web analytics
April 26, 2015 / 7 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


FDR and the ‘Voyage of the Damned’


Front-Page-111811A

“I could see my father in one of the rowboats,” Hans recalls. “But they were not allowed to get close enough for us to hear each other. It was very painful.”

When the Cuban government refused to budge, the “saddest ship afloat,” as The New York Times called it, sailed north and hovered off the coast of Florida, hoping that the American president, who was known as a humanitarian and a champion of “the little guy” would take pity on them.

For three days, the refugees gazed longingly at the lights of Miami. The passengers sent a telegram to the White House, pleading for mercy and emphasizing that “more than 400 [of the refugees] are women and children.”

The reply came in the form of a Coast Guard cutter, dispatched to the scene to make sure the St. Louis did not approach America’s shore.

‘Filthy, Un-American, and Dangerous’

Though many German Jews hoped to escape Hitler by fleeing to the United States, immigration was severely restricted. America’s traditional open door immigration policy, which had permitted the unfettered entry of millions of newcomers in the late 1800s and early 1900s, was reversed in the early 1920s as Congress enacted a tight quota system based on national origins.

The number of immigrants from any single country each year could not exceed two percent of the number of immigrants from that country who had been living in the U.S. at the time of the 1890 national census. This sharply reduced the number of Jews and (predominantly Catholic) Italian Americans, since the bulk of Jewish and Italian immigrants in the U.S. had not arrived until after 1890.

Keeping Jews out was one of the motives for the new system. The original version of the quota bill was submitted to Congress with a report by the chief of the United States Consular Service characterizing would-be Jewish immigrants from Poland as “filthy, un-American, and often dangerous in their habits . . . lacking any conception of patriotism or national spirit.”

Anti-Semitism was only part of the reason behind the strong public and congressional support for immigration restriction. The 1917 Soviet revolution in Russia sparked anxiety about Communism and the danger that European radicals would import it to America. The changing face of American society as a result of the influx of European immigrants provoked fears of foreigners. And prominent anthropologists

and eugenicists contributed to the public’s growing racism and paranoia by promoting theories that non-Caucasian races were corrupting Anglo-Saxon society.

Saving Lives Without Changing Laws

As Nazi Germany’s persecution of Jews intensified during the mid and late 1930s, the U.S. quota system functioned precisely as its creators had intended: it kept out all but a handful of Jews.

The annual quota for Germany and Austria was 27,370. For Poland, it was just 6,542. Even those meager quota allotments were almost always under-filled, as zealous consular officials erected bureaucratic obstacles to immigration – what Prof. David S. Wyman called “paper walls.”

In 1933, Hitler’s first year in power, the German quota was only 5.3 percent filled (1,324 immigrants). It was 13.7 percent filled in 1934, 20.2 percent in 1935, 24.3 percent in 1936, 42.1 percent in 1937, and 65.3 percent in 1938. The only year between 1933 and 1945 that the German quota was fully filled was 1939.

This meant that between 1933 and 1939, there were 106,484 unused quota places for German citizens.

Later, during the period of the Nazi genocide, from late 1941 until early 1945, only ten percent of the quotas from Axis-controlled European countries were used. That means almost 190,000 quota places were unused.

About the Author: Dr. Rafael Medoff is founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, in Washington, D.C., and author of 14 books about the Holocaust, Zionism, and American Jewish history. His latest book is 'FDR and the Holocaust: A Breach of Faith,' available from Amazon.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “FDR and the ‘Voyage of the Damned’”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
President Obama
The Gap between Fairness and Safety: WMDs in Iraq and Iran
Latest Indepth Stories
President Obama

Obama’s desire to be “fair” enables Iran to get nuclear weapons which will threaten global security

israeli-american flags

All GOP candidates will continue seeking – and praying – for Jewish money with greater success.

New immigrants from USA and Canada arriving at Ben Gurion Airport.

The one reason to make Aliyah outweighs all the arguments not to move to Israel.

Keeping-Jerusalem

“We returned to this Land not in order to be murdered, or uprooted. We came here to be replanted!”

I don’t fear for the future of our people because I believe Yeshiva University has created an “Iron Dome” of Jewish leadership

Poland’s great Jewish cities where Jewish life had once flourished and thrived, were now desolate

Chief rabbi, Rav Dovid Lau, stated that the Torah community’s turnout in the WZO election is vital.

Iran has at its core the same ideology as that of ISIS but, inaccurately, is thought a lesser threat

An early Yom Ha’atzmaut gathering for Israel’s 67th birthday with Pres. Rivlin of Israel and guests

Israel’s Memorial Day shouldn’t be a day of mourning, it’s a day to honor, not another Holocaust Day

God’s 3 part promise for Israel: to the Avot; a plentiful land; the eventual return home by all Jews

A committed Religious Zionist, he was a sought-after adviser on Zionist affairs around the world.

More important, Mr. Obama is simply acceding to Iran’s position on the timing of the lifting of sanctions.

“Texans share a lot of the same attitude as Israelis, that we say what we think and we think what we say, and that makes it much easier to communicate,” he says.

More Articles from Dr. Rafael Medoff
Bibi0303.jpg

Israeli history now has its version of “Dewey Defeats Truman” with headlines from 2 anti-Bibi papers

Charley Levine

Prominent Jewish leaders acknowledged that their predecessors had mistreated the Bergson Group.

The long ordeal of the Armenian Orphan Rug, held hostage to fears of angering Turkey, has finally ended. Or has it?

Carter developed a fondness for Arafat believing “they were both ordained to be peacemakers by God”

With generous support from the Egyptian Jewish community, the exiled family built a new life for itself in the Mafruza and Gabbari refugee camps near Alexandria.

While grateful not to be returned to Germany, the passengers understood they were still in the middle of a danger zone.

These “Jewish Amazons” were living proof of the failure of the enemies of the Jewish people.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/fdr-and-the-voyage-of-the-damned/2011/11/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: