Tuesday, February 21, 2012

President Roosevelt and the Holocaust

President Roosevelt and the Holocaust

New facts about Franklin Delano Roosevelt's attitude to both Jews and Zionism. Genteel anti-Semitism is not much different from Jew hatred.
From Prof. Stanley Rothstein
In thinking about the American response to the Nazi Holocaust in Europe, one name is mentioned more frequently than any other---Franklin Delano Roosevelt. people struggled to.

Roosevelt, who was from an upper class American family, was a leading liberal Democrat when he came to power in 1932-3 at almost the same time that Adolph Hitler and his Nazi Party assumed the leadership of the German nation.

Even then, the anti-Semitic views of the Nazi Party and the Fuehrer were well known. His book, Mein Kampf, was already a decade old, and his canard that the German nation had lost World War I because of the betrayal of its Jewish citizens well known.

Many people in the western democracies were shocked when the new Nazi party immediately purged the universities of Jewish professors. Jews were openly attacked after that and found it increasingly difficult to live and work in Fascist Germany.

Of course, Roosevelt expressed his dismay at these acts of bigotry, but he did not offer the Jews of Germany a haven in the United States. This was partly because anti-Semitism was very widespread in America during those years. They were also the years in which Henry Ford published his nefarious newspaper and encouraged anti-Semitic attitudes toward Jews who had escape from Russia seeking to live in peace and freedom.

Reacting to these political realities, Roosevelt placed a known bigot and anti-Semite in charge of immigration at the State Department and supported this man even when he turned away desperate men, women and children who were seeking refuge from the Nazis menace. From 1938 and until the end of World War II, the Roosevelt administration erected a ‘paper wall’, a bureaucratic maze that prevented all but a few Jewish refugees from entering the United States.

But there’s more.

Since the publication of The Abandonment of the Jews by David Wyman, researchers have discovered disturbing attitudes about Roosevelt’s mind-set toward Jews that are very difficult to explain away.

They were most in evidence during the Casablanca Conference in January 1943 wherein President Roosevelt spoke with the French resident general at Rabat, Morocco about postwar independence and the Jewish immigrants in North Africa. Roosevelt criticized the Jews because they were predominantly professional men (law, medicine, etc.) and suggested they should definitely be limited to their percentage of the population in North Africa.

This, he said, would eliminate the specific and understandable complaints which the Germans bore towards the Jews in Germany, namely that while they represented a small part of the population, over 50% of the lawyers, doctors, schoolteachers, college professors in Germany were Jews.

This was patently false---Jews represented less than 15% of the professional class in pre-World War II Germany, but Hitler exaggerated their numbers in order to stir up anti-Jewish feelings in the German population.
These remarks suggest that Roosevelt’s attitudes toward Jews and toward the Jewish experience bordered on classical anti-Semitism. He was either unaware or unconcerned with the fact that Jews faced terrible limitations in their employment opportunities in Europe and especially in Germany. 

The American government knew about the persecution of Europe’s Jews during the early 1930s. The Nazi Party made no secret of their desire to rid Germany of its Jewish population. Nazi banners proclaimed for the entire world the slogans of Jew hatred that were to end in the Holocaust. 

Finally, after years of neglect and under pressure from a small band of Treasury Department employees, a War Refugee Board was set up in the last year of the Holocaust to try to ransom Jews who were scheduled for extermination from the Eastern European nations under Nazi control.

Those who sought to defend President Roosevelt from these charges of anti-Semitism cited the large number of Jews he brought with him when he assumed the presidency in 1932. Certainly the Roosevelt administration was unique in this respect---it brought Jews into government and gave them an authority and presence they had not had before.

But Roosevelt was also a member of the upper classes in America, and they had a tradition of genteel anti-Semitism that was not much different from the attitudes of Jew haters in Europe.
The unpleasant reality is that during the Roosevelt administration nothing was done to save the Jews of Europe or to bomb the death camps where so much of the killing went on unimpeded .

Had Roosevelt lived, the United States had already assured King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia that he would oppose a Jewish state in Palestine once the war was over.

I believe that Rabbi Stephen Wise, the leader of Reform Judaism, advised Roosevelt not to bomb Auschwitz