web analytics
April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

A Holocaust Pageant that Was too ‘Political’ for FDR

Shattering the wall of silence surrounding the Holocaust was the first crucial step in the process of mobilizing the American public against the slaughter.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Share Button

Editor and children’s book author Miriam Chaikin, who at the time was a member of the Bergson Group’s office staff, attended the first performance. “The atmosphere was electric,” she recalled. “People in the audience were stunned by the pageant – and by the whole idea of Jewish issues being presented in such a place. In those days, it just wasn’t done. It really brought home the suffering of Europe’s Jews in a very powerful way, which really shook people up.”

“If there was a dry eye at Madison Square Garden Tuesday night, it wasn’t mine,” wrote reviewer Nick Kenny in the New York City daily PM. “It was the most poignant pageant we have ever witnessed. It is a story that should be made into a moving picture, just as it was presented at the Garden, and shown in every city, town and hamlet in the country.”

The Bergson Group did, in fact, take the show on the road. In the months to follow, “We Will Never Die” was performed before sellout crowds in Chicago Stadium, the Boston Garden, Philadelphia’s Convention Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, and Washington’s Constitution Hall. All together, more than 100,000 Americans attended the performances.

More than 200 members of Congress, numerous members of the international diplomatic corps (“ambassadors from everywhere,” Hecht called them), six justices of the Supreme Court, and Eleanor Roosevelt attended the Washington event. It was not the first time the famously independent first lady failed to toe the president’s line.

Mrs. Roosevelt was so moved by the performance that she devoted part of her next syndicated column, “My Day,” to the pageant and the plight of Europe’s Jews. For millions of American newspaper readers, it was the first time they heard about the Nazi mass murders.

Shattering the wall of silence surrounding the Holocaust was the first crucial step in the process of mobilizing the American public against the slaughter. Throughout 1943, Bergson and Hecht organized a series of public rallies, full-page newspaper ads, and Capitol Hill lobbying efforts that culminated in the introduction of a congressional resolution urging the creation of a U.S. government agency to rescue Jewish refugees. The public controversy caused by Congressional hearings on the resolution, combined with behind-the-scenes pressure from Treasury Department officials, convinced President Roosevelt to establish that agency, the War Refugee Board, in January 1944.

The War Refugee Board’s activities, which included financing the rescue work of Raoul Wallenberg, helped save the lives of an estimated 200,000 people during the final 15 months of the war. Seventy years ago this week, “We Will Never Die” helped set in motion the process that led to the saving of those lives.

(JNS)

Share Button

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.

Leave a comment (Select your commenting platform)

9 Responses to “A Holocaust Pageant that Was too ‘Political’ for FDR”

  1. Gil Gilman says:

    This article actually fills in a few blank spots in the holocaust literature of which I have read extensively.

  2. Gil Gilman says:

    This article actually fills in a few blank spots in the holocaust literature of which I have read extensively.

  3. Gil Gilman says:

    This article actually fills in a few blank spots in the holocaust literature of which I have read extensively.

  4. Gil Gilman says:

    This article actually fills in a few blank spots in the holocaust literature of which I have read extensively.

  5. Gil Gilman says:

    This article actually fills in a few blank spots in the holocaust literature of which I have read extensively.

  6. Gil Gilman says:

    This article actually fills in a few blank spots in the holocaust literature of which I have read extensively.

  7. eleanor roosevelt was a saint. her husband, the president, was a politician.

  8. Tim Riks says:

    never forget the US was an accessory to this murder, by politicians like Cordell Hull and Breckinridge Long to doing all they can to make sure the US took in as little Jewish Refugees as possible, to starting the Eugenics movement with the 1924 Immigration act which was designed to keep as little Jews as possible out of the US.

  9. Thank you for this revelation as to FDR's failure to support the Jews as did not establishment Jewry of the time. So, what else is new with current Jewish leadership or lack of thereof? Jerome S. Kaufman

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
FBI Wanted poster for Osama bin Laden
Pakistan Library Renamed to Honor bin Laden
Latest Indepth Stories
matza

If itis a mitzva to eat matza all Pesach, then why is there no berakha attached to it?

Masked Palestinian Authority Arabs hurl blocks at Israel Police during and after "worship" at Temple Mount mosque. (archive photo)

When we are united with unconditional love, no stone will be raised against us by our enemies.

Haredim riot after draft-dodger is arrested.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

Bitton-041814

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

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

When the state was established, gedolim went to Ben-Gurion and asked him not to draft women and, later, yeshiva bachrim.

More Articles from Dr. Rafael Medoff
A group of Jewish partisans in the Rudniki forest, near Vilna, between 1942 and 1944. — US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

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

Arthur Hays Sulzberger

Sulzberger, one of the most famous “religious Jews” who opposed Zionism did not change his mind even after the Holocaust.

Meryl Streep condemned Disney for associating with extremists while doing the very same thing.

In 1943, just before Yom Kippur, some 400 rabbis marched to the White House.

When Secretary of State John Kerry appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in September to make the case for U.S. intervention in Syria, he offered a historical analogy.

Numerous Danish Christian families hid Jews in their homes or farms, and then smuggled them to the seashore.

The outcry around the world against Nazi book burning included a moving letter from Helen Keller.

The Obama team included many outspoken advocates of U.S. action against the Bashir regime.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/a-holocaust-pageant-that-was-too-political-for-fdr/2013/03/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: