Teddee's Reviews > The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust 1941-1945

The Abandonment of the Jews by David S. Wyman
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's review
Aug 31, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: history, religion
Read in May, 2006

This book suggests that the US stymied efforts to rescue the Jews in WWII. Resistance emanated from a number of key officials in the State Dept. Jewish organizations were unwilling to go against the State Dept and FDR. Mobilization of public support was key to stimulating action by the US government, and public support was driven by less established Jewish NGOs (e.g. Committee for Jewish Army). Major infighting between Jewish NGOs led to self-defeating efforts often. (Many good examples of how petty rivalries and power struggles resulted in damage to Jewish causes, motivated by stopping one faction from getting prestige from the other's successful efforts.) State Dept first resisted reporting and confirming that Germany was exterminating Jews, then created bureaucratic delays to stop the influx of Jewish refugees. Amazingly the State Dept was actually afraid that Germany would actually give Jews to the Allies. So quotas for Jewish immigration in the US were never fulfilled. Sec of State Cordell Hull, Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles, Asst. Sec of State Breckinridge Long and others were responsible, though mainly Long and some mid level officials. Bermuda conference and Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees were State Dept attempts to defuse public pressure w/o doing anything. This demoralized Jews who saw it for what it was and led them to focus on the Zionist cause in Palestine at the Biltmore Conference in NY. Used mobilization of public opinion tactics very successfully to build public support in Congress. British were also under intense public pressure and also tried to delay and block the rescue and refugee efforts.
Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau was instrumental in breaking US govt apathy to the Jews. Fought to expose State Dept efforts. Treasury's staff produced "Report to the Secretary on the Acquiescence of This Government in the Murder of the Jews" which convinced Morgenthau to go to FDR. A major push in Congress led to the Rescue Resolution, and its certain impending passage forced FDR to establish the War Refugee Board. Using funding from Jewish NGOs, WRB started rescuing European Jews. Anti Semitism was rampant in the US at the time, with strong nationalist sentiment against relaxing immigration restrictions as the political background.
Influential Jews in or near powerful members of the administration and FDR did not press for rescue, e.g. 6 of 7 Jewish members of Congress and several FDR advisers. Most Christian and Catholic churches were indifferent and silent, except Quakers and Unitarians. Jewish people were also divided. Jewish intellectuals were not vocal. Even Jewish owned media did not cover it very well like the NY Times and the Washington Post, though NY Post coverage was adequate. Regular American media did not cover the Holocaust. Incredulity regarding whether or not the Holocaust happened lasted until war's end when legislators and newspaper editors were flown in personally to view the camps.

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Teddee NY Times just wrote an article about this book http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/07/wor...

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