America, the Holocaust, and The Abandonment of the Jews.
What accounts for the extraordinary success and impact of The Abandonment of the Jews? The twentieth anniversary of its publication provides an opportunity to assess Abandonment's place in the historiography of America and the Holocaust, its influence on public perceptions of how the United States responded to the Nazi genocide, the reasons why Abandonment has had so much greater an impact than other books on the subject, and the direction of future research on responses to the Holocaust.
Abandonment was unique in many respects, even though it was not the first book to address the question of America's response to Nazism and the Holocaust. It brought to light a number of important episodes that had not been explored, or had not been fully explored, by the six other books that had appeared prior to the publication of Abandonment in late 1984. These episodes included, most notably, the Roosevelt administration's refusal to bomb Auschwitz and the events leading to the creation of the War Refugee Board. Wyman drew extensively on archival sources that had been unavailable to earlier scholars, in particular the diaries of Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, Jr. Abandonment also included a frank examination of the role of the American Jewish community in the shaping of U.S. policy toward European Jewry. Moreover, it presented a broad, complete picture of America's response to the Holocaust; instead of focusing exclusively on the White House and the State Department, Wyman also brought in the responses of Congress, the media, and the relevant sectors of the public. He showed how the interaction of these many factors contributed to the evolution of U.S. decision-making with regard to Hitler's massacres. As Professor Raul Hilberg, author of The Destruction of the European Jews, remarked: "This book ties everything together, brings it up to date and makes the best of use of the State Department and War Department material on that period." (2) Despite its broad scope, Abandonment was remarkably readable, which further set it apart from other books on the topic. Finally, the fact that Wyman is a Christian gave him a uniquely interesting perspective on the subject matter, which the book's publisher emphasized on the dust jacket, correctly surmising that readers would find it intriguing.
I. Contemporary Historiography
The contemporary historiography of America's response to the Holocaust begins with the publication, in 1968, of two landmark books: While Six Million Died: A Chronicle of American Apathy, by the journalist Arthur D. Morse, and Paper Walls: America and the Refugee Crisis 1938-1941, by David S. Wyman, then a young historian at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Morse was the first author to charge the Roosevelt administration with having deliberately obstructed opportunities for rescuing Jews from Hitler. The novelty of the subject matter was part of the reason for the substantial attention it attracted, including advance excerpts in Look magazine and a lengthy article in the New York Times four months before the book was published by Random House. (3)
Novelty was only part of the explanation; timing was also an important factor. As Wyman himself would later point out, the Six-Day War of 1967 marked the beginning of a period of popular interest in the Holocaust and America's response: "With Arab armies massed on Israel's borders and Arab leaders threatening genocide, American Jews watched in dread as Jews once again appeared to face extermination," he wrote. "Jewish leaders expected their Christian colleagues to support their pleas to the U.S. government for help [against the Arab threat] ... but the official Christian church establishments were either silent or issued statements that were ambivalent.... Jews and some Christian leaders decried the near silence and lack of support, the more so because it awakened memories of the Christian churches' virtual indifference during the Holocaust." (4)
Wyman's own Paper Walls, focusing on the years just prior to the Holocaust, 1938-41, appeared shortly after While Six Million Died. (5) As the first serious scholarly consideration of the issue, it was well received in academic circles but, having been published by a university press, attracted little attention beyond academia. Wyman's opportunity to reach a wider audience was yet to come.
Paper Walls found that President Roosevelt not only refused to offer haven to Jews fleeing Hitler but also knowingly permitted zealous--and in some cases antisemitic--State Department officials to go beyond the already-strict immigration quotas in order to keep out as many Jews as possible. Two years later, Henry L. Feingold followed with The Politics of Rescue, which concurred with Wyman's analysis but broadened the parameters of the discussion to include FDR's response to news of the Holocaust itself (1941-45) and, to a limited extent, the role of American Jewry. (6) Saul S. Friedman's No Haven for the Oppressed (1973), while covering similar ground, provided additional evidence that the administration could have done more to aid European Jewry and that American Jewish leaders could have done more to prod Roosevelt. (7)
Auschwitz and the Allies by Martin Gilbert (1981) and Monty N. Penkower's The Jews Were Expendable (1983) used newly-accessible archival sources to document further the calculated refusal by the Allies to take meaningful measures to save Jews from annihilation, even when such measures were clearly feasible. (8) Three subsequent books (by this author, Haskel Lookstein, and Aaron Berman) focused on how the American Jewish leadership, the Jewish community at large, and the American Zionist movement, respectively, responded to the Holocaust. (9) They found that disunity, misplaced priorities, and fear of antisemitism were key factors in shaping American Jewish policy.
Meanwhile, a series of events in the years following the 1967 war combined to generate steadily increasing public interest in the subject. The 1973 Yom Kippur War again raised fears about both Israel's survival and the readiness of many governments to ignore the Jewish state in its hour of need. The 1975 Zionism-is-racism resolution at the United Nations aroused similar emotions. A series of highly-publicized Congressional efforts, beginning in 1974, exposed the U.S. government's failure to pursue Nazi war criminals living in the United States. Although the controversy led to the establishment, in 1979, of a Justice Department unit to undertake that task, the issue soon returned to the headlines with the discovery that some Nazi war criminals had been smuggled into the United States to work for the State Department and the CIA for various Cold War purposes.
The film Voyage of the Damned, about the ill-fated journey of the S. S. St. Louis (including America's refusal to admit its refugee passengers), was released in 1976. It was followed two years later by the nationally broadcast prime-time television miniseries Holocaust, viewed, according to some estimates, by over 100,000,000 Americans. That was soon followed by the inclusion of Holocaust-related material in many public-school curricula. The late 1970's also witnessed the eruption of a national controversy over the attempt by neo-Nazis to march through the Illinois town of Skokie, home to many Holocaust survivors. The establishment, in 1978, of the first organization to promote Holocaust-denial, the Institute for Historical Review, focused additional public attention on these issues. Also in 1978, the President's Commission on the Holocaust was created to recommend a national memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, ultimately leading to the establishment, in Washington, DC, of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Wyman was working on the manuscript that was to become The Abandonment of the Jews precisely at a time of accelerating public interest in the topic. Paper Walls had been intended to be the first of a two-volume work, and, while teaching a full course-load at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in the 1970's, he gradually completed the research for the second volume. In May, 1978, Wyman published an advance selection of that research in the form of an essay in Commentary magazine, titled "Why Auschwitz Was Never Bombed." It sparked a public debate that was only partly reflected in the large quantity of letters to the editor received by the magazine. Seven years later, a review in American Jewish History would refer to it as "his famous Commentary essay." (10) The discussion generated by the article had not yet been forgotten six years later when Abandonment itself was published and undoubtedly contributed to the book's success.
Wyman's Commentary essay revealed that the United States had repeatedly bombed targets extremely close to Auschwitz, thus demonstrating that U.S. bombers were capable of reaching the death camp. On August 20, 1944, U.S. bombers dropped more than 1,000 bombs on the factory areas of Auschwitz, situated less than five miles from the gas chambers. On September 13, American bombers struck the factory areas again; this time, stray bombs accidentally hit an S.S. barracks (killing fifteen Germans), a slave labor workshop (killing forty prisoners), and the railroad tracks leading to the gas chambers. U.S. bombers carried out similar raids on December 18 and December 26, 1944, and January 19, 1945. There were frequent Allied bombings of seven other synthetic oil refineries near Auschwitz in late 1944 and early 1945, including a January 20 raid on Blechhammer, forty-five miles from the death camp, which enabled forty-two Jewish slave laborers to escape. (11)
Wyman described how Roosevelt's War Department repeatedly rebuffed proposals in 1944 by Jewish groups for Allied bombing of the death camps. Assistant Secretary of War John McCloy, who received the requests, insisted that attacking the camps would divert resources that were "essential" to Allied military operations elsewhere. (12) American Jewish leaders chose not to press the point beyond private discussions. They were intimidated by McCloy's complaint that their proposals entailed risking the lives of U.S. soldiers or prolonging the war effort in order to address Jewish interests.
