless, the statement had been watered down, deliberately. Roosevelt's special counsel, Samuel Rosenman, had persuaded the President that the original placed excessive emphasis on the Jews and had to be generalized. Rosenman, who was negative toward the whole idea, believed that too pointed a reference to Jews would fuel American anti-Semitism and stir up anti-administration sentiment. [4]

Within the Treasury, disappointment was bitter. Rosenman had altered a policy statement on which three Cabinet departments had agreed and which Stettinius had personally urged on Roosevelt. Pehle feared that Rosenman would interfere with future rescue decisions that went to the President. [5]

The original WRB draft had also included an offer to accept large numbers of refugees into the United States -- to be kept in camps and returned home after the war. This was to provide a starting point for dealing with the critical problem of lack of havens. The final version carried only a vague pledge that "we shall find havens of refuge" for "all victims of oppression." [6]

Despite the statement's shortcomings, the WRB staff agreed with Morgenthau that "it's so much better than nothing." In it, the President promised that "none who participate in these acts of savagery shall go unpunished.... That warning applies not only to the leaders but also to their functionaries and subordinates in Germany and in the satellite countries." He also assured that "in so far as the necessity of military operations permit, this Government will use all means at its command to aid the escape of all intended victims of the Nazi and Jap executioner." The British Foreign Office endorsed the statement. Attempts to obtain Soviet support for it were fruitless. [7]

The WRB spread Roosevelt's words across Axis Europe through neutral radio stations and newspapers, pamphlets sent in via underground channels, OWI broadcasts, and air-dropped leaflets. Over and over in the months that followed, WRB warnings to the Axis -- both public ones and those conveyed through diplomatic channels -- stressed that the President's statement was a fundamental part of American policy. [8]

Calls for another top-level warning arose in September 1944 when the Polish underground reported that the retreating Germans intended to slaughter surviving concentration-camp inmates. The WRB, convinced that a statement from General Eisenhower would carry the greatest impact, sent a proposed text to the War Department. Five weeks later, on November 7, Eisenhower warned the Germans not to "molest, harm or persecute" concentration-camp internees, "no matter what their religion or nationality may be." [9]

Efforts to persuade the Russians to issue a statement parallel to Eisenhower's failed. Not until April 1945, in the chaotic last days of the war, would the Soviets join the Americans and British in warning that anyone mistreating a prisoner of war or an internee would be "ruthlessly pursued and brought to punishment." [10]

Because the credibility of the threats depended very much on policies reached by the London-based United Nations War Crimes Commission, the WRB was alarmed to learn in the summer of 1944 that the commission had no plans for punishing people guilty of atrocities against Jews of Axis nationality. The reason: no precedent existed in international law. The catalog of war crimes did not include actions by an enemy nation (or its citizens) against its own subjects or those of its partner nations. Thus, on technical grounds, the massacres of hundreds of thousands of Jews (those of German, Hungarian, Rumanian, and other Axis nationalities) remained outside the scope of the commission. [11]

Confusion was no newcoll1er to the fifteen-nation War Crimes Commission. Anglo-American steps to establish a United Nations body to collect evidence of war crimes and to plan postwar punitive action began in mid-1942. But the organization first met only in December 1943. Roosevelt appointed as the American representative his old friend Herbert C. Pell, the former minister to Portugal and to Hungary. [12]

From the outset, Pell wanted the commission to be "as tough as possible." He strongly opposed the view that Axis atrocities against Axis subjects were outside the realm of war crimes. He won some members over to his broader interpretation, but they could not act without orders from their governments. The matter bogged down because neither Pell nor Sir Cecil Hurst, the British representative and commission chairman, could get his government to take a position on it. In January 1945, after eight months without an answer, Hurst quit in disgust. When he resigned, another member of the commission openly remarked that the British government treated the delegates to the War Crimes Commission as if they were "representatives of some British colony." [13]

The State Department treated Pell even more shabbily. Despite his frequent requests for instructions on policy issues, it never gave him definite directions. Thus, while he could "lobby" other commissioners, he had no authority to take official positions himself. His lack of power was no accident. Green Hackworth, the department's legal adviser, and other State Department officials assigned to the war-crimes question intended that Pell's mission fail. Their motives are not fully clear, but they apparently did not desire real action by the War Crimes Commission, and they definitely resented the President's appointment of Pell, an independent-minded outsider. These middle-level officials even arranged to saddle him with an assistant who undercut his efforts in London, both openly (even contradicting him in commission meetings) and behind his back. [14]

In August 1944, Pell approached Josiah DuBois of the WRB, then in London on Treasury Department business. He described the situation and said that a strong request from Washington for the broader interpretation of war crimes might well convince the whole commission. Soon afterward, Pehle wrote to Stettinius asking that the State Department direct Pell to urge the War Crimes Commission to include all Axis atrocities within its scope. Otherwise, Pehle pointed out, the WRB's psychological warfare program was endangered. The department's response was inconclusive. For several months, the board pressed for a decision. It always received the same reply: the question was "under active consideration." [15]

In December 1944, Pell returned to the United States to try to clarify the problem. He made no progress with the State Department, but conferred with Roosevelt on January 9. By then, Hurst had resigned from the War Crimes Commission, and it appeared that Pell would become chairman. The President reassured him and, as he left, said, "Goodbye, Bertie. Good luck to you. Get back to London as quick as you can and get yourself elected chairman." When Pell went to the State Department to bid his formal farewell, he was astonished to hear Stettinius say that the department had been unable to obtain the appropriation for continuing his work. The only choice was to close his office and have some regular American official represent the United States on the commission. (In fact, the State Department had made only a token effort to get the $30,000 appropriation.) [16]

Pell soon discovered that the State Department had known for more than two weeks that the appropriation had failed, but had delayed telling him until after he saw Roosevelt. Obviously, the intent had been to keep him from raising the issue with the President. Actually, Roosevelt was aware that there was no appropriation even as he encouraged his old friend to hurry back to London. [17]

Pell offered to forgo his salary, but the State Department responded that it was legally impossible for him to serve without payment. He tried over and over to see Roosevelt again, but had no success. In late January, aided by the Bergson group, Pell carried his case to the press. The resulting publicity, along with increasing pressure from the WRB and Jewish organizations, forced the State Department to clarify Amer. ica's war-crimes policy at last. On February 1, 1945, Undersecretary Joseph Grew announced that perpetrators of all crimes against Jews and other minorities would definitely be punished. [18]

Pell appeared to have won his long battle for a broadened interpretation of war crimes. Actually, however, officials of the War, State, and Justice departments had been studying the question of war-crimes trials since September. During January, the three departments had agreed on an overall policy and submitted it to Roosevelt. Included among war crimes were Axis atrocities against Axis subjects. But the policymakers, especially in the War Department, wanted to keep the matter secret. Some argued that additional publicity about the punishment of war crimes would stiffen Germany's resolve and delay surrender. Others claimed that the Nazis might react by harming Allied prisoners of war. Grew's press statement came reluctantly and only because of pressures generated by the Pell episode. [19]

What Pell definitely achieved, then, was to force the administration to make its war-crimes policy public, a step the WRB greatly desired. Whether his year of effort and the WRB's added pressure influenced the policy itself cannot be determined. [20]

Pell's deputy, an Army officer, filled in as American representative to the War Crimes Commission, and the State Department found ways to fund the office and its staff. At the end of March 1945, Roosevelt sent Samuel Rosenman to London with broad authority to make agreements on war-crimes policies. A month later, the new President, Harry Truman, named Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson the United States chief counsel for the prosecution of war crimes. In August, the United States, Britain, Russia, and France agreed on the basic structure and scope of the war-crimes trials. One of the categories, crimes against humanity, included atrocities against Jews, whatever their nationality. [21]

The Search for Havens

From its inception, the War Refugee Board realized that a major obstacle to rescue was the lack of places to which Jewish refugees could go. So the board began immediately to search the world for havens. There was hope that Libya, which was controlled by the British, could become an important reception area for Jews coming out of the nearby Balkans. In April 1943, the Bermuda Conference had urged Libya as a sanctuary, but the British had failed to act. In 1944, the WRB pressed the question for months. The British continued to stall, citing "involved political problems" -- meaning Arab opposition to allowing Jews into Libya, even temporarily. In June, the British finally agreed to one camp, with a capacity of 1,500, but they managed by procrastination to avoid even that token step. [22]

As it hunted for havens, the WRB assisted in the final push for the long-delayed North Africa refugee camp. The Bermuda Conference had recommended the camp in order to dear Spain of refugees. But for four months after the conference, the State Department and the British government had done almost nothing about it. Once they finally chose a site, a former American Army barracks at Fedala, near Casablanca, it took almost three more months to gain the consent of the authorities in French North Africa, the French Committee of National Liberation. At that, the French set a limit of 2,000, although the facility could hold 15,000. Then, from November 1943 until March 1944, the French continued to impede the project by requiring a time-consuming security screening. (Ultimately, one-quarter of the refugees who applied were rejected.) The French were not really worried about security; it posed no problem at a holding camp like Fedala. Their concern was that refugees unable to find permanent homes elsewhere would be left on their hands after the war. The United States guaranteed postwar removal, but the French were not convinced. [23]

At the end of March, the first group was at last ready for transfer to Fedala. But the British, who had agreed to provide sea transportation, could not locate a ship. After several weeks of failed British attempts, the WRB's Leonard Ackermann turned to the War Shipping Administration office in Algiers. The response was positive. Not long afterward, the first boatload landed in North Africa. [24]

Fedala opened in early May 1944 -- one year after the Bermuda Conference adjourned. During that year, 800 refugees had left Spain, most of them for Palestine. French screening kept many of the rest out of the new camp. Others were reluctant to leave a known situation in Spain for an unknown camp existence. As a result, only 630 went to Fedala. The WRB was able to obtain use of the rest of the camp's 2,000 places and thus found its first haven. [25]

In mid-1944, the Allied Mediterranean military command, seeking to relieve the refugee buildup in southern Italy, put heavy pressure on the French to agree to a second camp. French permission came promptly this time. The location was a former Allied military barracks at Philippeville, on the Mediterranean coast in Algeria. It could accommodate 2,500, expandable to 7,000 with the addition of tents. By the time Philippeville opened, however, the problem in Italy had eased and the original need for the camp had passed. So a second haven became available to the WRB. The board's third and last sanctuary, a camp for 1,000 refugees at Fort Ontario, New York, came only after months of effort. [26]

While seeking openings elsewhere, the WRB was also pressing for an American commitment. If America opened its gates partway, not only would a key haven become available, but the board would gain leverage for its attempts to persuade other nations to do the same. A major problem was strong opposition to immigration (especially to Jewish immigration) in Congress, in the State Department, and among much of the American public. [27]

The board's answer was emergency camps where refugees could be interned, like prisoners of war, and repatriated after Germany's defeat. The whole operation would take place outside the immigration system, thus avoiding any question of altering quotas or visa procedures. A precedent existed; in 1942, civilian enemy aliens interned as security risks by Latin American governments had been transferred to camps in the United States, where more adequate control was available. This move, like the entry of enemy prisoners of war, had bypassed the whole official immigration structure. [28]

An opportunity to raise the issue came in March 1944 when the President's war-crimes statement was released. It included an assurance that "we shall find havens of refuge" for the oppressed. The WRB staff proposed a follow-up message for the President to issue. It would declare that, in line with the promise to find havens of refuge, the United States was offering temporary asylum to all who could escape Hitler. They would have to live under restrictions similar to those imposed on POWs, but they would receive humane treatment. After the war, they would be returned to their homelands. [29]

The WRB also drafted a separate memorandum for the President explaining the situation. It emphasized that no significant rescue campaign was possible unless havens were opened up, and they would not open unless the United States set the example. Once America took the step, though, the other United Nations would undoubtedly follow. Furthermore, the approaching end of the war and the long transatlantic trip made it unlikely that many refugees would actually come to the United States. The important thing, the board stressed, was to offer to receive them. [30]

Before the proposal could go to the White House, it needed the approval of the secretaries of War, State, and the Treasury. Stimson had serious doubts. His main objection had nothing to do with military affairs, but arose from his own strongly restrictionist views. ,He believed that, if refugees entered in this way, heavy pressure later on might induce Congress to alter the immigration laws and let them stay. And he thoroughly opposed any increase in permanent immigration or any compromise of the immigration laws. This position, he maintained, reflected that of Congress and much of the public. He was willing to endorse the proposal, though, if the President obtained the consent of Congress before acting. [31]

For a time, Morgenthau also maintained that FDR should not implement the plan without congressional approval. He was worried lest the President antagonize the lawmakers and incur political damage. On the other hand, he was sure Congress would not enact the proposal, and he wanted the camps established. With time, his staff persuaded him that Roosevelt should use his executive powers to carry out the plan. [32]

Hull, basically cool toward the havens proposal, barely involved him· self with the question. Visa Chief Howard Travers warned him that the idea was likely to be unpopular with Congress and the public and could open him to criticism. George Warren, the department's liaison with the WRB, advised him to be leery of any plan for bringing in more than "a limited number" of refugees. In the end, though, Hull went along with Morgenthau. [33]

Finally, Morgenthau, Hull, and Stimson agreed to a weakened form of the proposal. The original plan would have offered temporary sanctuary in the United States "for all oppressed peoples escaping from Hider." The new version omitted the word all. The recommendation went to the White House on May 8. [34]

Meanwhile, public support had been building behind the plan for emergency camps. Early in April, New York Post writer Samuel Grafton, whose column ran in forty newspapers with combined circulations of over four million, launched a campaign for what he termed "free ports":

A "free port" is a small bit of land, a kind of reservation, into which foreign goods may be brought without paying customs duties . ... Goods brought into it from overseas are destined either for transshipment to other countries, or for temporary storage.

Why" couldn't we have a system of free ports for refugees fleeing the Hitler terror? ...

The refugees, Jewish and other, "ask only for a few fenced-in acres of the poorest land in America. They don't want to keep it. They just want to sit on it until they can go home again.

During April, Grafton wrote two more columns advocating free ports. He also publicized the plan on radio. [35]

The New York Post hammered away on the issue in editorials and news articles. Its reporters raised the question at Roosevelt's press conferences. The New York Herald Tribune, the Times, the Christian Science Monitor, and numerous other papers soon joined the call for. free ports. So did the entire Hearst chain, syndicated columnist Dorothy Thompson, several radio commentators, the New Republic, the Nation, the Commonweal, and the Christian Century. The Jewish press and all important Jewish organizations backed the plan. The Bergsonite Emergency Committee dramatized it in full-page newspaper advertisements that were linked to a nationwide petition drive. [36]

Among many others to advocate the free-ports proposal were the Federal Council of Churches, the Church Peace Union, the National Board of the YWCA, the Catholic Committee for Refugees, the Friends and Unitarian service committees, the President's Advisory Committee on Political Refugees, the AFL, the CIO, and the National Farmers Union. William Green, head of the AFL, sent a personal appeal to Roosevelt. Alfred E. Smith and seventy-one other prominent non-Jewish Americans, in a statement to the President, called the establishment of temporary havens a "moral obligation." Several congressmen introduced legislation for free ports. [37]

As support grew for the camps proposal, the WRB kept silent. Pressed at a mid-April news conference, Pehle would say only that the question· was under consideration. By then, interest was so high that even that vague answer drew front-page coverage in major New York newspapers. Actually, behind the scenes, the WRB was actively encouraging Jewish organizations to carry out a coordinated drive to gain support for free ports from newspaper editors, radio commentators, members of Congress, and other influential Americans. [38]

A mid-April Gallup poll, requested by presidential assistant David Niles, found 70 percent approval of emergency refugee camps in the United States. Further indication of widespread backing for the plan was seen in the large numbers of favorable letters, telegrams, and petitions that were reaching the President, Congress, and the WRB. Only a few messages of dissent turned up, forerunners of an opposition that had not yet awakened. [39]

On May 11, Pehle discussed the plan for emergency camps with Roosevelt. He showed him a book of press clippings generated by the proposal, the letters of support from organizations and important individuals, and the Gallup poll. The President was impressed. He had read one of Grafton's articles the night before, he said, and liked it very much. He appeared to Pehle to be "very, very favorably disposed toward the whole idea." Pehle told the President that he thought it was too late to go through Congress. Roosevelt said he was reluctant to bring in large numbers of refugees without congressional consent. Instead, he proposed that if a situation developed in which a specific group of 500 to 1,000 refugees needed a haven, he would take them in and, at the same time, explain his action in a message to Congress. [40]

A few days later, the WRB learned of the crisis that had arisen in southern Italy. Because of the heavy influx of Yugoslav refugees, the camps in Egypt to which they were being transferred were reaching capacity. Fearing a pile-up in southern Italy, Allied military authorities had curtailed the flow. Clearly, additional temporary havens were essential for the Adriatic escape route to remain open. [41]

Pehle sent a message to the President explaining the problem. He pointed out:

This emergency situation is, I believe, exactly the type of situation which you had in mind. We can break this bottleneck by immediately bringing to the United States approximately 1,000 refugees from southern Italy and placing then in an unused Army camp along the Eastern seaboard, where they would remain until the end of the war. [42]

Nothing happened for a week. Then, at a May 26 Cabinet meeting, Morgenthau brought up the refugee situation in Italy. Roosevelt immediately ordered the Army to reopen the refugee flow across the Adriatic. But he still did not respond to Pehle's request. At his press conference on May 30, the President Was asked about the plan for free ports. He replied, "I like the idea, and we are working on it now," but went on to say, "it is not, in my judgment, necessary to decide that we have to have a free port right here in the United States. There are lots of other places in the world where refugees conceivably could go to." When Pehle heard that news, he checked with the White House. He was told that the President had meant that free ports did not have to be limited to the United States; they could be opened elsewhere too. The question had apparently caught him off guard. [43]

Morgenthau and Pehle saw Roosevelt on June 1. He Was aware of the problem in Italy. But he had forgotten most of his discussion of three weeks earlier with Pehle. Pehle repeated the main points, emphasizing the widespread support for free ports. The President then agreed to bring 1,000 refugees over from Italy. [44]

At his news conference the next day, FDR was asked to clarify what he had said about free ports at the preceding press conference. He explained that some refugees would be coming to the United States, but it was only common sense to take care of most of them overseas and thus avoid the long ocean voyages Over and back. He mentioned that Pehle was looking into the possibility of using a vacant Army camp in the United States. Questioned about taking refugees in without regard to quotas and visas, Roosevelt answered, "If you have some starving and perfectly helpless people -- after all, they are human beings and we can give them the assurance of life somewhere else, it seems like it's the humanitarian thing to do." [45]

That same day, Pehle found a camp. In fact, the War Department offered a choice of two Army camps, both in northern New York, one at Oswego and the other near Watertown. On June 8, Morgenthau and Pehle saw the President again and reported that two camps were avail. able. Roosevelt enthusiastically recommended the one at Oswego: "Fort Ontario is my camp. I know the fort very well. It goes back to before Civil War times and is a very excellent place." He carefully read and then initialed the enabling documents that Pehle handed him. The next day, at his press conference, he announced that "we are going to bring over a thousand, that's all, to this country, to go into that camp -- Fort Oswego -- Fort Ontario." [46]

Soon afterward, Roosevelt sent a message-prepared by the WRB to Congress. It summarized the refugee situation in Italy, explained the urgent need for additional temporary havens, and declared that "our heritage and our ideals of liberty and justice" required the nation to "take immediate steps to share the responsibility for meeting the problem." Arrangements were therefore under way to bring 1,000 refugees from southern Italy to the United States. To counter a potential negative reaction in Congress, the statement emphasized that the refugees would be kept in a camp "under appropriate security restrictions." And it pledged that "upon the termination of the war they will be sent back to their homelands." [47]

Fort Ontario was the only American free port. While America's immigration quotas allotted to countries of occupied Europe were 91 percent unfilled (more than 55,000 unused slots that year), the nation opened its gates to 1,000 fugitives from extermination. Eight months before, Sweden had welcomed 8,000 Jews from Denmark. Sweden's population and her land area were each about one-twentieth that of the United States. Journalist I. F. Stone described the American contribution as "a kind of token payment to decency, a bargain-counter flourish in humanitarianism." [48]

The outcome of the campaign for emergency havens, one camp, only faintly resembled the WRB's original objective, an American offer of temporary refuge "for all oppressed peoples escaping from Hitler." A dramatic proposal of that dimension would have put pressure on other nations to open their doors. And, a point of signal importance, Spain and Turkey might have agreed to act as bridges to safety once they were certain that the refugees would move right through. [49]

With a generous American offer in hand, the WRB had planned to launch a bold initiative and call on Germany and its satellites to release the Jews en masse. That challenge, in combination with the havens offer and the President's war-crimes threat, would make crystal clear to the Germans, and to the world, America's determination to do all it could to stop the extermination of the Jews. [50]

It is impossible to know what the plan might have achieved. At a minimum, though, if Turkey and Spain (and Switzerland) had publicly announced their willingness to take in any Jew who reached their borders, escapes from Axis territory would have increased by the thousands. The WRB proposal might not have budged Hitler, but chances were strong that the Axis satellites would have responded positively.

Actually, middle-level State Department officials were not at all sure that Hitler was immovable. They warned Hull to be cautious about the WRB plan:

The proposal, if carried through, would inevitably involve the risk that Hitler might take advantage of the offer to embarrass the United Nations at this time by proposing to deliver thousands of refugees at stated ports on definite days. Should the United Nations fail to provide the shipping to remove them serious embarrassment to all concerned would result.

In reality, it was not shipping that worried the State Department but the specter of a mass outflow of Jews and no place to put them. At that very time, the Allies had ample shipping available for moving refugees. This was verified by Assistant Secretary of War McCloy, and it was proven by the ongoing evacuation of thousands of Yugoslavs from Italy to Egypt. [51]

The President's limited offer annulled the WRB's basic plan. The single camp failed to open any other doors. As Charles Joy of the Unitarian Service Committee pointed out, the smallness of the offer "destroys the value of the gesture. If the United States with all its resources can take only one thousand of these people what can we expect other countries to do?" [52]

In the United States, two reactions greeted the President's decision. One was gratitude, combined with disappointment that the step had been so limited. The other was bitter anger at Roosevelt for his highhanded breaching of the immigration bulwarks. The response in favor of free ports was immediate and widespread. Endorsements of FDR's action came from major newspapers, from Christian and Jewish groups, and from hundreds of individuals who sent messages to the White House. Most expressions of support also called for many more American havens. But Roosevelt had no intention of that, as he explained in a personal reply to one of the letters: "We do not need any more free ports at the present time because of the physical problems of transportation, and we are taking care of thousands of others in North Africa and Italy." [53]

On the other side, restrictionists and anti-Semites wrote angrily to the President, members of Congress, and newspapers. None believed that the refugees would go back; many saw the thousand as the entering wedge for hundreds of thousands more, mostly Jews. The undercurrent of anti-Semitism then running through American society surfaced in several letters. A woman in New York asserted that America owed nothing to the oppressed Jews; "they are the reason for Hitler!" A Colorado man insisted that the refugees were obviously not going to be repatriated: "What country would want a Jew back?" The editors of Life magazine were shaken by the amount of bitterly nasty mail that came in response to a photo story on the refugees' arrival at Fort Ontario. [54]

Syndicated columnist Westbrook Pegler used the thousand refugees as a club to attack Roosevelt. He warned that "many thousands" more would be coming, including Communists and crooks. Later, he wrote that "Mr. Roosevelt may admit 500,000." Promises to send them back after the war, he insisted, were worthless. Patriotic organizations took up the cry, fearful that the first thousand might form a precedent for breaking down the immigration laws. Throughout the summer, arch-restrictionist Senator Robert R. Reynolds (Dem., N.C.) kept the issue boiling. Others in Congress were indignant at Roosevelt's use of executive power to bring refugees in. After all, Congress had refused him that prerogative when it choked off the Third War Powers Bill in November 1942. [55]

The Fort Ontario Experience

The refugees first saw Fort Ontario on an August morning in 1944. A returning Army troopship carried them from Italy to New York. and a special overnight train brought them to Oswego. Help came too late for one, a baby girl who died at sea of malnutrition and pneumonia. Most of the 982 who arrived had endured years of persecution, flight, and camp life; nearly a hundred had survived Dachau or Buchenwald. They came from seventeen different nations; Yugoslavs, Austrians, Poles, Germans, and Czechs were the most numerous. Their ages ranged from three weeks to eighty years. but people in their twenties were scarce, as were men of military age. The group was 89 percent Jewish. Most of the rest were Catholic. [i] [56]

The refugees' arrival generated pages and pages of photographs and human-interest stories. The American press for the first time had discovered a Holocaust-related event worthy of featured coverage. [58]

Once at the Emergency Refugee Shelter, as the camp was officially designated. the fugitives came under the jurisdiction of the War Relocation Authority (WRA), then within the Department of the Interior. The WRA received the job because it was experienced in operating the camps where Japanese and Japanese-Americans were interned. Actually, the WRA had earlier concluded that camp life was harmful and to be avoided if possible. Before the refugees arrived, it tried unsuccessfully to arrange for them to leave the shelter for a normal community life after a limited reception period. [59]

The camp was located on the shore of Lake Ontario, thirty-five miles northwest of Syracuse. Conditions were livable, but not conducive to healthy family life; and three-fourths of the refugees belonged to family units. Meals were eaten in mess halls. Families lived in barracks buildings that had been partitioned into small apartments. The apartments had only the barest furnishings and lacked individual bathroom facili ties. More important, the thin walls allowed almost no privacy. Friction among neighbors was chronic. [60]

Soon after the shelter opened, Army intelligence officials screened the refugees for security purposes. After that, they were allowed to leave the camp and go into the town of Oswego for up to six hours at a time, but they had to be back by midnight. No one could travel beyond Oswego, except for essential hospitalization. Nor could anyone take employment outside the camp. Visitors could come into the shelter, but not even close relatives could stay overnight. In an arrangement that proved mutually rewarding, the Oswego public schools provided free education for 190 refugee children. Another thirty attended the practice school at Oswego State Teachers College free of charge. [61]

Dozens of Jewish organizations, and a few non-Jewish ones, came to the shelter to offer help. Without them, camp life would have been substantially more difficult. To avoid public criticism, the government provided minimum subsistence only. For example, the medical policy was to maintain the refugees in the same general condition in which they arrived, despite the years of deprivation many had experienced. No medical or dental rehabilitation was to be performed except to counter an immediate threat to health. The government did not even furnish vitamins for babies and children. The private agencies met those needs, supplying corrective medical treatment, dental care and den tures, and even items as basic as eyeglasses. They also lent social workers to the WRA for the initial adjustment period, equipped and funded many cultural and recreational programs, and sponsored numerous adult education courses. [62]

After several weeks of rest and adequate nourishment, the refugees' anxieties about basic physical needs receded. Many then became restive about the restrictions under which they lived. In Italy, after the Allied occupation, most had moved about freely, held jobs if they wished, and used the camps only as a home base. [63]

Before departing for the United States, the adult refugees had signed a form in which they agreed to reside at Fort Ontario arid, after the war, to return to their homelands. These stipulations were in line with Roosevelt's pledges to Congress and had always been pan of the WRB's havens plan. The point on postwar repatriation had been clearly conveyed to the refugees before they left Italy, but the requirement that they stay in the camp had not. The language in that pan of the form was ambiguous. And none of the refugees had been confronted with the form until they had made all the arrangements to leave and were about to board the ship. [64]

Through the last months of 1944, the misunderstanding about confinement to Fort Ontario led to increasing resentment within the camp. By January 1945, that factor, combined with several others, had depressed morale to the point where one suicide had occurred and many internees were near mental breakdown. [ii] [65]

Another cause of the very poor morale was the constant tension generated by the work situation in the shelter. The WRA expected able refugees to perform basic camp services and maintenance, such as preparing food, cleaning the mess hall, removing garbage, and distributing coal. But many resisted this work, either by evasion or by open refusal. A key reason for this was the widespread negative attitude in the group toward physical labor, especially menial jobs. In addition, many who worked believed they were taken advantage of because of the low compensation. The WRA granted all refugees $8.50 per month for incidental purchases. Regular workers received $18.00 per month, which represented a real salary of only $9.50. The reluctance to work meant that the camp administration, which was basically sympathetic, was embroiled in an unending struggle to get the refugees to perform essential services. Furthermore, much of the work was poorly done; kitchen sanitation in particular posed a chronic threat to health. Camp morale suffered another devastating blow in February 1945 when one of the most cooperative workers died in a coal-unloading accident, leaving a wife and four young children. [67]

Curt Bondy, a psychologist and an expert on camp life, visited Fort Ontario at the start of 1945. His report emphasized the high level of tension in the shelter, despite the almost complete absence of physical violence. He pointed to the work situation as the worst problem, one that was unsolvable, given the WRA's refusal to increase pay. No basis for community cohesiveness existed in the camp; in fact, nationality differences bred constant conflict. (In one instance, Austrians and Germans had stalked out of a synagogue because the rabbi delivered his sermon in a Yugoslav language.) Bondy concluded that the only real solution was to phase out the shelter as soon as possible. [68]

Bondy was not alone in believing that the Fort Ontario refugees needed a more normal existence. Many refugees, of course, held the same view. Backed by relatives and friends outside the camp, they had begun to press hard for release. By early 1945, they had several allies. One was the camp director, Joseph Smart. Another was the WRA leadership in Washington. It called for a furlough arrangement pat terned on the system by which Japanese internees were being paroled from camps into American communities. Secretary of the Interior Ickes supported release wholeheartedly and pressed for it throughout 1945. The private refugee-aid organizations lobbied steadily for it through a special "Camp Committee" led by representatives of the National Refugee Service, the HIAS, and the American Friends Service Committee. [69]

What emerged was a widely supported plan for "sponsored leave." Under it, the private agencies would provide community and job placement for the refugees and guarantee that they would not become public charges. For supervisory purposes, the refugees would maintain monthly contact with the WRA. Supporters pointed to the tax savings that would result with the closing of the camp. [70]

But powerful opposition to sponsored leave came from Attorney General Francis Biddle, President Roosevelt, and the War Refugee Board. Biddle and Roosevelt maintained that release from the camp would probably be illegal and certainly would constitute a breach of faith with the Congress. Biddle noted that members of Congress had challenged him several times to justify the entry of the refugees and he had assured them that they were staying only temporarily and would remain in detention while here. Release, he declared, would increase the suspicion, already widespread in Congress, that the administration was trying to get around the immigration laws, For some time, the WRB also opposed sponsored leave as a violation of the pledges that it and the President had made. In March 1945, though, William O'Dwyer, who had recently replaced Pehle as WRB director, began to search for a way around Biddle's ban on sponsored leave. He was not successful. [iii] [71]

Eleanor Roosevelt was caught between the President's position and her personal concern about the refugees-a concern deepened by a visit to the shelter. She publicly voiced her unhappiness that the refugees could not be out building their futures. But because of the President's pledge and the negative attitude in Congress, she saw no way it could be done. "The whole thing seems perfectly silly to me," she wrote to a clergyman in a city near Oswego, "but we have to realize that people in war time are not logical and Congress acts in the way that they think people at home want them to act." [73]

Until the shelter finally dosed, the government insisted that essential hospitalization constituted the only grounds for leaving the camp, except for the brief visits to Oswego. Thus, a refugee whose paralyzed wife lived on Long Island could not visit her even for Christmas. An older man, deafened and his health broken by beatings in a concentration camp, had a wife and two grown daughters who had escaped from Europe earlier. They lived in California and were now American citizens. His wife, who operated a successful small business, was anxious to care for him. Only in November 1945, after the man's health had deteriorated to the point where he was almost fully paralyzed, did he qualify for medical leave. His wife then took him to California. The family was reunited briefly. The husband died two months later. [74]

During 1945, psychological deterioration continued in the camp. By mid-March, four refugees had been removed to mental institutions. Germany's surrender in May briefly raised spirits; but shortly afterward even worse depression set in as rumors ran through the shelter that the whole group would soon be shipped back to Europe. The great majority dreaded repatriation. Many felt they could not face life in former homelands that had disowned them, countries where they had passed through terrible experiences and had lost loved ones. And they feared renewed persecution in a Europe where the Nazis had cultivated anti-Semitism. [75]

In addition, more than half of the shelter's inhabitants had relatives who lived in the United States outside the camp. For over a hundred of them, repatriation would mean separation from immediate family members: husband or wife in seven cases, brothers or sisters in seventy-three others, and children in thirty-five more. Fourteen of the refugees had sons in the American armed forces. [iv] [76]

As spring and summer passed, the future of the Fort Ontario refugees hung in the balance. But time made it increasingly dear that repatriation was unlikely. The plight of the millions of displaced persons in Europe was emerging as a problem of immense proportions. Food and clothing were in short supply, and destruction was everywhere. If the United States sent this thousand back, it might encourage Switzerland, Sweden, and other countries to force out the much greater numbers of refugees they had harbored, adding substantially to the chaos. [78]

By fall, compulsory repatriation had become a major issue in Europe. President Truman and the U.S. Army lined up solidly against it; they also began to press for moving DPs out of Europe. Truman specifically called on Britain to permit 100,000 Jews to go to Palestine to help relieve the situation. [79]

Against that background, it would have been ludicrous for America to insist on returning 1,000 refugees to Europe. But they could not be kept at the camp indefinitely either. Not until Christmas 1945 did the answer emerge, when Truman ruled that they could enter the United States under the barely touched immigration quotas.[80]

Truman's decision followed months of continuous pressure from several sides. Interior Secretary Ickes had pushed steadily for implementation of already existing administrative procedures that permitted the Justice and State departments to admit the refugees under the immigration quotas. At the same time, the WRA stalled moves within the administration to deport the group. The private agencies and the Jewish defense organizations pressured top State Department leaders and the President, arguing that repatriation would not only be cruel to the refugees but would also contradict American policy and worsen the DP situation in Europe. Joseph Smart resigned as shelter director in May 1945 to launch a campaign for admitting the refugees as permanent immigrants. He marshaled support from leading Oswego citizens and many prominent Americans, including John Dewey, Albert Einstein, and Eleanor Roosevelt. By June 1945, O'Dwyer and the WRB were also fighting repatriation. [81]

Samuel Dickstein, chairman of the House Immigration Committee, played a pivotal role in ending the impasse. To dramatize the difficulties involved in sending the refugees back and to demonstrate the high caliber of the group as prospective immigrants, he held hearings at the shelter in June 1945. Careful planning and Dickstein's skillful management of the sessions produced a very favorable impression on the congressmen present as well as in the extensive press coverage that resulted. [82]

In Washington a week later, Dickstein maneuvered a compromise through the heavily restrictionist House Immigration Committee. Tough in appearance, it called on the administration to send back without delay all whose repatriation was practicable. The rest should undergo deportation proceedings, and the camp should be closed, ending a government expense of $600,000 per year. What Dickstein counted on was the impracticability of repatriation, given the situation in Europe. Nor was deportation feasible under the circumstances. Furthermore, existing regulations permitted aliens under deportation proceedings to petition to be examined for eligibility. for the immigration quotas. The Immigration Committee's action thus threw the entire responsibility into the hands of the Truman administration. Dickstein, along with Ickes, then kept prodding Truman, emphasizing the terrible conditions in Europe and reminding him that he had the power to let the refugees stay. [83]

Truman's decision came on the night of December 22, 1945. It was part of the "Truman Directive," an order issued to set an international example by expediting admission of displaced persons to the United States. For the first time since mid-1940, the U.S. immigration quotas were open for full use. Concerning the refugees at Oswego, Truman termed it "inhumane and wasteful" to make them go back to Europe, where they would almost immediately be eligible for immigration visas for the United States. [84]

The White House gave the National Refugee Service the responsibility for relocating the Fort Ontario refugees and allowed one month -- January 1946-to clear the camp. Despite the short deadline, the NRS and dozens of Jewish communities across the country successfully placed the 834 Jewish refugees. The American Christian Committee for Refugees and the Catholic Committee for Refugees made arrangements for the non-Jews. Thus, eighteen months after its arrival, America's "token shipment" of refugees officially entered the United States -- as permanent quota immigrants. [vi] [85]

Truman's decision drew sharp fire from restrictionists. Hundreds of letters to the White House demanded its reversal. Westbrook Pegler sounded the alarm again: "The adults, men and women both, for all we know may be Communists." These outbursts were only the last crash of a hailstorm of restrictionist resentment that had lashed at the Fort Ontario refugees since before their arrival. Beneath much of that restrictionism was the widespread anti-Semitism then embedded in American society. Because it had both local and national impact, the Fort Ontario episode provided a gauge of American anti-Semitism in that era. [87]

Many Oswego citizens welcomed the refugees, sympathized with them, and recognized the advantages in associating with them. But they were a minority. Within a month of the refugees' arrival, anti-Semitism began to increase rapidly throughout the city. Oswego residents who befriended refugees encountered social ostracism. Even the successful public school experience was marred by name-calling ("you dirty Jews"; "filthy refugee"). There was some ganging up on refugee children. Malicious rumors circulated persistently, especially claims that the government furnished luxury items for the refugees and drained the area of such scarce commodities as rationed foods and cigarettes in order to pamper them. These stories spread to neighboring localities and even turned up as far away as Buffalo. A physician in Syracuse told colleagues that the refugees had steak twice a week, despite the meat shortage. (In reality, they had been served no steak at all.) [vi] [88]

Anti-Semitism also surfaced in numerous ugly anti-refugee letters to the Oswego daily newspaper. Syracuse newspapers printed many similar communications. A rash of particularly mean-spirited letters that appeared in summer 1945 convinced the publisher of the Oswego newspaper that a campaign was afoot, probably instigated from outside the area. [90]

Anti-Semitism in Oswego, a typical small American city, was probably little greater than in much of the rest of the nation. The difference was the presence of the refugees; they drew Oswego's anti-Jewish feelings to the surface. Correspondence in the Dickstein committee's files furnishes convincing evidence that northern New York's anti-Semitism was not unusual. Dickstein's efforts to find a solution for the thousand refugees were nationally publicized. The extensive news coverage gen erated by the hearings at Fort Ontario brought a deluge of restrictionist protest on the congressman. Much of the outcry-and it came from across the nation-was anti-Semitic. Often, the anti-Semitism was subtle; but in numerous cases, illustrated by excerpts from three letters to Dickstein, it was blatant.

Your attempt to keep that gang of refugees from Ft. Oswego in this country is just an opening wedge to get all of that "trash" from Europe over here. The result will be anti-Jewish race riots.

We have too much of that crap here now. I wonder why no country in the world wants them?

To leave that bunch of refujews in this country ... was the game to start with by Mr. F. D. Rosenblatt who fortunately died before his louzy plan could be carried out with you and your tribe.... We don't propose to stand idly by and have that bunch of parasite[s] pushed down our throats over here. We fought to preserve America for Americans and our children and not for a bunch of refujews.

You lousy sheeney, what do you mean by wanting to keep those Jews in this country.... You kikes are the scum of the earth. [vii] [91]
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Re: The Abandonment of the Jews: American and the Holocaust,

Postby admin » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:11 pm

Part 2 of 2

Latin American Documents

While the WRB pressed ahead with its main projects, its staff searched continually for other rescue possibilities. One plan was to exchange German citizens living in the United States and Latin America for Jews in Axis Europe. In December 1942, shortly after the news of extermination surfaced, Jewish groups had urged this. The State Department failed to respond openly, but secretly rejected the proposal on the ground that European governments-in-exile would probably protest it as favoring Jews over their non-Jewish citizens. [93]

Britain, on the other hand, had already completed two such exchanges with Germany. Germans from Egypt, South Africa, and Palestine went to Europe in return for Jews sent to Palestine. A third exchange took place in July 1944. But only 463 Jews were involved in the three transfers combined. The Nazis had 4,000 more Jews cleared to go, but the British lacked exchangeable German citizens. [94]

In spring 1944, under WRB pressure, the State Department opened negotiations with Germany concerning inclusion of Jews in the next general American-German exchange. Ultimately, in January 1945, 800 Germans interned in the United States and Latin America were exchanged for 800 American and Latin American citizens. Among the latter were 149 Jews from Bergen-Belsen who possessed Latin American passports. A key obstacle to larger exchanges was that few Germans in the Western Hemisphere would agree to repatriation. [95]

A problem related to exchanges arose shortly before the WRB was established, and engaged its attention during much of 1944. The issue centered on Latin American protective passports held by a few thousand Jews in Nazi Europe. Originally, some stateless Jews with prospects for overseas migration had procured Latin American passports to remedy their lack of basic travel documentation. Many of them failed in their emigration plans. But with time it became evident that the Nazis considered Jews who held Latin American papers a potentially useful commodity. They might be exchangeable for some of the tens of thousands of German citizens resident in Latin America. So the Nazis put these supposed Latin American Jews into special exchange camps with other interned civilians of enemy nationalities. Conditions there were livable, and, most important, the Jews seemed safe from deportation. [96]

As word spread, a sizable traffic developed in Latin American passports. In Switzerland, Portugal, Sweden, and even Japan and the United States, relatives and friends of Jews in Nazi territory obtained passports from Latin American consulates and had them smuggled into occupied Europe. Most consuls sold the documents for personal gain; a few acted out of humanitarian motives. Most of these papers were of doubtful validity. But the 5,000 to 10,000 Jews who held them enjoyed a precarious safety in Nazi exchange camps. [97]

As 1943 ended, however, danger threatened. In September, Paraguay dismissed its consul in Switzerland and annulled the unauthorized passports he had issued. Two months later, at the internment camp at Vittel, in northeastern France, the Germans took up all Paraguayan passports. Word reached Washington within days that Jews there, as well as in other exchange camps, faced deportation to Poland. The State Department persuaded the Paraguayan government to honor the passports until the war ended. Paraguay then informed the Germans that the passports were still valid. At about the same time, the State Department asked the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees to try to stop the deportations and see what could be done to protect all holders of the dubious Latin American documents. [98]

The ICR considered the question for two months, then decided not to act. Meanwhile, during January 1944, reports reached Washington indicating that the Germans were confiscating the passports of several Latin American nations from Jews in Vittel and other exchange camps. When the newly formed WRB looked into the situation, it realized that the Swiss government had failed to protest. (Switzerland represented the interests of most belligerent Latin American nations in matters concerning Germany.) The board drafted a telegram instructing the American legation in Bern to press the Swiss to prevail upon Germany to accept Latin American documents as valid unless they were actually repudiated by the Latin American governments. [99]

Middle-level State Department officials, put off by the WRB's strident approach to diplomacy, cited the impropriety of upholding fraudulent passports and blocked the telegram for almost seven weeks. The American government had, of course, not hesitated to use forged papers for numerous purposes. What State Department officials mainly objected to was the broad scope of the WRB order. They were willing, at most, to ask the Swiss to help when the Germans raised questions in specific cases. The board recognized the futility of such a piecemeal approach-a futility magnified by the fact that the Nazis were not inquiring about the passports but were simply preparing to ship the Jews out.. In this dispute, the most adamant of the State Department officials were Paul T. Culbertson, chief of the Western European Division, and James H. Keeley, Jr., chief of the Special War Problems Division. [100]

What finally shook the WRB telegram loose from the State Department was a set of events in early April. The Union of Orthodox Rabbis in New York received information that the Polish Jews in Vittel had been isolated for deportation. Three rabbis hastened to Washington. Though actively supported by the offices of Senator James Mead (Dem., N.Y.) and of House Majority Leader John McCormack, the rabbis got nowhere with the State Department. They then went to Morgenthau. Upset by the long delays, and shaken when the oldest rabbi "completely broke down and ... wept, and wept, and wept," Morgenthau phoned Hull and persuaded him to force the issue. The next day, the State Department sent the telegram to Switzerland. In Bern, the first secretary of the American legation, George Tait, echoed objections lately raised in Washington:

I do not like this matter at all in any of its aspects, This group of persons has obtained false papers to which they have no claim and has endeavored to obtain special treatment which they would not otherwise have received. We are being placed in the position of acting as nurse-maid to persons who have no claim to our protection.

But Tait was quickly overruled. [101]

Pressing its breakthrough, the WRB succeeded in sending two important follow-up telegrams. State Department opposition had not declined, but ir had to bend before the impact of Morgenthau's pressure on Hull and a new burst of heat kindled by journalist Drew Pearson. One of the rabbis, angry about the protracted delay in sending the previous telegram, carried the story to Pearson, who reported it on his Sunday evening radio program. [102]

The first of the additional telegrams instructed the American legation in Bern to inform the Germans, through the Swiss, that the United States was working with Latin American nations on plans to exchange German citizens in the Americas for people held by Germany, including Jews with Latin American passports. Largely a bluff, this statement was aimed at convincing the Germans that they had something to gain by keeping those Jews alive. [103]

The other telegram initiated negotiations with fourteen Latin American governments. It asked each to affirm the passports issued in its name and to insist to the German government that holders of its documents be protected. In return, the WRB agreed to find havens elsewhere for any of the Jews who might come out. After prolonged negotiations, which the Vatican seconded, thirteen Latin American states consented. [104]

Meanwhile, the WRB and the American legation in Bern began dispatching frequent and forceful reminders to the German authorities that Jews with Latin American documents were entitled to protection and were eligible for exchange. In May, the German Foreign Office sent formal assurance that no one then in an exchange camp would be deported. At least two violations of this pledge occurred, but for the most part the agreement appears to have been upheld. No solid data are available concerning the number of Jews thus saved, but the board's own guess of about 2,000 is reasonable. [105]

The WRB's steps came too late, however, for the Polish Jews in Vittel, whose impending deportation had first alarmed the Orthodox rabbis. At least 214 of them were deported, almost certainly to Auschwitz. If the State Department had not delayed the WRB's plans for nearly seven weeks, those 214 would probably have survived. [106]

Another rescue project had virtually run its course before the WRB was established. In March 1943, the Spanish government agreed to take in 300 Sephardic Jews whom the Germans were willing to release. The 300 were part of the thousands of descendants of Jews who had been expelled from Spain in the fifteenth century. Although Sephardic Jews had settled in several lands, Spain had continued to view them as its citizens and had claimed the right to intervene to protect them when necessary. But before 1943 it had done virtually nothing to save them from the Nazis. Even under the new policy, the Spanish authorities consented to accept only a small number and then only with assurances that they leave Spain within two months. [107]

The American ambassador, Carlton Hayes, encouraged the plan, and David Blickenstaff, head of American private relief operations in Spain, offered to work to arrange onward migration. In August, a group of only 79 arrived from France. Although they carried valid Spanish passports and citizenship certificates, the Spanish government insisted that they move on promptly. The young men, however, were ordered to remain in Spain to fulfill their military obligations. [108]

Later arrangements to bring in a few hundred Sephardic Jews from Greece stretched out over many months because. Spain would not accept them until the first group had departed. Meanwhile, the Germans shipped them from Greece to Bergen-Belsen, where they were suspended between deportation to Auschwitz and acceptance into Spain. The August arrivals left Spain only in December. In February 1944, trains finally brought 367 Sephardic Jews from Bergen-Belsen to Spain. [109]

Including a few score more from "Prance, a little over 500 Sephardic Jews escaped through the actions of the Spanish government, Hayes, and Blickenstaff. Once on the scene, the WRB worked steadily to bring out more, particularly another group of 155 held at Bergen-Belsen. Hayes cooperated, but there were no results. [110]

Food and the Blockade

The WRB devoted considerable thought to plans to send food into the ghettos and camps. The broader issue of supplying food to civilian populations starving under Nazi occupation had been contested throughout the war. Despite growing public pressure in Britain and the United States, British blockade authorities, acting under the Ministry of Economic Warfare, were virtually immovable. Food could go through the blockade only for prisoners of war and certain interned civilians. The United States adhered to British blockade policies, though not without disagreements. [111]

The blockade authorities permitted one major exception. By early 1942, starvation was claiming a terrible toll in Axis-occupied Greece. After receiving assurance from Germany that it would not confiscate Greek food, the American and British governments began in August 1942 to move large amounts of food to that country from the Western Hemisphere in ships chartered from Sweden. The Swedish government, the International Red Cross, and a commission of Swedish and Swiss citizens monitored the project. At first, eight ships were delivering wheat and some medicines. By April 1944, a fleet of fourteen was carrying cargoes that also included dried vegetables, canned milk, soup powder, cured fish, baby food, rice, sugar, and clothing. After the early months, the American Lend-Lease Administration took over most of the costs. Lend-Lease provided $11.5 million in 1943 and increased the amount to about $30.0 million for 1944. The program did not end the famine in Greece, but it substantially improved conditions for the 2.5 million Greeks it reached. [112]

During 1942, Jewish groups and other organizations speaking for various conquered European populations began to press the State Department to apply the Greek arrangement to other subject peoples. The Jews emphasized that Jewish nutritional levels were the lowest in Europe and were especially devastating in the Polish ghettos, where inhabitants were allowed about two-thirds the food that the starving Greeks had been receiving before the food shipments started. [113]

The Ministry of Economic Warfare and the State Department insisted that Greece was a special case. The food situation was unusually bad there. Since the country had few industries of value to the Germans, they had no incentive to feed the Greeks. Food sent to other countries, blockade authorities argued, would only free food for German use. [114]

In late 1942, despite British objections, the State Department modified the ban slightly. It permitted American relief agencies to send $12,000 worth of food parcels per month to specific addressees in Axis Europe. The plan required assurances, by returned postcards or other means, that the packages reached the intended recipients. And the food had to come from the small surpluses produced in neutral European nations. Problems in obtaining current addresses and the inflexibility of the entire arrangement kept the trickle of parcels far below the tiny limit set by the State Department. [115]

During 1943, a national campaign for feeding the starving populations of occupied Europe gained momentum in the United States. In the forefront was Howard Kershner, formerly a relief worker for the Quakers in Vichy France. Kershner's Temporary Council on Food for Europe's Children cooperated with Herbert Hoover and several humanitarian groups to publicize the issue. They were especially disturbed by the high death rate among children in occupied Europe. Along with the obvious humane concern, the advocates of feeding emphasized the practical consequences of allowing children to starve: tomorrow's democratic leaders were dying or suffering irreparable damage. Kershner and others urged the establishment of at least a small experimental program focused on children and based on the Greek example. [116]

The British government turned a deaf ear to all such proposals. But shortly before Christmas 1943, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -- spurred by Elbert Thomas, Guy Gillette, and Robert Taft -- unanimously approved a resolution calling on the administration to extend the Greek feeding plan to other populations in occupied Europe. As 1944 opened, a ground swell of support arose in the press, the labor movement, and the churches. A Gallup poll in February reported 65 percent support for feeding children in Nazi-occupied Europe. Four days later, the Senate passed the food resolution unanimously. In mid-April. the House did the same. But the campaign to send food to occupied Europe failed. The outcome was decided in London, by Winston Churchill and the Ministry of Economic Warfare. [117]

Responding to public and congressional pressure, the State Department sought British agreement to a limited program of feeding children and pregnant and nursing women in Belgium, France, Holland, and Norway. The Joint Chiefs of Staff approved it. The President supported the plan wholeheartedly and sent a personal note to Churchill asking his "most earnest consideration" of it. The response was polite but adamant. Churchill and the Ministry of Economic Warfare maintained that the blockade must not be violated. [viii] The State Department, hoping to relieve the political pressure in America, continued for almost a year to press the British to accept at least "some proposal." Nothing resulted. [118]

President Roosevelt had suggested feeding programs before. But whenever he had brought the question up, Churchill had imposed an absolute objection, insisting that nothing must hamper the war effort and that moving food through the blockade would help Germany. Yet the British made exceptions when it suited their purposes. They sup plied food to the children on the German-occupied Channel Islands (British territory near the French coast). And during 1942, sensing diplomatic advantage, they unilaterally decided to permit temporary shipments of food to Norway and Belgium. [120]

The Treasury Department had been ready by the end of 1943 to drop its previous policy against permitting food to pass through the blockade. At a staff meeting soon after the WRB was set up, Pehle summarized the new position. "We have long since passed the time," he said, when we should have begun shipping food to children. "It no longer can, in any way, interfere with the war effort,... the war is going to be decided on the military side and this won't make any difference." [121]

In its attempts to develop relief programs, the WRB moved on several fronts simultaneously. It had the crippling restrictions removed from the State Department's 1942 agreement permitting American private agencies to send $12,000 worth of food parcels per month to people trapped in Axis Europe. And to encourage neutral European nations to accept larger numbers of refugees, the board prevailed on the British to let enough food through the blockade to cover their needs. [122]

The most effective means of getting food to the ghettos and camps would have been to obtain prisoner-of-war status for the Jews in Nazi Europe. A precedent of sorts existed. The United States, Britain, and the Axis powers had an informal agreement under which their citizens who were interned in enemy countries were treated practically the same as prisoners of war were under the Geneva Convention of 1929. The arrangement included the right to receive food parcels and regular camp visitations by International Red Cross personnel. The visits and the resulting reports on camp conditions provided an important measure of protection. This arrangement was called "assimilation," for the internees wire partially assimilated to the Geneva Convention. [123]

The WRB asked the Red Cross to approach Germany concerning a similar status for the Jews. The IRC refused, explaining that such a move would "go far beyond the limits" of its traditional work and expose it to charges of intervening in Germany's internal affairs. Any loss of German goodwill, the IRC maintained, would threaten the "slender basis" for its war-related activities and thereby endanger them. Furthermore, the proposal had "no prospect of success" with the Germans. [124]

For similar reasons, the IRC was also unwilling to seek Germany's permission to distribute food to the unassimilated concentration-camp inmates. But in March 1944, it did obtain informal guarantees from individual camp commanders that they would relay food parcels to unassimilated internees and permit IRC representatives to visit the camps unofficially to verify their delivery. The IRC was satisfied that the arrangement, though unconventional, was safe. The WRB view was that "the amount of food which might fall into enemy hands could not affect the outcome of the war nor prolong it." But the British were dubious and delayed the project for months. [125]

In August, blockade authorities finally authorized, as a trial, the shipment of 300,000 food parcels. Roosevelt allotted $1,068,750 for the program from funds already appropriated by Congress for foreign war relief. Using supplies available in Switzerland, the WRB sent advance shipments of 25,000 parcels into concentration camps during August and September. Otherwise, the project continued at a snail's pace. Packaging, done in the United States, began only in October. The 300,000 parcels arrived in Europe in December. By then, the disruption of German rail systems made delivery to the camps extremely difficult. [126]

By February 1945, only 40,000 parcels had been sent into Axis territory, so the WRB decided to furnish its own transportation. William O'Dwyer, who replaced Pehle as director in January, pushed ahead with a plan to procure trucks in Switzerland to deliver the parcels to the camps and evacuate sick and old inmates on the return trips. McClelland located twenty-four trucks but could not find gasoline or tires. Intense pressure by O'Dwyer and Morgenthau persuaded the War Department to allocate fuel and tires from Army stocks in France. [127]

Meanwhile, the SS made three concessions to the International Red Cross. It was permitted to deliver food to all internees, to station delegates in all major camps to supervise the distribution, and to evacuate women, children, elderly, and ill persons from the camps. In early April, then, IRC personnel began driving WRB relief trucks from Switzerland to the concentration camps. Before Germany's surrender, the trucks carried 1,400 women, mostly French non-Jews, out to Switzerland. The presence of Red Cross representatives in the camps during the closing weeks of the war also helped prevent last-minute atrocities against inmates. [128]

Assessment of the WRB

By the end of the war, the WRB had played a crucial role in saving approximately 200,000 Jews. About 15,000 were evacuated from Axis territory (as were more than 20,000 non-Jews). At least 10,000, and probably thousands more, were protected within Axis Europe by WRB-financed underground activities and by the board's steps to safeguard holders of Latin American passports. WRB diplomatic pressures, backed by its program of psychological warfare, were instrumental in seeing the 48,000 Jews in Transnistria moved to safe areas of Rumania. Similar pressures helped end the Hungarian deportations. Ultimately, 120,000 Jews survived in Budapest. [129]

The results of other WRB programs, though they unquestionably contributed to the survival of thousands more, can never be quantified, even roughly. These actions include the war-crimes warnings and the shipment of thousands of food parcels into concentration camps in the last months of the war. Furthermore, news that the United States had at last embarked upon rescue must have encouraged many Jews and reinforced their determination to outlast the Nazis if at all possible. [130]

On the other hand, numerous WRB plans that might have succeeded collapsed because the rest of the government did not provide the cooperation legally required of it by Executive Order 9417. Nor could the board wield the diplomatic influence that was needed; its approaches to foreign governments and international organizations always had to be filtered through the basically negative State Department. Moreover, the President took little interest in the board and never moved to strengthen it. And it was always hobbled by the government's failure to fund it properly.

The shortcomings in the WRB's record must not, however, be allowed to overshadow the significance of its achievements. Despite many difficulties and Germany's determination to exterminate the Jews, the board helped save tens of thousands of lives. As leaders of the private agencies remarked, the WRB staff acted with "enormous drive and energy" and "a fervent sense of desire to get something accomplished." Their dedication broke America's indifference to the destruction of European Jewry, thereby helping to salvage, in some degree, the nation's conscience. After considerable reflection, Roswell McClelland concluded that the board's successes, though limited, had added "a measure of particularly precious strength" to the Allied cause. [ix] [131]

In one respect, through a miscalculation, the WRB hampered its own work. The rapid Allied advance across France in summer 1944 set off a chain of predictions by responsible military and civilian leaders that the war with Germany would end very soon, probably by October and almost certainly by Christmas. Accordingly, in September the board began making plans to wind down its affairs. In late November, at Morgenthau's suggestion, Pehle took over the Treasury's Procurement Division, the unit responsible for disposing of surplus military property. [133]

Pehle continued to work part-time with the board, but by early January 1945 negative public reaction was building and Jewish organizations were complaining that he was not giving enough time to the WRB. It was evident that a full-time director was needed. Morgenthau and Pehle arranged through McCloy for the Army to release Brigadier General William O'Dwyer for the post. On January 27, O'Dwyer stepped in. [134]

O'Dwyer had risen to fame in 1941 when, as district attorney for Kings County, New York, he had rooted out "Murder, Inc.," a kill-for-hire gang. That same year, he challenged Fiorello La Guardia in the New York mayoralty race, but lost. He entered the Army in 1942 and two years later, as head of the economic section of the Allied military government in Italy, dealt effectively with problems of high mortality, hunger, and bad public-health conditions. While in the Army, he won uncontested reelection as Kings County district attorney. [135]

With his drive, his connections in the military, and his concern for suffering people, O'Dwyer was ideal for the WRB job. But, to the dismay of Morgenthau and Pehle, he spent only three days a week in Washington. His main base, and the source of his income, was the Kings County district attorney's office. (He accepted no salary from the WRB.) When he was available, O'Dwyer showed a quick, sure grasp of rescue problems and a capacity for forceful action. But his potential for rescue work was not realized, because he applied only a fraction of his time and talents to it. [136]

By early March, Morgenthau and Peble had concluded that O'Dwyer had taken the WRB post as a route out of the Army and into the race for mayor of New York. Soon afterward, O'Dwyer asked Morgenthau to let him get away for a time. The board's work was under control, he explained, and constant hounding by political reporters "is getting me down." At Roosevelt's request, O'Dwyer gave up that plan, but he contributed little more to the WRB. At the end of May, with the war over in Europe, he left the board. [137]

In the last analysis, the WRB's greatest weakness was that it came into existence so late. Virtually everyone close to the rescue issue thought the board could have achieved far more if it had been formed a year, or even several months, earlier. Looking back at the board's work decades afterward, the two people who were most closely involved with it stressed the costliness of the late start. Josiah DuBois believed that the WRB "did a fair amount," but he emphasized that "by that time it was too damned late to do too much." In John Pehle's view, "What we did was little enough. It was late.... Late and little, I would say." [138]



[i] Forty-one of the refugees (including twelve women) asked to join the American armed forces, but the War Department ruled them ineligible because of the arrangements under which they were in the United States. [57]

[ii] Other problems included an unusually severe and snowy winter (even for that area), worsened by uneven heating; the tension of being surrounded by freedom, close enough to touch it, yet not free; uncertainty about the future; eagerness to obtain employment, become self-supporting, and begin to rebuild interrupted lives; emotional damage caused by recent European experiences, including, for many, the deaths of close relatives; and too much time available to dwell on anxieties and brood over past tragedies. [66]

[iii] In a discussion with Morgenthau, O'Dwyer assessed the Fort Ontario situation in this way:

Well, anybody that would be satisfied to spend six hours in the town of Oswego in the middle of winter hasn't had much fun out of life. They are strange people; it is a strange town; it is in the middle of winter. They are looking at a fence all day long, worrying about what is going to happen. They have no hope. Naturally you are going to have some of them go insane. It has actually occurred and it is expected to increase. [72]

[iv]  A sixty-year-old woman from Vienna and her husband, who died in Italy in 1942, had sent their two sons to the United States in 1938. Both were now overseas with the American Army. Their wives, who lived in California, wanted to take their mother-in-law in. Would she instead be sent back to Austria? Another refugee, in flight from the Nazis, had been separated from his wife and lost track of her. He managed to reach the United States. In 1944, he learned that she had come with the group at Fort Ontario. Now she faced return to Europe. Many others at the shelter confronted similarly anguishing prospects."

[v] During the preparations for departure, several refugees went through a final rush of insecurities, some connected with relocation assignments. A few who were headed for Chicago worried about stories that gangsters roamed the city. An older person bound for relatives in Kansas City considered backing out. Others in the camp had warned that the streets were full of cowboys and frontier violence. One man agreed to relocate his family in Providence, R.I. The next day his wife appeared at the placement worker's desk to complain: "My husband, the Shlemiel, he had to be the one to choose the smallest state in America." [86]

[vi] Many in Oswego resented the way the fort had been used since its well-liked peace- time garrison had departed after the outbreak of the war, First came black troops, then illiterate soldiers sent for training. A few months after they left, the refugees arrived. Many townspeople angrily felt that Fort Ontario had become "a dumping ground for  the unwanted." They had endured the "niggers and the morons," they complained, only to be afflicted with the Jews."

[vii] The Fort Ontario experience also brought out, time and again, the strong anti-immigration  attitudes prevalent in Congress. Most members of Congress refrained from openly voicing anti-Semitic views. But it was well understood that congressional concern centered chiefly on Jewish immigration."

[viii] At almost the same time, curiously enough, Eleanor Roosevelt defended the blockade policy in her "My Day" column. Commenting on the issue of feeding European children, she wrote, "This is a war question and one which the Allied Military Committee must decide.... Only the military authorities can determine whether feeding them today will mean a longer war.... War is a ruthless business. It cannot be conducted along humanitarian lines." [119]

[ix] Most who were in touch with the rescue situation acknowledged the importance of  the WRB's achievements. But not everyone agreed. Bruce Mohler, a leader of the National Catholic Welfare Conference's Bureau of Immigration, wrote to his associate, T. F. Mulholland: "We have never seen any worthwhile results from that operation and in fact felt that it was not necessary when established in January 1944. No doubt plenty of money was wasted in the operation." Mulholland agreed, pronouncing the board's performance "wholly non-productive." [132]
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Re: The Abandonment of the Jews: American and the Holocaust,

Postby admin » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:19 pm


A recurring question since World War II has been why the United States rejected requests to bomb the gas chambers and crematoria at Auschwitz and the railroads leading to Auschwitz.

Such requests began to be numerous in spring 1944. At that time, three circumstances combined to make bombing the Auschwitz death machinery and the railways leading to it from Hungary critically important and militarily possible. In mid-April, the Nazis started concentrating the Jews of Hungary for deportation to Auschwitz. Late in April, two escapees from Auschwitz revealed full details of the mass murder taking place there, thus laying bare the fate awaiting the Hungarian Jews. And by May the American Fifteenth Air Force, which had been operating from southern Italy since December 1943, reached full strength and started pounding Axis industrial complexes in Central and East Central Europe. For the first time, Allied bombers could strike Auschwitz, located in the southwestern corner of Poland. The rail-lines to Auschwitz from Hungary were also within range. [1]

The two escapees were young Slovak Jews, Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler, who fled on April 10, 1944. Toward the end of April, they reached the Jewish underground in Slovakia and sounded the alarm that preparations were under way at Auschwitz for exterminating the Hungarian Jews. They dictated a thirty-page report on what they had learned about the killing center during their two years there. It detailed the camp's geographical layout, internal conditions, and gassing and cremation techniques, and offered a statistical record of the months of systematic slaughter. The thoroughness that characterized the report is seen in this passage describing the operation of one of the four large gas chambers:

It holds 2,000 people.... When everybody is inside, the heavy doors are closed. Then there is a short pause, presumably to allow the room temperature to rise to a certain level, after which SS men with gas masks climb on the roof, open the traps, and shake down a preparation in powder form out of tin cans, .. . a "cyanide" mixture of some sort which turns into gas at a certain temperature. After three minutes everyone in the chamber is dead. . . . The chamber is then opened, aired, and the "special squad" [of slave laborers] carts the bodies on flat trucks to the furnace rooms where the burning takes place. [2]

A copy of the Vrba-Wetzler statement, dispatched to the Hungarian Jewish leadership, was in Budapest by early May. By mid-June, the report had reached Switzerland, where it was passed to Roswell McClelland of the War Refugee Board. He found it consistent with earlier information that had filtered out concerning Auschwitz. It was further corroborated by the disclosures of a non-Jewish Polish military officer who had also recently escaped from the camp. [3]

During June, this information spread to the Allied governments and began to appear in the Swiss, British, and American press. By late June, then, the truth about Auschwitz, along with descriptions of its geographical location and layout, was known to the outside world. [4]

In mid-May, as deportation from the eastern provinces of Hungary started, Jewish leaders in Budapest sent out a plea for bombing the rail route to Poland. The message specified the junction cities of Kosice (Kassa) and Presov and the single-track rail line between them. It added that Kosice was also a main junction for Axis military transportation. Dispatched via the Jewish underground in Bratislava, Slovakia, the request was telegraphed in code to Isaac Sternbuch, the Vaad Hahatzala representative in Switzerland. It reached him about May 17. [5]

Sternbuch rewrote the telegram for transmission to the Union of Orthodox Rabbis in New York and submitted it to the military attache of the American legation in Bern, requesting that it be telegraphed to the United States through diplomatic lines. A week later a similar, but more urgent, telegram arrived from Bratislava. That appeal also went to the military attache for delivery to New York. Additional pleas came, and Sternbuch relayed them to the American legation. Yet, by June 22, he had received neither reply nor acknowledgment from New York. For unknown reasons, the messages had been blocked, either in Bern or in Washington. [6]

In Jerusalem, Jewish leaders had received appeals similar to those that had reached Sternbuch. On June 2, Yitzchak Gruenbaum, chairman of the Jewish Agency's rescue committee, arranged through the American consul general in Jerusalem to telegraph a message to the War Refugee Board in Washington. His request for bombing the deportation railroads reached the WRB, but nothing came of it. [7]

Meanwhile, during the third week of May, Rabbi Michael Weissmandel and Mrs. Gisi Fleischmann, leaders of the Slovak Jewish underground, wrote a long letter pleading with the outside world for help. They described the first deportations from Hungary and stressed the fate awaiting the deportees on their arrival at Auschwitz. Their message appealed for immediate bombing of the main deportation routes, especially the Kosice-Presov railway. The two also cried to the outside world to "bombard the death halls in Auschwitz." Writing in anguish, they asked, "And you, our brothers in all free countries; and you, governments of all free lands, where are you? What are you doing to hinder the carnage that is now going on?" Smuggled out of Slovakia, the plea, accompanied by copies of the Auschwitz escapees' reports, reached Switzerland, but not until late June. [8]

Some days earlier, about June 13, other copies of the escapees' reports had come via the Slovak underground to Jaromir Kopecky, a Czechoslovak diplomat in Geneva. He immediately showed them to Gerhart Riegner of the World Jewish Congress. Riegner summarized them for delivery to the American and British governments and the Czech exile government in London. To the summaries, Kopecky and Riegner added appeals for bombing the gas chambers and the rail lines from Hungary to Auschwitz. [9]

Shortly afterward, one of Sternbuch's pleas for railway bombing, transmitted illegally through Polish diplomatic channels, circumvented American censorship and broke through to American Jewish circles. On June 18, Jacob Rosenheim of the New York office of Agudath Israel World Organization addressed letters to high American government officials, informing them of the ongoing deportations. He submitted that paralysis of the rail traffic from Hungary to Poland could at least slow the annihilation process, and implored them to take immediate action to bomb the rail junctions of Koske and Presov. [10]

Rosenheim's appeals were relayed to the WRB. On June 21, Pehle transmitted the request to the War Department. Three days later, he discussed it with McCloy. Pehle himself expressed doubts about the proposal, but asked that the War Department explore the idea. McCloy agreed to look into it. [11]

In fact, the War Department had started to process the matter the day before, and on Saturday afternoon, June 24, it arrived at the Operations Division (OPD), the arm of the War Department charged with strategic planning and direction of operations. On Monday, OPD ruled against the proposed bombing, stating that the suggestion was "impracticable" because "it could be executed only by diversion of considerable air support essential to the success of our forces now engaged in decisive operations." Actually, the decision was not based on any anal ysis of current Air Force operations. The War Department did not consult Air Force commanders in Europe. Rather, the rejection was based on a confidential War Department policy determined in Washington nearly five months before. [12]

In late January 1944, in one of its first steps, the WRB had requested British help in carrying out its program of rescue. The British government was reluctant to cooperate, partly because the presence of the secretary of war on the board implied that the armed forces would be used in rescuing refugees. The War Department, moving to reassure the British on this count, set down the following policy:

It is not contemplated that units of the armed forces will be employed for the purpose of rescuing victims of enemy oppression unless such rescues are the direct result of military operations conducted with the objective of defeating the armed forces of the enemy.

