As Purim approaches, thousands of Israeli children and families grapple with poverty
Their morally redeeming outrage (and their direct threat to go public) eventually forced FDR to take refugee and rescue affairs away from the State Department. The new rescue agency, the War Refugee Board, which is generally credited with saving 200,000 Jewish lives in occupied Europe, did help to get thousands of Jews out of Transnistria. Had the U.S. acted earlier, tens of thousands more Romanian Jews would have survived.
Short of defeating Nazi Germany, the U.S. had no means to rescue most of the Jews who ultimately perished in concentration camps such as Auschwitz. But that was not true of the Transnistrian Jews and therefore their plight became a morally defining moment. The State Department should acknowledge its shameful past by creating its own memorial to the Romanian Holocaust victims. The memorial would not simply be an act of expiation, but rather a permanent reminder that, as the Talmudic saying goes, “To save one life is as if you have saved the world.”
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.”
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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-state-departments-shameful-past/2009/11/04/
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