Yet, the administration did divert military resources for an assortment of reasons considerably less compelling than the opportunity to knock out mass-murder camps. For example, an Air Force plan to bomb the Japanese city of Kyoto was blocked by Secretary of War Henry Stimson because of the city's artistic treasures. (13) Assistant Secretary of War McCloy, who was so adamant about not diverting bombs to hit Auschwitz, personally intervened to divert American bombers from striking the German city of Rothenburg; McCloy feared for the safety of the city's famous medieval architecture. (14) The State Department, which strongly opposed Jewish activists' proposal to create a government agency to rescue Jewish refugees from Hitler, in August, 1943, established a government agency "for the protection and salvage of artistic and historic monuments in Europe." (15) General George Patton even diverted U.S. troops to rescue 150 prized Lipizzaner horses in Austria in April, 1945. (16) Perhaps the Zionist leader Rabbi Meyer Berlin was not so far off the mark when he told U.S. Senator Robert Wagner, in early 1943, that "if horses were being slaughtered as are the Jews of Poland, there would by now be a loud demand for organized action against such cruelty to animals. Somehow, when it concerns Jews everybody remains silent." (17) Those who rescued horses, art, and architecture were unwilling to make a meaningful effort to rescue Jews.
If "diversion" was not the real reason for the administration's position, what was? Assistant Secretary of War McCloy claimed at the time that the War Department had undertaken "a study" that found that such bombing would require "the diversion of considerable air support essential to the success of our forces." (18) But, Wyman's examination of the department's records found that, in fact, no such study had been done. Rather, the War Department had already decided, in February, 1944, that it would not allow the armed forces to be used "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.... We are over there to win the war and not to take care of refugees." (19) This policy was completely inconsistent with the declared purpose of the War Refugee Board, which Roosevelt had established in January, 1944, under public and Congressional pressure, specifically to rescue refugees from Hitler. Nevertheless, the War Department's February, 1944, decision became the declared basis for each of the Department's subsequent rejections of proposals to bomb the camps or the railways leading to them.
The Commentary article would eventually comprise chapter 15 of Wyman's next book. The manuscript for the book was completed in early 1984, although Wyman continued to grapple with prospective titles as the publication deadline approached. Of the many possibilities that his notes indicate were considered, he had a particular interest in composing a title derived from one of two quotations. The first was a statement by John Dos Passos in a 1940 fund-raising appeal for refugees: "Our only hope will lie in the frail web of understanding of one man for the pain of another"; the second, a statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury to the House of Lords in 1943: "The Jewish people of Europe is still caught between the hammer of the enemy's brutality and the anvil of democracy's indifference." A Web Too Frail and The Anvil of Indifference were finalists, but as Elie Wiesel points out in the symposium elsewhere in this issue, "The title of the book The Abandonment of the Jews is a perfect reflection of its content. The Jews were abandoned. And once they were delivered to their butchers, they could no longer count on anybody...." Wyman's choice for the title did not sit well with one reviewer, Lucy Dawidowicz. "Abandonment means ... that the United States had a commitment to the European Jews which it failed to live up to," she wrote. "[But] the European Jews were individuals, citizens, or residents of different countries. How could the United States extend its legal protection to Jews who were being persecuted by the government within whose borders they lived?" (20) Wyman, however, did not use the term "abandonment" in the legal sense, since the United States did not technically bear legal responsibility for Europe's Jews. Rather, he meant it in the more profound sense of human moral responsibility for one's fellow human beings, and in particular the responsibility of America's leaders to remain true to their country's noble humanitarian tradition of concern for the downtrodden and providing refuge for the oppressed.
Abandonment's rise to the best-seller lists and the many awards it received are two indications of the depth of public interest that the book aroused. Also noteworthy were the volume of lecture invitations Wyman received, the media's reception of the book, and the tenor of the reviews. During the decade following the publication of Abandonment, Wyman delivered more than 400 lectures to synagogues, churches, civic organizations, and educational institutions, and even those represented only the fraction of the invitations that his teaching load enabled him to accept. The consistently large audiences and enthusiastic, often emotional, responses his lectures generated spoke to the level of interest that he had helped provoke among Jews and non-Jews alike.
Media coverage of the book both reflected the public's interest and helped stimulate it. Reviews, almost unanimously positive, appeared in hundreds of major daily newspapers and Jewish publications throughout the country and abroad. The most important of the media coverage, because of its role as a trendsetter, was that of the New York Times, which published two substantial news articles, one about Abandonment and the other a profile of Wyman, as well as two reviews, one in its daily edition and another on the front page of its Sunday Book Review section. The book was also mentioned in two Times editorials in subsequent years. (21) In addition, Wyman was a featured guest on numerous radio and television shows, including Nightline with Ted Koppel, the Today Show with Jane Pauley, and the Larry King Show.
The reviews of Abandonment by historians and other scholars were overwhelmingly positive. Yehuda Bauer, in Holocaustand Genocide Studies, wrote that Wyman's "immense scholarship combines with a sense of fairness and a sharp analytical mind." His research was praised as "massive and deep" (Leonard Dinnerstein, Journal of American History), "irrefutable" (Elie Wiesel, Political Science Quarterly); "objective and dispassionate" (Irving Abella, American Historical Review), and "presented in the best tradition of scholarly technique" (Andre Kuczewski, American Jewish Archives). (22)
A number of reviewers stressed that, while Abandonment was not the first book about America's response to the Holocaust, it was, in their judgment, superior to its predecessors. Edward Shapiro characterized Abandonment as "by far the most scholarly" of works on the subject. (23) Richard Breitman remarked that "the depth of its research and precision of its analysis raise it well above previous studies," (24) while Benny Kraut wrote that it was "the most comprehensive and absorbing analysis to date" of America and the Holocaust. (25) "[N]ever before has the evidence been marshaled so painstakingly, with such meticulous scholarship and to such effect," Walter Laqueur concluded. (26) For Michael Marrus, Abandonment was "a book that will likely become the standard work on its theme." (27)
Several reviewers concluded that Abandonment had delivered something of a knock-out punch to the claims that America did not know about the Holocaust or was unable to rescue Jews. Hasia Diner, for example, wrote that Abandonment "systematically demolishes often repeated excuses for inaction," (28) while Henry Huttenbach averred that Wyman's book "silences once and for all those seeking to romanticize the American involvement in World War II." (29) Similarly, Richard S. Levy, in Commentary, remarked that Wyman's revelation about the U.S. failure to bomb the death camps "leaves contrary arguments in a shambles." (30) Yet, there were also several critical reviews, as will be discussed below.
II. A Christian's Perspective
More than a few of the reviewers took note of the fact that Wyman is a Christian and that he wrote frankly in Abandonment's preface of the role of Christianity in shaping his moral perspective. As he explained to the Chronicle of Higher Education, he "had been brought up with the belief that at the heart of Christianity is the precept that, when people need help, you should provide it." Some reviewers regarded this as admirable. A. J. Sherman, for example, praised the book's "moral vision," and Lawrence Schofer characterized Abandonment as "a cri de conscience about what men did not to do for their fellow human beings." Likewise Peter I. Rose, writing in the Christian Science Monitor, commented that Wyman "ably combines the professional skills of a careful scholar with an outsider's perspective--in this case that of a caring Christian." (31)
One reviewer who took exception to this particular aspect was Henry Feingold, who charged that Abandonment was "bedeviled by moralism." (32) According to Feingold, "[Wyman's] standards for human behavior are set so impossibly high that ultimately all the protagonists in the drama fall tragically short." (33) Wyman, Feingold wrote, was "premising [sic] the existence of a moral standard that was not shared by the actors in the historical drama" (34) and "judging the actors of the historical drama exclusively by his own moral standards rather than those that prevailed at the time." (35) Wyman responded (in the afterword to the 1999 reissue of Abandonment) that, in fact, his moral standards were formed precisely at that time--when he was growing up in New England in the 1930's and early 1940's--and that the moral standards by which he assessed America's response to the Holocaust were no different than the conventional moral standards of our own time: "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," he wrote. "There has been no moral revolution between the 1940's and now which has endowed present-day Americans with standards notably superior to those that prevailed two generations ago." (36)
In any event, the moral values that most Americans have embraced, then and now, are by no means exclusively Christian. As the popular term "Judeo-Christian values" indicates, they derive from a common moral tradition anchored in biblical literature. The notion that Americans should care about downtrodden citizens of other countries might well be regarded as an expression not only of Christian moralism but of Jewish moralism as well. It may reasonably be said that all of the books that have critically analyzed America's disinterest in the Holocaust--including both Abandonment and Feingold's The Politics of Rescue--are informed by such moralism.
Feingold raised another important point as well. He asserted that "the assignment of a humanitarian mission to nation-states at war really [does not] come to grips with the whole idea of nation-states," and challenged "the notion that there exists a spirit of morality in the world, perhaps housed in the Oval Office or the Vatican, which can be mobilized to save threatened minorities." (37) Feingold suggested it was naive for Jews "traditionally [to] have assumed that a spirit of morality and civility played a role in world affairs." (38) Perhaps "assumed" is too strong a word in this context; "hoped" might be a more accurate characterization of Jewish attitudes. Jews hoped appeals to morality would either move Roosevelt or impress Congress or the public sufficiently to generate pressure on the White House for rescue action. Such efforts were consistent with the knowledge that, on various occasions, the United States had indeed made foreign policy decisions partly out of moral considerations rather than for the sake of narrow political gain. Two examples that would have been relatively fresh in American Jewry's memory in the 1940's were the abrogation of the Russo-American commercial treaty in response to Czarist Russian pogroms and the U.S. endorsement of the Balfour Declaration.
The other question to consider is whether the "Christian moralism" issue is relevant at all, since, as Hasia Diner pointed out, Abandonment "lays out not so much what morally ought to have been done, but what practically could have been done." (39) The "What Might Have Been Done" section of Abandonment's concluding chapter was based on the specific proposals that were raised at the time by rescue advocates but dismissed by the Roosevelt administration, even though those steps would not have interfered with the war effort. These proposals included: establishing the War Refugee Board earlier than 1944; using blocked funds as ransom money; pressing neutral countries to shelter refugees temporarily; creating havens for refugees in the United States, Latin America, Canada, and Palestine for the duration of the war; transporting refugees to safety on the empty supply ships returning from Europe; sending food, medical supplies, and funds through the Red Cross and other channels; appeals by the pope to Europe's Christians to refrain from cooperating with the Nazis; and bombing the death camps and the railways leading to them.
Feingold is correct that such morally motivated actions would have been uncommon in foreign policy, but uncommon is not the same as unprecedented in the case of a country founded on such moral principles as tolerance, liberty, and charity. The words enshrined on the Statue of Liberty have always been widely understood to reflect a popular consensus that the soul of a nation is as precious as its material assets. Indeed, a particularly moving statement in this regard was written by Feingold himself the year before Abandonment was published, in a review of two books about America's post-World War II refugee policy: "[T]he abandonment of hapless refugees to faceless bureaucracies is fraught with danger, not only for the victims but for the soul of a nation as well." (40) That statement remains as true after Abandonment's publication as it was before.
III. Abandonment on Capitol Hill
Abandonment aroused considerable interest on Capitol Hill. Twice in 1985, Wyman was invited to address groups of members of Congress. U.S. Senator Paul Simon (D-IL) devoted an installment of his weekly syndicated column to Abandonment, which he characterized as "one of the most powerful books I have ever read." Relating Abandonment's themes to the need for Americans to speak out against injustice around the world, Simon concluded: "David Wyman's book will haunt you if you read it. We need to be haunted." (41)
Another U.S. Senator, Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island, sparked controversy in 1987 when he remarked at a Holocaust commemoration event in Washington and in a subsequent radio interview, "The more I study the Holocaust period, the more I am convinced [that] there was an unwritten agreement between the leaders of the West--the Allies--to leave the Jews to Hitler. Read, for example, The Abandonment of the Jews' by Wyman." (42) Later that spring, when the New York Times ran a lengthy editorial praising Abandonment, Pell entered it in the Congressional Record. Pell himself had a significant personal connection to that chapter in history. Abandonment recounted how his father, Herbert C. Pell, the U.S. representative to the Allies' War Crimes Commission, repeatedly clashed with the State Department over war-crimes policy. The State Department, with an eye toward relations with postwar Germany, argued that the Allies should prosecute only the relatively small number of war criminals who had harmed Allied personnel, while Pell lobbied for a broader definition that would include war crimes against civilian residents of Axis-occupied countries (chiefly, the Jews). After State Department officials used a budgetary maneuver to force him out of his post, Pell, with the aid of the maverick Jewish activists known as the Bergson group, publicized the controversy, embarrassing the State Department into reversing its position.
Senator Pell's remarks were sharply condemned in a lengthy editorial in his hometown newspaper, the Providence Journal, which accused him of "misreading the Holocaust" and committing "an appalling historical blunder." The editorial argued that there was nothing the Allies could have done to aid the Jews, since once "the war was on, the fate of Europe's Jews was sealed." (43) A sampling of the outpouring of mail in defense of Pell filled the Journal's entire "Commentary" page two weeks later, including an op-ed by Wyman, which pointed out:
Government records clearly show that both America and Britain, far from trying to do what they could to rescue the Jews from Nazi murder, were actually afraid that Jews might somehow manage to escape Hitler on their own. Government leaders in Washington and in London realized that if thousands of Jews came out of Axis Europe, Britain would be under immense pressure to open the gates of Palestine to them. And our State Department would be under similar pressure to take thousands into the United States.... Not content with its own policy of inaction, the State Department even obstructed the limited rescue attempts that American Jewish organizations undertook on their own. (44)
Alongside Wyman's article appeared letters expressing similar sentiments from, among others, local Jewish leaders, the Episcopal Bishop of Rhode Island, and Professors Richard Breitman and Jacob Neusner.
The accomplishment in which Wyman took the greatest pride occurred thousands of miles from America's shores. In early 1985, California newspaper publisher Phil Blazer and other Jewish activists initiated contacts in Washington to seek U.S. intervention on behalf of Ethiopian Jewish refugees stranded and starving in the Sudan. Learning of a forthcoming visit to Sudan by Vice President George H. W. Bush, Blazer and his colleagues focused their attention on trying to influence Bush's staff to take an interest in rescuing the Ethiopian Jews. They gave copies of Abandonment to Bush's top aides, while at the same time working closely with U.S. Senator Alan Cranston on a letter to President Reagan about the Ethiopian Jewish refugees, which all 100 Senators signed and which was delivered the day before Blazer met with Bush. Presenting Bush with a copy of Abandonment, Blazer pleaded, "Mr. Vice President, we can do now what we didn't do then." Four days later, Cranston received calls from both Reagan and Bush, promising action on the matter, and, less than a month later, the 812 refugees were airlifted out of the Sudan in "Operation Joshua." Handwritten letters later sent by Bush to Blazer and Wyman acknowledged their roles in bringing about the rescue mission. U.S. Congressman John Miller (R-WA) later informed Wyman that he had discussed the Sudan operation with Bush and that the colonel who prepared the airlift had read Abandonment and briefed Bush on its contents. (45)
At the time, journalists with close contacts in the administration made reference to Abandonment in their accounts of the airlift. Wolf Blitzer, who at the time was the Washington correspondent of the Jerusalem Post, wrote: "Today's direct and very active cooperation by the U.S. government in helping to rescue Ethiopian Jews is in marked contrast to the documented abandonment of European Jewish refugees before and during World War II ... [which has been] well-documented in David S. Wyman's recently published book, The Abandonment of the Jews." It is unlikely to have been purely coincidental that, when Bush addressed a Jewish gathering in New York that June, he chose to characterize the Ethiopian airlift and ongoing efforts to aid Soviet Jewry in these terms: "Never again will the cries of abandoned Jews go unheard by the United States government." (46)
During a visit to Israel three years later, Wyman's hosts took him to an orphanage to meet some of the children who had been rescued in the airlift from Sudan. He later described it as one of the most moving experiences in his life.
IV. The Factors That Shaped U.S. Policy
Among the central recurring issues in the historiography of American responses to the Holocaust is the matter of assessing the relative significance of the factors shaping U.S. government policy toward European Jewry. Abandonment showed how a variety of factors were at work, among them American nativism, Roosevelt's perceived political interests, and the State Department's hostility to Zionism. Wyman acknowledged the existence of antisemitism among some government officials but did not consider it a major factor. In this regard he was somewhat more cautious than Henry Feingold, who cited evidence of antisemitism among State Department officials, foreign consuls, and even Roosevelt himself, who "probably shared the anti-Semitic sensibilities of his class." (47)
Wyman's conclusions about Roosevelt were likewise unsympathetic, not because of the evidence that Roosevelt harbored some anti-Jewish prejudice, but because he chose to allow his response to the Holocaust to be guided "by political expediency.... In the end, the era's most prominent symbol of humanitarianism turned away from one of history's most compelling moral challenges." (48) Roosevelt biographer Frank Freidel characterized Wyman's assessment of Roosevelt as "unflattering but fair." (49)
By contrast, Richard Breitman and Alan Kraut, in their 1987 book American Refugee Policy and European Jewry, 1933-1945, attempted to shift the blame for refugee restrictionism away from Roosevelt. While conceding that some key Roosevelt administration officials "may have been biased against Jews," Breitman and Kraut maintained that "bureaucratic indifference," not bias, was the operative factor. (50) In a similar vein, Leonard Dinnerstein argued that the State Department, Congress, and the public mood were as much at fault as Roosevelt for America's disinterest in the plight of the Jews. (51)
Recent additions to the literature have found further evidence of antisemitism among those involved in the policy-making process. Joseph W. Bendersky has found that students at the U.S. Army War College in the early 1900's imbibed a racist worldview with a heavy dose of antisemitism, which ultimately affected the positions taken by U.S. military officials toward issues such as bombing the death camps or assisting refugees in other ways. (52) A second recent work of note, Bat-Ami Zucker's In Search of Refuge: Jews and U.S. Consuls in Nazi Germany 1933-1941, examined the actions of American consular officials in Germany during the 1930's, the "gate-keepers" who made the actual day-to-day decisions to accept or reject immigration applications. She found that "to a large extent, antisemitism was responsible for their adamant stand. Antisemitic beliefs, both overt and latent, found their way frequently enough into their considerations to warrant a link between antisemitism and immigration [policy] during the 1930s and early 1940s." (53)
V. American Jewry's Response
Abandonment also addressed the response of American Jewish leaders to the persecution of European Jewry. While this complex and controversial topic had been tentatively considered by several earlier historians, Wyman placed it in the context of the larger battles over rescue policy that took place within the administration and between Congress and the State Department.
Back in 1956, David Brody found that, because of rising domestic antisemitism during the 1930's and 1940's, Jewish leaders' "desire to avoid aggravating what was believed to be an already dangerous situation caused silence or passive approval of immigration restriction." (54) Sheldon Neuringer (1969), author of the first comprehensive history of Jewish attitudes toward U.S. immigration policy, concluded that "the fear of anti-Semitism constituted the most important of the factors accounting for the attitudes of those who opposed the entry of large numbers of refugees for reasons of group self-interest." (55) Subsequent research uncovered many examples of this phenomenon, from members of Congress being pressured by Jewish leaders to refrain from trying to liberalize the immigration restrictions to Hollywood executives pressed by Jewish organizations to avoid protesting Nazism lest they spark charges of Jewish control of the movie industry. (56)
Similarly, recent research by Bat-Ami Zucker has revealed that Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, one of only two consistently pro-refugee voices within Roosevelt's cabinet, offered in 1933 to utilize a legal but little-known bond guarantee procedure that would have permitted more refugees to enter within the existing quotas, but Jewish organizations refrained from supporting the initiative for fear that an influx of immigrants would arouse antisemitism. This episode is consistent with one of the important themes of both Abandonment and Paper Walls, namely, that there existed a variety of options for securing modest increases in Jewish refugee immigration even without directly challenging the immigration laws.
An important part of the debate over American Jewry's response to the Holocaust revolves around the unusual relationship between President Roosevelt and American Jewish Congress president Stephen Wise, the most prominent Jewish leader of that era. A lifelong social justice activist and loyal Democrat, Wise saw Roosevelt's New Deal as the embodiment of his own dreams for reforming American society. These sentiments, combined with factors such as concern over domestic antisemitism, left Wise instinctively hesitant to challenge U.S. policy toward European Jewry.
Wyman, in Abandonment, found that Wise was "unable to be critical of, or even objective about, the President." Wise's optimistic assessments of Roosevelt as privately supportive of Zionist aims and genuinely interested in aiding European Jewry "were wide of the mark and should have been recognized as such at the time. In retrospect, in view of Wise's position as the foremost Jewish leader, his total trust in Roosevelt was not an asset to American or European Jews." (57) Wyman's portrayal of Wise acknowledged his talents and devotion to Jewish welfare, while at the same time noting the extent to which Wise diverted time and energy to engage in attacks on the Jewish rescue activists known as the Bergson group, as well as on Abba Hillel Silver, his rival for leadership of American Zionism. Wyman also wrote that Wise's effectiveness was compromised by his age (seventy at the peak of the Holocaust), deteriorating health, and insistence on maintaining leadership roles in more than a dozen Jewish organizations. (58)
Other researchers have offered some additions to this list of factors. Moshe Gottlieb (1968) pointed to Wise's 1930's pacifism, noting that he delayed supporting the anti-German boycott movement and later explained that, "As a pacifist, I was hesitant about the boycott because it is an economic weapon." (59) Feingold (1992) noted the numerous and sometimes conflicting interests and issues that cluttered Wise's personal agenda: Wise held to "a universalist perception in which Jews were only one of several victimized groups ... [Wise's] interest in the Jewish dilemma was often overshadowed by such preoccupations as the Sacco and Vanzetti case or the corruption of the Jimmy Walker administration of New York City during the New Deal or the progress of the newly formed Congress of Industrial Organizations." By contrast, factions operating outside the Jewish mainstream were more willing to cast aside their own political views and agendas for the sake of the greater cause. "[G]roups like the [Orthodox] Aguda[s Israel] and the Bergson boys," Feingold wrote, "were not locked into the prevailing secular universalist perception. They wanted simply to save Jews qua Jews." (60)
Wyman's narrative also traced the Jewish efforts to change U.S. policy and the broader question of American Jewish political power during the 1940's, a topic of much contention among historians of the American Jewish community.
Earlier historiography tended to interpret the overwhelming Jewish electoral support for Roosevelt in November, 1944, as evidence that Jewish support for him was consistently high during the two years prior to that election. According to this view, Jews would have had little or no leverage with which to influence the administration's policies in 1943-44 since the Jewish vote could be taken for granted by the president. Wyman's more nuanced portrait showed how the Bergson activists attained such leverage by using newspaper advertisements, public rallies, and lobbying on Capitol Hill. Bergson's rescue campaign in the summer and autumn of 1943 created a politically uncomfortable situation for the administration on the eve of an election year. The White House was aware and worried that the two most likely contenders for the Republican presidential nomination were already "going to town for Palestine," as Vice President Henry Wallace put it. (61) Roosevelt's creation of the War Refugee Board, in response to a pressure campaign orchestrated in large part by Jewish activists, demonstrated that American Jews were indeed capable of pressing the administration, even in wartime, to address a Jewish concern.
The problem of Jewish disunity surfaced repeatedly in Abandonment as an impediment to efforts to bring about a change in U.S. policy toward European Jewry. Wyman's account of the intra-Jewish strife was laced with a sense of frustration and disappointment, although not in terms as strong as Henry Feingold's remark (in 1969) that "the [established] organizations allowed themselves the luxury of fiddling while Jews burned." (62) Although disunity was only one factor in a much larger picture, it played an important role because it diverted Jewish energies away from a concentrated rescue campaign and because, in some cases, mainstream Jewish leaders directly undermined the activities of dissident groups. This phenomenon was on display most glaringly in Wyman's account of the 1943 battle on Capitol Hill over a Bergson-initiated resolution calling for creation of a U.S. government rescue agency. Some of the most prominent Jewish leaders testified or lobbied against the resolution, a phenomenon that surprised and troubled some members of Congress but, in the end, failed to defeat the bill.
Subsequent research dovetailed with Wyman's findings about the Jewish leadership. Judith Tydor Baumel's 1990 study of attempts to bring refugee children to the U.S. found that resettlement efforts in the 1930's were hampered by the Jewish leadership's "constant bickering," "petty and not so petty squabbles," and "personal rivalries," as well as ideological disputes over whether the children should be sent to Palestine or the U.S.--or even be kept in Germany. (63) Efraim Zuroff's more recent history of the American Orthodox rescue group known as the Vaad ha-Hatzala exposed how longstanding cultural differences between German-born and East European-born Jews in the U.S. exacerbated conflicts between the Vaad and the Jewish community's established mechanism for aiding downtrodden Jews overseas, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (J.D.C.). (64)
VI. Assessing the Role of the Bergson Group
Among the important innovations of Abandonment is that it was the first book to explain fully the role of the group led by the maverick activist Peter Bergson (Hillel Kook). Earlier scholarship on the Bergson group included important essays by Sarah E. Peck in 1980 in the Journal of Contemporary History and Penkower in 1981 in American Jewish History. (65) Likewise, Feingold in 1970 had previously noted the Bergson group's "special flair for publicity and politics" and credited it for the introduction of Congressional resolutions that "set off a series of events that changed the direction of the flagging rescue effort." (66) Friedman in 1973 acknowledged that Bergson's "gigantic rallies packed Madison Square Garden and Carnegie Hall," increasing "the pressure to force the government to take more decisive action to rescue the Jews of Europe." (67) However, Wyman was the first to present the rescue campaign of 1943 in its totality, charting both the mainstream Jewish organizations' intermittent activities on behalf of rescue and the Bergson group's more vociferous methods. These included full-page newspaper ads, the dramatic "We Will Never Die" pageant, the Emergency Conference to Save the Jewish People of Europe, and the march of 400 rabbis to the White House, followed by the introduction of a Congressional resolution seeking creation of a U.S. government agency to rescue Jews from Hitler.
In Abandonment's most crucial chapters, 10 and 11, Wyman chronicled the fortuitous intersection of two critical developments. In the autumn of 1943, senior Treasury Department officials who were processing a license for Jewish organizations to send funds to Europe to rescue refugees discovered a pattern of efforts by the State Department to obstruct rescue opportunities and block the transmission of news about Nazi atrocities. They compiled a devastating report titled "Acquiescence of This Government in the Murder of the Jews," which documented the State Department's actions, and they urged Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, Jr., to bring the information to the president.
By the time Morgenthau went to the president, in early January 1944, Bergson's rescue resolution had passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and had been the subject of hearings before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The hearings proved a severe embarrassment for the State Department when its chief of refugee matters, Breckinridge Long, was found to have given the committee wildly exaggerated testimony concerning the number of refugees admitted to the United States during the previous decade. Skillfully utilizing the newly accessible Morgenthau Diaries, which contain verbatim transcripts of the meetings between the Treasury Secretary and his staff, Abandonment showed how Morgenthau used the spiraling rescue controversy in Congress (which the Treasury Secretary called a "boiling pot on the Hill") to convince Roosevelt that he faced an election-year scandal unless he took preemptive action. In later conversations with his staff, Morgenthau and his aides agreed that it was the Bergson-organized Congressional pressure that "really made it possible" to move Roosevelt. Just days before the full Senate vote on the rescue resolution, he unilaterally created the War Refugee Board. Although understaffed and underfinanced, the Board's record during the final fifteen months put the lie to the administration's constant claim that military victory was the only way to rescue the Jews. The Board's initiatives, which included financing the rescue work of Raoul Wallenberg, saved an estimated 200,000 Jews and 20,000 non-Jews.
Two reviewers who were critical of Abandonment, Marie Syrkin and Lucy Dawidowicz, focused in particular on the Bergson issue, although it had not been a topic of their own previous research interests. The passion exhibited in their criticism of Abandonment suggested that the embers of controversy stirred by Bergson within the Jewish community in the 1940's had not yet fully cooled, despite the passage of so much time.
Syrkin asserted that Wyman and other historians who acknowledged Bergson's role had fallen prey to "the Bergson genius for self-adulation." As evidence that the established groups, not Bergson, were the real activists, she cited a 1943 excerpt from the diary of the State Department official in charge of immigration matters, Breckenridge Long. In the entry, Long complained that "[o]ne Jewish faction under the leadership of Rabbi Stephen Wise" had been "assiduous in pushing their particular causes--in letters and telegrams to the President, the Secretary and Welles--in public meetings--in full-page advertisements." According to Syrkin, the passage demonstrates that "[a]pparently Jews were uncomfortably pushy rather than the reverse." However, Syrkin did not quote the next sentence in Long's diary, which would have helped clarify matters. It read: "Many public men have signed their broadsides and Johnson of Colorado introduced their resolution in the Senate." The reference to Johnson is crucial, because it demonstrates that Long was mistakenly blaming Stephen Wise for a series of actions that were taken not by Wise but by Bergson. "Johnson of Colorado" was Senator Edwin C. Johnson, national chairperson of the Bergson group; the "full-page advertisements" bemoaned by Long were (with few exceptions) sponsored by the Bergsonites--indeed, one such ad appeared in the Washington Post the very morning Long wrote his diary entry (April 20) and may well have inspired the wording of the entry. Long's complaint about "many public men signing their broadsides" was no doubt a reference to Bergson's notorious success in attracting the support of prominent intellectuals, Members of Congress, clergy, authors, entertainers, and other public figures, whose names were listed in many of the ads. (68)
A second point pertaining to the Bergson group was raised by Syrkin, and seconded by the British Jewish scholar Bernard Wasserstein, in the pages of the American Zionist monthly, Midstream. There Wasserstein challenged another writer's suggestion that rabbis should have protested at the White House to demand U.S. intervention against the Holocaust. According to Wasserstein, that suggestion was "unaccompanied by any supporting evidence that might raise it to the level of a serious political proposition." (69) Syrkin, for her part, noted the anti-immigration mood in America during the Roosevelt years and asked: "In that climate should American Jews have marched on Washington in righteous fury as contemporary wiseacres suggest? The doors would have been slammed tighter." (70) In fact, however, just before Yom Kippur in 1943, over 400 rabbis organized by the Bergson group marched through the streets of the capital to the White House, where they presented presidential secretary Marvin McIntyre with a petition pleading for rescue, but Roosevelt refused to see the protesters. Far from causing doors to slam tighter, the well-publicized march added weight to the introduction of the aforementioned Congressional resolution on rescue. That resolution helped bring about the establishment of the War Refugee Board.
In the heat of the debate, Syrkin, Wasserstein, and Dawidowicz presented several colorful caricatures of what the 1980's advocates of greater Holocaust-era "activism" might have had in mind. Syrkin put it this way: "No one can seriously suggest that [American Jews] should have ... tried to force refugee ships past the Statue of Liberty." (71) Wasserstein claimed that those who believe there should have been greater "activism" have offered "two models of activism": the 1943 suicide of Polish Jewish leader-in-exile Szamul Zygielbojm, and the 1944 assassination of the top British official in the Middle East, Lord Moyne. (72) Dawidowicz wrote: "These millions of Jews, in the iron fist of the S.S., could scarcely have been rescued in Entebbe-like commando operations." She also asserted that the Bergson group's calls for more action by the Jewish leadership "perhaps meant that Jewish organizations could have outfitted ships ... and sent them out against the armed forces of the Third Reich." (73) Actually, however, no serious critic of the American Jewish leadership had suggested that American Jewish leaders should have committed suicide, assassinated foreign diplomats, or parachuted into Auschwitz.
Dawidowicz addressed the subject more frequently, but with somewhat less consistency, than Syrkin or Wasserstein. In 1962, Dawidowicz wrote in Commentary that Bergson's efforts "brought about the creation of the War Refugee Board," although she called the Bergson group's newspaper ads "wasteful." (74) But, in a 1977 version of that article she deleted the statement crediting Bergson for the Board. (75) Moreover, in the 1982 edition of the American Jewish Year Book, she asserted that Bergson's "frequent full-page ads in the New York Times, with their clamorous messages, evoked enormous responsiveness to the urgency of the Nazi threat.... With stunning success they dramatized the issue of Jewish life and death.... The Bergsonites were probably the most potent influence ... in Roosevelt's creation of the War Refugee Board." (76) Yet, that same year, in an essay for the New York Times Sunday Magazine, Dawidowicz denounced the Bergson activists, insisting that their efforts not only did not facilitate the cause of rescue but, in fact, hampered it. (77)
After the publication of Abandonment, Dawidowicz expanded these arguments into a full-length review essay of the book, in the journal This World. The idea that America abandoned the Jews could not be true, she wrote, since "these very same Americans were at the same time fighting the Nazis." (78) Roosevelt could not have been indifferent to European Jewry, she wrote, since he was "surrounded by Jewish friends and advisors with whom he talked about the terrible plight of the European Jews." (79) Noting that Roosevelt had strongly condemned the Kristallnacht pogroms in 1938, Dawidowicz asked: "Is it likely that, later, when even more disasters befell the Jews, Roosevelt ... would have turned indifferent to their murder?" (80)
In any event, the idea that the America Jewish leadership's response to the Holocaust was inadequate was not invented by David Wyman, nor was it a major part of Abandonment. Rather, that point was made repeatedly in the Jewish press at the time by critics from a variety of political and religious perspectives. At one end of the political spectrum, such criticism could be found in the Labor Zionist journal Jewish Frontier, in which Ben Halpern wrote that "the history of our times will one day make bitter reading, when it records that some Jews were so morally uncertain that they denied they were obligated to risk their own safety in order to save other Jews who were being done to death abroad." (81) At the other end was the Revisionist Zionist periodical Zionews, edited by Benzion Netanyahu, which charged that American Jewish leaders "have been too cautious, too appeasing, and too ready to swallow the meaningless statements of sympathy that were issued from high places." (82) On the religious spectrum, the critics came from as widely differing sources as the Orthodox Mizrachi monthly HaMigdal, which decried the Jewish establishment's "'sha-sha' policy," (83) and The Reconstructionist, which criticized the Jewish leadership as "ineffective" in its approach to the rescue. (84)
VII. Abandonment and the Future of Holocaust Studies
Like all landmark works of history, Abandonment has helped point the way for future researchers. In addition, the documents Wyman used in his research have themselves been turned into a valuable tool for the next generation of scholars. In 1990, Wyman edited, and Garland Publishing made available, America and the Holocaust, a 13-volume compendium reprinting a selection from the actual correspondence, memoranda, newspaper articles, and other original materials used in the writing of Abandonment. While the Garland set is an ideal research tool for advanced researchers, high school students and college undergraduates will need one or more single-volume reference works pertaining to aspects of America's response to the Holocaust. A first attempt at such a volume was undertaken in 1999 by Robert H. Abzug, titled America Views the Holocaust. A Brief Documentary History, and published as part of the Bedford/St. Martin's series of modest-sized paperback reference texts. Unfortunately, the need to compress the entire history of America's response to the Holocaust into a single volume of fewer than 250 pages resulted in some significant omissions; for example, the debate in Congress over the 1943 rescue resolution and the discussions in 1944 about the idea of bombing Auschwitz were almost entirely left out.
Abandonment included some important material about the apathetic response of most American churches to news of the Holocaust. Additional contributions have been made by Haim Genizi (American Apathy. The Plight of Christian Refugees firm Nazism) and Robert Ross (So It Was True: The American Protestant Press and the Nazi Persecution of the Jews). (85) Comprehensive studies of the responses of the different Christian denominations in the United States remain to be written. Likewise, while Abandonment focused needed attention on the role of Congress in the rescue campaign, full biographies of the Members of Congress most deeply involved in the issue, such as Sol Bloom and Emanuel Celler, would undoubtedly shed additional light on the subject.
The failure of the American media to cover Holocaust news adequately, to which Abandonment made reference, was subsequently given much more extensive attention in Deborah Lipstadt's 1985 study, Beyond Belief: The American Press and the Coming of the Holocaust, 1933-1945. However, Beyond Belief was not the final word on the subject. Laurel Left's major study of the New York Times and the Holocaust, Buried by The Times, was published in early 2005. (86) It is hoped that future researchers will examine the coverage accorded the Holocaust in publications such as Time, The New Republic, The Nation, and the Hearst newspapers, which, as Abandonment showed, took a particular interest in the rescue campaign. (87)
Although some aspects of American Jewry's response to the Holocaust have been explored in Abandonment and elsewhere, the subject is far from exhausted. The only book-length study about Stephen Wise appeared more than twenty years ago, (88) and several other Jewish leaders of significance, such as Joseph Proskauer of the American Jewish Committee, have received even less attention. Similarly, while the response of American Orthodox Jewry to the Holocaust has been explored (although not fully), little has been written about the response of the Reform and Conservative movements.
The response of American intellectuals and journalists, and the Jews among them in particular, is another area awaiting exploration. Edward Alexander's study of Irving Howe's response to the Holocaust was an important first step. (89) However, there are many more to consider, ranging from Max Lerner, who was active in the Bergson group, to Walter Lippmann, who refused to mention the plight of Europe's Jews in his columns.
The role of Roosevelt's cabinet members and senior advisers also merits further scrutiny. Feingold's 1983 essay in American Jewish History deftly analyzed the actions of the Jews in Roosevelt's inner circle, and Zucker's aforementioned research on Frances Perkins shed light on one of the two cabinet members who actively lobbied for aid to the refugees. The time has come for a full-length study of the other cabinet member who acted on this issue, Treasury Secretary Morgenthau, as well as the senior Treasury aides who subsequently staffed the War Refugee Board, such as John Pehle and Josiah DuBois, Jr. (90)
How did other ethnic minorities respond to news of the Nazi massacres? A detailed examination of reactions among African-Americans, Italian-Americans, German-Americans, and others would help fill in some gaps in our understanding of the American public's attitudes toward the persecution of European Jewry.
The role of the Allied soldiers who liberated the death camps is a topic that has periodically attracted public attention in recent years. It was a review of Abandonment, in fact, that occasioned one of the first serious attempts to raise the issue. Henry Huttenbach, reviewing the book in a Holocaust survivors' publication in 1985, suggested that "it might be a sobering step to drop the concept of 'Liberation' from the vocabulary employed to describe what happened to the Jewish survivors in the camps," since "no Allied army went out of its way, in its final fighting against the German forces, to take time out rescuing the Jews in nearby concentration camps ... It had just been their luck that they happened to be in the paths of the advancing armies." (91) A comprehensive scholarly assessment of the topic would be most welcome.
There is much work yet to be done. David S. Wyman's The Abandonment of the Jews will undoubtedly continue to serve as a guide and inspiration as the next generation of scholars presses forward with the solemn but necessary task of exploring America's response to the Holocaust.
(1) David S. Wyman, The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust, 1941-1945 (New York: Pantheon Books, 1984); Leonard Dinnerstein, review in Journal of American History 72 (June, 1985): 187.
(2) Edwin McDowell, "New Book Criticizes U.S. Effort to Rescue Jews," New York Times, November 6, 1984, p. C-13.
(3) Henry Raymont, "A Book Asserts U.S. Thwarted Rescue of Jews from the Nazis," New York Times, October 25, 1967, p. 2.
(4) David S. Wyman, "The United States," in David S. Wyman, ed., The World Reacts to the Holocaust (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), p. 723.
(5) Arthur D. Morse, While Six Million Died: A Chronicle of American Apathy (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1968).
(6) Henry L. Feingold, The Politics of Rescue: The Roosevelt Administration and the Holocaust, 1938-1945 (New Brunswick, N J: Rutgers University Press, 1970).
(7) Saul S. Friedman, No Haven for the Oppressed: United States Policy toward Jewish Refugees, 1938-1945 (Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1973).
(8) Martin Gilbert, Auschwitz and the Allies (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1981); Monty Noam Penkower, The Jews Were Expendable: Free World Diplomacy and the Holocaust (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1983).
(9) Rafael Medoff, The Deafening Silence. American Jewish Leaders and the Holocaust (New York: Shapolsky-Steimatzky, 1987); Haskel Lookstein, Were We Our Brothers' Keepers? The Public Response of American Jews to the Holocaust, 1938-1944 (New York: Random House, 1985); Aaron Berman, Nazism, the Jews, and American Zionism (Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1990).
(10) Edward S. Shapiro, review in American Jewish History 74 (March, 1985): 325.
(11) David S. Wyman, "Why Auschwitz Was Never Bombed," Commentary 65 (May, 1978): 32-46; Wyman, Abandonment, pp. 299-300; Gilbert, Auschwitz and the Allies, p. 335.
(12) Wyman, Abandonment, p. 296.
(13) Godfrey Hodgson, The Colonel. The Life and Wars of Henry Stimson, 1867-1950 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990), pp. 322-324.
(14) "Kyoto Addendum" (Letters), The College & Its Alumni (Amherst) 28 (Winter, 1976): 31.
(15) "U.S. Group Is Named to Save Europe's Art," New York Times, August 21, 1943, p. 9.
(16) Carlo D'Este, Patton: A Genius for War (New York: HarperCollins, 1990), pp. 742-743.
(17) "Confidential Memorandum by Rabbi Meyer Berlin," February 24, 1943, 5, File: Harold P. Manson, 1-62, Abba Hillel Silver Papers, The Temple, Cleveland OH.
(18) Wyman, Abandonment, p. 296.
(19) Ibid., pp. 291, 293.
(20) Lucy S. Dawidowicz, "Could the United States I lave Rescued the European Jews from Hitler?" This Worm 12 (Fall, 1985): 27.
(21) McDowell, "New Book," p. C-13; Colin Campbell, "Uncommon Scholar Studies Fate of Jews," New York Times. December 24, 1984, p. 11; review by John Gross, New York Times, November 23, 1984, p. C-25; review by A. J. Sherman, New York Times, Sunday Book Review, December 16, 1984, p. 1; "The Nazis, and Other People's Guilt" (editorial), New York Times, May 20, 1987, p. 30; "The Good War" (editorial), New York Times, August 31, 1989, p. 30.
(22) Yehuda Bauer, "Review: Three Books of Crucial Importance," Holocaust and Genocide Studies, vol. 1 (1986), pp. 297-303; Leonard Dinnerstein, Journal of American History 72 (June, 1985): 186-187; Elie Wiesel, review in Political Science Quarterly, vol. 101 (1986), p. 685; Irving Abella, review in American Historical Review 90 (December, 1985): 1294-1295; Andre Kuczewski, review in American Jewish Archives 37 (November, 1985): 309-321.
(23) Edward Shapiro, review in American Jewish History 74 (March, 1985): 325.
(24) Richard Breitman, "The American Jewish Record, 1941-1945: The Best Study," Washington Jewish Week, December 27, 1984, p. 15.
(25) Benny Kraut, review in Choice, April, 1985, p. 615.
(26) Walter Laqueur, review in Washington Post Book World, November 18, 1984, pp. 1, 14.
(27) Michael R. Marrus, review in Studies in Contemporary Jewry, vol. 3 (1987), pp. 215-221.
(28) Hasia R. Diner, "Why America Decided Not to Rescue," The Jewish Monthly, February, 1985, pp. 31-32.
(29) Henry R. Huttenbach, review in Martyrdom and Resistance 11 (March-April, 1985): 2-3.
(30) Richard S. Levy, "Abandoned," Commentary 79 (April, 1985): 71-75.
(31) Review by A. J. Sherman, History Book Club Review, January, 1985, pp. 17-18; review by Lawrence Schofer, The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 109 (July, 1985): 415-417; Karen J. Winkler, "A Historian Decries America's Failure to Rescue the Victims of the Holocaust," The Chronicle of Higher Education 30 (December 12, 1984): 5, 12; Diner, "Why America Decided," pp. 31-32; Peter I. Rose, review in the Christian Science Monitor, January 15, 1985, pp. 23-24.
(32) Henry L. Feingold, "A Search for Mitigating Circumstances," Moment, April, 1992, p. 61.
(33) Henry L. Feingold, "Rescue and Recrimination," Congress Monthly 52 (May-June, 1985): 2.
(34) Feingold, "Search," p. 61.
(35) Ibid., p. 60.
(36) David S. Wyman, The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust. 1941-1945, rev. ed. (New York: New Press, 1999), p. 345.
(37) Feingold, "Rescue," p. 21.
(39) Diner, "Why America Decided," pp. 31-32, emphasis in original.
(40) Henry L. Feingold, review in Journal of American History 69 (March, 1983): 1031-1033.
(41) Paul Simon, "P.S./Washington," (August 18-24, 1985, weekly column, distributed by the Office of U.S. Senator Paul Simon).
(42) "Sen. Pell Charges WWII Allies with Abandonment of Jews at AJC Meeting," Rhode Island Jewish Herald, March 6, 1987, p. 1; transcript of Pell interview with Sherm Strickhauser, WHJJ Radio, March 9, 1987.
(43) "Senator's Misreading of the Holocaust," Providence Journal, March 11, 1987, p. 22.
(44) David S. Wyman, "Plight of the Jews in WWII: A 'Terrible Failure' by America and Britain," Providence Journal, March 27, 1987, p 23.
(45) Sam Seidner, "California Publisher Negotiated Airlift of 812 Ethiopian Jews," Boston Jewish Times, April 11, 1985, pp. 1, 4, 6; Wyman personal notes, July 24, 1985.
(46) Wolf Blitzer, "Jews in Ethiopia: U.S. Cared This Time," Wall Street Journal, April 19, 1985; "A Proud Moment," Neat" East Report, April 8, 1985, p. 53; "Bush Restates Policy," Neat" East Report, June 17, 1985, p. 95.
(47) Henry L. Feingold, Bearing Witness: How America and Its Jews Responded to the Holocaust (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1995), pp. 60, 172-173, 178, 197.
(48) Wyman, Abandonment, pp. 312-313.
(49) Frank Friedel, quoted in McDowell, "New Book," p. C-13.
(50) Richard Breitman and Alan M. Kraut, American Refugee Policy and European Jewry, 1933-1945 (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1987), p. 9.
(51) Leonard Dinnerstein, "Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Jews: Another Look," Dimensions, vol. 10, no. 1 (1996), pp. 3-8.
(52) Joseph W. Bendersky, The "Jewish Threat": Anti-Semitic Politics of the U.S. Army (New York: Basic Books, 2000).
(53) Bat-Ami Zucker, In Search of Refuge: Jews and U.S. Consuls in Nazi Germany, 1933-1941 (New York and London: Vallentine Mitchell, 2001). pp. 173-174, 177, 179.
(54) David Brody, "American Jewry, the Refugees, and Immigration Restriction, 1932-1942," Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society 45 (June, 1956): 237.
(55) Sheldon M. Neuringer, "American Jewry and United States Immigration Policy, 1881-1953," Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin, 1969, p. 237.
(56) Medoff, Deafening Silence, p. 34; Felicia Herman, "Hollywood, Nazism, and the Jews, 1933-41 ," American Jewish History 89 (March, 2001): 61-89.
(57) Wyman, Abandonment, p. 69.
(58) Ibid., pp. 69-70.
(59) Moshe Gottlieb, "The Anti-Nazi Boycott Movement in the American Jewish Community, 1933-1941," Ph.D. dissertation, Brandeis University, 1968, p. 442; Wise to Gottheil, 17 (April 1933), Box 947, Stephen S. Wise Papers, American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, OH.
(60) Henry L. Feingold, "Rescue and the Secular Perception: American Jewry and the Holocaust," in Selwyn Ilan Troen and Benjamin Pinkus, eds., Organizing Rescue: Jewish National Solidarity in the Modern Period (London: Frank Cass, 1992), p. 156.
(61) John Morton Blum, ed., The Price of Vision: The Diary of Henry Wallace. 1942-1946 (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1973), p. 265, n. 1.
(62) Henry L. Feingold, Bearing Witness: How America and Its Jews Responded to the Holocaust (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1995), p. 82.
(63) Judith Tydor Baumel, Unfulfilled Promise: Rescue and Resettlement of Jewish Refugee Children in the United States, 1934-1945 (Juneau, AK: Dial Press, 1990).
(64) Efraim Zuroff, The Response of Orthodox Jewry in the United States to the Holocaust (Hoboken, NJ: KTAV Publishing, 2000).
(65) Sarah E. Peck, "The Campaign for an American Response to the Nazi Holocaust, 1943-1945," Journal of Contemporary History, vol. 15 (1980), pp. 367-400; Monty N. Penkower, "In Dramatic Dissent: The Bergson Boys," American Jewish History 70 (March, 1981): 281-309.
(66) Feingold, Bearing Witness, p. 83
(67) Saul S. Friedman, No Haven for the Oppressed (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1973), p. 186.
(68) Marie Syrkin, in a 1987 review of Wyman's Abandonment, "Did Zionists Abandon European Jews?" The Reconstructionist 53 (May-June, 1987): 30-32. Ironically, Syrkin herself had previously erred in a manner similar to Long. The occasion was her denunciation, in 1968, of Professor Yehuda Bauer's critique of American Jewish leaders' response to news of the Holocaust. Syrkin argued that U.S. Jews laced major hurdles in publicizing the news because "the general press remained for the most part impervious"--so much so that "[t]he leaders of American Jewry were obliged to purchase advertising space in large metropolitan papers such as the New York Times in order to bring information about the extermination to a largely incredulous and indifferent public." In fact, nearly all of those advertisements were sponsored by the Bergson group, not the "leaders of American Jewry," some of whom, in fact, pilloried Bergson for his "garish" newspaper ads. Syrkin's attack on Bauer appeared in the form of a letter to the editor in "Correspondence: Reactions to News of the Holocaust," Midstream 14 (May, 1968): 62-64.
(69) Bernard Wasserstein, Letters, Midstream 27 (March, 1981): 59-63.
(70) Marie Syrkin, "What American Jews Did during the Holocaust," Midstream 28 (October, 1982): 9; see also Letters, Midstream 28 (March, 1982): 60-64.
(71) Marie Syrkin, Midstream 28 (October, 1982): 10-11.
(72) Bernard Wasserstein, Midstream 26 (August-September, 1980): 15.
(73) Lucy Dawidowicz in the New York Times, April 18, 1982, p. 114; and Commentary 75 (June, 1983): 39.
(74) Lucy Dawidowicz, "Ben Hecht's 'Perfidy,'" Commentary 33 (March, 1962): 264.
(75) Lucy Dawidowicz, The Jewish Presence in History (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1977), p. 279.
(76) Lucy Dawidowicz, American Jewish Yearbook, 1982 (New York: American Jewish Committee, 1983), pp. 70-72.
(77) Curiously, Dawidowicz referred to them throughout the lengthy essay as "the Irgunists" rather than their actual name, even though during the period in question (1942-43), Bergson's activity in America had nothing to do with the Irgun. Also curious is the fact that the two photographs that the Times editors chose to accompany the article were both of Bergson events--"We Will Never Die," and the march of the rabbis--even though neither caption identified the sponsors. An editor searching for photographs of American Jews doing something in response to news of the Holocaust inevitably comes upon Bergson's high-profile activities, even if the article's author, for her own reasons, chose not to acknowledge their contribution. For Wasserstein, see Letters, Midstream 27 (March, 1981): 59-63; Letters, Midstream 28 (March, 1982): 60-64.
(78) Lucy S. Dawidowicz, "Could the United States," p. 18.
(79) Ibid., p. 19.
(80) Ibid., p. 21.
(81) Ben Halpern, "We and the European Jews," Jewish Frontier, August, 1943, pp. 15-18.
(82) "Their Blood on Our Hands" (editorial), Zionews 5 (July, 1944): 4.
(83) "Rumor behind the News," HaMigdal 3 (April, 1943): 14.
(84) "The American Jewish Conference and the Emergency Committee" (editorial), The Reconstructionist 9 (January 21, 1944): 3.
(85) Haim Genizi, American Apathy: The Plight of Christian Refugees from Nazism (Ramat Gan, Israel: Bar-Ilan University Press, 1983); Robert W. Ross, So It Was True: the American Protestant Press and the Nazi Persecution of the Jews (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1980).
(86) Laurel Left, Buried by The Times. The Holocaust and America's Most Important Newspaper (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005).
(87) For more on American media coverage of the Holocaust, see Laurel Left, "When the Facts Didn't Speak for Themselves: The Holocaust in the New York Times, 1939-1945," Harvard International Journal of Press Politics, vol. 5 (2000), pp. 52-72; and idem, "A Tragic 'Fight in the Family': New York Times, Reform Judaism, and the Holocaust," American Jewish History 88 (March, 2000): 3-51. Not surprisingly, American Jewish newspapers, by contrast, generally covered Holocaust news as well as they could, given their limited resources. Studies of the American Jewish press by Haskel Lookstein, Alex Grobman, and Audrey Cohen are useful primarily for what they reveal about what American Jews knew about the genocide and when they knew it. See Lookstein, Were We Our Brothers' Keepers?; Alex Grobman, "What Did They Know? The American Jewish Press and the Holocaust, 1 September 1939-17 December 1942," American Jewish History 69 (March, 1979): 327-352; Audrey Cohen, "What Was Known of the Holocaust: A Study of the Minneapolis-St. Paul American Jewish World, September 1935-May 1945," in David R. Blumenthal, ed., Emory Studies on the Holocaust: An Interfaith Inquiry (Atlanta, GA: Witness to Holocaust Project, 1985), pp. 99-110. For additional studies of American media coverage of Nazism or the Holocaust, see Margaret K. Norden, "American Editorial Response to the Rise of Adolf Hitler: A Preliminary Consideration," American Jewish Historical Quarterly 58 (October, 1968): 290-301; and Rafael Medoff, "Teaching about International Responses to News of the Holocaust: The Columbus Dispatch Project at Ohio State University," in Rochelle L. Millen, ed, New Perspectives on the Holocaust (New York: New York University Press, 1996), pp. 166-173.
(88) Melvin I. Urofsky, A Voice That Spoke for Justice: The Life and Times of Stephen S. Wise (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1982).
(89) Edward Alexander, "Irving Howe and the Holocaust: Dilemmas of a Radical Jewish Intellectual," American Jewish History 88 (March, 2000): 95-113.
(90) Henry L. Feingold, '"Courage First and Intelligence Second': The American Jewish Secular Elite, Roosevelt, and the Failure to Rescue," American Jewish History 72 (June, 1983): 424-460.
(91) Huttenbach, review in Martyrdom and Resistance 11 (March-April, 1985): 2-3.