This policy effectively removed the War Department from participation in rescue efforts, except as they might arise incidental to regularly planned military operations. [13]

Another of the WRB's earliest moves was to try to arrange for a degree of cooperation from U.S. military commanders in the war theaters. In late January 1944, the board proposed through McCloy that the War Department send a message to war-theater commanders instructing them to do what was possible, consistent with the successful prosecution of the war, to assist the government's policy of rescue. [14]

Although such cooperation was specifically mandated by the executive order that established the WRB, the military leadership in Washington balked at dispatching the message. McCloy referred the proposal to the Office of the Chief of Staff after jotting on it, "I am very chary of getting the Army involved in this while the war is on." The War Department's decision crystallized in February in an internal memorandum that maintained:

We must constantly bear in mind, however, that the most effective relief which can be given victims of enemy persecution is to insure the speedy defeat of the Axis.

In concrete terms, this meant that the military had decided to avoid rescue or relief activities. [i] [15]

In late June, when the Operations Division received Rosenheim's proposal to bomb rail points between Hungary and Auschwitz, it drew these two earlier pronouncements from the files and used them as the basis for its decision:

The War Department is of the opinion that the suggested air operation is impracticable for the reason that it could be executed only by diversion of considerable air support essential to the success of our forces now engaged in decisive operations.

The War Department fully appreciates the humanitarian importance of the suggested operation. However, after due consideration of the problem, it is considered that the most effective relief to victims of enemy persecution is the early defeat of the Axis, an undertaking to which we must devote every resource at our disposal. [17]

Thus two confidential policy statements, generated several months earlier, were used to rule out the proposal to bomb the Kosice-Presov railroad. That decision then served as a precedent for rejecting all subsequent requests. The War Department simply claimed it had already considered such operations and found them infeasible.

Back in February, while forming its basic policy on rescue, the War Department had knowingly set aside the executive order that established the War Refugee Board. The record of a crucial meeting of middle-level War Department officials shows that Colonel Harrison Gerhardt, McCloy's executive assistant, advised Colonel Thomas Davis of OPD's Logistics Group to "read from the executive order, in which it is stated that the War, State and Treasury Departments will cooperate to the fullest extent." Davis responded, "I cannot see why the Army has anything to do with it whatsoever." Later in the meeting, he in sisted, "We are over there to win the war and not to take care of refugees." Gerhardt replied, "The President doesn't think so. He thinks relief is a part of winning the war." At the end of the discussion, Davis crystallized the problem and its solution:

The hook in the executive order is in paragraph 3 [the section that charged the War, State, and Treasury departments with executing WRB programs]. Obviously there will be continuing pressure from some quarters to enlarge the sphere of this thing. I think that we should make our position fairly inelastic.

Davis's view prevailed. [18]

In fact, the position of the military had been inelastic all along. When the Bermuda Conference had originally recommended a refugee camp in North Africa, the War Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff had resisted the plan, largely because they thought it might lead to more such requests. They claimed that shipping could not be spared, food supplies in North Africa were inadequate, and an influx of Jews might anger the Arab population and "necessitate military action to maintain order." Yet General Eisenhower, who was on the scene, saw no problem about keeping order; and at that very time the Allies were trans· porting thousands of non-Jewish refugees to camps in Africa and providing for them there. [19]

Months later, the Allied invasion of Italy opened new opportunities to rescue Jews; but again the military was negative. In fall 1943, Yugo slav partisans freed 4,000 people, mostly Jews, from Nazi internment and moved them to the Adriatic island of Rab. Because the Germans seemed likely to capture the island, the State Department, at the request of the World Jewish Congress, asked the military to help get the refugees to Italy. The Joint Chiefs of Staff replied that Allied forces in Italy were already overloaded with refugees to care for and action to aid those on Rab "might create a precedent which would lead to other demands and an influx of additional refugees." [20]

Even the State Department was taken aback. Stettinius warned Hull that if the response to the Rab situation accurately reflected military policy, the United States might as well "shut up shop" on the effort to rescue any more people from Axis Europe. He thought the President should inform the military that rescue was "extremely important ... in fact sufficiently important to require unusual effort on their part and to be set aside only for important military operational reasons. [ii] [21]

No such thing happened. Soon afterward, the War Refugee Board was formed and, as has already been noted, the War Department unilaterally decided against involving the military in rescue. It was this policy -- never disclosed to the WRB -- that extinguished Rosenheim's plea for railroad bombing.

Before McCloy could advise Pehle of the decision on Rosenbeim's proposal, another request reached the WRB. A cablegram from McClelland on June 24 summarized the information that had arrived in Switzerland concerning the Hungarian deportations. It also listed the five main railroad deportation routes and pointed out:

It is urged by all sources of this information in Slovakia and Hungary that vital sections of these lines especially bridges along ONE [the Csap, Kosice, Presov route] be bombed as the only possible means of slowing down or stopping future deportations. [23]

Pehle, not aware that the War Department had already ruled against Rosenheim's request, relayed McClelland's cablegram to McCloy on June 29, along with a note emphasizing its reference to bombing deportation railroads. The chance for approval of a proposal to bomb five rail systems was minute; indeed, it received no separate consideration. Gerhardt, McCloy's executive assistant, drafted a response to Pehle and forwarded it, with McClelland's cablegram and Pehle's covering note, to his chief. He also included this two-sentence memorandum:

I know you told me to "kill" this but since those instructions, we have received the attached letter from Mr. Pehle.

I suggest that the attached reply be sent.

The reply simply adapted the Operations Division's language rejecting the earlier Rosenheim proposal to fit the new, expanded bombing request. McCloy signed it on July 4. [24]

Calls for bombing the deportation rail lines continued to come to Washington. But starting early in July, appeals for Air Force action to impede the mass murders increasingly centered on destruction of the Auschwitz gas chambers. Even before the first of these proposals reached Washington, Benjamin Akzin of the WRB staff was arguing for strikes on Auschwitz. He held that destruction of the killing installations would, at least for a time, appreciably slow the slaughter. He also pointed out that Auschwitz could be bombed in conjunction with an attack on Katowice, an important industrial center only seventeen miles from the death camp. [25]

Shortly afterward, the London-based Czech government forwarded to Washington the summary of the Vrba-Wetzler report that Riegner and Kopecky had sent out of Switzerland two weeks before. Riegner and Kopecky's accompanying plea for bombing the Auschwitz gas chambers stimulated further WRB discussion of that possibility. By mid-July, Pehle and the board decided to press the military on the question. But a careful plan to do so apparently went awry, for no formal approach took place, though Pehle and McCloy did discuss the issue sometime during the summer of 1944. That conversation must have dampened Pehle's interest in the project, because he informed Morgenthau in September that the board had decided not to refer the proposal to the War Department. [26]

Late in July, the Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe wrote President Roosevelt calling for bombing the deportation railways and the gas chambers. The letter emphasized that the railroads were also used for military traffic and that an attack on Auschwitz could open the way for inmates to escape and join the resistance forces. Both proposed actions would thus assist, not hamper, the war effort. Nothing at all came of this overture. [iii] [27]

The next proposal issued from the World Jewish Congress in New York and went directly to the War Department. On August 9, A. Leon Kubowitzki sent McCloy a message recently received from Ernest Frischer, a member of the Czech government-in-exile. It called for bombing the Auschwitz gas chambers and crematoria to halt the mass killings. It also proposed bombing the railways. [29]

The reply, drawn up in McCloy's office and approved by Gerhardt, was dated August 14. It followed a familiar pattern:

Dear Mr. Kubowitzki:

I refer to your letter of August 9 in which you request consideration of a proposal made by Mr. Ernest Frischer that certain installations and railroad centers be bombed.

The War Department has been approached by the War Refugee Board, which raised the question of the" practicability of this suggestion. After a study it became apparent that such an operation could be executed only by the diversion of considerable air support essential to the success of our forces now engaged in decisive operations elsewhere and would in any case be of such doubtful efficacy that it would not warrant the use of our resources. There has been considerable opinion to the effect that such an effort, even if practicable, might provoke even more vindictive action by the Germans.

The War Department fully appreciates the humanitarian motives which prompted the suggested operation, but for the reasons stated above, it has not been felt that it can or should be undertaken, at least at this time.

John J. McCloy [30]

In early September, pressure built once more for bombing the railroads, this time the lines between Auschwitz and Budapest, where the last large enclave of Hungarian Jews was threatened with deportation. Entreaties came from Vaad Hahatzala, the Orthodox rescue committee. Rabbi Abraham Kalmanowitz, anxious for the appeal to reach the WRB as soon as possible, telephoned Benjamin Akzin, even· though it was the Sabbath. Kalmanowitz offered to travel to Washington immediately. When Akzin relayed the plea to Pehle, he took the opportunity to spell out, in polite terms, his dissatisfaction with the War Department's in action regarding the bombing requests. He maintained that the WRB had been "created precisely in order to overcome the inertia and -- in some cases -- the insufficient interest of the old-established agencies" concerning the rescue of Jews. Pointing to the Allies' current air superiority, he pressed for a direct approach to the President to seek orders for immediate bombing of the deportation rail lines. But the board did not move on the appeal. [31]

On the other crucial bombing issue, the question of air strikes on Auschwitz, the WRB did act, but with hesitation. Near the end of September, members of the Polish exile government and British Jewish groups came to James Mann, the WRB representative in London, with information that the Nazis were increasing the pace of extermination. They urged the board to explore again the possibility of bombing the killing chambers. Mann cabled their plea to Washington. Other messages then reaching the board were reporting Nazi threats to exterminate thousands of camp inmates as the Germans were forced back across Poland by the Red Army. Pehle decided to raise the issue once more, though not forcibly. He transmitted the substance of Mann's dispatch to McCloy "for such consideration as it may be worth." [32]

McCloy's office thought it worth too little consideration to trouble the Operations Division with it, or even to write a reply to the WRB. Gerhardt recommended that "no action be taken on this, since the matter has been fully presented several times previously." [33]

McCloy let the recommendation stand, and the matter was dropped. Meanwhile, Mann's dispatch had independently caught the attention of the Operations Division, which discussed it briefly with the Air Force Operational Plans Division. The Air Force radioed a message to England to General Carl Spaatz, commander in chief of the U.S. Strategic Air Forces in Europe. It asked him to consult Mann's original dispatch and informed him that "this is entirely your affair," but pointedly advised that military necessity was the basic requirement. The next day, Spootz's headquarters turned the proposal down. [34]

The last attempt to persuade the War Department to bomb Auschwitz came in November. The full text of the Auschwitz escapees' reports finally reached Washington on November 1. The detailed chronicle of horror jolted the board. Shocked, Pehle wrote a strong letter to McCloy urging destruction of the killing installations. He also pointed out the military advantages in simultaneously bombing industrial sites at Auschwitz. [35]

Peble's appeal went from McCloy's office to the Operations Division. It rejected the proposal on the grounds that air power should not be diverted from vital "industrial target systems" and Auschwitz was "not a part of these target systems." In reality, Auschwitz was definitely a part of those target systems. OPD was either uninformed or untruthful. [36]

OPD also explained that destruction of the killing facilities would require heavy bombers, or medium bombers, or low-flying or dive-bombing airplanes. It then made two misleading statements which indicated that the mission was either technically impossible or inordinately risky:

The target [Auschwitz] is beyond the maximum range of medium bombardment, dive bombers and fighter bombers located in United Kingdom, France or Italy.

Use of heavy bombardment from United Kingdom bases would necessitate a round trip flight unescorted of approximately 2000 miles over enemy territory.

The first statement was inaccurate; Mitchell medium bombers and Lightning dive-bombers had sufficient range to strike Auschwitz from Italy, as did British Mosquito fighter-bombers. The second statement was apparently an attempt to muddle the issue. Why else omit the airfields in Italy? Heavy bombers flying from Italy could reach Auschwitz with no unusual difficulties. The bases in the United Kingdom, however, were substantially farther from Auschwitz and not relevant to the mission under consideration. [37]

No further requests were made for bombing Auschwitz or the rail lines to it. Unknown to the outside world, Himmler in late November ordered the killing machinery destroyed. On January 27, 1945, the Russian army captured the camp. [38]

Thus the proposals to bomb Auschwitz and the rail lines leading to it were consistently turned down by the War Department. The chief military reason given was that such proposals were "impracticable" because they would require the "diversion of considerable air support essential to the success of our forces now engaged in decisive operations elsewhere." Was this reason valid? The answer is no.

From March 1944 on, the Allies controlled the skies of Europe. Official U.S. Air Force historians have stated that "by 1 April 1944 the GAF [German air force] was a defeated force." Allied air power had "wrecked Hitler's fighter [plane] force by the spring of 1944. After this ... U.S. bombers were never deterred from bombing a target because of probable losses." [39]

From early May on, the Fifteenth Air Force, based in Italy, had the range and capability to strike the relevant targets. In fact, during the same late June days that the War Department was refusing the first requests to bomb railways, a fleet of Fifteenth Air Force bombers was waiting for proper flying conditions to attack oil refineries near Auschwitz. This mission, which took place on July 7, saw 452 bombers travel along and across two of the five deportation railroads. On June 26, 71 Flying Fortresses on another bombing run passed by the other three railroads, crossing one and flying within thirty miles of the other two. [40]

As for Auschwitz, as early as January 1944, Allied bombing strategists were analyzing it as a potential target because of the synthetic oil and rubber installations connected to the camp. Two months later, the huge Blechhammer oil-refining complex, forty-seven miles from Auschwitz, came under careful study. Then, in late April, U.S. Strategic Air Force headquarters in England wrote to General Ira C. Eaker, commander of Allied air forces in Italy, inquiring about the feasibility of a Fifteenth Air Force attack on Blechhammer. Eaker replied on May 8 that not only were strikes on Blechhammer possible, but war industries at Auschwitz and Odertal "might also be attacked simultaneously." [41]

By May 1944, the Fifteenth Air Force had indeed turned its primary attention to oil targets. Throughout the summer, as their involvement with the invasion of France lessened, the British-based U.S. Eighth Air Force and the Royal Air Force increasingly joined the Fifteenth in fighting the "oil war." Most observers, then and now, have agreed that the high attention given to oil in 1944 and 1945 was one of the most decisive factors in Germany's defeat. Loss of oil gradually strangled the Third Reich's military operations. [42]

In late June, the "oil war" was about to move into Upper Silesia, where Germany had created a major synthetic-oil industry based on the vast Silesian coal resources. Eight important oil plants were clustered there within a rough half-circle, thirty-five miles in radius, with Auschwitz near the northeast end of the arc and Blechhammer near the northwest. Blechhammer was the main target-fleets of from 102 to 357 heavy bombers hit it on ten occasions between July 7 and November 20 -- but it was not the only one. All eight plants shook under the impact of tons of high explosives. Among them was the industrial section of Auschwitz itself. [43]

On Sunday, August 20, late in the morning, 127 Flying Fortresses, escorted by 100 Mustang fighters, dropped 1,336 500-pound high-explosive bombs on the factory areas of Auschwitz, less than five miles to the east of the gas chambers. Conditions were nearly ideal for accurate visual bombing. The weather was excellent. Anti-aircraft fire and the 19 German fighter planes there were ineffective. Only one American bomber went down; no Mustangs were hit. All five bomber groups reported success in striking the target area. [44]

Again, on September 13, a force of heavy bombers rained destruction on the factory areas of Auschwitz. The 96 Liberators encountered no German aircraft, but ground fire was heavy and brought three of them down. As before, no attempt was made to strike the killing installations, though two stray bombs hit nearby. One of them damaged the rail spur leading to the gas chambers. [iv] [45]

On December 18 and also on December 26, American bombers again pounded the Auschwitz industries. [47]

Beginning in early July, then, air strikes in the area were extensive. For example, two days after the first raid on Auschwitz, 261 Flying Fortresses and Liberators bombed the Blechhammer and Odertal oil refineries. Many of them passed within forty miles of Auschwitz soon after leaving their targets. On August 27, another 350 heavy bombers struck Blechhammer. Two days after that, 218 hit Moravska Ostrava and Oderberg (Bohumin), both within forty-five miles of Auschwitz. Not long before, on August 7, heavy bombers had carried our attacks on both sides of Auschwitz on the same day: 357 had bombed Blechhammer, and 55 had hit Trzebinia, only thirteen miles northeast of Auschwitz. [48]

It would be no exaggeration, therefore, to characterize the area around Auschwitz, including Auschwitz itself, as a hotbed of American bombing activity from August 7 to August 29. Yet, on August 14, the War Department could write that bombing Auschwitz would be possible only by diversion of airpower from "decisive operations elsewhere."

Bur a further question remains: Would the proposed bombing raids have been, as the War Department maintained, of "doubtful efficacy"?

In the case of railroad lines, the answer is not clear-cut. Railroad bombing had its problems and was the subject of long-lasting disputes within the Allied military. Successful cutting of railways necessitated close observation of the severed lines and frequent rebombing, since repairs rook only a few days. Even bridges, which were costly to hit, were often back in operation in three or four days. [49]

Nonetheless, bridge bombing was pressed throughout the war. And bombing of both rail lines and railroad bridges constituted a significant part of the Fifteenth Air Force's efforts, especially during September and October 1944, when it assisted the Russian advance into Hungary by cutting and recutting railways running from Budapest to the southeastern front. Railroad bombing could be very effective, then, for targets assigned a continuing commitment of airpower. But in the midst of the war, no one expected diversion of that kind of military force for rescue purposes. [50]

It might also be argued that railroad bombing would not have helped after July 8, 1944 -- the day on which the last mass deportations from Hungary to Auschwitz took place. The argument is convincing with regard to the three deportation railways farthest from Budapest, because most Jews outside the capital were gone by then. But more than 200,000 Jews remained in Budapest. And they faced constant danger because the transports to Auschwitz might be resumed. This threat meant that the other two deportation railways, which would have been used to carry Jews from Budapest to Auschwitz, remained critically important.

Deportation of the Budapest Jews would have taken roughly three weeks, in addition to several days of preparations. An alarm would have reached the outside world in time for cuts in those railroads to have been of s0lll" help, even if the bombing had to be sporadic. In this situation, the United States could readily have demonstrated concern for the Jews. Without risking more than minute cost to the war effort, the War Department could have agreed to stand ready, if deportations had resumed, to spare some bomb tonnage for those two railroads, provided bombers were already scheduled to fly near them on regular war missions. As it happened, on ten different days from July through October, a total of 2,700 bombers traveled along or within easy reach of both rail lines on the way to targets in the Blechhammer-Auschwitz region. [51]

In fact, deportations from Budapest appeared imminent in late August, and another appeal for railroad bombing was sent to Washington through Sternbuch in Switzerland. On September 13, the answer came back to Bern: the War Department considered the operation impossible. Yet on that very day, 324 American heavy bombers flew from Italy to the Silesian targets. En route, they passed within six miles of one of the railways. On the way back, they rendezvoused directly above the other. As they regrouped, some of them dropped leftover bombs on the freight yard below and cut the main rail line. [52]

While the ending of mass deportations from Hungary on July 8 has some bearing on the question of railroad bombing, it has little relevance to the issue of bombing Auschwitz. There is no doubt that destruction of the gas chambers and crematoria would have saved many lives. Mass murder continued at Auschwitz until the gas chambers closed down in November. Throughout the summer and fall, transports kept coming from many parts of Europe, carrying tens of thousands of Jews to their deaths. [53]

Could the death factories have been located from the air? The four huge gassing-cremation installations stood in two pairs, spaced along the westernmost edge of the Auschwitz complex, just outside the Birkenau section of the camp. Two of the extermination buildings were 340 feet long, the others two-thirds that length. Chimneys towered over them. Descriptions of the structures and of the camp's layout, supplied by escapees, were in Washington by early July 1944. Beginning in April 1944, detailed aerial reconnaissance photographs of Auschwitz-Birkenau were available at Air Force headquarters in Italy. [v] [54]

Could aerial bombing have been precise enough to knock out the mass-murder buildings? Definitely yes. The main obstacles to accurate bombing were clouds, smoke, extreme altitudes, enemy fighter opposition, and flak. [56]

Weather conditions in the Auschwitz region were excellent for air operations throughout August and most of September; October was a time of poor weather. The August attack on Auschwitz ran into no smoke screening. The September strike encountered some. But because the industrial area was five miles from the killing installations, it is unlikely the latter would have been enveloped in smoke anyway. (It was not during the September raid.) Unusually high altitude flight was not a problem; the missions into Upper Silesia operated at normal bombing altitudes. Enemy fighter opposition was negligible. Flak resistance at Auschwitz was moderate and ineffective on August 20, but intense and accurate on September 13. [57]

In sum, the only real obstacle to precision bombing of the death machinery would have been flak. Auschwitz had little flak defense until after the August raid. Only then were heavy guns added. In any case, the most likely operation would have combined a strike on the gas chambers with a regular attack on the industries. In that situation, the German guns would have concentrated on the aircraft over the factory area, five miles away from the planes assigned to the death installations. [58]

One procedure would have been to arrange for some of the heavy bombers on one of the large Auschwitz strikes to swing over to the Birkenau side and blast the killing facilities. Heavy bombers flying at their normal altitude of 20,000 to 26,000 feet could have destroyed the buildings. But complete accuracy was rarely possible from such heights. Some of the bombs probably would have struck nearby Birkenau, itself a heavily populated concentration camp. [vi]

Heavy bombers were not, however, the only choice. A small number of Mitchell medium bombers, which hit with surer accuracy from lower altitudes, could have flown with one of the missions to Auschwitz. The Mitchell had sufficient range to attack Auschwitz, since refueling was available on the Adriatic island of Vis, 110 miles closer than home base back in Italy. [60]

An even more precise alternative would have been dive-bombing. A few Lightning (P-38) dive-bombers could have knocked out the murder buildings without danger to the inmates at Birkenau. P-38's proved they were capable of such a distant assignment on June 10, 1944, when they dive-bombed oil refineries at Ploesti, making a 1,255-mile round trip from their bases in Italy. The distance to Auschwitz and back was 1,240 miles, and stopping at Vis shortened that to 1,130. Furthermore, in an emergency, Lightnings returning from Auschwitz could have landed at partisan-held airfields in Yugoslavia. [vii] [61]

The most effective means of all for destroying the killing installations would have been to dispatch about twenty British Mosquitoes to Auschwitz, a project that should have been possible to arrange with the RAF. This fast fighter-bomber had ample range for the mission, and its technique of bombing at very low altitudes had proven extremely precise. In February 1944, for instance, nineteen Mosquitoes set out to break open a prison at Amiens to free members of the French resistance held there for execution. The first two waves of the attack struck with such accuracy, smashing the main wall and shattering the guardhouses, that the last six planes did not bomb. [63]

Mosquitoes knocked out individual buildings on numerous occasians. Gestapo records centers were frequent targets, as in an April 1944 mission to The Hague. Six Mosquitoes, flying at fifty feet, blew up the structure and the German barracks behind it. In his November appeal for bombing the Auschwitz murder buildings, Pehle pointed out the similarity to the Amiens mission. But the War Department denied that any parallel existed. Actually, the Amiens attack required greater precision. And in order to strike before the executions took place, it had to be carried out in very bad winter weather. [64]

Opportunities for bombing the gas chambers were not limited to the August 20 and September 13 raids on Auschwitz. Aircraft assigned to smash the death factory could have flown with any of the many missions to the nearby Silesian targets. Auschwitz could also have been scheduled as an alternative objective when poor bombing conditions were encountered at other targets. [65]

If the killing installations had been destroyed at this stage of the war, it would have been practically impossible for the hard-pressed Germans to rebuild them. At the very least, the death machinery could not have operated for many months. (The original construction, carried out in a time of more readily available labor, transportation, and materials, had taken eight months.) [66]

Without gas chambers and crematoria, the Nazis would have been forced to reassess the extermination program in light of the need to commit new and virtually nonexistent manpower resources to mass killing. Gas was a far more efficient means of mass murder than shooting, and it caused much less of a psychological problem to the killers. Operation of the gas chambers, which killed 2,000 people in less than half an hour, required only a limited number of SS men. Killing tens of thousands by gunfire would have tied down a military force. The Nazis would also have again faced the body-disposal problem, an obstacle that had caused serious difficulty until the huge crematoria were built. [67]

Available figures indicate that 100,000 Jews were gassed at Auschwitz in the weeks after the August 20 air raid on the camp's industrial sector. If the date is set back to July 7, the time of the first attack on Blechhammer, the number increases by some 50,000. Requests for bombing Auschwitz did not arrive in Washington until July. If, instead, the earliest pleas for bombing the gas chambers had moved swiftly to the United States, and if they had drawn a positive and rapid response, the movement of the 437,000 Jews who were deported from Hungary to Auschwitz would most likely have been broken off and additional lives numbering in the hundreds of thousands might have been saved. More significant, though, than attempts to calculate particular numbers is the fact that no one could tell during the summer of 1944 how many hundreds of thousands more would die at Auschwitz before the Nazis ceased their mass murder. [viii] [68]

The basic principle behind the War Department's rejection of the bombing proposals was that military resources could not be diverted to nonmilitary objectives. The logic of this position was extremely forceful in a world at war. But it should be emphasized that the policy was not as ironbound as the War Department indicated in its replies to the bombing requests. Exceptions occurred quite often, many of them for humanitarian purposes. For instance, the Allied military moved 100,000 non-Jewish Polish, Yugoslav, and Greek civilians to Camps in Africa and the Middle East and maintained them there. Again, the American and British armies in Italy supplied thousands of refugees with food, shelter, and medical care. [70]

The war effort could be deflected for other decent purposes as well, such as art or loyalty to defeated allies. Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan and a center of culture and art, was on the Air Force target list. In spring 1945, Secretary of War Stimson asked McCloy, "Would you consider me a sentimental old man if I removed Kyoto from the target cities for our bombers?" McCloy encouraged him to do so. The Air Force command argued against the decision but adhered to it. On another occasion, McCloy himself prevented the planned bombing of Rothenburg, a German town known for its medieval architecture. [71]

As Soviet forces neared Warsaw at the beginning of August 1944, the Polish Home Army rose against the Germans. (The Home Army was s non-Communist resistance force linked to the Polish government in London.) The Russian advance suddenly stopped, however, and the Red Army remained about ten kilometers from Warsaw for weeks while the Nazis decimated the unaided and poorly supplied Polish fighters. [72]

Polish officials in London put intense pressure on the British government to do something about the situation. Although Air Marshal Sir John Slessor, the RAF commander in Italy, argued that supply flights to Warsaw from Italy would result in a "prohibitive rate of loss" and "could not possibly affect the issue of the war one way or another," the British government ordered the missions run. Volunteers flew twenty-two night operations from Italy during August and September. Of the 181 bombers sent, 31 did not come back. Slessor concluded that the effort had "achieved practically nothing." [73]

The United States did not participate in the Italy-based missions to Warsaw. But Roosevelt, under heavy pressure from Churchill, ordered American bombers in Britain to join the effort. On September 18, 107 Flying Fortresses dropped 1,284. containers of arms and supplies on Warsaw and continued on to bases in Russia. At most, 288 containers reached the Home Army. The Germans took the rest. [74]

The cost of the mission was low in numbers of aircraft lost, but extremely high in the amount of airpower kept out of regular operations. To deliver 288 (or fewer) containers to a military force known to be defeated, more than a hundred heavy bombers were tied up for nine days. For four days, the Fortresses sat in England, loaded with supplies, waiting for the right weather conditions. After the mission, four more days elapsed before the planes reached home, via Italy. (Prevailing wind patterns made the long trip directly from Russia to England unsafe for Flying Fortresses.) The bombers did strike a rail target in Hungary on the way from Russia to Italy, but carried out no other bombing operations in the entire nine days. [75]

The director of intelligence for the U.S. Strategic Air Forces summarized American involvement in the Warsaw airdrops. His report acknowledged that, even before the September 18 flight, the President, the War Department, and the Air Force realized that "the Partisan fight was a losing one" and that "large numbers of planes would be tied up for long periods of time and lost to the main strategic effort against Germany." Still, all those involved concurred in the decision to go forward, "despite the lack of a firm commitment" to the Polish government by the United States. [76]

Why did the United States divert a large amount of bombing capacity during a crucial phase of the oil campaign? The report's closing paragraph dealt with that question:

Despite the tangible cost which far outweighed the tangible results achieved. it is concluded that this mission was amply justified.... America kept faith with its Ally. One thing stands out, from the President down to the airmen who flew the planes, America wanted to, tried, and did help within her means and possibilities.

The Warsaw airdrop was executed only by diversion of considerable airpower to an impracticable project. But the United States had demonstrated its deep concern for the plight of a devastated friend. [ix] [77]

If, when the first bombing request reached it, the Operations Division had inquired of the air command overseas, it would have found the Fifteenth Air Force on the verge of a major bombing campaign in the region around Auschwitz. Instead, OPD never looked into the possibilities. From July through November 1944, more than 2,800 bombers struck Blechhammer and other targets close to Auschwitz. The industrial area of Auschwitz itself was hit twice. Yet the War Department persisted in rejecting each new proposal to bomb the railroads or the death camp on the basis of its initial, perfunctory answer -- that the plan was "impracticable" because it would require "diversion of considerable air support." [79]

It is evident that the diversion explanation was no more than an excuse, The real reason the proposals were refused was the War Department's prior decision that rescue was not part of its mission -- the President's order establishing the War Refugee Board notwithstanding. To the American military, Europe's Jews represented an extraneous problem and an unwanted burden.

In the fall of 1944, Jewish women who worked at a munitions factory Inside Auschwitz managed to smuggle small amounts of explosives to members of the camp underground. The material was relayed to male prisoners who worked in the gassing-cremation area. Those few wretched Jews then attempted what the Allied powers, with their vast might, would not. On October 7, in a suicidal uprising, they blew up one of the crematorium buildings. [80]



[i] The War Department finally sent a message to theater commanders in early March, but all it did was inform them of the WRB's general mission. In April, the WRB learned that American military authorities in Italy were unaware even of the board's existence.  That same month, a WRB representative spoke with General Benjamin Caffey at Allied headquarters in Algiers and found him adamant that military forces in the Mediterranean theater would not assist with any WRB plans. [16]

[ii]  A few weeks later, the WRB sought War Department help in transmitting funds to the Jews on Rab so they could hire private boats to reach Italy. The military did not cooperate. [22]

[iii] At the same time, the Emergency Committee pointed to the use of poison gas at Auschwitz and stressed the President's earlier threat that "full and swift retaliation in kind" would follow "any use of gas by any Axis power." The committee called on Roosevelt to warn the Nazis that the continued use of gas to kill Jews would bring poison-gas attacks on the German people. This appeal was relayed to the State Department, then to the WRB, which answered that it was a military matter and thus outside its jurisdiction. In September, the proposal reached the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who ruled  that it was not "within their cognizance." [28]

[iv] Both the August 20 and the September 13 air raids on Auschwitz were briefly reported in the New York Times and other American newspapers. Evidently the WRB did not monitor such information. [46]

[v] Officials in Washington had data on the Auschwitz killing installations, their location, and their purpose. But they relayed none of this information to the Air Force command in Italy. In Italy, Air Force personnel had aerial photographs of the extermination buildings, but no inkling of what they were and no reason to examine them closely.  Their attention was focused on the industrial areas five miles distant. [55]

[vi] Jewish leaders in Europe and the United States, assuming the use of heavy bombers and the consequent death of some inmates, wrestled with the moral problem involved. Most concluded that loss of life under the circumstances was justifiable. They were aware that about 90 percent of the Jews were gassed on arrival at Auschwitz. They also realized that most who were spared for the work camps struggled daily through a hellish, famished existence as slave laborers and were worn out in a matter of weeks.  Once unfit for hard labor, they were dispatched to the gas chambers. The bombing might kill some of them, but it could halt or slow the mass production of murder.

Although those who appealed for the bombing did not know it, many Auschwitz prisoners shared their viewpoint. Olga Lengyel, a Birkenau survivor, recalled after the war that she and the inmates she knew hoped for an air raid:. "If the Allies could blow up the crematory ovens! The pace of the extermination would at least be slowed." Two sisters, Hungarian Jews who were in Birkenau when the Auschwitz industrial areas were hit, told of the prisoners in their section praying for the bombers to blast the gas chambers. They were more than ready to die for that. [59]

[vii] The England-Russia-Italy shuttle bases system (code-named FRANTIC) became available in early June 1944. But flights that left Italy and returned directly to the bases in Italy could reach both Auschwitz and the deportation rail lines more effectively than shuttle missions could. Referring to plans to attack oil targets at Blechhammer and Auschwitz, General Eaker stated, "Return to our own bases is preferable to a shuttle operation." [62]

[viii] Incidentally, if the gas chambers had been destroyed on August 20 or earlier, Anne Frank might possibly have survived. Arrested on August 4, she and her family were deported to Auschwitz from a camp in Holland on September 2. They went on the last deportation train from Holland. Later, Anne and her sister were transferred to Bergen-Belsen,  where both died of typhus, Anne in March 1945. If the Auschwitz mass-killing machinery had been destroyed by August 20, the train very likely would not have left Holland, because most of its passengers were bound for the Auschwitz gas chambers. [69]

[ix] Roosevelt's role in the effort for the Warsaw Poles is clearly documented. But evidence is lacking as to whether he was ever consulted on the question of bombing Auschwitz and the railroads to it. [78]
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Re: The Abandonment of the Jews: American and the Holocaust,

Postby admin » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:32 pm

Part 1 of 2



America's response to the Holocaust was the result of action and inaction on the part of many people. In the forefront was Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose steps to aid Europe's Jews were very limited. If he had wanted to, he could have aroused substantial public backing for a vital rescue effort by speaking out on the issue. If nothing else, a few forceful statements by the President would have brought the extermination news out of obscurity and into the headlines. But he had little to say about the problem and gave no priority at all to rescue. [1]

In December 1942, the President reluctantly agreed to talk with Jewish leaders about the recently confirmed news of extermination. Thereafter, he refused Jewish requests to discuss the problem; he even left the White House to avoid the Orthodox rabbis' pilgrimage of October 1943. He took almost no interest in the Bermuda Conference. He dragged his feet on opening refugee camps in North Africa. He declined to question the State Department's arbitrary shutdown of refugee immigration to the United States, even when pressed by the seven Jews in Congress. [2]

In November 1943, on the eve of Roosevelt's departure for Cairo and Tehran, stirrings in Congress briefly drew his attention to the rescue question. When he returned six weeks later, he faced the prospect of aIi explosive debate in Congress on administration rescue policies and the probable passage of legislation calling on him to form a rescue agency. Not long afterward, he established the War Refugee Board. His hand had been forced by the pressure on Capitol Hill and by the danger. that a major scandal would break over the State Department's persistent obstruction of rescue.

After creating the board, the President took little interest in it. He never acted to strengthen it or provide it with adequate funding. He impeded its initial momentum by delaying the selection of a director and hindered its long-term effectiveness by ruining the plan to appoint a prominent public figure to the post. When the board needed help with the recalcitrant American ambassador to Spain, Roosevelt kept hands off. At the urging of the WRB, the President did issue a strong war-crimes warning in March 1944. But he first diluted its emphasis on Jews. His subsequent handling of the UN War Crimes Commission and his treatment of Herbert Pell were hardly to his credit.

Even when interested in rescue action, Roosevelt was unwilling to run a political risk for it, as his response to the free-ports plan showed. The WRB's original rescue strategy depended on America's setting an example to other nations by offering to open several temporary havens. The President, by agreeing to only one American camp, signaled that little was expected of any country. A more extensive free-ports program would probably have strained relations with Congress. It might also have cost votes, and 1944 was an election year.

It appears that Roosevelt's overall response to the Holocaust was deeply affected by political expediency. Most Jews supported him unwaveringly, so an active rescue policy offered little political advantage. A pro-Jewish stance, however, could lose votes. American Jewry's great loyalty to the President thus weakened the leverage it might have exerted on him to save European Jews. [3]

The main justification for Roosevelt's conduct in the face of the Holocaust is that he was absorbed in waging a global war. He lived in a maelstrom of overpowering events that gripped his attention, to the exclusion of most other matters. Decades later, Dean Alfange doubted that he actually realized what the abandonment of the European Jews meant: "He may not have weighed the implications of it to human values, to history, to a moral climate without which a democracy can't really thrive." [4]

Roosevelt's personal feelings about the Holocaust cannot be determined. He seldom committed his inner thoughts to paper. And he did not confide in anyone concerning the plight of Europe's Jews except, infrequently, Henry Morgenthau. There are indications that he was concerned about Jewish problems. But he gave little attention to them, did not keep informed about them, and instructed his staff to divert Jewish questions to the State Department. [i] Years later, Emanuel Celler charged that Roosevelt, instead of providing even "some spark of courageous leadership," had been "silent, indifferent, and insensitive to the plight of the Jews." In the end, the era's most prominent symbol of humanitarianism turned away from one of history's most compelling moral challenges. [5]

The situation was much the same throughout the executive branch. Only the Treasury reacted effectively. Oscar Cox and a few others in the Foreign Economic Administration did what they could. But their impact was minor. Secretary Ickes and a small group in the Interior Department were greatly concerned; however, they were not in a position to do much. The War Shipping Administration assisted the WRB with a few transportation problems. The record of the rest of the Roosevelt administration was barren. [7]

Callousness prevailed in the State Department. Its officers, mostly old-stock Protestants, tended strongly toward nativism. Little sympathy was wasted on East Europeans, especially Jews. [8]

Secretary Hull did issue public statements decrying Nazi persecution of Jews. Otherwise he showed minimal interest in the European Jewish tragedy and assigned no priority to it. Ignorant of his department's activities in that area, and even unacquainted with most of the policymakers, he abandoned refugee and rescue matters to his friend Breckinridge Long. Long and his co-workers specialized in obstruction. [9]

Even after Sumner Welles confirmed the accounts of genocide, State Department officials insisted the data had not been authenticated. They sought to silence Stephen Wise and other Jewish leaders. They tried to weaken the United Nations declaration of December 1942. In early 1943, in order to stifle pressures for action, they cut off the flow of information from Jewish sources in Switzerland.

These people brushed aside the Rumanian offer to free 70,000 Jews. With the British, they arranged the Bermuda fiasco, another move to dampen pressures for action. Rescue plans submitted to the State Department were strangled by intentional delays. Or they were sidetracked to the moribund Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees.

The State Department closed the United States as an asylum by tightening immigration procedures, and it influenced Latin American governments to do the same. When calls for a special rescue agency arose in Congress, Long countered them with deceptive secret testimony before a House committee. After the WRB was formed, the State Department cooperated to a degree, but the obstructive pattern recurred frequently. It is clear that the State Department was not interested in rescuing Jews.

The War Department did next to nothing for rescue. Secretary Stimson's personal opposition to immigration was no help. Far more important, however, was the War Department's secret decision that the military was to take no part in rescue -- a policy that knowingly contradicted the executive order establishing the WRB.

On the basis of available evidence, the Office of Strategic Services took minimal interest in the extermination of the Jews. Its information about the Holocaust was frequently out-of-date and did not lead to countermeasures. In April 1944, the ass obtained the first detailed account to reach the West of the mass murder of Jews at Auschwitz. Prepared eight months earlier by Polish underground sources, the document in many ways foreshadowed the Vrba-Wetzler report. The OSS did nothing with it. [10]

When the Vrba-Wetzler account first arrived in Switzerland, in June 1944, pan of it was delivered to Allen W. Dulles of the ass with a plea that he immediately urge Washington to take action. Dulles instead passed the material to the WRB in Bern, noting that it "seems more in your line." Nearly a year later, the ass received a copy of the Vrba-Wetzler report that had reached Italy. By then, the document had been widely publicized in the West for many months. Yet the ass treated it as new information! [11]

In general, the ass was unwilling to cooperate with the WRB. At first, at" ass initiative, there was some collaboration overseas between the two agencies. Before long, however, top ass officials issued orders against further assistance to the board, apparently following intervention by the State Department. Once more, the executive order that set up the WRB was contravened. [12]

The Office of War Information, for the most part, also turned away from the Holocaust. It evidently considered Jewish problems too controversial to include in its informational campaigns aimed at the American public. Its director, Elmer Davis, stopped at least two plans for the OWI to circulate the extermination news to the American people. During the last year of the war, the OWI did disseminate war-crimes warnings in Europe for the WRB. But Davis was cool even toward that. And in late 1944, when the board released the Vrba-Wetzler report to the press without prior approval by his agency, Davis protested angrily. [13]

The President's Advisory Committee on Political Refugees (PAC) was a quasi-governmental group of eleven prominent Americans appointed by Roosevelt in 1938 to assist in developing refugee policies. Reflecting the inclinations of James G. McDonald, its chairman, and George L. Warren, its executive secretary, the PAC worked cautiously behind the scenes. Almost without access to Roosevelt, it dealt mainly with the State Department, to which its leadership usually deferred. [14]

The PAC was instrumental in persuading the Roosevelt administration to make visas available for 5,000 Jewish children in France whose parents ha~ been sent to Poland in the mass deportations of 1942. The Nazis never permitted them to leave, however. After that, the committee was virtually inoperative, although it did apply tempered pressure for modification of the stringent visa policies and it endorsed the free-ports plan. [15]

One reason for the PAC's weakness was its uncertain financing. It was a presidential committee, yet it received no government funds. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee furnished most of its tiny budget of about $15,000 per year. For a time, Zionist organizations paid half the costs, but they stopped contributing in 1941. The American Catholic and Protestant refugee-aid committees each provided a total of $500 during the PAC's seven years. [16]

Important individuals who had access to the President and might have pressed the rescue issue with him did little in that direction. Vice President Wallace kept aloof from the problem. His closest encounter took place on the Capitol steps in October 1943 when he delivered a brief, noncommittal speech to the pilgrimage of Orthodox rabbis.

Eleanor Roosevelt cared deeply about the tragedy of Europe's Jews and took some limited steps to help. But she never urged vigorous government action. She saw almost no prospects for rescue and believed that winning the war as quickly as possible was the only answer. [17]

Except for Morgenthau, Jews who were close to the President did very little to encourage rescue action. David Niles, a presidential assistant, briefly intervened in support of free ports. The others attempted less. Bernard Baruch-influential with Roosevelt, Congress, the wartime bureaucracy, and the public -- stayed away from the rescue issue. So did Herbert Lehman, director of UNRRA. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter had regular access to Roosevelt during the war, and he exercised a quiet but powerful influence in many sectors of the administration. Although he used his contacts to press numerous policies and plans, rescue was not among them. [18]

As special counsel to the President, Samuel Rosenman had frequent contact with Roosevelt, who relied heavily on him for advice on Jewish matters. But Rosenman considered the rescue issue politically sensitive, so he consistently tried to insulate Roosevelt from it. For instance, when Morgenthau was getting ready to urge the President to form a rescue agency, Rosenman objected. He did not want FDR involved in refugee matters, although he admitted that no one else could deal effectively with the problem. Rosenman also argued that government aid to European Jews might increase anti-Semitism in the United States. [19]

The President, his administration, and his advisers were not the only ones responsible for America's reaction to the Holocaust. Few in Congress, whether liberals or conservatives, showed much interest in saving European Jews. Beyond that, restrictionism, especially opposition to the entry of Jews, was strong on Capitol Hill. [20]

Congressional attitudes influenced the administration's, policies on rescue. One reason the State Department kept the quotas 90 percent unfilled was fear of antagonizing Congress. It was well known to private refugee-aid agencies that some congressional circles were sharply critical of the administration's supposed "generosity" in issuing visas. The State Department was sufficiently worried about this that, when it agreed to the entry of 5,000 Jewish children from France, it forbade all publicity about the plan. As a leader of one private agency pointed out, "Officials are extremely anxious to avoid producing a debate in Congress on the wisdom of bringing large groups of children to the United States." Vet the immigration quotas to which the 5,000 visas would have been charged were undersubscribed by 55,000 that year. [21]

Except for a weak and insignificant resolution condemning Nazi mass murder, Congress took no official action concerning the Holocaust. The only congressional debate to touch at all on the question was little more than an outburst by Senator Scott Lucas against the Committee for a Jewish Army for its public denunciation of the Bermuda Conference.

Late in 1943, the Bergsonite Emergency Committee persuaded a dozen influential members of Congress to endorse a resolution calling for a government rescue agency. The connections and prestige of these legislators attracted substantial additional backing. Public interest in the issue was also rising. The resulting pressure figured crucially in Roosevelt's decision to establish the War Refugee Board. But even then, the newly formed board, assessing the climate on Capitol Hill, concluded that congressional indifference toward the European Jews ruled out the possibility of appropriations for rescue programs. The WRB turned instead to private sources for funding.

Of the seven Jews in Congress, only Emanuel Celler persistently urged government rescue action. Samuel Dickstein joined the struggle from time to time. Four others seldom raised the issue. Sol Bloom sided with the State Department throughout.

One reason for the government's limited action was the indifference of much of the non-Jewish public. It must be recognized, though, that many Christian Americans were deeply concerned about the murder of European Jewry and realized that it was a momentous tragedy for Christians as well as for Jews. In the words of an official of the Federal Council of Churches, "This is not a Jewish affair. It is a colossal, universal degradation in which all humanity shares." The message appeared in secular circles as well. Hearst. for instance. stressed more than once in his newspapers, "This is not a Christian or a Jewish question. It is a human question and concerns men and women of all creeds." [22]

Support for rescue arose in several non-Jewish quarters. And it came from leading public figures such as Wendell Willkie, Alfred E. Smith, Herbert Hoover, Fiorello La Guardia, Harold Ickes, Dean Alfange, and many more. But most non-Jewish Americans were either unaware of the European Jewish catastrophe or did not consider it important.

America's Christian churches were almost inert in the face of the Holocaust and nearly silent too. No major denomination spoke out on the issue. Few of the many Christian publications cried out for aid to the Jews. Few even reported the news of extermination, except infrequently and incidentally.

On the Protestant side, Quakers and Unitarians responded to the moral challenge through their service committees. But both denominations were tiny. An even smaller organization, the Church Peace Union, persistently but vainly pressed the churches to take a stand and urged the government to act. Mercedes Randall of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom published The Voice of Thy Brother's Blood, a booklet calling for action on "one of the most urgent matters of our time." The only comprehensive discussion of the European Jewish disaster issued by an American Christian source during the Holocaust, Randall's essay closed with a clear warning:

If we fail to feel, to speak, to act, it bespeaks a tragedy more fateful than the tragedy of the Jews .... We have passed by on the other side.... Shall we have to live out our lives with that terrible cry upon our lips, "Am I my brother's keeper?"

(The Women's International League had to turn to Jewish sources for financial help to print 50,000 copies and distribute them to newspaper editors, radio commentators, and other opinion leaders.) [23]

The Federal Council of Churches compiled a mediocre record, yet it stood in the forefront of the Protestant effort to help. Besides several public calls for rescue, it sponsored the only nationwide attempt at Christian action, the Day of Compassion of May 1943. But even that event, which most local churches ignored, took place only because Jews urged it on the council and Jewish organizations did much of the necessary work. [24]

The Christian Century, a highly influential Protestant weekly, reacted to the first news of extermination by charging that Stephen Wise's statistics were exaggerated. (His estimates were actually far too low.) Thereafter, it reported on the Jewish catastrophe only occasionally, and only rarely did it speak out for rescue action. Such social-action-oriented periodicals as the Churchman and Reinhold Niebuhr's Christianity and Crisis published even less on the Jewish tragedy. Yet these three journals carried more news on the issue than most Christian periodicals. The bulk of the Protestant press was silent, or nearly so. And few cries for action arose from the pages of any part of Protestantism's print media. [25]

Indicative of the feeble Christian response to the Holocaust was the plight of two American committees established to assist Christian refugees, most of whom were of Jewish descent. Neither organization could rely on its vast parent church to fund its tiny program. The Protestant agency, the American Committee for Christian Refugees (ACCR), leaned heavily on the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee for financial support from 1934 through 1940. When those funds dried up, the ACCR survived by severely reducing its already limited services. It regained a semblance of effectiveness only in mid-1943 with an infusion of money from the National War Fund. [ii] [26]

The Catholic Committee for Refugees (CCR) was organized in 1937 by the American Catholic bishops. But the church did not adequately support this very modest operation, either with funds or by lending its prestige to the committee. In its first years, the CCR needed financial help from the Joint Distribution Committee. Even so, it was all but ineffective until mid-1943, when the National War Fund assumed virtually all of its expenses. [28]

Two important Catholic periodicals, America and Commonweal, did speak out from time to time on the extermination of the Jews and called for action to help them. But the rest of the Catholic press was almost silent on the issue, as was the American church itself. No Catholic pressures developed for a government rescue effort. The National Catholic Welfare Conference (NCWC), which acted for the American bishops in social and civic matters, was America's leading organization for Catholic social welfare. It might have led a Catholic drive for rescue action. But it made no move in that direction. Instead, as can be seen in the records of its Bureau of Immigration and in the reactions of its general secretary, Msgr. Michael J. Ready, the NCWC was consistently negative toward immigration of Jewish refugees. [29]

The Bureau of Immigration' was responsible for helping Catholic refugees come to the United States. The correspondence of its personnel shows little sympathy for European Jews. It also reveals a distrust of Jews generally and a particular suspicion of American Jewish organizations. They were viewed as too aggressive in assisting Jewish refugees and too little concerned about persecuted Catholics. The Bureau of Immigration was the only refugee-aid organization that encountered no problems with the State Department concerning visa issuance and visa policies. [30]

Until the end of 1943, Catholic refugees passing through Spain and Portugal, or stranded there, turned to American non-Catholic organizations for aid. Jewish, Unitarian, and Quaker agencies provided support funds and ship passage to needy Catholics, whether of Jewish descent or nor. After two years' of requests that they share the burden, American Catholic leaders investigated the situation in late 1943. By then the American bishops, in order to channel National War Fund money into Catholic relief projects, had established a new branch of the National Catholic Welfare Conference, the War Relief Services. When those funds became available, the War Relief Services-NCWC started to send money to Portugal. Soon afterward, it opened its own office in Lisbon to assist Catholic refugees. The NCWC also began to contribute to the Representation in Spain of American Relief Organizations, a Jewish-Protestant venture that for over a year had been caring for Catholics along with other refugees. [31]

At the heart of Christianity is the commitment to help the helpless. Yet, for the most part, America's Christian churches looked away while the European Jews perished. So did another part of the public that might have been expected to cry out for action, American liberals. The Nation and the New Republic did speak, throughout the war, warning of what was happening and pressing for rescue. From time to time, some prominent individual liberals also urged action. But rescue never became an important objective for New Dealers or other American liberals. Even as thoroughly liberal an institution as the New York newspaper PM, though it did call for rescue, did not make it a major issue. [32]

The AFL and the CIO frequently endorsed Jewish organizations' appeals for rescue. In a notable change in labor's traditional restrictionism; both unions began in 1943 to urge at least temporary suspension of immigration laws to open the doors for Jewish refugees. But there was no movement to arouse the rank and file, to build active support for "rescue on that broad base. [33]

Most American intellectuals were indifferent to the struggle for rescue. Dorothy Thompson and Reinhold Niebuhr were exceptions, as were those who helped the Bergsonite Emergency Committee. Overall, Jewish intellectuals remained as uninvolved as non-Jews. To note one example among many, Walter Lippmann, a highly influential news columnist who dealt with practically every major topic of the day, wrote nothing about the Holocaust. [34]

American Communists contributed virtually nothing to the rescue cause. In the wake of the Bermuda Conference, they publicly agreed with the diplomats: "It would be foolhardy to negotiate with Axis satellites for the release of Hitler's captives." They insisted throughout the war that the only answer for European Jewry was the swiftest possible Allied victory. Nor would they tolerate criticism of the President for his limited rescue steps. "Roosevelt," they argued, "represents the forces most determined on victory"; those concerned about the Jews should "speak helpfully" about him or keep silent. This, of course, coincided with the Communists' view of what was best for Soviet Russia. [35]

An organization formed in early 1944 by the American Jewish Conference seemed to open the way for effective action by prominent non-Jews. The National Committee Against Nazi Persecution and Extermination of the Jews, with Supreme Court Justice Frank Murphy as chairman, included such distinguished Americans as Wendell Willkie and Henry Wallace and other political, religious, and business leaders. But this all-Christian committee failed to attract adequate funding and amounted to little more than a paper organization. Moreover, it did almost nothing to advance its main objective, "to rally the full force of the public conscience in America" against the extermination of the Jews and for vigorous rescue action. Instead, the Murphy committee channeled its meager resources into what it announced as its second priority, combating anti-Semitism in the United States. Murphy and others contributed, in speeches and in print, to the battle against American anti-Semitism. But the rescue issue fell by the wayside. [36]

One .reason ordinary Americans were not more responsive to the plight of the European Jews was that very many (probably a majority) were unaware of Hitler's extermination program until well into 1944 or later. The information was not readily available to the public, because the mass media treated the systematic murder of millions of Jews as though it were minor news.

Most newspapers printed very little about the Holocaust, even though extensive information on it reached their desks from the news services (AP, UP, and others) and from their own correspondents. In New York, the Jewish-owned Post reported extermination news and rescue matters fairly adequately. PM's coverage was also more complete than that of most American papers. The Times, Jewish-owned but anxious not to be seen as Jewish-oriented, was the premier American newspaper of the era. It printed a substantial amount of information on Holocaust-related events but almost always buried it on inner pages. [iii] The Herald Tribune published a moderate amount of news concerning the Holocaust but seldom placed it where it would attract attention. Coverage in other New York City newspapers ranged from poor to almost nonexistent. [37]

The Jewish-owned Washington Post printed a few editorials advocating rescue, but only infrequently carried news reports on the European Jewish situation. Yet, in October 1944, it gave front-page space for four days to a series attacking the Bergson group. (Inaccuracies soon forced a retraction.) Nothing else connected with the Holocaust even approached compatible prominence in the Post. The other Washington newspapers provided similarly limited information on the mass murder of European Jewry. [38]

Outside New York and Washington, press coverage was even thinner. All major newspapers carried some Holocaust-related news, but it appeared infrequently and almost always in small items located on inside pages. [39]

American mass-circulation magazines all but ignored the Holocaust. Aside from a few paragraphs touching on the subject, silence prevailed in the major news magazines, Time, Newsweek, and Life. The Reader's Digest, American Mercury, and Collier's released a small flurry of information in February 1943, not long after the extermination news was first revealed. From then until late in the war, little more appeared. Finally, in fall 1944, Collier's and American Mercury published vivid accounts of the ordeal of Polish Jewry written by Jan Karski, a courier sent to Britain and America by the Polish resistance. Karski described what he himself saw in late 1942 at the Belzec killing center and in the Warsaw ghetto. [iv] Except for these and a few other articles, the major American magazines permitted Doe of the most momentous events of the modern era to pass without comment. [40]

Radio coverage of Holocaust news was sparse. Those who wrote the newscasts and commentary programs seem hardly to have noticed the slaughter of the Jews. Proponents of rescue managed to put a little information on the air, mainly in Washington and New York. Access to a nationwide audience was very infrequent. The WRB even had difficulty persuading stations to broadcast programs it produced. [42]

American filmmakers avoided the subject of the Jewish catastrophe. During the war, Hollywood released numerous feature films on refugees and on Nazi atrocities. None dealt with the Holocaust. Despite extensive Jewish influence in the movie industry, the American Jewish Congress was unable to persuade anyone to produce even a short film on the mass killing of the Jews. The very popular March of Time news series did not touch the extermination issue, nor did the official U.S. war films in the Why We Fight series. [43]

There is no clear explanation for the mass media's failure to publicize the Holocaust. Conflicting details and inconsistent numbers in the different reports from Europe may have made editors cautious. But no one could have expected full accuracy in data compiled under the difficulties encountered in underground work.

Another problem was the fabricated atrocity stories of World War I. This time, editors were very skeptical. Yet, well before word of the "final solution" filtered out numerous confirmed reports of Nazi crimes against civilian populations had broken down much of that barrier to belief. [44]

The way war news flooded and dominated the mass media may have been a factor. Holocaust events merged into and became lost in the big events of the world conflict. For example, information on the destruction of the Hungarian Jews was overwhelmed by news about preparations for the cross-channel invasion, the invasion itself, and the dramatic reconquest of France that summer.

It is possible that editors took a cue from the New York Times. Other newspapers recognized the Times's superior reporting resources abroad and looked to it for guidance in foreign news policy. A perception that the Jewish-owned Times did not think the massive killing of Jews was worth emphasizing could have influenced other newspapers. Again, Roosevelt's failure until March 1944 to mention the. extermination of the Jews in his press conferences may have led editors to conclude that the issue was not a major one. [45]

The mass media's response to the Holocaust undoubtedly was also affected by the complicated problem of credibility. Publishers and broadcasters feared accusations of sensationalism and exaggeration. They may also have had difficulty themselves in believing the reports. Annihilation of an entire people was a concept that went well beyond previous experience. Moreover, extermination of the Jews made no sense, because it served no practical purpose. The German explanation that Jews were being deported to labor centers seemed more plausible. [v] [46]

The problem of disbelief may be illustrated by a conversation in December 1944 between A. Leon Kubowitzki of the World Jewish Congress and Assistant Secretary of War John McCloy. Kubowitzki recorded the episode:

"We are alone," he [McCloy] said to me. "Tell me the truth. Do you really believe that all those horrible things happened?"

His sources of information, needless to say, were better than mine. But he could not grasp the terrible destruction. [48]

On a broader level, the enigma was reflected in the way that military leaders, government officials, newsmen, and members of Congress reacted to what was found when American and British forces liberated German concentration camps in spring 1945. They were stunned. Vet most had been exposed for a long time to information about the camps and the extermination of the Jews -- information augmented by two striking disclosures released as recently as August and November 1944.

In August, a month after the Red Army captured the Majdanek killing center, near Lublin, Soviet authorities permitted American reporters to inspect the still-intact murder camp-gas chambers, crematoria, mounds of ashes, and the rest. One American voiced the reaction of all who viewed Majdanek: "I am now prepared to believe any story of German atrocities, no matter how savage, crud and depraved." [49]

The newsmen sent back detailed accounts, which were widely published in American newspapers and magazines, in many cases on the front pages. A few reports pointed out that Jews were the main victims, but most mentioned them only as part of a list of the different peoples murdered there. And none of the correspondents or their editors connected Majdanek with the extensive information available by then about the systematic extermination of European Jewry. Author Arthur Koestler had tried to explain the phenomenon earlier that year. People, he wrote, can be convinced for a while of the reality of such a crime, but then "their mental self-defense begins to work." In a week, "incredulity has returned like a reflex temporarily weakened by a shock." [50]

The second disclosure, released to the press by the War Refugee Board in November, was the Vrba-Wetzler report of mass murder at Auschwitz. It had reached McClelland in Switzerland in June. He soon telegraphed a condensation to the WRB in Washington, but was unable to forward the complete text until mid-October. [vi] [51]

The full Auschwitz report -- officially issued by a government agency -- received prominent notice throughout the country, including Sunday front-page coverage in many newspapers. News accounts were long and graphic; many newspapers followed up with editorials. Radio also spread the information. [vii] [53]

Despite the reports on Majdanek and Auschwitz (and numerous other accounts of extermination), many well-informed Americans failed to comprehend what was happening. This explains, in part, the wave of amazement that resulted when German concentration camps were opened in April 1945. Military 'men were appalled and astonished at what they saw. Hardened war correspondents found the horror "too great for the human mind to believe." General Eisenhower called the "barbarous treatment" inflicted on inmates "almost unbelievable." [55]

To dispel any doubts about the accuracy of reporters' accounts, Eisenhower requested that a dozen congressmen and a delegation of American editors fly to Germany to look at the camps. The legislators emerged from Buchenwald "shocked almost beyond belief." Editors, expecting to find that correspondents had overstated the situation, came away convinced that "exaggeration, in fact, would be difficult." [56]

Failure to grasp the earlier information about Nazi camps was the key cause for this astonishment. Another reason was that camp conditions, ordinarily deplorable, sank to appalling depths during the last part of the war. As the Third Reich crumbled, administration systems broke down. Transportation of food and supplies failed. And as they retreated, the Germans shifted thousands of inmates from outlying camps to the already overloaded ones in the interior of Germany. Conditions were abysmal: massive starvation, unchecked disease. terrible crowding, thousands of unburied corpses. [57]

Ironically, these camps (Buchenwald, Belsen, Dachau, and so on) were not among the most destructive. They were not extermination camps. The horrors that took place within their confines were on a different plane from the millions of murders committed at Auschwitz, Majdanek, and the four other killing centers, all situated in Poland.

The American press, which for so long had barely whispered of mass murder and extermination, exploded with news of the German camps. For over a month, stories ran in all the newspapers and news magazines, frequently on the front pages, accompanied by shocking photographs. And newsreels, made by Hollywood studios from Army Signal Corps footage, confronted millions of American moviegoers with stark scenes of the carnage. [58]

During spring 1945, American newspaper editors blamed the false atrocity stories of World War I for their earlier skepticism about Nazi war crimes. One of the congressmen who saw the camps explained that Hit was always a question whether the reports were propaganda and now they can be confirmed." In fact, after the Nazis obliterated the Czech village of Lidice, in mid-1942, the press had not hesitated to publicize German atrocities against occupied populations. But it had consistently pushed information about Europe's Jews into the inner pages, or omitted it entirely. This minimized a substantial body of evidence that pointed to a hard-to-believe fact -- the systematic extermination of a whole people. [viii] [59]

In the last analysis, it is impossible to know how many Americans were aware of the Holocaust during the war years. Starting in late 1942, enough information appeared that careful followers of the daily news, as well as people especially alert to humanitarian issues or to Jewish problems, understood the situation. Probably millions more had at least a vague idea that terrible things were happening to the European Jews. Most likely, though, they were a minority of the American public. Only three opinion polls (all by Gallup) asked Americans whether they believed the reports about German atrocities, and only one of them dealt directly with Jews. The first survey, in January 1943, specifically referred to news reports of the killing of two million Jews. Forty-seven percent thought the reports were true. (Twenty-nine percent did not, and 24 percent gave no opinion.) [61]

Late in the war, in mid-November 1944 and again in May 1945, the pollsters asked whether reports that the Germans had murdered "many people in concentration camps" were true. The November poll indicated that 76 percent believed the information was accurate. By early May, following three weeks of steady news about the liberated concentration camps in Germany, the figure had risen to 84 percent. On the face of it, public knowledge of Nazi atrocities had reached a high level by November 1944. But the last two polls furnish no real evidence about awareness of the extermination of the Jews, because Jews were not mentioned in either of them. [62]

Throughout the war, most of the mass media, whether from disbelief or fear of accusations of sensationalism or for some other reason, played down the information about the Jewish tragedy. As a result, a large part of the American public remained unaware of the plight of European Jewry. Hesitation about giving full credence to reports of the systematic extermination of an entire people may be understandable. But those who edited the news surely realized, at the very least, that European Jews were being murdered in vast numbers. That was important news. But it was not brought clearly into public view.

Popular concern for Europe's Jews could not develop without widespread knowledge of what was happening to them. But the information gap, though extremely important, was not the only limiting factor. Strong currents of anti-Semitism and nativism in American society also diminished the possibilities for a sympathetic response. A quieter, more prevalent prejudice, a "passive anti-Semitism," was another major barrier to the growth of concern. It was reflected in opinion surveys taken by the Office of War Information. They showed that the impact of atrocity information on the average American was seven times stronger when it involved atrocities in general than when it referred specifically to atrocities against Jews. A Christian clergyman with extensive connections in Protestant circles reached a similar conclusion: "Not only were Christians insensitive and callous [about rescue]; ... there was an anti- Semitism there, just beneath the surface." [ix] [63]

The American government did not respond decisively to the extermination of Europe's Jews. Much of the general public was indifferent or uninformed. What about American Jews-how did they meet the challenge? [x]

American Jewish leaders recognized that the best hope for rescue lay in a strong effort to induce the U.S. government to act. The obvious approaches were two: appeals to high government officials and a national campaign to publicize the mass killings with a view to directing public pressure on the Roosevelt administration and Congress. Jewish leaders made progress in both directions, but their effectiveness was severely limited by their failure to create a united Jewish movement and by their lack of sustained action. [66]

A unified effort by the main Jewish organizations did take place for two weeks in late 1942, coordinated by the "Temporary Committee." For ten additional weeks, from early March to mid-May 1943, cooperative action resumed under the Joint Emergency Committee on European Jewish Affairs. During those twelve weeks, some advances were won, but that amount of time was too brief to budge the Roosevelt administration. Besides, none of the cooperating organizations gave top priority to the rescue problem. And they refused the Bergsonites' requests to be included in the effort. [67]

The basis for united action existed throughout the war. All Jewish organizations agreed on the need for rescue and the need to abolish the White Paper and open Palestine to European Jews. But the split over the issue of Zionism proved unbridgeable. It was the chief obstacle to formation of a united drive for rescue. [68]

The outcome was that non-Zionist organizations (American Jewish Committee, Jewish Labor Committee, B'nai B'rith, and the ultra-Orthodox groups) went their separate ways and accomplished little in building pressure for rescue. The Zionists, who were the best organized of the Jewish groups, were more effective in pushing for rescue action. But the major part of their resources went into the effort for a postwar state in Palestine. [69]

The Bergsonite Emergency Committee tried to fill the gap in the rescue campaign. Its work was vital in finally bringing the War Refugee Board into existence. But the Bergsonites were too weak to generate enough pressure after the formation of the board to force the Roosevelt administration to give it the support that it should have had. The situation was not helped when they divided their limited energies by launching their own statehood movement through the Hebrew Committee for National Liberation and its partner, the American League for a Free Palestine. [70]

The fact that the tiny Bergsonite faction accomplished what it did toward the establishment of the WRB is compelling evidence that a major, sustained, and united Jewish effort could have obtained the rescue board earlier and insisted on its receiving greater support than it did. Such an effort could have drawn on substantial strengths. The Zionist groups had mass followings, organizational skills, some financial capability, a few prestigious leaders, and valuable contacts high in government. The American Jewish Committee combined wealth and important influence in high places. The Jewish Labor Committee was backed by a sizable constituency and could count on help from the American Federation of Labor. B'nai B'rith held the allegiance of a broad cross section of American Jews. Agudath Israel represented a very active element of Orthodoxy. And the Bergson group offered energy, publicity skills, fund-raising proficiency, and the capacity to win friends in Congress and elsewhere in Washington.

Along with the lack of unity, American Jewry's efforts for rescue were handicapped by a crisis in leadership. The dominant figure, Stephen Wise, was aging, increasingly beset by medical problems, and burdened with far too many responsibilities. Abba Hillel Silver's rise to the top was slowed by his rivalry with Wise and by his own tendency to create enemies. He was, nonetheless, a forceful leader; but his single. minded commitment to postwar Jewish statehood meant that he did not participate in the campaign for government rescue action. No other leaders approached the stature of these two. [71]

The scarcity of fresh, innovative leadership aroused concern at the time. In 1944, the editor of the Brooklyn Jewish Examiner asserted that "not a new personality with the possible exception of Henry Monsky has come to the fore in the past decade." As evidence he listed the leading Jewish spokesmen of 1933 and pointed out that, except for two who had died, "the names today are the same; there are no new ones." A tendency among second- and third-generation American Jews to minimize their Jewishness may have hindered the emergence of strong new leadership during the 1930s and 1940s. [72]

An additional problem was the inability of American Jewish leaders to break out of a business-as-usual pattern. Too few schedules were rearranged. Vacations were seldom sacrificed. Too few projects of lesser significance were put aside. An important American Zionist remarked years later that the terrible crisis failed to arouse the "unquenchable sense of urgency" that was needed. Even from afar, this inability to adapt was painfully clear. In late 1942, Jewish leaders in Warsaw entrusted a message to Jan Karski, the Polish underground agent who was about to leave for Britain and the United States. It called on Jews in the free nations to turn to unprecedented measures to persuade their governments to act. But the Polish Jews had no illusions. Before Karski departed, one of them warned him:

Jewish leaders abroad won't be interested. At 11 in the morning you will begin telling them about the anguish of the Jews in Poland, but at 1 o'clock they will ask you to halt the narrative so they can have lunch. That is a difference which cannot be bridged. They will go on lunching at the regular hour at their favorite restaurant. So they cannot understand what is happening in Poland. [xi] [73]

Despite the obstacles and failures, American Jews were responsible for some important achievements. Finding the mass media largely indifferent, they devised ways to spread the extermination news and create limited but crucial support among non-Jews. This, combined with pressures from the American Jewish community, helped bring the War Refugee Board into existence.

American Jewish organizations also carried out valuable rescue and relief work overseas. During World War II, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee provided more aid to European Jews than all the world's governments combined. In doing so, it paid for nearly 85 percent of the work of the War Refugee Board. The Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society dealt effectively with migration and ocean transportation problems. The World Jewish Congress, though chronically short of funds, undertook important rescue projects in collaboration with overseas Zionist organizations and anti-Nazi underground movements. Vaad Hahatzala, grounded in the requirements of Jewish law for the preservation of human life, turned to all available rescue tactics, however unconventional. Other American Jewish organizations contributed, though on a smaller scale. [74]

In the end, American Jewish groups and their overseas affiliates were central to most of the WRB's direct-action projects. This fact, while reflecting great credit on American Jewry, must cast a shadow over the rest of the nation. Voluntary. contributions from American Jews -- in the millions of dollars -- funded these organizations and thus most of the limited help that America extended to Europe's Jews.
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Re: The Abandonment of the Jews: American and the Holocaust,

Postby admin » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:32 pm

Part 2 of 2

What Might Have Been Done

What could the American government have achieved if it had really committed itself to rescue? The Possibilities were narrowed by the Nazis' determination to wipe Out the Jews. War conditions themselves also made rescue difficult. And by mid-1942, when clear news of the systematic murder reached the West, two million Jews had already been massacred and the killing was going forward at a rapid rate. Most likely, it would not have been possible to rescue millions. But without impeding the War effort, additional tens of thousands -- probably hundreds of thousands -- could have been saved. What follows is a selection of twelve programs that could have been tried. All of them, and others, were proposed during the Holocaust. [75]

(1) Most important, the War Refugee Board should have been established in 1942. And it should have received adequate government funding and much broader powers.

(2) The U.S. government, working through neutral governments or the Vatican, could have pressed Germany to release the Jews. If nothing else, this would have demonstrated to the Nazis -- and to the world -- that America Was committed to saving the European Jews. It is worth recalling that until late summer 1944, when the Germans blocked the Horthy offer, it Was far from clear to the Allies that Germany would not let the Jews out. On the contrary, until then the State Department and the British Foreign Office feared that Hitler might confront the Allies with an exodus of Jews, a possibility that they assiduously sought to avoid. [76]

In a related area, ransom overtures might have been much more thoroughly investigated. The use of blocked funds for this purpose would not have compromised the War effort. Nor, by early 1944, would payments of limited amounts of currency have hurt the progress of the war. In particular, the Sternbuch-Musy negotiations could have re ceived fuller American backing. [77]

(3) The United States could have applied constant pressure on Axis satellites to release their Jews. By spring 1943, the State Department knew that some satellites, convinced that the War was lost, were seeking favorable peace terms. Stern threats of punishment for mistreating Jews or allowing their deportation, coupled with indications that permitting them to leave for safety would earn Allied goodwill, could have opened the way to the rescue of large numbers from Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and perhaps Slovakia. Before the Germans took control of Italy, in September 1943, similar pressures might have persuaded the Italian government to allow its Jews to flee, as well as those in Italian-occupied areas of Greece, Yugoslavia, and France. [78]

(4) Success in setting off an exodus of Jews would have posed the problem of where they could go. Strong pressure needed to be applied to neutral countries near the Axis (Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Switzerland, and Sweden) to take Jews in. To bypass time-consuming immigration procedures, these nations could have been urged to set up reception camps near the borders. In return, the Allies should have offered to fund the operations, supply food, and guarantee removal of the refugees. At the same time, havens of refuge outside Europe were essential to accommodate a steady movement of Jews out of the neutral countries. Thus the routes would have remained open and a continuing flow of fugitives could have left Axis territory.

(5) Locating enough outside havens, places beyond continental Europe where refugees could safely await postwar resettlement, would have presented difficulties. The problems encountered in finding havens for the limited numbers of Jews who did get out during the war pointed up the callousness of the Western world. But an American government deeply concerned about the Jews and willing to share the burden could have used its prestige and power to open doors. If a camp existence was all that was offered, that was still far preferable to deportation and death.

Ample room for camps was available in North Africa. In the United States, the immigration quotas were almost untouched; in addition, a government committed to rescue would have provided several camps besides Fort Ontario. A generous response by the United States would have put strong pressure on the Latin American nations, Canada, the British dominions, and Palestine. Instead, other countries used American stinginess as an excuse for not accepting Jews. For instance, in Jerusalem on his 1942 trip around the world, Wendell Willkie confronted the British leadership with the need to admit large numbers of Jews into Palestine. The British high commissioner replied that since the United States was not taking Jews in even up to the quota limits, Americans were hardly in a position to criticize. [79]

(6) Shipping was needed to transfer Jews from neutral countries to outside havens. Abundant evidence (summarized later in this chapter) proves that it could have been provided without interfering with the war effort.

The preceding steps, vigorously pursued, might have saved scores or even hundreds of thousands. Instead, important opportunities were lost by default. Early in 1943, the United States turned its back on the Rumanian proposal to release 70,000 Jews. It was a pivotal failure; seizure of that chance might have led to other overtures by Axis satellites. [80]

At the same time, Switzerland was willing to accept thousands of children from France if it had assurance of their postwar removal. After refusing for more than a year, the State Department furnished the guarantee. But by then the main opportunity had passed. During the summer of 1943, the way opened for evacuating 500 children from the Balkans. But a boat had to be obtained within a month. The State Department responded with bureaucratic delays. Allied actions, instead of encouraging neutral countries to welcome fleeing Jews, influenced them to do the opposite. For instance, it took more than a year to move a few hundred refugees out of Spain to the long-promised camp in North Africa. With a determined American effort, these failures, and others, could have been successes. [81]

(7) A campaign to stimulate and assist escapes would have led to a sizable outflow of Jews. Once the neutral nations had agreed to open their borders, that information could have been publicized throughout Europe by radio, airdropped leaflets, and underground communications channels. Local currencies could have been purchased in occupied countries, often with blocked foreign accounts. These funds could have financed escape systems, false documentation, and bribery of lower. level officials. Underground movements were willing to cooperate. (The WRB, in fact, carried out such operations on a small scale.) Even with out help, and despite closed borders, tens of thousands of Jews at tempted to escape to Switzerland, Spain, Palestine, and other places. Thousands succeeded. With assistance, and assurance of acceptance into neutral nations, those thousands could have been scores of thou sands.

(8) Much larger sums of money should have been transferred to Europe. After the WRB was formed, the earlier, tiny trickle of funds from the United States was increased. But the amounts were still inadequate. Besides facilitating escapes, money would have helped in hiding Jews, supplying food and other essentials, strengthening Jewish under grounds, and gaining the assistance of non-Jewish forces. [82]

(9) Much more effort should have gone into finding ways to send in food and medical supplies. The American government should have approached the problem far sooner than it did. And it should have put heavy pressure on the International Red Cross and British blockade authorities on this issue.

(10) Drawing on its great prestige and influence, the United States could have applied much more pressure than it did on neutral governments, the Vatican, and the International Red Cross to induce them to take earlier and more vigorous action. By expanding their diplomatic missions in Axis countries, they would have increased the numbers of outside observers on the scene and perhaps inhibited actions against Jews. More important, the measures taken by Raoul Wallenberg in Budapest should have been implemented by all neutral diplomatic missions and repeated in city after city throughout Axis Europe. And they should have begun long before the summer of 1944. [83]

The United States could also have pressed its two great allies to help. The Soviet Union turned away all requests for cooperation, including those from the WRB. An American government that was serious about rescue might have extracted some assistance from the Russians. [84]

Britain, though more responsive, still compiled an abysmal record. Until 1944, Roosevelt and the State Department let the British lead in setting policy regarding European Jews. Even when the United States finally took the initiative, Roosevelt did not press for British cooperation. British officials resented the WRB, dismissed it as an election-year tactic, and tried to obstruct its work. The situation did not have to develop that way. An American president strongly committed to rescue could have insisted on a more helpful British response. [85]

(11) Some military assistance was possible. The Air Force could have eliminated the Auschwitz killing installations. Some bombing of deportation railroads was feasible. The military could have aided in other ways without impeding the war effort. It was, in fact, legally required to do so by the executive order that established the WRB. [86]

(12) Much more publicity about the extermination of the Jews should have been disseminated through Europe. Allied radio could have beamed the information for weeks at a time, on all possible wave- lengths, as the Germans did regarding the alleged Russian massacre of Polish officers at the Katyn forest. This might have influenced three groups: the Christian populations, the Nazis, and the Jews. Western leaders and, especially, the Pope could have appealed to Christians not to cooperate in any way with the anti-Jewish programs, and to hide and to aid Jews whenever possible. [87]

Roosevelt, Churchill, and the Pope might have made clear to the Nazis their full awareness of the mass-murder program and their severe condemnation of it. If, in addition, Roosevelt and Churchill had threatened punishment for these crimes and offered asylum to the Jews, the Nazis at least would have ceased to believe that the West did not care what they were doing to the Jews. That might possibly have slowed the killing. And it might have hastened the decision of the SS, ultimately taken in late 1944, to end the extermination. Even if top Nazis had brushed the threats aside, their subordinates might have been given pause. [88]

The European Jews themselves should have been repeatedly warned of what was happening and told what the deportation trains really meant. (With good reason, the Nazis employed numerous precautions and ruses to keep this information from their victims.) Decades later, Rudolf Vrba, one of the escapees who exposed Auschwitz to the outside world, remained angry that the Jews had not been alerted. "Would anybody get me alive to Auschwitz if I had this information?" he demanded. "Would thousands and thousands of able-bodied Jewish men send their children, wives, mothers to Auschwitz from all over Europe, if they knew?" Roosevelt, Churchill, other Western leaders, and major Jewish spokesmen should have warned Jews over and over against the steps that led to deportation and urged them to try to hide or flee ot resist. To help implement these actions, the Allies could have smuggled in cadres of specially trained Jewish agents. [89]

None of these proposals guaranteed results. But all deserved serious consideration, and those that offered any chance of success should have been tried. There was a moral imperative to attempt everything possible that would not hurt the war effort. If that had been done, even if few or no lives had been saved, the moral obligation would have been fulfilled. But the outcome would not have been anything like that barren. The. War Refugee Board, a very tardy, inadequately supported, partial commitment, saved several tens of thousands. A timely American rescue effort that had the wholehearted support of the government would have achieved much more.

A commitment of that caliber did not materialize. Instead, the Roosevelt administration turned aside most rescue proposals. In the process, government officials developed four main rationalizations for inaction. The most frequent excuse, the unavailability of shipping, was a fraud. When the Allies wanted to find ships for nonmilitary projects, they located them. In 1943, American naval vessels carried 1,400 non-Jewish Polish refugees from India to the American West Coast. The State and War departments arranged to move 2,000 Spanish Loyalist refugees to Mexico using military shipping. In March 1944, blaming the shipping shortage, the British backed out of an agreement to transport 630 Jewish refugees from Spain to the Fedala camp, near Casablanca. Yet at the same time, they were providing troopships to move non-Jewish refugees by the thousands from Yugoslavia to southern Italy and on to camps in Egypt. [90]

When it was a matter of transporting Jews, ships could almost never be found. This was not because shipping was unavailable but because the Allies were unwilling to take the Jews in. In November 1943, Breckinridge Long told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that lack of transportation was the reason the State Department was issuing so few visas. "In December 1941," he explained, "most neutral shipping disappeared from the seas.... There just is not any transportation." In reality, ample shipping existed. Neutral vessels crossed the Atlantic throughout the war. Three Portuguese liners, with a combined capacity of 2,000 passengers, sailed regularly between Lisbon and U.S. ports. Each ship made the trip about every six weeks. Most of the time, because of the tight American visa policy, they carried only small fractions of their potential loads. Two dozen other Portuguese and Spanish passenger ships crossed the Atlantic less frequently but were available for fuller service. In addition, several score neutral cargo vessels could have been obtained and refitted to transport refugees. [91]

American troopships and lend-lease and other cargo vessels could also have carried thousands of refugees across the Atlantic, clearing neutral European countries of fugitives and opening the way for a continuing exodus from Axis territory. War and State department correspondence shows that returning military transports could have performed this mission without hampering the war effort. In fact, U.S. Army authorities in North Africa offered in 1943 to take refugees to the United States on returning military ships. But the State and War departments blocked the plan. [92]

In spring 1944, Roosevelt himself informed Pehle that the Navy could bring refugees to the United States on returning troopships. The War Shipping Administration believed that Liberty ships could also have transported refugees effectively. While the State Department was claiming that transportation for refugees was unavailable, Liberty ships were having difficulty finding ballast for the return trips from North Africa. [93]

The United States and Britain leased Swedish ships to carry food from the Western Hemisphere to Greece. Sweden readily furnished replacements and additions to this fleet. Despite repeated pleas, however, the two great Allies never managed to provide a single boat to ferry Jews from the Balkans to Turkey or to shuttle Jews across the Mediterranean to safety. Vet the War Department admitted to the War Refugee Board in spring 1944 that it had "ample shipping" available for evacuating refugees; the problem, it agreed, was to find places where they could go. [94]

Another stock excuse for inaction was the claim that Axis governments planted agents among the refugees. Although this possibility needed to be watched carefully, the problem was vastly overemphasized and could have been handled through reasonable security screening. It was significant that Army intelligence found not one suspicious person when it checked the 982 refugees who arrived at Fort Ontario. Nevertheless, potential subversion was continually used as a reason for keeping immigration to the United States very tightly restricted. Turkey, Latin American nations, Britain, and other countries used the same exaggerated argument. It played an important part in blocking the channels of rescue. [95]

A third rationalization for failing to aid European Jews took the high ground of nondiscrimination. It asserted that helping Jews would improperly single out one group for assistance when many peoples were suffering under Nazi brutality. Equating the genocide of the Jews with the oppression imposed on other Europeans was, in the words of one of the world's foremost churchmen, Willem Visser 't Hooft, "a dangerous half-truth which could only serve to distract attention from the fact that no other race was faced with the situation of having every one of its members ... threatened by death in the gas chambers." [96]

The Roosevelt administration, the British government, and the Inter-governmental Committee on Refugees regularly refused to acknowledge that the Jews faced a special situation. One reason for this was to avoid responsibility for taking special steps to save them. Such steps, if Successful, would have confronted the Allies with the difficult problem of finding places to put the rescued Jews. [97]

Another reason was the fear that special action for the Jews would stu up anti-Semitism. Some asserted that such action would even invite charges that the war was being fought for the Jews. Emanuel Celler declared years later that Roosevelt did nearly nothing for rescue because he was afraid of the label "Jew Deal"; he feared the political effects of the accusation that he was pro-Jewish. The Jews, according to artist Arthur Szyk, were a skeleton in the democracies' political closet, a matter they would rather not mention. "They treat us as a pornographical subject," he wrote, "you cannot discuss it in polite society." [xii] [98]

The fourth well-worn excuse for rejecting rescue proposals was the claim that they would detract from the military effort and thus prolong the war. This argument, entirely valid with regard to projects that actually would have hurt the war effort, was used almost automatically to justify inaction. Virtually none of the rescue proposals involved enough infringement on the war effort to lengthen the conflict at all or to ,increase the number of casualties. military or civilian. [100]

Actually, the war effort was bent from time to time to meet pressing humanitarian needs. In most of these instances, it was non-Jews who were helped. During 1942, 1943, and 1944, the Allies evacuated large numbers of non-Jewish Yugoslavs, Poles, and Greeks to safety in the Middle East, Africa, and elsewhere. Difficulties that constantly ruled out the rescue of Jews dissolved. Transportation somehow materialized to move 100,000 people to dozens of refugee camps that sprang into existence. The British furnished transport, supplies, much of the camp staffing, and many of the campsites. The United States contributed lend-lease materials and covered the bulk of the funding through UNRRA. Most of these refugees had been in desperate straits. None, though, were the objects of systematic annihilation. [101]

Between November 1943 and September 1944, 36,000 Yugoslavs escaped to southern Italy. Most crossed the Adriatic by boat, thousands on British naval craft. Some even came out in American troop planes. The aircraft, sent mainly to evacuate wounded partisans, in many cases returned with civilians, including hundreds of orphaned babies. Using troopships, the British moved most of the Yugoslavs from Italy to camps in Egypt. [102]

About 120,000 Poles, mostly men of military age and their dependents, came out of Russia during 1942 and passed into British-controlled camps in Iran. They were part of the remnant of a million and a half Poles the Soviets had deported to Siberia after the seizure of eastern Poland in September 1939. The Soviets released these thousands to join the British armed forces. Two-thirds of them did; the other 40,000 became refugees. Iran did not want them, supplying them was difficult, and conditions at the camps were bad. Most were moved out, mainly on British troopships, between August 1942 and August 1943. Ultimately, about 35,000 went to camps in Africa, India, Mexico, and the Middle East. The greatest numbers Were placed in British colonies in East Africa, where camps were made available by shifting thousands of prisoners of war to the United States. [xiii] [103]

Despite the demands of war, the United States, with British support, extended significant help to the Greek people. Food for Greece moved freely through the blockade, and ships to carry it were located without trouble. American lend-lease funds paid for the project. [105]

The Allies also helped thousands of Greeks to flee Nazi control and provided sanctuary for them in the Middle East and Africa. By 1944, 25,000 Greeks had been evacuated. The largest numbers, reported at between 9,000 and 12,000, were taken to Palestine-most to a former army installation at Nuseirat, near Gaza. Palestine also sheltered 1,800 of the non-Jewish Polish refugees. While the British, intent on keeping the small White Paper quota from being filled, turned back endangered Jews, they generously welcomed these other victims of the storm. [xiv] [106]

In all, Britain and the United States rescued 100,000 Yugoslav, Polish, and Greek refugees from disastrous conditions. Most of them traveled by military transport to camps where the Allies maintained them at considerable cost in funds, supplies, and even military staff. In contrast, the United States (with minimal cooperation from the British) evacuated fewer than 2,000 Jews to the three camps open to them, the ones at Fedala, Philippeville, and Oswego. [108]

Illustrative of the different responses to Jews and non-Jews was the double standard applied regarding British East Africa. In 1942, distressed about the Struma disaster, Eleanor Roosevelt suggested to Sumner Welles that Jewish refugees turned away from Palestine be taken into British colonies in East Africa. Welles answered, as American and British authorities habitually did, that no facilities existed for refugees in that area and no ships were available to transport them there. The question came up a year later, at the Bermuda Conference. That time the diplomats concluded that Jewish refugees could not go to British East Africa because 21,000 non-Jewish Polish refugees were already on their way there. [109]

It was not a lack of workable plans that stood in the way of saving many thousands more European Jews. Nor was it insufficient shipping, the threat of infiltration by subversive agents, or the possibility that rescue projects would hamper the war effort. The real obstacle was the absence of a strong desire to rescue Jews. A month before the Bermuda Conference, the Committee for a Jewish Army declared:

We, on our part, refuse to resign ourselves to the idea that our brains are powerless to find any solution. ... In order to visualize the possibility of such a solution, imagine that the British people and the American nation had millions of residents in Europe.... Let us imagine that Hitler would start a process of annihilation and would slaughter not two million Englishmen or Americans, not hundreds of thousands, but, let us say, only tens of thousands. ... It is clear that the governments of Great Britain [and] the United States would certainly find ways and means to act instantly and to act effectively. [110]

But the European Jews were not Americans and they were not English. It was their particular misfortune not only to be foreigners but also to be Jews.



[i] Roosevelt's grasp of Jewish issues tended to be superficial. To note but one example, during the Casablanca Conference he spoke for keeping the number of Jewish professionals in North Africa proportional to the Jewish population there. This, he stated, would avoid the "understandable complaints which the Germans bore towards the Jews in Germany, namely, that while they represented a small part of the population, over fifty percent of the lawyers, doctors, school-teachers, college professors, etc., in Germany were Jews." (Quotation from the clerk's summary of the discussion.)

In reality, Jews had composed 1 to 2 percent of Germany's population. They had occupied 2.3 percent of professional positions. In the extreme cases, lawyers and medical doctors, Jews made up 16.3 and 10.9 percent respectively. They held 2.6 percent of the professorships and 0.5 percent of the schoolteacher positions [6]

[ii] The National War Fund, formed under government supervision in 1943, established a united nationwide campaign for private fund appeals related to the war effort. Among the groups it benefited were government-approved private war-relief agencies. This large- scale, broad-based fund-raising system proved a bonanza to small, foundering agencies. [27]

[iii] To note one typical example, the Times on July 2, 1944, published "authoritative information" that 400,000 Hungarian Jews had been deported to their deaths so far and 350,000 more were to be killed in the next three weeks. This news (which was basically accurate) received four column-inches on page 12. The Times found room on the front page that day to analyze the problem of New York holiday crowds on the move.

[iv] In July 1943, Karski saw Roosevelt, told him what he had witnessed at Belzec, and informed him that the Germans unquestionably intended to exterminate all the Jews in Europe and were well on the way to doing so. [41]

[v] On the other hand, many observers had no real difficulty believing the extermination information. To name only a few of them: the Jewish leadership, editors of the Catholic periodicals Commonweal and America, the foremost British church leaders, Treasury Department officials, and even State Department policymakers. [47]

[vi] The delay apparently resulted from the low priority the American legation in Bern gave to WRB matters. The long wait may have been costly. The full report hit with much more force than the telegraphed summary had. It convinced Pehle for the first time that he should put strong pressure on the War Department to bomb the Auschwitz gas chambers. If it had arrived earlier, it might have heightened the urgency of rescue efforts. [52]

[vii] Shortly before the document was available to the press, the editors of the Army magazine Yank asked the WRB for material for an snide on atrocities. The board supplied a copy of the Auschwitz report. Yank's editors decided not to use it. It was "too Semitic." They wanted "a less Jewish story," one that would not stir up the "latent anti-Semitism in the Army." [54]

[viii] To some extent, the pattern continued during spring 1945. News reports about the liberated camps mentioned Jews among the various types of victims, but the fact that they were the main victim did not come across clearly.

The crowning irony occurred in May, when the Soviets released an official report on their investigations at Auschwitz. The long summaries sent from Moscow by American reporters did not mention Jews, although most of those killed at Auschwitz were Jews.  One reason was probably Soviet unwillingness to distinguish Jews from other citizens.  Also, apparently, the American correspondents were unaware of or disbelieved earlier reports on Auschwitz, including the much publicized one released by the WRB the preceding November. [60]

[ix] Another obstacle to American concern for the European Jews was the preoccupation of most people with the war and with their personal affairs. Public opinion research disclosed that typical Americans, still acutely aware of the Great Depression, were mainly concerned about their jobs and their job chances after the war. They also worried about their boys and men away from home. And they gave a lot of attention to such questions as how to spend and save and when they could drive their cars for fun again. These personal matters crowded out even headline issues, except for the progress of the war. [64]

[x] Most American Jews who maintained connections with Jewish life probably knew about the ongoing extermination. The Yiddish daily press, which reached 30 percent of American Jewish families, reported on it frequently. Many of the periodicals sponsored by the numerous Jewish organizations emphasized the terrible news. Anglo-Jewish weekly newspapers, published in most sizable cities and in all regions of the United States, provided substantial coverage (drawn mainly from Jewish press services). And information must have spread by word of mouth at synagogues and other centers of Jewish activity. Wide Jewish knowledge of the extermination is evidenced by the fact that hundreds of thousands of American Jews attended rallies and mass meetings for rescue held throughout the United States. [65]

[xi] To some extent, the anti-Semitism of the time was another factor limiting American Jewish action for rescue. It undoubtedly put Jews on the defensive and kept some from speaking out. It should not be overemphasized, however. Many thousands of Jews were publicly vocal on a variety of controversial issues.

[xii] The White House even avoided mentioning Jews in a brief presidential message commemorating the first anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. [99]

[xiii] In all, nearly 425,000 prisoners of war were brought to the United States during World War II. Except for rare instances such as the above-cited transfer from East Africa, America's acceptance of POWs must be regarded as part of the war effort. Thus it is not directly relevant to the question of what could or should have been done in regard to taking in refugees. [104]

[xiv] During 1942 and 1943, approximately as many non-Jewish Greeks and Poles were accepted into Palestine as were Jewish refugees. [107]
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Re: The Abandonment of the Jews: American and the Holocaust,

Postby admin » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:39 pm


More than fifty years have passed since the Holocaust, yet in country after country it is still difficult to face and to acknowledge what was done and not done regarding the Jews. Many nations have begun to deal with these issues, but progress has varied greatly from country to country. In the 1970s, the Netherlands put aside the myth that the Dutch nation had struggled gallantly to save its Jewish citizens from the Germans. The Dutch came to grips with the historical record and acknowledged their failure. In France, clear-cut confrontation with the reality of the record has only recently begun, as in the formerly Communist countries of Europe. Switzerland, and several other nations.

In the United States, public consciousness of the Holocaust began to grow in the 1970s and reached a high level before the end of the 1980s. This growing attention to the Jewish catastrophe can be traced in the spread of annual Holocaust commemoration services, increasingly involving American Christians and increasingly becoming civic rather than almost exclusively Jewish ceremonies. The expanded consciousness of the Holocaust was also marked by the significant increase in the number of high school and college courses dealing with the Holocaust, as well as by the formation of dozens of museums, memorials, and educational centers in all parts of the country. Another important indicator was the large outpouring of Holocaust-related films, novels, and scholarly works. The Holocaust was also integrated into theological studies and became a core issue in Christian-Jewish relations. By the 1990s, recognition of the Holocaust as an issue of importance had been embedded into American culture.

Naturally, one of the main questions in the United States has been how the American people and their government responded to the Holocaust. As that part of the historical record emerged, it became evident that, despite a few bright areas, the overall American response to the European Jewish catastrophe was a dismal failure. With that knowledge came, for some, an impulse to apply its lessons to the future. When the Indo-Chinese refugees, the "boat people" of the late 1970s, confronted the world, the Carter administration took a very different approach from that taken toward the Jewish refugees of the 1930s and 1940s. Vice President Mondale pointed out that in the Nazi era the United States and the other democracies had "failed the test of civilization." He called on the nations not to "re-enact their error." In time, 800,000 Indo-Chinese reached safety in the United States.

From the Carter years onward, a commitment to take action when confronted with outbreaks of massive persecution has been affirmed at the highest levels of American civic responsibility. This has been true of both the Congress and the Presidency. A clear instance is seen on the outside walls of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. There, chiseled in stone, are the words of the three presidents who served during the years the museum was planned and built:

Out of our memory of the Holocaust we must forge an unshakable oath with all civilized people that never again will the world stand silent, never again will the world fail to act in time to prevent this terrible crime of genocide.
-- Jimmy Carter

We must make sure that from now until the end of days all humankind stares this evil in the face. And only then can we be sure that it will never arise again.
-- Ronald Reagan

Here we will learn that each of us bears responsibility for our actions and for our failure to act. Here we will learn that we must intervene when we see evil arise.
-- George Bush

At the dedication of the museum in 1993, President Clinton spoke in the same vein: "For those of us here today representing the nations of the West, we must live forever with this knowledge: Even as our fragmentary awareness of crimes grew into indisputable facts, far too little was done."

Already, it is true, there have been failures to honor the commitment to act (for example, the tragically slow response to the horror in the former Yugoslavia). There will almost surely be further failures, but the critical first step has been taken. The responsibility to act has been recognized. It has been recognized because of the widespread realization that the failed American response to the plight of the desperate Jews was also a failure to uphold our nation's most cherished and civilized traditions.


First published in November 1984, The Abandonment of the Jews is the history of America's response to the Holocaust. This new edition offers an opportunity to look back at how the book was received when it first appeared. It also allows for a brief discussion of the main criticisms that have been leveled at it by other historians. And it permits an examination of some recent attacks on Abandonment, including the publication of two books aimed at countering it.

When The Abandonment of the Jews appeared late in 1984, it drew immediate attention. The New York Times printed four pieces on it in November and December, including a front-page review in its Sunday Book Review section. I appeared on NBC's Today, ABC's Nightline, and Larry King's radio program. Numerous other television appearances followed, along with scores of radio and television interviews. Abandonment was a selection of the History Book Club and the Jewish Book Club. Book reviews ran in almost every important metropolitan newspaper in the United States and in the major scholarly publications.

Abandonment -- despite its seventy pages of source notes -- appeared for five weeks on the New York Times Book Review's best seller list, in addition to making the lists of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Long Island's Newsday. With time, the book went into seven hardcover printings (a total of more than 50,000 copies); a paperback edition sold more than 48,000 copies; a condensed version appeared; and German, French, Hebrew, and Polish editions were published. I received about 500 letters of response during 1985, and participated in 106 speaking engagements in that year alone.

Abandonment was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and won the Anisfield-Wolf Award, the National Jewish Book Award. and the Present Tense Literary Award. Among other honors received were awards from the Isaac M. Wise Temple in Cincinnati and the Brooklyn Holocaust Memorial Committee. Significant scholarly recognition came with the Stuart Bernath Prize from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, and the Theodore Saloutos Award of the Immigration History Society. (Both societies are associated with the Organization of American Historians.)

As 1985 ended, Abandonment was included in the New York Times Book Review's eleven "Best Books of the Year." The book also brought me honorary doctorates from Hebrew Union College and Yeshiva University and a named professorship (The Josiah DuBois Professor of History and Judaic Studies) at my home institution, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Early in 1985, a copy of The Abandonment of the Jews was provided to each member of Congress. Twice that year, I met with groups of members of Congress to discuss the book. Senator Paul Simon called it "one of the most powerful books I have ever read," and I learned later that The Abandonment of the Jews had helped influence the United States government's decision to airlift 812 Ethiopian Jews from the Sudan to safety in Israel earlier that year.

More recently, I edited a set of thirteen volumes of the most important documents used in writing The Abandonment of the Jews. This set, published under the title America and the Holocaust, was keyed to Abandonment, chapter by chapter. In 1994, the film America and the Holocaust: Deceit and Indifference was aired by PBS as part of the prestigious American Experience Series. It drew on The Abandonment of the Jews and my earlier book Paper Walls.


The reviews of The Abandonment of the Jews that appeared in the general press were overwhelmingly favorable. Some of those comments are quoted on the cover of this edition. In addition, the scholarly response was almost entirely positive, and, in many instances, very strongly so. Abandonment received high praise from such distinguished scholars as Irving Abella, who, writing in the American Historical Review, called it a "landmark study.... Objective and dispassionate, the book is a model of historical writing." In the Journal of American History, Leonard Dinnerstein characterized it as "a telling account of one of the sorriest episodes in world history" and concluded that "we will not see a better book on this subject in our lifetime." A. J. Sherman wrote that Abandonment was "exemplary in its clarity and thoroughness" and referred to "its judicious tone and preference for marshaling evidence rather than apportioning blame." Yehuda Bauer described it as "authoritative, scholarly, and fascinating."

But there were also those who disagreed with some of my findings. Michael Marrus claimed that I failed "to appreciate how difficult it was [for contemporaries] to grasp the full horror of the Holocaust." Marcus's strongest criticism was that historians should assess people of the past "from the standpoint of their own culture, priorities and preoccupations," and not on the basis of "what we assume ought to have been their beliefs and actions." This mistaken approach, he asserted, imposes "our own values" on them. The thrust of such historical work, he declared, is to lament the fact that "the people written about failed to live up to our standards."

This is an argument frequently used to try to excuse people of the past from moral responsibility for their actions. In reality, the Americans of a half century ago were not members of some distant culture with different basic values and standards from our own in regard to human responsibility for assistance to other humans in desperate need of help. There has been no moral revolution between the 1940s and now that has endowed present-day Americans with standards notably superior to those that prevailed two generations ago.

Richard Breitman and Alan Kraur published American Refugee Policy and European Jewry in 1987, three years after Abandonment appeared. They praised Abandonment, but they also stressed what they saw as substantial differences between their interpretations of the facts and mine. They concluded that anti-Semitism was significantly less a factor in America's failure than I had maintained. They instead emphasized the influence of the narrow-minded and entrenched State Department bureaucracy, the solidity of the immigration laws (and the public's opposition to changing them), and "the reluctance of Franklin Delano Roosevelt to accept the inherent political risks of humanitarian measures on behalf of foreign Jews."

The most significant difference between the Breitman and Kraut interpretation and mine was their attempt to justify Roosevelt's paucity of action. They charged that I unfairly criticized Roosevelt "on the basis of limited evidence." Yet, based on the same evidence and a good deal of speculation, they excused him because "refugee policy was one area where Franklin Roosevelt, so venturesome in other spheres, did not feel free to take on much additional risk." Roosevelt, they surmised, "undoubtedly regretted reported Nazi killings of Jews in Europe, but they did not affect him deeply enough to override his basic instinct: for domestic and foreign policy reasons, he could not allow the United States to be seen as giving Jews special leniency or assistance." This is essentially the same justification that has been made for Roosevelt's internment of the Japanese Americans, despite the fact that they did not pose a security threat: It was politically expedient.

In a further argument, presented in a review of Abandonment, Breitman has maintained that, in any event, a strong commitment by Roosevelt would not have made much difference, although "at least some additional lives would have been saved." How many were required?

The most negative assessment of The Abandonment of the Jews came from Lucy Dawidowicz. Her review, which was declined by the New Republic and eventually published in This World, revolved around the argument that Roosevelt was correct in his view that "the only way to rescue the European Jews was to win the war against Hitler as fast as possible." In an attempt to back up her assertion that there was an "absence of real opportunities to rescue the Jews," she sweepingly dismissed the rescue proposals that I discussed in Abandonment, putting major emphasis on the significant diversion of airpower that she claimed an attack on the Auschwitz gas chambers would have entailed. Yet, she never even mentioned a crucially relevant point that I had discussed: During 1944, 2,800 American heavy bombers had struck oil targets within forty-seven miles of Auschwitz, and 223 of them had bombed industrial areas at Auschwitz itself, less than five miles from the gas chambers.

Near the end of the review, Dawidowicz inexplicably changed course. Regarding the United States, she stated: "No doubt that a more humane refugee policy on this country's part would have saved tens of thousands of lives." And shortly afterward she endorsed a central theme of my book. Here is the passage from her review:

Had a Jewish state existed in 1939, even one as small as Israel today, but as militarily competent, the terrible story of six million dead might have had another outcome. As a member of the Allied nations, contributing its manpower, and military resources to the conduct of the war, a Jewish state could have exercised some leverage with the great powers in the alliance. Even though it would not have diverted Hitler from his determination to murder the Jews, a Jewish state might have been able to wield sufficient military and political clout to have inhibited Slovakia, Romania. and Croatia from collaborating with the Germans in that murder. A Jewish state could have persuaded neutral countries to give Jewish refugees safe passage. A Jewish state would have ensured a safe haven. A Jewish state would have made a difference.

I agree. But if a tiny Jewish state would have had such an impact, what might a real commitment from the United States have achieved? [i]

The Abandonment of the Jews was also attacked by Henry Feingold. In 1970, he published The Politics of Rescue, a narrowly researched, error-prone study that is his main contribution to the question of America's response to the Holocaust. He has continued to discuss the subject in numerous articles in the years since. As Feingold's work has made clear, there is little disagreement between us as to the basic facts. If anything, his view is the harsher one. He refers to the Roosevelt administration's response to the Holocaust as a record of failure and "tragic inaction." It was an administration in which the rescue of the Jews "had no priority at all." And he unhesitatingly pointed out that Roosevelt, "after all, was responsible for the actions of his administration." Referring to the administration's steps that reduced refugee immigration to a trickle in 1940-41, Feingold charged: "Not only did that cost Jewish lives directly but the restrictionist policy also played a crucial role in Berlin's decision to solve its 'Jewish problem' by more radical means." As for the Roosevelt administration's response during the period of the mass killings (1941-45), Feingold emphasized: "Nothing that rescue advocates might suggest -- food packages to the camps, change of the designation of the inmates to POW's, retributive bombing and finally destruction of rail lines leading to the death camps and bombing of the gas chambers -- would be considered. The Jews would be allowed to perish." The Roosevelt administration "generally did all in its power to prevent a more active rescue effort." It was, he summed up, a record of "failures, missed opportunities, lying, sabotage, inurement and incompetence."

What, then, was at the center of Feingold's persistent criticism of The Abandonment of the Jews? His main argument was that, in the parts of the book where I assessed responsibility for America's failure, I inappropriately judged those who were involved by measuring them against my own "outraged Christian conscience." He maintained that "his [Wyman's] standards for human behavior are set so impossibly high that ultimately all the protagonists in the drama fall tragically short." Furthermore, he asserted that I had judged them "exclusively by his [Wyman's] own moral standards rather than those that prevailed at the time."

My response to a similar criticism by Michael Manus also applies to Feingold's position, but there is more to be said. Is it really an "impossibly high" ethical standard that criticizes responsible people, especially government and other leaders, for not attempting to do what could reasonably be done (and would not have interfered with the war effort) to help fellow humans who were facing mass murder? I do not believe that is an extreme moral position or that an "outraged Christian conscience" is a prerequisite to holding it. Large numbers of Americans -- Christian, Jewish, nonreligious, and others, both then and now -- would agree that this is not an "impossibly high" standard.

As for the assertion that I drew my conclusions based exclusively on my own moral standards "rather than those that prevailed at the time," one may ask what Feingold believes the United States was like then. If the nation was such a wasteland of amorality on this issue during World War II, there would have been no struggle for rescue action, no impact when the Treasury Department uncovered the scandalous behavior of the State Department and summarized it in its "Report to the Secretary on the Acquiescence of This Government in the Murder of the Jews," no War Refugee Board, no results at all. The nation was populated by a mixture of concerned, indifferent, and hateful people then, as now, but too many of the country's leaders failed those who were concerned or whose concern could have been aroused.

The explanation is not, as Feingold indicates, that after Auschwitz there is "ample reason to wonder about the power of morality, even about its existence." The logic of Feingold's position is that no one in that era is to be held accountable because substantially less elevated standards prevailed then than now. This would have to apply outside the United States, too. To the Swiss and Swedish bankers, for example, to the International Red Cross, the French and Portuguese governments, and so on.

Finally, I have to wonder at Feingold's perception that I drew my historical conclusions based on my "own moral standards rather than those that prevailed at the time." When does he think my moral standards were formed? The answer is: at that very time -- in the 1930s and early 1940s -- in a lower middle class family in an unexceptional town near an East Coast city.

Unfortunately, but understandably, it has been very difficult for some of the most ardent admirers of Franklin D. Roosevelt to accept the realities of America's response to the Holocaust and of Roosevelt's central role in that response. Since 1994, The Abandonment of the Jews has been heavily criticized by the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, an organization led by William vanden Heuvel, a lawyer, and historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. The attempt to discredit Abandonment has been central to their campaign to rearrange the history of the Holocaust years to show that Roosevelt and his administration did virtually all that was possible to save the European Jews. This assertion, however, contradicts not only my work but the views of numerous other historians.

Robert Dallek considered Roosevelt's "cautious response to appeals for help" for the European Jews an "unnecessary and destructive" compromise of moral principles. Robert Herzstein wrote that "historians may properly condemn Roosevelt for his policy toward refugees," a policy that he described as one of FDR's "three great failures." Alan Brinkley commented that "this is not an issue on which Roosevelt's reputation for greatness will rest. Quite the contrary -- the record is quite poor." William Leuchtenburg called that record "shameful." Frank Freidel told the New York Times: "I'm afraid what Wyman has found is all true -- his portrait of Roosevelt is unflattering but it's fair." Doris Kearns Goodwin concluded that "one must also concede [Roosevelt's] failures of vision that led to the forcible relocation of the Japanese Americans, and the lack of a more decisive response to the extermination of the European Jews.... Eleanor's failure to force her husband to admit more refugees remained, her son Jimmy later said, 'her deepest regret at the end of her life.'" The list could go on and on.

Vanden Heuvel, Schlesinger, and the Roosevelt Institute, well aware of this near-consensus of historical thought, convened a conference of scholars at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library in late 1993. The objective was to try to deal with what the institute described as "the opinion expressed with growing frequency during the preceding twenty-five years that Franklin D. Roosevelt personally, as well as individuals and institutions within his administration, failed to rescue the Jews of Europe from the Holocaust and, therefore, bear some responsibility for the death of six million Jews." I was not invited to the conference, though the report on its proceedings noted that The Abandonment of the Jews "set the tone for much of the debate."

In April 1994, five months after the conference, PBS's American Experience Series of documentary films broadcast America and the Holocaust: Deceit and Indifference. I was historical adviser for the film but the filmmaker, Martin Ostrow, carefully studied all of the relevant scholarship and consulted with several historians in carrying out his project. The resulting film was not aimed at Roosevelt but, given the historical record, it could not present a favorable picture of his policies and actions. Schlesinger and vanden Heuvel obtained an advance print of the film and were very displeased with it. They mailed a packet of material attacking the film's credibility to television critics across the country. The main component of that packet was the heavily flawed review of Abandonment which Lucy Dawidowicz had published in This World more than eight years earlier. This strategy was undoubtedly a factor in the negative reviews of the film by the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Post, and in a few additional attacks in the print media. But across the country most reviews and other reactions to the film were positive. The broadcast scored a high rating for audience size and America and the Holocaust went on to win several film awards.

One lasting effect of the film on the Roosevelt Institute has been to spur a continuing effort to discredit the scholarly standing of The Abandonment of the Jews. In January 1996, the institute published FDR and the Holocaust, edited by Verne Newton, director of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library. This small volume, which grew out of the conference at the Roosevelt Library, was mainly an attack on my work. It opened with a twenty-six-page summary of the conference. The rest of the book consisted largely of previously published essays, most of which either dealt favorably (or very gently) with Roosevelt's record on the Holocaust or criticized The Abandonment of the Jews. Because there are not many such articles, the Roosevelt Institute's selection was narrow. Henry Feingold, Richard Breitman, and Michael Marrus, along with Schlesinger and vanden Heuvel, accounted for eight of the twelve chapters. Two other chapters were long essays assailing the section in Abandonment that examined the question of bombing the Auschwitz gas chambers. As far as anyone has yet discovered, this issue did not involve Roosevelt at all.

One of the Auschwitz bombing essays was produced by Richard Levy, a nuclear engineer with no training or background in historical scholarship. It was based on virtually no archival sources and it is marked by glaring errors and omissions. The other was by James Kitchens III, who has a Ph.D. in early modern French history and, by his own acknowledgment, "is not expert" in Holocaust studies. He did, however, spend several years as an employee at the U.S. Air Force Historical Research Center at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Both sought to excuse the U.S. War Department's refusal in 1944 even to look into the possibilities of bombing the gas chambers. Both bypassed the matter of the War Department's deceit in replying to the requests for bombing. Neither was willing to discuss the facts that industrial targets at Auschwitz were twice bombed in force during the summer of 1944 and that hundreds and hundreds of American bombers struck other targets within fifty miles of the killing installations.

Vanden Heuvel, however, was especially impressed with Levy's arguments that the United States could not have effectively bombed the Auschwitz gas chambers and that, in any case, Jewish leaders at the time had never seriously proposed such an attack. Accordingly, he supported Levy in his effort to bring the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to change its exhibit on the Auschwitz bombing question. In May 1996, the museum revised that exhibit to include the statement that: "A few Jewish leaders called for the bombing of the Auschwitz gas chambers; others opposed it." This modification is historically inaccurate. More than ten Jewish leaders and three Jewish organizations supported the bombing and only one Jewish leader is known to have opposed it. Levy and vanden Heuvel have continued to press for additional changes in the museum's exhibit.

In December 1996, the New York Times Magazine published a vanden Heuvel article entitled "The Holocaust Was No Secret." Its subheading was: "Churchill knew. We all knew; and couldn't do anything about it -- except win the war." In this essay, vanden Heuvel, quoting a forthcoming book by a British professor, William Rubinstein, maintained "that not one plan or proposal, made anywhere in the democracies by either Jews or non-Jewish champions of the Jews after the Nazi conquest of Europe, could have rescued one single Jew who perished in the Holocaust." This ran directly counter to the facts regarding the achievements of Raoul Wallenberg in Budapest and many other (though sadly too few) rescue actions that did take place. Vanden Heuvel, drawing on Levy's claims, also contended that bombing the Auschwitz gas chambers "was never seriously suggested." The New York Times Magazine reported that it received hundreds of letters challenging vanden Heuvel's remarks.

Rubinstein's book was published in September 1997. It was called The Myth of Rescue: Why the Democracies Could Not Have Saved More Jews from the Nazis. Its main target was, in the author's words, Wyman's "egregiously and ahistorically inaccurate" work. The book's thesis appeared in its opening sentence: "No Jew who perished during the Nazi Holocaust could have been saved by any action which the Allies could have taken." This claim is as preposterous as it is sensational. Tens, possibly hundreds of thousands more could have been saved by a stronger and earlier commitment to rescue.

The Myth of Rescue included no new information, for Rubinstein did no archival research. What was unusual about the book was the attempt to rescind the factual record of the responses of the United States and Britain to the Holocaust. Also unusual was its sweeping arrogance: "All of the many studies which criticise the Allies ... for having failed to rescue Jews during the Holocaust are inaccurate and misleading, their arguments illogical and ahistorical." Actually, it was Rubinstein's book that abounded in inaccuracies; they appeared on page after page, virtually at any point where one opened the volume. Its logic was often convoluted, even bizarre. For instance, Rubinstein maintained that there was little isolationism and almost no anti-Semitism in the United States of the 1930s and the pre-Pearl Harbor 1940s. Inconsistencies also marked the book. "No person or group in the democracies," he asserted in his chapter on the bombing of Auschwitz, "proposed the destruction of any extermination camp." Three pages later he pointed out that "suggestions to bomb both the rail lines and the extermination camps were now made," and less than three pages after that he noted that the director of the War Refugee Board wrote to the War Department "officially advocating the bombing of Auschwitz."

Walter Laqueur's review of The Myth of Rescue was sharply to the point. He referred to Rubinstein's "willful ignorance and lack of judgment," and to his book as part of a new genre of writings about World War II that are "flatly and often outrageously wrong." He also asserted that the book was "part and parcel of the new trend of staking out unsustainable claims in a preposterous way." Reacting to Schlesinger's description of the book as a "commanding work of historical criticism," Laqueur declared that it was "anything but."

Schlesinger and vanden Heuvel championed Rubinstein's book because it upheld one of the two main arguments in their campaign to rehabilitate Roosevelt's image. The argument was that little had been possible in the way of rescue and FDR and his administration did practically everything that could have been done. This, however, ran contrary to a very large amount of historical evidence, including the strongly pro-Roosevelt Treasury Department's findings that were carefully summarized in 1944 in the "Report to the Secretary on the Acquiescence of This Government in the Murder of the Jews." Rubinstein's supposed demonstration that no rescue had been possible would, they hoped, cut the ground from under those who criticized FDR for taking so little action.

The other main argument presented by Schlesinger and vanden Heuvel to rationalize Roosevelt's failure was that FDR won the war and thus saved the European Jews who survived. This echoed the Roosevelt administration's claim at the time that the only way to help the Jews was to win the war as quickly as possible (which of course was already happening). As if it were a choice between winning the war and rescuing Jews. There was no conflict between the rescue proposals submitted to Washington and the most rapid possible pursuit of victory. No one, Jewish or otherwise, suggested diverting the war effort to save Jews. Proof that rescue efforts could go forward without interfering with the war effort, and that winning the war was not the only way to save Jews, came when Roosevelt himself established a government rescue agency, the War Refugee Board. Beyond that, it is specious to imply that the war was fought in any way to save the Jews. There were several important Allied war aims, but saving Jews was not among them. That a small Jewish remnant managed to survive in Europe until Hitler's defeat is hardly an adequate excuse for the failure to have attempted to save as many of the others as possible. As Deborah Lipstadt has pointed out, and as Jewish leaders warned at the time, Washington's "policy of 'rescue through victory' [was] a policy which meant that when victory came there was virtually no one left to rescue."

In many countries, the process of acknowledging and dealing with the actions of their nations during the Holocaust has moved slowly or has only recently begun. In the United States, however, recognition of the failed American response to the European Jewish catastrophe was widespread by the end of the 1980s. One of the saddest aspects of the attempts in the 1990s to justify that shameful record is that they reflect a continuing inability or unwillingness on the part of some Americans to confront a disturbing historical reality that has long since been revealed.



[i] The three examples that Dawidowicz used to point to a Jewish state's probable impact are little different from items three, four, and five of the series of twelve rescue plans that I discussed in Abandonment.
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Re: The Abandonment of the Jews: American and the Holocaust,

Postby admin » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:41 pm


Easter at Bermuda

The most intriguing document left by the Bermuda Conference was the transcript of a frank discussion held on Easter Sunday, April 25, by the full American delegation. No British were present. By then the conference had made its decisions; but not until then did the American chairman, Harold Dodds, call in all the American technical experts for a thorough airing of the issues. Finally, George Backer, who was well informed about the extermination and refugee situations, was asked for his views. "We have never seen your comments," said Dodds, "and I would like to have you take the floor and begin from the beginning." For the rest of the morning and through a special evening session, the American delegates for the first time saw beyond the confines of State Department and Foreign Office thinking. [1]

As Backer spoke, a genuine dialogue emerged. Dodds, and to a lesser extent Lucas and Bloom, began to perceive the problem in terms of people rather than bureaucratic processes. For a time, they seemed to search for solutions instead of rationalizations for inaction. [i] At the end of the morning session, Dodds remarked, "I have received a lot of knowledge here this morning." But it came too late. The conference's decisions were not reopened.

Backer exposed the State Department's insistence that the Jewish plight receive no special emphasis as no more than a device for avoiding the extermination issue. He pointed out that the conference's discus sions about non-Jewish refugees had shown that they were already being cared for by Britain or the United States or their own governments. "In so far as this conference is concerned," Backer asserted, "it would never have been necessary to call it" to help non-Jewish refugees.

Because it ruled out all plans for. mass rescue of Jews, Backer continued, the conference had dealt with little more than the 5,000 refugees in Spain. He warned that solving that comparatively small problem would not be enough to keep the conference from being judged a failure. "I would say that at least 125,000 people have got to be taken out of eastern Europe if this Conference is to yield a result." He argued for approaches to the Axis through neutral channels for the removal of at least part of the captive Jews. He was most deeply concerned about the children:

I think whether it succeeds or fails that this step must be taken. , .. It is an act of moral force, ... If you gentlemen can see some way . .. to try this and to receive . .. these children you have done much, more than much to justify your efforts.

In response, Lucas reverted to the State Department and Foreign Office view, arguing that a large-scale exodus of Jews posed a great danger. He revealed in confidence the British delegation's belief that if approaches to Germany to release Jews were "pressed too much that that is exactly what might happen." Lucas hypothesized that Hitler might use the opportunity to interfere with the Allied war effort by pushing 100,000 Jews across some border or by announcing to the Allies that he would deposit 100,000 at a certain port on a certain day, saying, "You bring your ships and supplies to take 100,000 away on such and such a date." If the United Nations had made approaches for the release of Jews, they would be obligated to find a way to remove and care for them. To do that, declared Lucas, "you would have to stop this man's war."

Backer maintained that Hitler could not require immediate evacuation and that the Allies could manage, over time, to move the 100,000 out. Lucas then fell back on the tight shipping situation, asserting that the interference with shipping required by such a project could "prolong this War to the end that we might lose 100,000 boys." Twice more within a brief time, Lucas insisted that mass rescue could cost the lives of large numbers of American fighting men.

Lucas's arguments against any large-scale rescue were exaggerated and thin. But Backer could not rebut them effectively. The Easter sessions were doubly tragic. They injected new information and a new perspective into the conference, but only after its decisions had solidified. And when the delegates at last appeared ready for serious consideration of the Jewish leaders' proposals, those who had developed them and could have elucidated and defended them were not available for consultation. Exclusion of such men as Stephen Wise and Joseph Proskauer helped insure the failure of the Bermuda Conference. [ii]



[i] When George Warren, another technical expert, evaluated the conference afterward, he remarked that he had been "shocked by the strong resistance [to rescue action] of individual members at the Conference." [2]
[ii] Lucas's arguments were vulnerable on several counts:

(1) If the Allies negotiated for the release of the Jews, they could insist on a reasonably paced exodus. If Germany nevertheless pushed refugees out en masse, the Allies need do only what was practical under war conditions. The world would recognize who was at fault.

(2) Realistically, Germany was not capable of delivering 100,000 refugees to a specific border or port at one time. Had it tried, the operation would have severely strained its own war machine.

(3) Enough Allied and neutral shipping for a regulated exodus was definitely available without interfering with the war effort.

(4) As Lucas spoke, the Allies were well into a program of evacuating 60,000 non-Jewish Greek and Polish refugees to the Middle East and Africa. Late the same year, similar help was initiated for 36,000 non-Jewish Yugoslavs.

(5) Approaches to Axis satellites for the release of their Jews would have entailed no possibility whatever of disorganized mass extrusion. By April 1943, the war had turned against Germany. Several satellites were edging toward an accommodation with the Allies. In those circumstances, to antagonize the Allied powers would have been self-defeating. [3]
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Re: The Abandonment of the Jews: American and the Holocaust,

Postby admin » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:42 pm


The Conflict Between the Regular Zionists and the Bergsonites

The American Jewish Conference's public denunciation of the Emergency Committee in late December 1943 was only one in a string of bitter attacks on the Bergsonites by the established Zionist forces. The activities of the Committee for a Jewish Army, efforts to show the "We Will Never Die" pageant throughout America, plans for the Emergency Conference, and the Rescue Resolution all encountered Zionist opposition.

One tactic involved frequent telephone calls, letters, and personal visits to persuade supporters of the Bergsonites to abandon the group. The American Zionist Emergency Council systematized the technique. Using the Bergson organizations' letterheads and newspaper advertisements, it collected the names of hundreds of their sponsors and conducted a thorough (and partially successful) campaign to induce them to withdraw their backing. [1]

During 1944, the attacks increased and sharpened, especially after mid-May, when Bergson launched the Hebrew Committee of National Liberation and the American League for a Free Palestine. These two organizations aimed at creating a Jewish state in Palestine. The Zionists recognized the new development as a competing movement and sought to disable it. (Animosities reached a point where Stephen Wise told John Pehle of the War Refugee Board that he seriously believed the Bergson group might take his life. WRB personnel thought it more likely that Bergson would be killed.) Zionists urged the State and Justice department's to arrange to have Bergson drafted into the armed forces or deported to Palestine (and almost certain incarceration, or worse). Others who pressed for the same objective included the British embassy, the American Jewish Committee, and Sol Bloom. The State Department did what it could. Bergson was almost drafted, despite previous rejection because of stomach ulcers. And proceedings to deport him were in process during much of 1944 and 1945. Firm intervention by friends in Congress blocked both moves. [2]

Over the years, Zionist leaders advanced numerous reasons that the Bergson organizations should be spurned. The Bergsonites, they frequently asserted, had no mandate or authorization from the Jewish public, they were unrepresentative, their actions were irresponsible and sensationalist, and they misused the large funds they solicited. (In fact, thorough investigations by the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation uncovered no financial irregularities.) Another argument held that the strident tone of their activities and newspaper advertising increased anti-Semitism. [3]

But these accusations, which were openly leveled, did not account for the high intensity of the Zionists' animosity toward the Bergsonites. Zionist records reveal that the number one concern was fear that the Bergsonites could build an effective rival Zionist organization. Zionist leaders were apprehensive not so much that such a movement could supplant theirs, but that it would draw away sorely needed funds and members and would disrupt progress toward realization of the Jewish state. [4]

Hostility toward the Bergsonites was all the more bitter because regular Zionists were painfully aware of their own weakness in the struggle to establish a Jewish state. They needed all the help they could find, not additional complications. That both movements had essentially the same goal multiplied the anguish. [5]

The Zionists were especially disturbed by the Bergsonites' unwillingness to adhere to the discipline of the established Zionist bodies, either on the world level (Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization) or on the national level (American Zionist Emergency Council and Zionist Organization of America). Because the Zionist movement lacked coercive power, it depended on the acceptance of organizational discipline. Without unity, the Zionists believed, little hope existed for attainment of a Jewish state. On several occasions, they and the Bergsonites tried to negotiate a formula for unified action. All attempts broke down over the issue of submitting to the control of the established Zionist movement. In the eyes of the regular Zionists, the Bergson group's. insistence on retaining its autonomy destroyed the all-important principle of unity. [6]

Thus the two movements, each able to marshal considerable skills and strengths, both pursuing common goals, could not collaborate either for rescue or for a Jewish state. Nor were the regular Zionists willing for the Bergson group to go its own way without interference. For with every Bergsonite success they saw a potential increase in the group's influence and thus its threat to their own movement. That, in their view, translated into a threat to the establishment of the Jewish state.

The conflict between the Zionists and the Bergsonites was one of numerous serious disputes that riddled organized American Jewry throughout the Holocaust. To read through the archives and publications of American Jewish organizations in the period is to journey through a landscape of continual fighting. Zionist organizations regularly clashed with such non-Zionist bodies as the American Jewish Committee and the Jewish Labor Committee. Zionists feuded bitterly among themselves, even breaking their movement apart for six months after the Wise-Silver collision of December 1944. Orthodox non-Zionists quarreled with each other. Acrimony interfered with cooperation on rescue between the Joint Distribution Committee and Jewish organizations that claimed the JDC was holding back funds. Twice between 1941 and 1945, power struggles within the United Jewish Appeal nearly destroyed that combined fund-raising mechanism. Little wonder, then, that an early War Refugee Board memorandum referring to plans for cooperation with the various private organizations warned that "one of the problems is to get all the groups, particularly the Jewish groups, to work together and to stop fighting among themselves." [7]
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Re: The Abandonment of the Jews: American and the Holocaust,

Postby admin » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:47 pm


Abbreviations Used in Source Notes

AAF: Wesley Craven & James Cate (eds). The Army Air Forces in World War II,
v 3 (1951).
ACB: "Confidential Bulletin" (of AZEC). In ZAL. Cited by bulletin number. All
citations are in v l.
ACCR: Am Com for Christian Refugees
Ack: Ackermann
AECZA: Am Emergency Com for Zionist Affairs
AF: Am Friends Service Com; &
Am Friends Service Com Archives. Within the Archives:
FS = Foreign Service File
GF= General File
OF = Overseas File
RS = Refugee Services File.
Certain individual folders are abbreviated as follows:
FS 1= Ctry Italy, Ltrs from
FS 2= Ctry Italy, Rpts
FS 3=US Govt, Wn Trips
FS 4= Internees Program, AF Project at ERS, FO, Oswego, NY
GF 1 = For Serv, Refs, Genl
GF 2 = For Serv, France, Genl
GF 3 = For Serv, France, Relief & Refs, Children's Transports
GF 4 = US Govt, SD, VD
GF 5 = C/O, JDC
RS 1 = Ctry France, Ref Programs
RS 2 = Ctry FNA, Fr Morocco
RS 3 = Ctry Portugal, Ltrs to, Admin
RS 4 = Ctry Portugal, Ltrs from
RS 5 = Ctry Spain, Rpts (Genl)
RS 6 = Ctry Spain, Corresp & Rpts
RS 7 = Migration Services, Transportation
RS 8 = Children, Corresp with USCom
RS 9 = C/O, ICR
RS 10 = C/O, JDC
RS 11 = Migration Services, US Govt Contacts. Wn Cfs.
AHS: Abba Hillel Silver Papers. Ma = Manson file.
AI: Agudath Israel; & Agudath Israel Papers.
AI Rpt = Confidential Rpt to the Chawerim Nichbodim of the Agudas
Israel World Orgzn (1st = July-Dec 1941; 2nd = Jan-June 1942;
4th = Jan-June 1943; 5th = July-Dec 1943; 6th = Jan-June 1944).
AJC: Am Jewish Com; & Am Jewish Com Archives.
AJCf: Am Jewish Conference
AJCg: Am Jewish Congress; & Am Jewish Congress Papers.
AJH: Am Jewish History
AJHQ: Am Jewish Historical Quarterly
AJHS: Am Jewish Historical Society Archives. Within the Archives:
1-67 = AJCf papers. In it, B 3 refers to transcript of Rescue Com
Sessions, 8/31-9/2/43. B 4 refers to transcript of Rescue Com Ses
sion. 12/4/44.
1-77 = AJCg papers. In it, B 3 refers to folders of Administrative Com
Mins. B 6 refers to folders of Exec Com Mins.
AJYB: Am Jewish Year Book
ALFP: Am League for a Free Palestine
Am: American
AM: AZEC, Mins of Mtgs, Oct 18, 1943-Apr 26, 1949. In ZAL. Cited by serial
number of the minutes.
AME: AZEC, Mins of Mtgs of Exec Com. 1943-49. In ZAL. Cited by serial
number of the minutes.
Anger: Per Anger, With Raoul Wallenberg in Budapest (1981).
Ans: Answer
APRR: ECSJPE. The Am Press & the Rescue Resolution (1944). Copy in PSC
ASW: Assistant Secretary of War; &
Assistant Secretary of War Files. NA. RG 107.
Certain individual folders are abbreviated as follows:
ASW 1 = ASW 400.38 Countries-C-D-E·F (B 151)
ASW 2 = ASW 400.38 Countries-Germany
ASW 3 = ASW 400.38 Jews
ASW 4 = ASW 400.38 WRB
ASW 5 = ASW 400.38 WRB (B 151).
AtM: Atlantic Monthly
Avni: Haim Avni. Spain, the Jews, & Franco (1982).
AZ: Am Zionist Emergency Council
AZECL Am Zionist Emergency Council
B: box
BA: Yitshaq Ben-Ami File, Dept of Justice.
Bauer I: Yehuda Bauer, Am Jewry & the Holacaust (1981).
Bauer II: Yehuda Bauer, The Holocaust in Historical Perspective (1978).
Bauer III: Yehuda Bauer, "The Negotiations between Saly Mayer & the Representatives
of the S.S. in 1944-1945" in Rescue Attempts during the Holocaust:
Proceedings of the Second Yad Vashem International Historical
Conference-April 1974 (1977).
BC Mins: Am minutes of Bermuda Cf sessions. In BLP, B 203, Ref Cf-Bermuda
Cf 1943.
BC Rpt: Rpt to the Govts of the US & the UK from their Delegates to the Cf on
the Ref Problem held at Bermuda, 4/43. In same file as BC Mins.
Ber Cf: Bermuda Conference
BG: Boston Globe
BI: Papers of Bureau of Immigration of Natl Catholic Welfare Conf. All documents
cited are from United States Catholic Conf Records, Migration
& Refugee Division. The number following BI stands for the box
in which the document was located. Then come the title of the relevant folder
& its serial number.
BKR Rpt: Robert Bulkley, Frederick Keppel, & F. D. G. Ribble, Report to the President:
Board of Appeals on Visa Cases: Nov 9, 1942 (1942).
BLD: Breckinridge Long Diary.
BLP: Breckinridge Long Papers.
Braham I: Randolph L. Braham, The Politics of Genocide: The Holocaust in Hungary,
v 2 (1981).
Braham II: Randolph L. Braham (ed), The Destruction of Hungarian Jewry, v 1 (1963).
Braham III: Randolph L Braham (ed), Hungarian-Jewish Studies, v 3 (1973).
Burns: Jamew M. Burns, Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom (1970).
Cantril: Hadley Cantril (ed), Public Opinion: 1935-1946 (1951).
CBA: Bulletin of Activities & Digest of the Press (AJCf). Cited by bulletin number.
CC: Christian Century
CCR: Catholic Com for Refugees
CD: Congressional Digest
CEP Jour: Clarence E. Pickett's journal, AF Archives.
Cf: conference
CfR: Conference Record (AJCf). All citations from v 1. Number is issue number
within v 1.
Cf Rpt: AJCf, Report of the Interim Committee & the Commission on Rescue,
Commission on Palestine, Commission on Post-War to the Delegates of
the Am Jewish Conf (1944).
CH: Carlton J. H. Hayes Papers. All citations from the Spanish Papers.
CH 1: Makinson, Sum of Ref Work in 1943, 1/4/44, CH, B 1, Jan-Feb 1944
CH 2: NWB, Memo on Ref Relief Activities, 7/7/44, CH, B 1, Jan-Feb 1944
CH 3: WLB, Relief of Refs in Spain, 7/19/44, CH, B I, Jan-Feb 1944 Dept.
Chr R: Christian Register
CJA: Com for a Jewish Army
CJR: Contemporary Jewish Record
CM: AJCf, Mins of Mtg,. In ZAL.
C/O: Committees & Organizations (file designation in AF Archives).
Com: committee
Convsn: conversation
CP: Personal files held by Sen Claiborne Pell.
CR: Congressional Record
CS: US 15th Air Force, Complete Summary of Operations. 1 Nov 1943-8 May
1945. In NA, RG243.
CSM: Christian Science Monitor
CT: Chicago Tribune
Ctry: country
CW: Congress Weekly
DN: Dallas News
DO: US 15th Air Force, Daily Operations, 1944. In NA, RG 243.
DP: Denver Post
DSB: Department of State Bulletin
EC: Emergency Com to Save the Jewish People of Europe
ECSJPE: Emergency Com to Save the Jewish People of Europe
EHR: English Historical Review, Jan 1977 issue.
EmC: Mins of Mtg of Emerg Com on Eur Situation, 3/6/43, AJC, PEC Memoranda
& Materials.
ER: Eleanor Roosevelt; & Eleanor Roosevelt Papers (citations thus: Box/File).
ERS: Emergency Refugee Shelter (at Ft Ontario)
Estb TH: Memorandum Re: Establishment of Temporary Havens of Refuge in the
US, u/c Hull, Morgenthau, & Stimson to FDR, 5/8/44, FDR, OF
ET: Elbert Thomas Papers.
Evacn: evacuation
EW: State Dept decimal file 740.00116 European War 1939.
Exec: executive
Exh: exhibit
F: folder
FCC: Papers of the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America.
FDR: Franklin D. Roosevelt; and Franklin D. Roosevelt Papers.
FDRL: Franklin D. Roosevelt Library
FNA: French North Africa
FO: Fort Ontario
FOH: "Investigation of Problems Presented by Refugees at Fort Ontario Refugee
Shelter," Hearings before Subcom VI of the Com on Immigration &
Naturalization, House of Representatives, 79 Cong, 1 ses (June 25-26,
FO Rpts: War Relocation Authority, Emergency Refugee Shelter, Reports, Parts I,
II, III. In NA, RG 210.
FO Rpt 1: WRA, Semi-Annual Rpt, July 1-Dec 31, 1944, in FO Rpts.
FO Rpt 2: Ruth Gruber, "Eight Months Later: A Rpt on the Emergency Refugee
Shelter" [4/45], in FO Rpts.
FO Rpt 3: Edward Marks, Jr, Rpt of Refugee Program, 5/46, in FO Rpts.
For Serv: Foreign Service
fr: frame
Fr: France
FR: US State Dept, Foreign Relations of the United States series.
FSR: Final Summary Rpt of the Exec Director, WRB (1945).
Garlinski: Jozef Garlinski, Fighting Auschwitz (1975).
GCM: Governing Council Minutes, AJCg Papers.
G/E: General & Emergency (file designation in JDC Archives).
GEC: WRB, German Extermination Camps (1944).
Ger: Germany
Goldmann: The Autobiography of Nahum Goldmann (1969).
GR: Foreign Economic Administration, "A Survey of Greek Relief, Apr 1941
to Dec 1943," 3/44, copy in W 49, FEA 2.
H I: Ira Hirschmann's first report, 3/6/44, copy in JDC, Emigration Projects
from the Balkans.
H II: Hirschmann's second report, 8/19/44, copy in JDC, Rescue Work.
H III: Hirschmann's third report, 10/4/44, copy in JDC, Subject Matter WRB
Rpt by Hirschmann.
H IV: Hirschmann, Memo to Steinhardt on Interview with Joel Brand, 6/22/44,
copy in ASW 3.
HalperinL Samuel Halperin, The Political World of Am Zionism (1961).
Hayes: Carlton J. H. Hayes, Wartime Mission in Spain (1946).
HCNL: Hebrew Committee of National Liberation
HI: Harold Ickes Papers. Citations from Secy of Interior files, unless otherwise
HIAS: Hebrew Sheltering & Immigrant Aid Society
HID: Harold Ickes Diaries. Cited by page numbers only.
Hilberg: Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (1961).
Hirschmann: Ira Hirschmann, Caution to the Winds (1962).
Hn: Ira Hirschmann
HSD: Henry L. Stimson Diaries
HST: Harry S Truman
Hull: Cordell Hull Papers. Citations thus: Box/Folder.
Hung: Hungary
ICR: Intergovernmental Com on Refugees
IE: Ira C. Eaker Papers.
IJPS: Independent Jewish Press Service News
Imgn: immigration
IMS: International Migration Service; & International Migration Service Papers.
Infield: Glenn Infield, The Poltava Affair (1973).
INN: Isaac Neustadt-Noy, "The Unending Task: Efforts to Unite Am Jewry
from the Am Jewish Congress to the Am Jewish Conference," PhD
diss, Brandeis Univ, 1976,
INS: Immigration & Naturalization Service
Int Com: Interim Committee of AJCf
IR: Interpreter Releases
Israel: Fred Israel, The War Diary of Breckinridge Long (1966).
It: Italy
J: Jewish
JDC: Am Jewish Joint Distribution Com; & Am Jewish Joint Distribution Com
JEC: Joint Emergency Com on European Jewish Affairs
JF: Jewish Frontier
JI: Jabotinsky Institute, Tel Aviv
JLC: Jewish Labor Com; & Jewish Labor Com Archives.
JM: James G. McDonald Papers.
JMJ: Jewish Morning Journal
JO: Jewish Outlook
JPC: Joseph P. Chamberlain Papers. Each document in this collection has its
own serial number.
JTA: Jewish Telegraphic Agency Daily News Bulletin
JV: Jewish Veteran
KCS: Kansas City Star
Kp I: Alexander Kohanski (eel), The Am Jewish Conference: Its Organization and
Proceedings of the First Session, Aug 29-Sept 2, 1943 (1944).
Kp II: Alexander Kohanski (eel), The Am Jewish Conference: Proceedings of the
Second Session, Dec 3-5, 1944 (1945).
LAT: Los Angeles Times
LC: Library of Congress
Legis: Legislative Branch, NA. Number given is the relevant file number.
Lester: Elenore Lester, Wallenberg: The Man in the Iron Web (1982).
LJ: Liberal Judaism
Lowrie 1: Donald Lowrie, "The Work in the Camps," 8/24/42, JDC, G/E, France
1941-43, Rpt.
Lowrie 2: Lowrie to Strong, 8/10/42, AF, GF 2.
Lowrie 3: Lowrie to Strong, 9/17/42, AF, GF, For Serv, France, Relief & Refs,
Concentration camps.
LS: Laurence Steinhardt Papers. All citations from Box 44.
Ltr: letter
Mann Rpt: Mann to Pehle, 8/30/44, W 71, Rpt on Trip to Sp & Port.
MASC: Migration & Alien Status Com (of NRS)
McC: McClelland
MD: Morgenthau Diaries. Citations thus: Book/page.
Mds: Midstream
Mign: migration
Mins: minutes
MJ: Menorah Journal
Morse: Arthur Morse, While Six Million Died (1968).
Moscow OH: Warren Moscow Oral History, Columbia Univ Collection.
MPD: Morgenthau Presidential Diaries.
MR: Monthly Review (INS)
M Rpts: US 15th Air Force Mission Rpts. In A. F. Simpson Historical Research
Center. Unless otherwise noted, references are to microfilm copies.
MT: Myron C. Taylor Papers. Unless otherwise noted, citations are from Box
5, Correspondence 1938-54.
Mtg: meeting
Musy: Jean-Marie Musy, "Rapport au Comite Suisse de l'Union of Orthodox
Rabbis," 1945, in files of Reuven Hecht, Haifa.
Mvt: movement
NA: National Archives
NAfr: North Africa
Natl: National
NCWC: National Catholic Welfare Conference
NJM: National Jewish Monthly
NP: New Palestine
NR: New Republic
NRS: National Refugee Service; & National Refugee Service Papers (number is
that of the relevant file).
NYHT: New York Herald Tribune
NYJA: New York Journal-American
NYP: New York Post
NYT: New York Times
NYWT: New York World Telegram
OC: Oscar Cox Papers. All citations from Box 101, Refugees.
O'Dwyer: Personal files of Paul O'Dwyer.
OFR: Olsen to O'Dwyer, Final Rpt, 6/15/45, W 72, Sweden, Olsen's Rpts.
Op: Opinion
OR: Olsen, Operations of WRB from Sweden, 11/20/44, W 72, Sweden,
Olsen's Rpts.
PAC: President's Advisory Com on Political Refugees
Pal: Palestine
Pal Com: Palestine Committee
Pal Comsn: Palestine Commission
PC: Planning Committee (of AJCg/WJC)
PC/FDR: Press Conferences of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Typed volumes at
FDRL.PEC: Proskauer Emergency Committee (a file in AJC Archives).
Pell OH: Herbert C. Pell Oral History, Columbia Univ Collection.
PFR: Polish Fortnightly Review
Port: Portugal
PPA: Samuel Rosenman (ed), The Public Papers & Addresses of Franklin D.
Roosevelt, v 13 (1950).
PR: Polish Review
PRO: Public Record Office, London
Pr Rel: press release
PSC: Palestine Statehood Committee Papers. Citations thus: Box/Folder.
S= Scrapbook.
R: State Dept decimal file 840.48 Refugees.
RD: Reader's Digest
Ref: refugee
RG: Record Group
RG 165(1)
NA, RG 165, OPD 383.7, Sec II, case 21.
RM: Roswell McClelland, Rpt on the Activities of the WRB ... Switzerland,
7/31/45, JDC, WRB.
Rpt: report
RR: US House of Representatives, Problems of World War II & Its Aftermath:
Part 2, The Palestine Question (1976).
RT: Robert Taft Papers, Number is relevant box number.
RW: Robert Wagner Papers, Citations thus: Box/Folder. All citations from
Palestine Files.
RYP: "Review of the Yiddish Press," available at AJC Library.
SB: Sol Bloom Papers.
SD: State Dept; and State Dept decimal files. Within the files:
EW = 740.00116 European War 1939
R = 840.48 Refugees.
SecyL Secretary
SFE: San Francisco Examiner
SG: Survey Graphic
SIB: "Special Information Bulletin" (of NRS)
Silver: Abba Hillel Silver, Vision & Victory (1949).
Smolen: Kazimierz Smolen, From the History of KL-Auschwitz, v 1 (1967).
Sp: Spain
Spz: Carl A. Spaatz Papers
Spz 1: Spaatz Papers, B 143, Operational Planning; Attacks Against....
Spz 2: Spaatz Papers, B 182, Subject File-Operations-Warsaw Dropping
SS: Secretary of State
ST: Seattle Times
Stember: Charles Stember (ed), Jews in the Mind of America (1966).
Stmt: statement
Sunderman: James Sunderman (ed), World War II in the Air: Europe (1963).
SW: Stephen Wise Papers.
TD: Treasury Dept
Teleg: telegram
TH: NA, RG 210, War Relocation Authority, Emergency Refugee Shelter,
Temporary Havens in the U.S. Numbers refer to relevant folder
TS: US War Relocation Authority, Token Shipment [1946].
Tur: Turkey
u/c: under cover of
UJA: United Jewish Appeal
UOR: Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the US & Canada
USC: Unitarian Service Com; & Unitarian Service Com Papers.
USCCED: US Com for the Care of European Children
v: volume
VD: Visa Division
VR: Vertical File (file designation in ZAL),
VH: Vaad Hahatzala; & Vaad Hahatzala Papers.
Voss: Carl H. Voss (cd), Stephen S. Wise: Servant ofthe People (1969).
W: WRB Records. The number following W stands for the box in which the
document is located.
Wasserstein: Bernard Wasserstein, Britain & the Jews of Europe, 1939-1945 (1979).
WC: War Crimes
WCC: War Crimes Commission
WF: Charles Webster & Noble Frinkland, The Strategic Air Offensive Against
Germany, 1939-1945, v 3 (1961).
WH: "WRB History." In WRB Records, boxes 110-111.
WIL: Women's International League for Peace & Freedom, US section; & its
Wise: Challenging Years; The Autobiography of Stephen Wise (1949).
WJC: World Jewish Congress; & World Jewish Congress Papers.
WLB: Wiener Library Bulletin
Wn: Washington
WP: Washington Post
WRA: Wall Relocation Authority; & NA, RG 210, War Relocation Authority,
Field Office Records, Emergency Refugee Shelter, Central Files.
Number is relevant file number.
WRB: War Refugee Board
WRS-NCWC: War Relief Services-National Catholic Welfare Conference
WT: Washington Times-Herald
Wyman: David Wyman, Paper Walls: Am & the Refugee Crisis, 1938-1941 (1968).
YIVO: YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
YSH: EC, "A Year in the Service of Humanity," 8/44, PSC 5/22 & Reel 6.
YV: Yad Vashem
YVS: Yad Vashem Studies
Z: Zionist
ZAL: Zionist Archives & Library
Zm: Zionism
ZOA: Zionist Organization of Am
Zt: Zionist



1 Eg, In The Dispersion, winter 1963- 64, 6-7 (Nahum Goldmann); Martyrdom & Resistance, 11/83, 11 (Israel Goldstein); Reconstructionist, summer 1983, 4 (Ira Eisenstein).


1 Hilberg, ch 7, esp 177, 182-3, 261; quotation is from YVS, v 6, 301.

2 Hilberg, 196, 225, 242, 256, 767.

3 Ibid, 257, 262; Raul Hilberg (ed), Documents 01Destruction: Germany and Jewry, 1933-1945 (1971), 88.

4 Hilberg, 264-5; Wyman, 205; Leavitt to Aufbau, 2/27/42, JOC, GIE, Germany- Emig Gen.

5 Hilberg, 209, 265, 309-11, 555, 561- 6, 572, 767; Lucy Dawidowicz, The War Against the Jews, 1933-1945 (1975), 181.

6 Hilberg, 767.

7 Ibid, 643.

6. Ibid, 247, 284-7, 298, 311, 333-7, 377, 645-6.

9 Wyman, vii, 35-9, 168-83, 191- 205, 209.

10 See page 136.

11 Wyman, esp ch 1 and Conclusion.

12 Wyman, 4-9, and see index entry Unemployment.

13 Ibid, 10-14, and see index entries Nativism and Restrictionists.

14 Natl Legionnaire, 10/42, 2; Am Legion Magazine, 11/43, 37; Foreign Service (VFW), 7/43, 30, 10/44, 13; NYT, 4/19/44, 11; IR, 7/18/44, 233-4; Rescue (HIAS), 2/45, 6; RD, 3/43, 44.

15 Sources in preceding note. Also, CEP Jour, 6/18/43; MR, 12/43, 12; Rescue, 2/45, 6; NYT, 9/21/42, 1, 9/23/43, 13, 4/19/44, 11, 10/13/44, 8, 10/21/45, 40; NYHT, 9/26/44, 2; Am Legion Magazine, 4/43, 2; Foreign Service, 12/45, 11; NYP, 4/18/44, 4; Wyman, 79.

16 Travers to Foster, 4/6/45, SD 150.01 Bilis/3-3045; IR, 6/21/43, 169- 85; CEP Jour, 1/26/44; MR, 12/43, 11- 13; NYT, 8/22/44, 32; Am Vindicator, 4/42, I, 5/42, 7, 11/42, 3; Natl Record, 4/43, I, 12/44, 6.

17 NYT, 9/22/42, 16; CR, v 89, 7107- 8, 8594.

18 Burton to Joy, 5/7/44, use, Sen Burton.

19 AF Mins, For Serv Staff, 5/14/45; NYT, 3/6/44, 9; IR, 10/9/42, 342, 11/9/ 43, 364, 12/14/43, 391, 8/8/44, 250-8; MR, 12/43, 12-13; JTA, 1/9/44; Hullto Dickstein, 12/15/43, 12/13/43, SD 150.01 Bilis/507 & 509; HR 3487, 10/ 18/43, copy in BLP, B 198, Legislation.

20 AF Mins, Jt For Serv Exec Com, 3/ 6/44, 4/17/44, 8/21/44; Pickett to Vail, 10/21/43, Pickett to Vail & Rogers, 10/ 21/43, Rpt on Recommendations, 10/ 15/43 (with Mins of Exec Com of NRS, 10/20/43), AF, RS, NRS; RR, 63-4.

21 Wyman, 47, 95, 210; Stember, 145, 149.

22 Cantril, 307. Twelve percent had no opinion.

23 Wyman, 14-26, 85-6, 94-5, 103, 111, 128, 163-5.

24 Ibid, 14-23; Stember, 67, 84-5, 130-3, 208-10, 214; Public Opinion Quarterly, spr 1942, 56; NYT, 4/11/45, 21.

25 Wyman, 14-22; AJYB, v 44, 157- 60, v 46, 137-8; Charles Tull, Father Coughlin and the New Deal (1965), 234- 7; Sander Diamond, The Nazi Movement in the United States, 1924-1941 (1974), 345-8; NYT, 12/16/41, 31, 4/4/ 42, 11, 4/15/42, 1, 4/19/42, IV, 7, 7/24/ 42, I, 8, 8/13/42, 6, 3/24/43, 16, 6/19/ 43, 1, 28.

26 AJYB, v 44, 159-60, v 46, 133-43, v 47, 268-79; JV, 10/42, 3, 5/44, 8, 21, 8/44, 9; NJM, 5/42, 296-7; CW, 4/30/ 43, 9-10, 10/29/43, 2; AtM, 7/44, 49- 50; Cross and the Flag, 4/42, 2, 5/42, 2, 3, 3/43, 17, 9/43, 268-9, 12/43, 315, 3/ 44, 363, 10/44, 455, 3/45, 530.

27 AJYB, v 46, 141; CJR, 2/44, 65, 4/ 44, 179; CW, 1/2/42, 3, 11/19/43, 20; NJM, 12/43, 114, 2/44, 178; JV, 6/42, 15, 12/42, 7; Tomorrow, 9/44, 55.

28 NYT, 11/16/42, 21, 12/30/43, 19, 1/11/44, 1, 24; CW, 112/42, 3, 10/23/ 42, 2, 4/2/43, 2, 1115/43, 20; JV, 12/42, 7-8; NJM, 2/44, 178; PM, 8/10/44, 13.

29 CJR, 12/43, 637-8, 2/44, 65; NJM, 11/43, 82; CW, 10/29/43, 4, 7, 12/10/ 43, 2; AtM, 7/44, 45-52; NYT, 11/10/ 43, 19; PM, 4/30/44, 6; LJ, 9/44, 57; AJYB, v 46, 141; Time, 6/12/44, 81.

30 AJYB, v 46, 141, 491; JV, 12/42, 4, 2/43, 13; Stember, 115-20; NYT, 1/11/ 44, 24, 4/8/44, 2; CW, 9/24/43, 20; quotation is from Common Ground, summer 1943, 17; and CW, 4/9/43, 9.

31 Stember, 135; AJYB, v 47, 162-4.

32 AJYB, v 46, 141; JV, 12/42, 4, 2/43, 13, 3/43, 8; PM, 12/22/42, 6; CW, 4/30/ 43, 9; Gilbert Cant, America's Navy in World War II (1943), 91; quotation is from AtM, 7/44, 50.

33 Quotations are from G-- to Bennet, 7/10/45, A. W. Bennet Papers, B 25, F 1, J Affairs; and W 3, Anonymous File. The latter contains several such letters, as do various archives, including SW, Jewish-Christian Relations file; and Legis 17436, Com VI Incoming Corresp.

34 See, eg, CW, 2/11/44, 4; Sat Review of Literature, 1/27/45, 7-9; Chr R, 2/45, 60-1, 5/45, 175, 191-2.

35 Diary of F. Stark, 2/20/44, PRO, FO 371/40130/8902; IJPS release, 6/11/ 43; Am Civil Liberties Union, In Defense of Our Liberties (1944), 11.

36 NJM, 9/44, 32; Christianity & Crisis, 2/5/45, 8.

37 Sylvia N[eulander] to Alice, 6/9/45, JDC, Refs, Children. For other evidence of anti-Semitism in the armed forces, see page 324n; and JV, 12/42, 4, 2/43, 13.

38 JPC 3379; Mins of MASC, 5/11143, Mayerson, Peduck, & Kaplan drafts, NRS 326; CW, 9/24/43, 20-1.

39 AJYB, v 46, 137, 142, v 47, 268-70, 277; CJR, 6/43, 279; CW, 4/9/43, 2, 9/ 24/43, 20-1; Op, 3/45, 4; NYP, 6/27/ 44, 20; Am Mercury, 7/44, 31-7; NYT, 6/5/41, 24; CR, v 89, A1471, v 90, 1418; Time, 2/14/44, 17; Legis 16443; IR, 5/ 7/45, 108.

40 Stember, 53-62.

41 Ibid, 120-5.

42 RD, 9/42, 2-4; Stember, 124.

43 Stember, 127-8.

44 Ibid, 131-3. Support for an anti-Semitic campaign ranged from 11 to 19%; sympathy for one ranged from 20 to 31%.


1 Hilberg, 619, 652; Hilberg (ed), Documents of Destruction, 194; YVS, v 7, 52.

2 The statement on American newspapers is based on extensive research in 10 major newspapers and less comprehensive use of many others.

3 Alex Grobman, "Reaction of American Jewry through the American and Jewish Press 1939-1942, " MA thesis, Hebrew Univ of Jerusalem (1978), 73- 4, 77; CW, 1/16/42, 3; NJM, 12/41, 114; NYHT, 12/5/41, 26; NYT, 10/26/ 41, 6, 10/28/41, 10, 11/2/41, 24.

4 Grobman, "Reaction of Am Jewry, " 85; NJM, 1/42, 175, 2/42, 179-80; CW, 112/42, 16; JF, 3/42, 10-11; CJR, 6/42, 311, 8/42, 430; NYT, 4/6/42, 2, 5/19/ 42, 3, 5/31/42, 17, 6/26/42, 5; Life, 2/ 23/42, 26-7; Time, 2/23/42, 34 .

5 NYT, 3/14/42, 7; NJM, 5/42, 292; CW, 3/20/42, 3; Grobman, "Reaction of Am Jewry, " 86.

6 NYT, 3/14/42, 7; Hilberg, 460-8; Memo on Telephone Convsn with Dr. Schwartz in Lisbon, 3/12/42, JDC, Rpts, Eur Telephone Convsns.

7 NYT, 5/18/42, 4.

8 Mds, 4/68, 52.

9 Ibid, 54-8.

10 NYT, 7/2/42, 6.

11 Mds, 4/68, 52-3; BG, 6126/42, 12; NYT, 6/27/42, 5, 6/30/42, 7; PFR, 7/ 15/42, 3.

12 This discussion of newspaper coverage is based on systematic study of 10 major American newspapers: Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Dallas News, Denver Post, Kansas City Star, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, San Francisco Examiner, Seattle Times, and Washington Post.

13 NYT, 6/27/42, 5.

14 NYT, 6/30/42, 7.

15 Eg, WP, 6/30/42, 2; CT, 6/30/42, 6; LAT, 6/30/42, 3; KCS, 6/29/42, 8. Exceptions were NYT, 6/30/42, 7; ST, 6/29/42, 1.

16 PFR, 7/15/42, 4.

17 Ibid, 8.

18 Johnson to SS, 7/16/42, SD 862.4016/2229; Biddle to SS, 8/13/42, SD, EW/527.

19 RYP, 7/8/42, 7/16/42; CW, 6/26/ 42, 3, 7/10/42, 3; Grobman, "Reaction of Am Jewry, " 89-90; NYT, 7/22/42, 4.

20 NYT, 7/22/44, 1, 4; Op, 8/42, 4.

21 CW, 8/14/42, I; NYT, 7/22/42, 1.

22 CW, 8/14/42, 2.

23 Ibid, 3-4; JF, 8/42, 27; NJM, 9/42, 2; Op, 8/42, 4; RYP, 7/24/42.

24 CJR, 10/42, 520; CR, v 88, 6537; AJYB, v 45, 192.

25 CW, 8/14/42, 15.

26 NYT, 7/22, 1, 4; CT, 7/22, 7, 7123, 17, 7124, 6; LAT, 8/5, 10, 817, 13, 8/9, 11, 8, 8/11, 11, 2, 8/12, II, 8, 8/13, II, I. All dates in 1942.

27 Catholic Worker, 6/43, 1.

28 PFR, 7/15/42, 7.

29 A. J. P. Taylor, English History, 1914-1945 (1965), 19.

30 Cantril, 383, 1070-1; H. C. Peterson, Propaganda for War (1939); Arthur Ponsonby, Falsehood in War-Time (1928); James Squires, British Propaganda at Home and in the United States from 1914 to 1917 (1935).

31 See pages 321-2.

32 See pages 311-21, 327n.
33 Eg, NYT, 2/3/42, 10, 6/18/42, 13, 7/27/42, 3, 9/22/42, 1, 10/2/42, 3, 2/14/ 43, 37; WP, 6/18/42, 1, 2, 8/16/42, 2, 9/11142, 10.
34 NYT, 4/12/42, 1, 6/11/42, 1, 6/12/ 42, 6; WP, 8/22/42, 1; PFR, 7/1/42, 1, 7/15/42, 3-4.

35 Jan Ciechanowski, Defeat in Victory (1947), 118; Memoirs of Cordell Hull (1948), 1184.

36 NYT, 6/13/42, 7.

37 NYT, 8/22/42, I, 10/8/42, 1; FR 1942, vi, 48-71; FR 1942, v 3, 772-7.

38 WP, 8/30/42, 12; SFE, 8/30/42, B; NYT, 8/6/42, 7.

39 Donald Lowrie, The Hunted Children (1963), chs 5-17; Lowrie 1.

40 Hilberg, 407; Michael R Marrus and Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France and the Jews (1981), 233-4, 246, 305, 308- 9, 325-30. Marrus and Paxton point out that the Nazis and the Vichy authorities made no definite agreement for the exemption of the French-born Jews. They also thoroughly demonstrate Vichy's complicity in the deportations.

41 Hilberg, 408; Gerald Reitlinger, The Final Solution (1953), 318; CW, 10/ 9/42, 16; NYT, 7/26/42, 16, 9/6/42, 14.

42 MD 6881/29-30; Fate of J Children in France [11/43], JOC, France, Children; Confidential mins of for serv staff mtg, 3/27/44, AF, FS.

43 MJ, 4/45, 96; Reidinger, Final Solution, 319-20.

44 Hilberg, 408; Lowrie 1.

45 Lowrie 2; Lowrie 3; Schwartz to JOC-NY, 8/13/42, JDC, G/E, France, Refs.

46 NR, 12/21/42, 817; Lowrie 1.

47 Lowrie 1; Lowrie, Hunted, 218-9; NYT, 9/12/42, 2.

48 Lowrie 3; "Baden-Baden Report" (AF Activities in France to 11/42), 6/13/ 43, AF, GF, For Serv, Fr, Relief & Refs, Genl; ltr on deportaiions, 9/4/42, u/c Hyman to Pickett, 11/16/42, AF, GF 2; Lowrie, Hunted, 226.

49 Lowrie 3; Hilberg, 409; MJ, 4/45, 96; Reidinger, Final Solution, 326.

50 Lowrie 2; Schwartz to Leavitt, 8/ 13/42, Noble to Ref Div, 9/11, 9/26, & 10/12/42, all in AF, RS 1.

51 Marcuse to Frawley, 11/11/42, AF, GF3.

52 Ibid; Marcuse to Frank, 11/20/42, AF, GF, German J Children's Aid (now missing).

53 AF Mins, For Serv Section, 9/24/ 42.

54 NYT, 8/27/42, 3, 9/9/42, 9; CJR, 10/42, 526, 12/42, 646.

55 NYT, 8/6/42, 1, 8/27/42, 3, 9/3/42, 5; CJR, 10/42, 526; John Morley, Vatican Diplomacy and the Jews During the Holocaust, 1939-1943 (1980), 56-9, 68.

56 CJR, 12/42, 647.

57 CJR, 10/42, 527, 12/42, 645; Lowrie 3.

58 Lowrie to Strong, 10/7/42, AF, GF 2; NYT, 7/26/42, 16, 9/6/42, 14; WP, 9/5/42, 10; CJR, 12/42, 635; Lowrie 3.

59 NYT, 9/9/42, 9, 9/11/42, 4, 9/18/ 42, 9; Lowrie 3; CJR, 12/42, 635; Dexter to Clinchy, 11/9/42, CH, B 6, Ref Orgzns; MD 688IUI95; Rescue Activities for Children in France [5/24/44], The Fate of J Children in France [11/ 43], JDC, France, Children; WH, 56; FSR, 30-1.

60 Lowrie, Confidential Memo, 9/19/ 42, CH, B 6, Ref Orgzns; Lowrie 3; CJR, 12/42, 635; NYT, 9/9/42, 9, 9/18/42, I, 9/22/42, 5; MJ, 4/45, 95.

61 Lowrie, Hunted, 204; Lowrie, Notes on Interview with Marshal Petain, 10/19/42, AF, GF 2; Lowrie 2.

62 FR 1942, v 1, 463-5; FR 1942, v 2, 710-2; Atherton to Welles, 9/3/42, SD, R/3080; NYT, 9/5/42, 3; CJR, 12/42, 648-9.

63 CJR, 10/42, 519; DN, 9/16/42, 1; Hiatt, Interview with Henry-Haye, 9/ 18/42, AF, GF 2.

64 Lowrie 2; Lowrie, Notes on Interview with Marshal Petain, 10/19/42, AF, GF 2; FR 1942, v I, 464; Lowrie, Hunted, 218; 55th Mtg of PAC, 9/9/42, JM, P66; MD 692/288, 694/86; JPC 655; Frawley to Hiatt, 10/2/42, AF, GF 3; Warren to PAC, 10/16/42, JM, P66; FR 1942, v 2, 713.

65 FR 1942, v 2, 714-5.

66 Noble, "Diary, " 10/26 & 11/5/42, Noble, Notes on Cfs, 10/16/42, Mins of Mtg, 10/27/42, all in AF, RS 1.

67 FR 1942, v 2, 715-6; Noble, "Diary, " 10/26 & 11/5/42, AF, RS 1; McDonald & Warren to Welles, 12/1/ 42, JM, P66; MD 721/259; Warren to PAC, 2/17/43, JM, P67.

68 This paragraph and the following one are based on analysis of the newspapers listed in source note 12 of this chapter. LAT, 8/30/42, 7.

69 NYT, 8/6/42, I, 9/18/42, 1.

70 NYT, 7/26/42, 16, 7/30/42, 9, 9/ 12/42, 2, 9/23/42, 10; CT, 7/26/42, 9; WP, 8/7/42, 2; ST, 8/9/42, 15; Smolen, 194; Rudolf Hoess, Commandant of Auschwitz (1959), 208.

71 NYT, 9/20/42, 13, 10/29/42, 2, 11/ 18/42, 3, 11/27/42, 3.

72 NYT, 9/20/42, I, 9/27/42, 9; Edward Homze, Foreign Labor in Nazi Germany (1967), 180-1; DP, 8/27/42, 32; ST, 9/6/42, 2.

73 Lowrie 2; Lowrie to Strong, 10/7/ 42, AF, GF 2.

74 Niles, Case Com Rpt, 10/13/42, USC, Case Com.

75 WP, 8/16/42, 2; KCS, 8/15/42, 1; LAT, 8/16/42, 3; Hilberg, 313, 320, 323.

76 The Ghetto Speaks, 8/5/42.

77 Mds, 5/68, 62-3, 10/82, 7; JF, 9/42, 28-9.


1 Elting, Memorandum, 8/8/42, SD 862.4016/2234; Wise, 274; Dos Neue Israel (Zurich), 11/68, 359; Riegner-Jarvik interview, 10/4/78. This summary follows Riegner's description of the events. Other views appear in Shlomo Derech's introduction to the Hebrew edition of Arthur Morse, While Six Million Died (1972), in Yehuda Bauer, The Holocaust in Historical Perspective (1978), 158, and in Monty Penkower, The Jews Were Expendable (1983), 59-63. Terrence Des Pres suggests an intriguing alternative explanation in NR, 1/31/81, 33.

Riegner and the others, at the German's request, agreed to keep his name secret forever. In 1983, however, 3 historians (Monty Penkower, Richard Breitman, and Alan Kraut) reported that they had identified the German industrialist as Eduard Schulte (NYT, 11/9/83, 2; Commentary, 10/83, 44-6, 1/84, 4).

2 MD 690/39; Elting, Memorandum, 8/8/42, SD 862.4016/2234.

3 Elting, Memorandum, 8/8/42, Elting to SS, 8/10/42, SD 862.4016/2234.

4 Harrison to SS, 8/11/42, Culbertson to Wise, 8/13/42 (not sent), Hull to Bern, 8/17/42, SD 862.4016/2233; Atherton to Welles, 9/3/42, SD, R/3080.

5 PTC. to J.W.J., 8/13/42, SD 862.4016/2233; Durbrow, Memorandum, 8/13/42, SD 862.4016/2235.

6 Hull to Bern, 8/17/42 (unrevised version), SD 862.4016/2233.

7 EHR, 91-2.

8 EHR, 91-3; Wise, 275; Silverman to Wise, 8/28/42, SD, EW/553.

9 Wise to Welles, 9/2/42, SD, R/3080. In his autobiography, Wise stated that he "immediately" contacted Welles (Wise, 275). In fact, he waited 4 or 5 days before communicating with Welles.

10 A notation on Wise's letter of 9/2/42 to Welles shows that Welles phoned Wise on 9/3/42; Voss, 249; Wise, 275.

11 Barou & Easterman to Wise [9/1/ 42], SD 862.4016/2238.

12 Rosenheim to FDR, 9/3/42, SD, EW/570; PR, 1977 (v 22/4), 5.

13 Schenkolewski & Tress to Mc- Donald, 9/3/42, JM, P49; Rosenheim to FDR, 9/3/42, SD, EW/570; Mc- Donald's secy to ER, 9/4/42, JM, P43.

14 PR, 1977 (v 2214), 5-6; Polityka (Warsaw), 8/9/75; Voss, 249-50.

15 Hilberg, 614, 623-4; CW, 12/4/42, 13.

16 PR, 1977 (v22/4), 4-7; AI, Bern, to Rosenheim, 9/4/42, Hopkins Papers (FDRL): Sherwood Collection, B 313, Book 5, Atrocities Comm; PR, 1979 (v 24/1), 48; Polityka, 8/9/75.

17 Voss, 248-50; Justine W. Polier and James W. Wise (eds), The Personal Letters of Stephen Wise, 1933-1949 (1956), 260-1. Walter Laqueur's The Terrible Secret has left the impression that American Jewish leaders were slow to believe that systematic extermination was occurring (pp. 3, 157-62, 194-5, and possibly 121-2; also, Commentary, 12/79, 44). That impression is inaccurate. Once aware of Riegner's report, virtually all Jewish leaders in America recognized that extermination was under way.

18 NYT, 11/24/42, 10; GCM, 11/12/ 42; Voss, 250; MD 688IV223Q.

19 Voss, 250-1; HID, 7053; Wyman, 112-4.

20 Voss, 249-51.

21 HID, 7053-4; FDR to Ickes, 10/10/ 42, Ickes to FDR, 1/13/43, FDR, OF 3186; BLD, 258-60; GCM, 11/12/42; Wise to Frankfurter, 9/16/42, SW, Corresp, Frankfurter.

22 JMJ, 9/20/42; JTA, 10/6/42, 4.

23 NJM, 10/42, 36-7.

24 NYT, 10/30/42, 2.

25 Mds, 5/68, 62, 10/82, 6-7; JF, 11/42, 3.

26 JF, 11/42, 3.

27 Ibid.

28 Hull to Bern, 9/23/42, SD, EW/ 597A; FR 1942, v 3, 775-7; document from Taylor at Vatican City, 11/23/42, SD, EW/726.

29 MD 688II/223Q; Harrison to SS, 9/ 26/42, SD, EW/599.

30 MD 688II/223Q; Harrison to SS, 11/23/42, SD, EW/653.

31 Squire to SS, 9/28/42, with enclosures, SD 862.4016/2242; CW, 12/4/42, 8.

32 Date stamps on Squire to SS, 9/28/ 42, SD 862.4016/2242.

33 Squire to SS, 10/29/42 (not sent), SD 862.4016/10-2942; Harrison to SS, 11/23/42, SD, EW/653; Squire to Harrison, 11/9/42, Squire's memo of 11/7/ 42 interview with Burckhardt, 11/9/42, both in files of Gerhart Riegner, Geneva; Morse, 18-21.

34 NYT, 11/25/42, 10; CW, 12/4/42; Wise, 275; Gottschalk to Waldman, 11/ 27/42, AJC, Genl Record, Germany Nazism 42-43.

35 Wise, 275-6; Mins of Sub-Com of Special Cf on Eur Mfs, 11/30/42, AJC, JEC; MD 688II/243; Gottschalk to Waldman, 11/27/42, AJC, Genl Record, Germany Nazism 42-43.

36 Gottschalk to Waldman, 11/27/42, is especially convincing. It is notes of Wise's meeting with other Jewish leaders on the morning following the conference with Welles.

37 NYHT, 11/25/42, 1.

38 NYT, 11/25/42, 10, 11/26/42, 16; Gottschalk to Waldman, 11/27/42, AJC, Genl Record, Germany Nazism 42-43; WP, 11/26/42, 19B.

39 NYT, 11/24/42, 10, 11/25/42, 10; Smolen, 193-4.

40 NYT, 11/25/42, 10.

41 NYT, 11/26/42, 16, 11/28/42, 7; CW, 12/4/42, 14-5.

42 Hilberg, 337; Shoah, spr 1981, 20.

43 Hilberg, 266; also NYT, 10/1/42, 8.

44 Yehuda Bauer in Mds, 4/68, 51-8.

45 Eg, Dimensions in Am Judaism, spr 1968, 11.

46 EHR, 93; GCM, 11/12/42.

47 Wyman, passim.

48 Legis 15924; Emanuel Celler, You Never Leave Brooklyn (1953), 90-2; Celler to FDR, 10/10/42, FDR, OF 3186.

49 CW, 10/23/42, 4; NYT, 10/4/42, 17; Reconstructionist, 10/30/42, 7; J Forum, 10/42, 162; Celler to Dickstein, 10/21/42, Clerk to Celler, 11/10/42, Legis 15924; RYP, 10/1/42.

50 NYT, 11/4/42, 1, 11/5/42, 1; Burns, 280-1.

51 CD, 1/43, 10; Newsweek, 11/30/42, 11.

52 NYT, 11/3/42, 1, 11.

53 CD, 1/43, 6-9.

54 NYT, 11/4/42, 22, 11/19/42, 1; CD, 1/43, 10; CT, 12/13/42, 1; DP, 11/ 29/42, 2.

55 BLD, 270; RCA, "Question of Bringing ... , " 1/29/43, BLP, B 212, Genl (VD); NYT, 11/22/42, 1, 20, 11/ 29/42, 24, 12/2/42, 1, 12/5/42, 7, 12/ 11/42, 48.

56 BLD, 270.

57 Ibid; Newsweek, 11/30/42, 11.

58 Wyman, 212-3 & passim.

59 Hilberg, 718.


1 The 19 newspapers include the 10 listed in ch 2, source note 12, along with Atlanta Constitution, Boston Herald, Christian Science Monitor, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Miami Herald, New Orleans Times-Picayune, New York Herald Tribune, New York Post, and PM. Those providing page-1 notice were Dallas News, Denver Post, Miami Herald, NY Herald Tribune, and PM. Those that did not carry the story were Kansas City Star and New Orleans Times-Picayune.

2 Based on analysis of the 10 newspapers listed in ch 2, source note 12. The time covered was Nov 27 through Dec 31, 1942.

3 The single first-page report appeared on 12/18/42.

4 PC/FDR. The brief comment made by FDR on Nov 5, 1943, touched only obliquely on the Holocaust. The first clear comment on mass killing of Jews came on March 24, 1944.

5 Eliyho Matzozky, unpublished study, "American Jewish Press Reaction to the Mass Killing, Nov 24, 1942 to Mar 4, 1943" (1978).

6 Based on a sampling of California J Voice (LA), Every Friday (Cincinnati), Intermountain J News (Denver), J Examiner (Brooklyn), J Review (NYC); and an unpublished study by Edward Mainzer, "The Ohio Jewish Chronicle [Columbus] 1941-43" (1980).

7 Eg, J Forum, 12/42, 193; CW, 12/ 18/42, 4.

8 Nation, 12/19/42, 668-9; NR, 12/7/ 42, 728.

9 Am Mercury, 2/43, 194-203; RD, 2/ 43, 107-10; Time, 12/28/42, 24; Newsweek, 12/28/42, 46.

10 NYT, 11/29/42, 44, 12/24/42, 6, 12/26/42, 4.

11 Mtg of PC, 12/17/42, WJC, U185/ 3; draft of fund appeal hr, 12/28/42, SW, AJCg, L. Shultz.

12 PC Mtg Mins, 12/29/42, WJC, UI85/2.

13 NYT, 12/28/42, 5, 13; PC Mtg Mins, 12/29/42, WJC, UI85/2; draft of fund appeal ltr, 12/28/42, SW, AJCg, L. Shultz.

14 Wyman, 74; Commonweal, 12/11/ 42, 204-5, 12/18/42, 220.

15 CW, 1/8/43, 7. The Church Peace Union publicized the extermination situation in its World Alliance News Letter, especially 12/42, 9/43, 1/44, 6/44, 12/ 15/44.

16 Moss to Miller, 10/27/42, FCC, B 144, L. B. Moss files, Cleveland mtg, 12/ 42; "The Christian Church and the Jews in Europe, " 3/16/43, JM, P67; NYT, 12/21/42, 17.

17 CC to SD, 11/25/42, SD, EW/656.

18 McDermott to CC, 11/25/42, SD, EW/656.

19 CC, 1/13/43, 53.

20 CC, 12/9/42, 1518-9.

21 CC, 12/30/42, 1611.

22 CC, 3/3/43, 253, 3/10/43, 284, 5/5/ 43, 533, 9/8/43, 1005, 5/24/44, 636; Voss-Wyman interview, 2/11/78; Robert Ross, So It Was True (1980), 5.

23 Eg, CC, 2/11/42, 173, 6/17/42, 772, 1/13/43, 53, 4/12/44, 453; Voss, 256; NP, 6/15/45, 229.

24 WP, 11/26/42, 19B.

25 Gottschalk to Waldman, 11/27/42, AJC, Genl Record, Germany Nazism 42-43; NYT, 11/25/42, 10, 11/26/42, 16; Bulletin of the WJC, 1/43, 1; GCM, 11/12/42; PM, 11/26/42, 12.

26 This and the following seven paragraphs are based on information in AJYB, v 45.

27 Am J Archives, 6/55, 203-9; Wise, 216.

28 Wise, 216-32.

29 Ibid; Wise to Easterman, 1/25/43, WJC, UI42/19.

30 Voss, 251; Voss-Wyman interview, 2/11/78.

31 Dimensions in Am Judaism, fall 1968, 36; Who's Who in Am, v 22 (1942-43); Carl Voss, Rabbi and Minister (1964), 317.

32 Mins of Sub-Com of Special Cf on Eur Affs, 11/30/42, AJC, JEC; Gottschalk to Waldman, 11/27/42, AJC, Genl Record, Germany Nazism 42-43.

33 Same as preceding note.

34 Same as preceding note. Also, CW, 12/4/42, 15-6, 12/11/42, 8-11; qR, 2/ 43, 34-5.

35 WP, 11/30, 8, 12/1, 10, 12/2, 10, 12/5, 8, 12/15, 8, 12/18, 12 (all in 1942).

36 CW, 1/8/43, 2, 13. This step seems to have been the only outcome of a plan to convene a conference of prominent American Christians to help find ways to publicize the mass murder and press the government to act (GCM, 11/12/42).

37 AJYB, v 45, 193; CW, 12/4/42, 16; Mins of Sub-Com of Special Cf on Eur Affs, 11/30/42, AJC, JEC.

38 Mins of Sub-Com of Special Cf on Eur Affs, 11/30/42, AJC, JEC; JLC, Mins of Mtg, 12/2/42 (in Yiddish), JLC Archives.

39 AJYB, v 45, 193; CW, 12/18/42, 13.

40 DN, 12/3/42, II, 1.

41 Several documents (11/30-12/4/ 42) on arranging the meeting are in FOR, OF 76e. Included is Wise's letter to FOR, 12/2/42. GCM, 11/12/42.

42 NYT, 12/9/42, 20; CW, 12/11/42, 2. Rabbi Israel Goldstein (Synagogue Council of Am) was scheduled to attend the meeting but was unable to do so (NJM, 1/43, 146). FDR did see the seven Jewish congressmen on Apr 1, 1943. He also saw Wise alone (but Holocaust issues were involved only incidentally) on Jul 22, 1943. On four other occasions (Mar 9 & Oct 11, 1944, & Jan 22 & Mar 16, 1945), he saw Wise, alone or with Abba Hillel Silver, but the topic was the issue of Palestine statehood.

43 Adolph Held, "Report on the Visit to the President" [12/8/42], JLC Archives, Pt 3, Sect 1 #15, Communication with the White House 1942; Wise et al to FDR, 12/8/42, FDR, OF 76C.

44 Wise et al to FDR, 12/8/42, FDR, OF 76C.

45 Held, "Report, " JLC Archives; "Blue Print for Extermination, " 12/8/ 42, FOR, OF 76C.

46 Held, "Report, " JLC Archives.

47 Ibid.

48 Ibid.

49 MD 688II/243; WP, 12/9/42, 18; CW, 12/11/42, 1-2.

50 Based on analysis of the 10 newspapers listed in ch 2, source note 12. Four did not mention the event; the others placed their reports well inside their issues. NYT, 12/9/42, 20; WP, 12/9/42, 18.

51 GCM, 12/10/42; Jt Emerg Com on Eur J Affs, 9/28/43, AJC, JEC.

52 FR 1942, vi, 66-7; EHR, 98-103; Barou & Easterman to Perlzweig, 12/ 17/42, WJC, 177A150; Easterman to Per1zweig, 1/15/43, WJC, UI42/13.

53 Eddy to Gordon, 1217/42, SD 862.4016/2251.

54 Reams to Hickerson & Atherton, 12/10/42, SD, EW/674; Eerle, Memo of Convsn with Vahervuori, 12/8/42, SD, R/3495-1/2.

55 Reams to Hickerson & Atherton, 12/9/42, SD, EW /694. Concerning Reams's repeated assertions that the State Department had not confirmed the extermination reports, see the footnote on page 51.

56 Reams to Hickerson & Atherton, 12/10/42, SD, EW/694.

57 Ibid.

58 Ibid; FR 1942, v 1, 68.

59 Text in NYT, 12/18/42, 10; EHR, 82.

60 Barou & Easterman to Per1zweig, 12/17/42, WJC, 177A150; MD 68811I 244; FR 1942, v 1, 70.

61 Based on analysis of the 10 newspapers listed in ch 2, source note 12.

62 NYT, 12/20/42, 23. Same sample as in preceding note.

63 CW, 12/25/42, 3; NYT, 12/18/42, 26.

64 NYT, 12/18/42, 26; CW, 12/25/42, 3; NYP, 12/18/42, 37.

65 Op, 1/43, 5, 16; J Forum, 12/42, 193; CC, 1/6/43, 26.

66 NYT, 12/5/42, 16.

67 GCM, 12/3/42; "Proposals" [12/ 10/42], WJC, 264/1; Bulletin of the WJC, 1/43, 2.

68 "Proposals" [12/10/42], WJC, 264/1; GCM, 12/10/42.

69 Same as preceding note. Also, PC outline of projects, 12/14/42, WJC, U186/A; Shultz, Memorandum, 12/10/ 42, WJC, UI85/3; Activities of AJCg & WJC with Respect to Hitler Program [1/ 43], WJC, UI85/2.

70 PC, outline of projects, 12/14/42, WJC, VI86/A; Special Com on Eur Situation, Mins, 12/14/42, Mtg of PC, 12/ 17/42, WJC, VI85/3. For an example of OWI's unwillingness to emphasize the Jewish situation, see NYT, 2/14/43, 37.

71 PC Mtg Mins, 12/29/42, WJC, UI85/2.

72 GCM, 1/12/43, 12/3/42, 12/10/42; Rpt of PC, 1/12/43, AJCg; Activities of AJCg & WJC [1/43], WJC, VI85/2; Special Com on Eur Situation, Mins, 12/ 14/42, WJC, VI85/3. For an insider's perspective, see Mds, 3/64, 8-9.

73 Burns, 123-4; John H. Franklin, From Slavery to Freedom, 3rd edn (1969), 578-9.

74 NYT, 11/28, 11, 11/29, 46, 11/30, 11, 12/5, 9, 12/7, 32, 12/16, 14 (all in 1942); FR 1942, v 4, 550; CW, 12/11/ 42, 12; NP, 1/8/43, 3, 1/22/43, 4; RW 2/23; Mds, 3/64, 5-10; YV Bulletin, 4/ 57, 4.


1 Cantril, 383.

2 MD 688II/244.

3 Mds, 3/64, 5-10; GCM, 1/12/43, 2/ 4/43; CW, 2/26/43, 4-7; Memo to Wise, Goldmann, et al, 1/19/43, WJC, V285/2; JF, 3/43, 15-17. The courier, who was unnamed in these reports, was Jan Karski.

4 MD 68811/99, 223R-S; Riegner & Lichtheim to Wise, 1/19/43, WJC, 267/ 8.

5 Welles to Wise, 2/9/43, WJC, 267/ 8.

6 MD 68811/100, 223-T.

7 MD 688IV207; Josiah E. DuBois, Jr., The Devil's Chemists (1952), 188.

8 MD 688II/100, 223L-M, 247, 694/ 199-200, 813/63-8; Hull (by Welles) to Bern, 4/10/43, SD 862. 4016/2266A.

9 Covered in ch 10.

10 Pr Rel, 2/14/43, WJC, V222/3; NYT, 2/14/43, 37.

11 NYT, 2/13/43, 5. Value of lei based on Hilberg, 503-6.

12 Mins of ZOA Exec Com, 2/20/43, SW, ZOA Exec Com; MD 609/39, 610/ 208.

13 Hull to Ankara, 2/17/43, SD, R/ 3603; MD 611/276-7.

14 MD 611/275; Welles to Wagner, 3/ 10/43, RW 2/23; Welles to Davis, 3/11/ 43, SD, R/3608.

15 Proposals for Relief and Evacn of Refs [7/43], BLP, B 203, Ref Mvt & Natl Groups.

16 Hilberg, 504; Julius Fisher, Transnistria: The Forgotten Cemetery (1969), 130-1; Proposals for Relief [7/43] (section on Rumania), BLP, B 203, Ref Mvt & Natl Groups.

17 In late spring 1943, overtures again came out of Rumania for the release of thousands of Jews. Again, the chance was not pursued. (AI Rpt, 4th, 4.)

18 NYT, 2/16/43, 11; H Con Res 60, 11/28/41, Legis 15912; Ans, 2/46, 10-11 van Paassen to Daniels, 7/31/42, Josephus Daniels Papers (Le), B 816, Folder P; JV, 5/42, 5; Aaron Berman, "The HCNL and the Rescue of the European Jews, " Hampshire College thesis (1975), 16. Same sources apply to following paragraph.

19 Yehuda Bauer, Flight and Rescue: BRICHAH (1970), 62; Howard Sachar, A History of Israel (1979), 232-3; J Affairs, 10/41, 6.

20 J Affairs, 10/41, 2-10; NYT, 2/5/ 42, 12, 2/11/42, 11, 3/22/42, 45, 9/20/ 44, 12; Sachar, Israel, 230-2; Yehuda Bauer, From Diplomacy to Resistance (1970), 202, 355; Bauer, Flight, 63-6, 96-101.

21 Berman to Wise, 4/29/42, SW, Zm; NYT, 12/7/42, 15; J Affairs, 10/41; Ans, 2/46, 4, 11; Kook-Cohen interview, 9/ 26/68, 11-13, PSC 11/33.

22 Kook.Cohen interview, 9/26/68, 11- 18; Kook-Wyman interview, 5/5/73. Wartime conditions blocked contact between the Irgun in the US and the Irgun in Palestine from late 1940 until late 1943. Even in Jan 1945, the FBI and the British Intelligence reported that no connection between the two existed. Actually, a very few contacts did take place during 1944 and 1945, and a small amount of money was sent to Palestine. (Kook-Cohen interview, 9/26/68, 15-18; Wright to Baxter, 1/31/45, Russell to Hill, 1/31/45, PRO, FO 371/45398/8385.) Also see footnote on page 149.

23 Ans, 6/15/44, 9, 11; NYP, 7/11/44, 29; Kook-Wyman interview, 4/14/73.

24 Bauer, From Diplomacy, 236, 313, 316; Sachar, Israel, 188; Robert Silverberg, If I Forget Thee O Jerusalem (1970), 207; Bergson to Wise, 5/7/41, Wise to Bergson, 6/4/41, PSC 1/5. Also see below, appendix B.

25 Bauer, From Diplomacy, 14, 315, 319; Berman, "The HCNL and Rescue, " 13; NYT, 2/26/44, 4, 3/5/44, 19, 8/24/44, 7, 9/29/44, 8.

26 Ans, 3/45, 6, 20-1, 2/46, 8; Nemzer, Memo for the Files [3/1/44], PSC 3/64; Kook-Cohen interview, 9/26/ 68, 12, 15-8; Lubinski to Ziff, 5/20/39, 6/30/39, PSC 1/1; Bergson to Wise, 5/ 7/41, Bergson to Silver, 5/25/41, PSC 1/ 5.

27 Ans, 2/46, 11; Merlin to Shubow, 3/20/43, AJHS, AJCg, Uncatalogued Box, F:CJA

28 NYT, 12/5/42, 16.

29 Ans, 6/15/44, 11; AJHQ, 9/77, 57.

30 NYT, 2/8/43, 8; J Review & Observer (Cleveland), 2/19/43, PSC, Reel 18; Stmt by Sen Edwin e. Johnson, 2/ 24/43, PSC 4/8.

31 NYT, 2/16/43, 11. Same source for the following two paragraphs.

32 Op, 3/43, 14; NP, 3/5/43, 4; Mins of ZOA Exec Com, 2/20/43, 3/11/43, SW, ZOA Exec Com; B'nai B'rith Messenger, 4/9/43, PSC, Reel 18; JF, 3/43, 8; CW, 2/26/43, 16. The advertisement remains, even today, a source of sharp controversy in some circles.

33 NYHT, 2/22/43, 16. Eg, LAT, 2/ 22/43, 8; Phila Inquirer, 2/23/43, 15; NYT, 3/10/43, 10; Phila Evening Bulletin, 4/23/43, 12,

34 Op, 4/43, 7; PC Mins, 12/29/42, WJC, U185/2; Smolar in J Times (Phila), 2/26/43, J Times (Baltimore), 2/12/43, J Chronicle (Columbus, O), 2/26/43, PSC, Reel 18; J News (Detroit), 3/12/43, PSC, S 13; Merlin to Ziff, 4/23/43, PSC 1/8; NYT, 2/27/43, 5.

35 GCM, 1/12/43; PC Mins, 12/29/42, WJC, U185/2; Deutsch in J Times (Baltimore), 2/12/43, PSC, Reel 18.

36 AJCg Pr ReI, 2/22/43, WJC, U222/ 3; NYT, 2/26/43, 14.

37 NYT, 3/2/43, 1, 4, 39.

38 CW, 3/5/43, 15; NYT, 3/2/43, 4; CR, v 89, 1571-6.

39 NYT, 3/2/43, 4; CW, 3/5/43, 16.

40 NYT, 3/3/43, 22.

41 NYT, 12/18/42, 26, 3/3/43, 22; NYP, 3/6/43, 21; NY Sun, 3/3/43, 20; NYHT, 3/7/43, II, 3.

42 L.C., Memorandum, 3/4/43, SD, R/ 3739; NYT, 3/4/43, 9; MD 68811/247- 9; CW, 3/12/43, 3-4; FR 1943, v 1, 140-4.

43 Wise to FDR, 3/4/43, FDR to Wise, 3/23/43, FDR, PPF 5029; Wise to Hull, 3/5/43, SD, EW/815; Wise to Dear Editor, to Dear Senator, to Dear Congressman, 3/9/43, WJC, U185/3.

44 Nation, 3/13/43, 366-7.

45 Ans, 4/43, 6, 9; NY Sun, 2/9/43, PSC, Reel 18; NYT, 2/25/43, 26; LJ, 6/ 43, 57 .

46 Rose to Niles, 2/22/43, Pringle to Hassell, 3/3/43, Early to Rose, 3/4/43, FDR, OF 76C.

47 Hecht to Waldman, 1/26/43, Trager to Rosenblum, 2/1/43, AJC, Emerg Com file; Voss, 257.

48 PC Mins, 12/29/42, WJC, U185/2; Merlin to Ziff, 4/23/43, PSC 1/8; Voss, 257.

49 NYT, 3/10/43, 12, 37; Variety, 3/ 10/43, Radio Daily, 3/11/43, PSC, S 13; J Standard (Jersey Cy), 4/16/43, PSC, Reel 18; PM, 3/8/43, 17.

50 NYT, 3/10/43, 12; JTA, 3/10/43.

51 LJ, 6/43, 63; Rose to Niles, 2/22/ 43, FDR, OF 76C.

52 NYT, 3/10/43, 12, 4/13/43, 17; PSC, Folio 6, S 13 & 16, Reels 18 & 20; "We Will Never Die" (pamphlet), PSC 10/15; Ans, 5/43, 9, 2/46, 17.

53 Miami Herald, 4/17/43, 10A.

54 Smolar in J Ledger (Syracuse), 3/19/ 43, J Chronicle (Chicago), 4/2/43, PSC, Reel 18; PSC, S 13. Magazines that did not report on the pageant included CW, J Forum, JF, JO, JV, NJM, NP, Op.

55 Rpt on Attempts to Stage "We Will Never Die" [early 1944], PSC 13/57; Variety, 3/10/43, PSC, S 13.

56 Rpt on Attempts to Stage "We Will Never Die" [early 1944], PSC 13/57; Taslitt in] Review & Observer, 4/23/43, PSC, Reel 18.

57 Eg, Smolar in J Ledger, 3/19/43, PSC, Reel 18; Op, 4/43, 7. Also see below, appendix B.

58 Voss, 257; EmC; Mtg of JEC, 3/15/ 43, Jt Emerg Com on European J Affairs [9/28/43], Mtg of JEC, 11/5/43, AJC, JEC; AI Rpts, 4th, 5, and 5th, 10. Not affiliated, but represented by observers, were the JDC and the United Palestine Appeal (Rosenblum to Trager and Rothschild, 3/17/43, AJC, JEC).

59 Mtg of JEC, 3/15/43, 3/22/43, Instructions for Organizing Public Mtgs [3/43], Trager to Schultz, Epstein, & Pat, 5/10/43, Proskauer to Gerstenfeld, 3/25/43, AJC, JEC.

60 CW, 3/26/43, 13, 4/2/43, 16, 4/16/ 43, 16, 4/30/43, 21; CJR, 8/43, 394; CT, 4/15/43, 1; NYT, 3/31/43, 12; Trager to Schultz, Epstein, & Pat, 5/10/43, AJC, JEC.

61 Instructions for Organizing Public Mtgs [3/43], Waldman to Members of AJC, 3/25/43, Levy to Hexter, 5/5/43, Proskauer to Gerstenfeld, 3/25/43, AJC, JEC; Voss, 257.

61 EmC; Shultz to J. W. Wise, 1/6/43, WJC, 268N; Activities of AJCg & WJC with Respect to Hitler Program [1/43], WJC, UI85/2; Shultz to Levy, 2/24/43, RW 2/23.

63 Berlin, Confidential Memorandum, 2/24/43, AHS, Ma 1-62. Same source for following 2 paragraphs.

64 NYT, 4/12/80, 30.

65 CR, v 89, 1570-1.

66 EmC; CR, v 89, 1723, 2184; NYT, 3/19/43, 11.

67 NYT, 3/10/43, 12, 3/19/43, 11.

68 EmC; Braunstein to Silver, 3/23/43, AHS, Ma I-81; Proskauer to Gerstenfeld, 3/25/43, Rosenblum to Trager & Rothschild, 3/17/43, AJC, JEC.

69 EmC; Program (Action on Rescue by Jt Com) [3/43], Braunstein to Silver 3/23/43, AHS, Ma 1·81; Goldmann to Taylor, 3/24/43, SD, EW/959; Wise to Taylor, 3/22/43, SD, R/3860; Mtg of JEC, 3/22/43, AJC, JEC.

70 Braunstein to Silver, 3/23/43, AHS, Ma 1·81; Mtg of JEC, 3/22/43, AJC, JEC; Proskauer & Wise to Taylor, 3/22/. 43, SD, R/3860.

71 Min of Mtg of Jt Com, 3/29/43, AHS, Ma 1·81; 58th Mtg of PAC, 3/30/ 43, JM, P67; AI Rpt, 4th, 5.

72 Min of Mtg of Jt Com, 3/29/43, AHS, Ma I-81.

73 FR 1943, v 3, 38.

74 NYT, 4/8/43, 18. The transportation issue is analyzed below, in ch 16.

75 MD 688II/48-9; Cabinet Com on Refs, 5/31/44, PRO, CAB 95/15/32 (cited in Wasserstein, 252).

76 FR 1941, v 2, 875-6; Alexander to Long, 5/7/43, BLP, B 203, Ref Mvt & Natl Groups.

77 Reams to Stettinius, 10/8/43, BLP, B 202, Refs.

78 Mtg of Steering Com of JEC, 4/2/ 43, Mtg of JEC, 4/10/43, AJe, JEC; Silverman to Montor, 4/7/43, AHS, Ma I· 81.

79 Mtg of JEC, 4/10/43, Mtg of Steering Com of JEC, 4/2/43, AJC, JEC; Wise to Early, 4/9/43, Watson to SS, 4/ 10/43, Hull to Wise, 4/14/43, SD, EW/ 858.

80 Rpts on phone calls from Celler, 3/ 29/43 & 3/30/43, E.M.W. to Long, 4/1/ 43, FDR, OF 3186; Mtg of JEC, 3/15/ 43, 4/10/43, AJC, JEC.

81 E.M.W. to Long, 4/1/43, FDR, OF 3186; Mtg of JEC, 4/10/43, AJC, JEC; AI Rpt, 4th, 15.

82 JF, 1/43, 4; CW, 2/5/43, 4-5.

83 Goldstein to Clinchy, 3/3/43, Israel Goldstein Archives Oerusalem), Corresp file, Clinchy.

84 Clinchy to Goldstein, 3/4/43, I. Goldstein Archives, Corresp, Clinchy.

85 To be discussed below, in ch 16. Examples of Christian support appear in CW, 6/25/43, 19; "Cincinnati Church Council, " 3/11/43, Cavert to Straus, 12/ 11/43, FCC, B 48 & 49, Genl Secy's Files (Cavert); Brautigam & Sachs to Waldman, 3/27/43, AJC, Imgn Series, Refs-Rescue of.

86 Proskauer to Gerstenfeld, 3/25/43, AJC, JEC; "The Christian Church and the Jews in Europe, " 3/16/43, JM, P67; NYT, 3/17/43, 8.

87 Information Service (FCC), 4/24/43; NYT, 4/26/43, 17; Mtg of JEC, 3/15/ 43, 3/22/43, Rosenblum to Trager & Rothschild, 3/17/43, Mtg of Steering Com of JEC, 4/2/43, AJC, JEC; Cavert to Rothschild, 3/17/43, Cavert to Straus, 12/11/43, FCC, B 49, Genl Secy's Files (Cavert); Silverman to Montor, 4/7/43, AHS, Ma I-81.

88 Levy to Galkin, with enclosures, 5/ 5/43, Levy to Hexter, 5/5/43, AJC, JEC.

89 NYT, 5/3/43, 20; CC, 6/2/43, 669; Voss-Wyman interview, 2/11/78; Jacob M. Price to David Wyman, 9/21/78.

90 Shultz, Memorandum, 12/10/42, WJC, U185/3; Voss-Wyman interview, 2/11/78; Cavert to Rothschild, 3/17/43, Heller to Tucker, 3/19/43, Cavert to Straus, 12/11/43, FCC, B 48 & 49, Genl Secy's Files (Cavert); NYT, 12/21/42, 17.
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