web analytics
January 30, 2015 / 10 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

The Moral Disgrace Of America’s Aristocracy


Wallance-042012

This year, Holocaust Remembrance Day is the anniversary of two starkly contrasting events of April 19, 1943 – the first day of the gallant but doomed Warsaw Ghetto uprising and of the ignominious Anglo-American Bermuda Conference on the Refugee Problem, which State Department diplomats organized to deflect pressure to rescue Jews from the Nazi death machine.

Most of the Jewish fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto perished but the American diplomats went on to comfortable, if not highly successful, careers – and to largely avoid the wrath of historical judgment.

One might ask, given all of the articles and books written about the American response to the Holocaust, hasn’t the diplomats’ role been thoroughly examined? Remarkably, the answer is no, not because their conduct has been ignored but rather because it has been submerged in the American collective guilt approach that underpins many historical assessments.

Consider the State Department’s treatment in arguably the most influential book on the subject of the past twenty-five years, The Abandonment of the Jews, by David Wyman, an exhaustive scholarly study of the American response. The 29-page summation chapter titled “Responsibility” (“America’s response to the Holocaust was the result of action and inaction on the part of many people”) devotes less than a page to the State Department, while three full pages are spent on the wartime rivalries of American Jewish groups. The book also contends that “direct proof of anti-Semitism in the department is limited” and that “plain bureaucratic inefficiency” was one explanation for the State Department’s behavior.

These highly educated, patrician diplomats, in fact, rank among the worst villains in American history. They were part of a now all-but-vanished American aristocracy that existed outside the experience or even awareness of most of their fellow Americans.

Sheltered in a hermetically sealed aristocratic archipelago, many went from elite northeast boarding schools to Ivy League educations to diplomatic postings. Imbued with an intoxicating sense of Anglo-Saxon exceptionalism, anti-Semitic (sometimes virulently), and mindlessly conformist (at the Groton School, many of whose graduates went to the State Department, nonconformists were waterboarded by fellow students with the approval of the headmaster), they had a heartless indifference to the sufferings of human beings from different ancestries, religions, or economic classes.

In 1940, the head of the Division of European Affairs was Jay Pierrepont Moffat. As a young diplomat in Warsaw shortly after the end of World War I, Moffat had watched desperate refugees flee oncoming Soviet armies: “they sounded like so many cackling geese and generally behaved in a manner that made us pray like the pharisee, ‘Lord, I thank Thee that I am not as other men.’ ”

His successor, Ray Atherton, arranged for an anti-Semitic French Nazi collaborationist to become a governor-general in liberated North Africa (where he continued to oppress Jews).

Loy Henderson, who worked in the State Department on East European issues in the 1940s, blamed “international Jewry” for support of the Soviet Union and, after a visit to New York City, commented of the inhabitants jostling him in the street that “They seemed to have little in common with me.”

William Phillips, an undersecretary of state, in the 1930s described Atlantic City as “infested with Jews.”

William Bullitt, an ambassador to the Soviet Union during FDR’s first term, called an official in the Soviet Foreign Ministry a “wretched little kike.”

Breckinridge Long, a wartime assistant secretary of state, regarded Mein Kampf as “eloquent in opposition to Jewry and Jews as exponents of Communism and chaos.”

They were lethally efficient bureaucratic operators. In 1942, when the first cable reports of Nazi Germany’s genocidal scheme reached the State Department from its legation in Switzerland – “in Fuhrer’s headquarters plan under consideration all Jews at one blow exterminated” – the Division of European Affairs suppressed the information (even from American Jews). Then, in early 1943, when informed by the legation that 6,000 Jews were being killed each day at a single location in Poland, the division’s head, Ray Atherton, and three colleagues instructed the legation “in the future we suggest that you do not accept reports submitted to you” from the legation’s Jewish sources about the exterminations.

Several months later, the division blocked a proposal, endorsed by FDR, to rescue 70,000 Romanian Jews on the ground that these Jews were “enemy aliens” since Romania was a German ally, and that, even if the rescue succeeded, there were no “other areas” to put the Jews.

Finally, at the Bermuda Conference, a “facade for inaction,” as a British delegate admitted years later, Breckenridge Long forbade any proposals that would solely benefit Jews and blocked any meaningful rescue initiatives.

Christian lawyers in the Treasury Department discovered the State Department’s cover-up and battled to save the Romanian rescue plan. Outraged, they considered the diplomats an underground “movement to let the Jews be killed,” “vicious men,” “accomplices of Hitler,” and “war criminals in every sense of the term.” Few historians have rendered such a judgment.

Neglect, the failure to use the powers of government to rescue European Jews, merits the strongest censure. But the wartime State Department diplomats, who used their official powers to prevent rescue, deserve historical condemnation of a far harsher magnitude – and so far they have escaped it.

Gregory J. Wallance is a lawyer and writer in New York City. His book, “America’s Soul in the Balance: The Holocaust, FDR’s State Department, and the Moral Disgrace of An American Aristocracy,” from which this article is adapted, will be released this month.

About the Author: Gregory J. Wallance is a lawyer and writer in New York City and a long-time human rights activist. His most recent book is “America’s Soul in the Balance: The Holocaust, FDR’s State Department, and the Moral Disgrace of An American Aristocracy.”


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 “The Moral Disgrace Of America’s Aristocracy”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Jeremy Bird, working for Israeli campaign outfit V15, shown at Ted Talk, May 20, 2014.
V15 US Political Operative Marinated in Hate-Israel Activism
Latest Indepth Stories
Eli Weiss

Shepherding in the Shomron isn’t your usual kind of shepherding – despite his business-minded beginnings, Eli has discovered that a strong ideological impetus powers the job.

Resnick-013015-Pilot

I said to myself, “This story has got to be told. We’re losing this generation of World War II and if we don’t listen to them now, we’ve lost it.”

Eller-013015

His entire existence was about spreading simcha and glorifying G-d’s name on a daily basis.

IRAN-US-POLITICS-MILITARY

An Israeli strike could theoretically damage Iran’s nuclear program; only US can terminate program

At some point we need to stop simply defending and promoting Israel and start living in Israel

“We Jews are the only people who when we drop a book on the floor pick it up and kiss it.”

Though Zaide was the publisher of The Jewish Press, a big newspaper,I always remember him learning

Speaker Silver has been an extraordinary public servant since his election to the Assembly in 1975 and has been an exemplary leader of that body since 1994.

He spent the first leg of his daylong visit to the French capital at Hyper Cacher.

Drawing Congress into the Iran nuclear debate is the last thing the White House wants.

Great leaders like Miriam and like Sarah Schenirer possess the capacity to challenge the status quo that confronts them.

Obama’s foreign policy is viewed by both liberals and conservatives as deeply flawed

Many journalists are covertly blaming the Charlie Hebdo writers themselves through self-censorship.

Why does the Times relay different motivations and narratives for jihadists in Europe and Israel?

More Articles from Gregory J. Wallance
Wallance-070513

How did we move so quickly from complacency to last-minute weapons deliveries and a possible no-fly zone?

Gregory J. Wallance

A just-released Israeli commission report vehemently disputes the France 2 video made in 2000 of a Palestinian father and his son crouching for shelter from bullets allegedly fired by Israeli soldiers. This is a media controversy but it parallels the decades-long dispute between Israel and the human rights organizations that have issued reports on violent clashes in the West Bank, Gaza, and Lebanon. Simply, the reporting process on these confrontations has broken down.

The debate in the Jewish community over Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his response to the Holocaust has been bitter and emotional, a family divided against itself. On the one hand, FDR was the polio-stricken man who, after being knocked flat on his back, rose and revived an America that had been knocked flat on its back and then led it to wartime triumph over Hitler and to global destiny.

During a recent trip to Rwanda, former president Bill Clinton lamented his failure in 1994 to intervene in that country’s genocidal massacres. “I don’t think we could have ended the violence, but I think we could have cut it down. And I regret it.”

This year, Holocaust Remembrance Day is the anniversary of two starkly contrasting events of April 19, 1943 – the first day of the gallant but doomed Warsaw Ghetto uprising and of the ignominious Anglo-American Bermuda Conference on the Refugee Problem, which State Department diplomats organized to deflect pressure to rescue Jews from the Nazi death machine.

Recently, the Romanian government unveiled a long overdue memorial to the 300,000 Romanian Jews and Roma who perished in World War II at the hands of their own government and the Nazis. Unfortunately, the U.S. State Department, whose wartime diplomats doomed tens of thousands of the Romanian Jews commemorated by the memorial, has yet to acknowledge its own role in the Romanian Holocaust.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-moral-disgrace-of-americas-aristocracy/2012/04/18/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: