Meir Panim’s Tiberias Free Restaurant not only provides warm meals, but the opportunity to socialize as well.
This is one “top ten” list no author wants to find himself on. The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies has just released its annual list of the “ten most absurd statements about the Allies’ response to the Holocaust.” Those who made the 2009 list range from old time Franklin Roosevelt diehards to legitimate historians who should know better. The Wyman Institute publishes the list each year in conjunction with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is commemorated on January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. “Despite mountains of evidence to the contrary, some FDR apologists still claim there was nothing he could have done to rescue Jews from the Holocaust,” said Wyman Institute director Dr. Rafael Medoff. “Like the last Japanese soldier holding out on a remote island years after World War II ended, these diehards simply refuse to face the facts.”
This is one “top ten” list no author wants to find himself on.
The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies has just released its annual list of the “ten most absurd statements about the Allies’ response to the Holocaust.” Those who made the 2009 list range from old time Franklin Roosevelt diehards to legitimate historians who should know better.
The Wyman Institute publishes the list each year in conjunction with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is commemorated on January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
“Despite mountains of evidence to the contrary, some FDR apologists still claim there was nothing he could have done to rescue Jews from the Holocaust,” said Wyman Institute director Dr. Rafael Medoff.
“Like the last Japanese soldier holding out on a remote island years after World War II ended, these diehards simply refuse to face the facts.”
At the top of this year’s “Absurdities” list is a statement made by William J. Vanden Heuvel, longtime president of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, who told a New York Times reporter, “The only meaningful way to save the intended victims of Hitler’s murder machine was to win the war as quickly as possible.”
Medoff said Vanden Heuvel’s statement was “especially absurd because it is the exact same line taken by the Roosevelt administration during the Holocaust, which was exposed as false in 1944.”
Medoff pointed out that in 1944, under pressure from Congress, Jewish activists, and the Treasury Department, President Roosevelt created the War Refugee Board, which during the final months of the war helped rescue an estimated 200,000 European Jews. Part of the Board’s work involved sponsoring and assisting rescue hero Raoul Wallenberg.
“How can anyone still claim, 66 years later, that there was no way to rescue Jews, when the War Refugee Board and Raoul Wallenberg obviously helped rescue so many?” Medoff asked.
Historians and coauthors Richard Breitman, Severin Hochberg, and Barbara Stewart McDonald made the “Absurdities” list for two statements in their recent book Refugees and Rescue: The Diary and Papers of James G. McDonald 1935-1945.
In one, they claimed to have uncovered a “previously overlooked” episode in 1938 in which President Roosevelt “promised, under the right circumstances, to ask Congress to appropriate $150 million to help resettle [Jewish] refugees in various parts of the world.”
The Wyman Institute noted, however, that the episode was previously recounted in such books as Prof. Wyman’s Paper Walls, in 1968, and Prof. Henry Feingold’s The Politics of Rescue, in 1970. Moreover, Dr. Medoff said, since FDR never kept his promise to ask Congress for those funds, it was misleading for the authors to claim Roosevelt’s promise proved he secretly tried to save the Jews.
The other statement by Breitman, Hochberg, and McDonald concerned the 1939 Wagner-Rogers bill, which would have admitted 20,000 refugee children from Germany outside the U.S. quota system. They said Roosevelt refused to endorse the legislation because he “saw that bill as a gesture – not a solution. He was a man of grand vision who wanted to resettle a much larger number of refugees from Germany.”
According to the Wyman Institute, however, “there are no known documents in which FDR states that he disliked Wagner-Rogers because it would have saved too few Jewish refugees.”
Also making the Absurdities list was World War II historian Gerhard Weinberg. In a radio interview in Tennessee, Weinberg said America’s immigration laws in the 1930s “prohibited more than 100,000 people coming into this country a year.” Weinberg then defended FDR’s anti-immigration position on the grounds that “the fact that a president doesn’t like a particular law doesn’t somehow mean that there is automatically a change in the law.”
The actual maximum number that could have been admitted in any one year was 154,000, not 100,000. As for FDR’s position, “The fact that President Roosevelt could not unilaterally alter the immigration law does not change the fact that the Roosevelt administration could have saved many German Jews without changing the law, simply by permitting the existing quotas to be filled each year,” Medoff noted.
Making the list for the second time in three years was South Carolina attorney Robert Rosen, the author of a pro-Roosevelt book called Saving the Jews. In a speech in Michigan last year, Rosen claimed that Assistant Secretary of War John McCloy, who helped shape the administration’s policy toward European Jewry, has been criticized by historians because “he’s a very convenient target, because he’s kind of a WASP, mildly anti-Semitic guy, who belong[ed] to some clubs in New York that Jews don’t belong to, and so he’s kind of a good guy to make into a villain.”
According to the Wyman Institute, however, scholars have criticized McCloy not because he belonged to exclusive clubs, but because of his record regarding European Jewry, which includes opposing the use of any U.S. military resources to aid the Jews; ordering an aide to “kill” requests to bomb the railways to Auschwitz; falsely claiming that such a bombing would require the diversion of planes from elsewhere in Europe, when U.S. planes were already in the area, bombing German military targets next to Auschwitz; and pardoning numerous Nazi war criminals when he served as High Commissioner of Germany after World War II.
Another statement by Rosen that made this year’s Absurdities list was his remark that after 1940, the Jews in Europe “were prisoners . They couldn’t get out. It didn’t matter whether we let ‘em in, they couldn’t get out.”
The Wyman Institute, in response, pointed to a number of instances in which Jews did escape from Europe after 1940: more than 26,000 European Jewish refugees succeeded in fleeing to Palestine between 1941 and 1944; about 8,000 Jews escaped to Sweden, from German-occupied Denmark, in 1943; thousands of Jews fled from German-occupied territory to Soviet territory during 1940-1945; several thousand refugees, mostly Jews, were smuggled out of Vichy France in 1940-1941 by Varian Fry’s rescue network; and thousands of Jewish refugees escaped to Allied-liberated Italy from elsewhere in Europe, about one thousand of whom were brought to the United States in 1944.
The nominees for this year’s Absurdities awards were judged by a panel of scholars who have researched the Allies’ response to the Holocaust: Prof. David S. Wyman, author of The Abandonment of the Jews; Prof. Laurel Leff, author of Buried by The Times; Dr. Racelle Weiman, founding director (emeritus) of Hebrew Union College’s Center for Holocaust and Humanity education; Prof. Bat-Ami Zucker, author of In Search of Refuge; Prof. Judith Baumel-Schwartz, author of Unfulfilled Promise; Dr. Alex Grobman, author of Denying History; and Wyman Institute director Medoff, author of several books including Blowing the Whistle on Genocide.
About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press.
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Unfortunately, a map of the Middle East with no mention of Israel is nothing new… It is surprising however, that the world’s largest publisher of children’s literature, Scholastic Books, has joined in this trend.
About six months ago my parents and I started discussing ideas for a mitzvah project in honor of my bat mitzvah. I wanted to do something unique that would be meaningful to me and also do something that my friends could participate in. Immediately I thought of an organization called Sharsheret.
“I’m disappointed that the agreement reached with Iran leaves our unfulfilled our ultimate objective: a complete dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program and related activities.
Southern NCSY will be holding a leadership training Shabbaton at the Young Israel of Bal Harbour December 6 and December 7. Rabbi Steven Weil, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union, will be the special guest speaker.
Is there a beginning and an end to the universe? What role can medical breakthroughs play in conception or genetic engineering? Can science help us pinpoint the end of human life? Does the soul emanate from the brain or vice-versa?
Last month’s column sketched the myriad of social programs in which the Orthodox American communal worker and leader Adolphus S. Solomons (1826-1910) was involved. Adolphus married Rachel Seixas Phillips (1828-1881), a descendant of colonial patriot families and together they had eight daughters and a son.
This year’s parade, the 87th annual extravaganza of marching bands, floats, and giant balloons, featured something really unique and different: a balloon/float of a large blue dreidel.
He strengthened his resolve
Knew his life he would lose,
But when the king uttered the words
With great pride he refused.
Just like you
I too have a soul
A soul that is G-dly
Just like you.
Now my friend
I ask you,
Am I different from you?
It’s not Chanukah without latkes! That’s true; but don’t make the same boring latkes this year. Go for something healthier, more vibrant, and flavorful.
Each year at our family Chanukah party, we try to introduce a new activity, to keep things fun and exciting for the children and adults alike. Last year’s addition – a huge hit – was a menorah-making contest.
Prof. Malka Schaps was born Mary Kramer, a Protestant, in Cleveland, Ohio. When she was sixteen, she started questioning the rationale of moral conduct: Why be good?
With 2013 marking half a century since Kennedy’s fateful limousine ride in Dallas, the current revels are exceeding the revisionist frenzies of years past, with a seemingly endless parade of books, articles and television specials designed to assure us that, despite everything that has come to light about him since his death, JFK was a great president, or at least a very good president who would have been great had his life not been so cruelly cut short.
As someone who for the past fifteen years has been writing a column that largely focuses on the news media, I’ve read what is no doubt an altogether unhealthy number of books on the subject. Most of them were instantly forgettable while some created a brief buzz but failed to pass the test of time. And then there were those select few that merited a permanent spot on the bookshelf.
George W. Bush has been getting some positive media coverage lately, with recent polls showing him at least as popular as his successor, Barack Obama, and a big new book about the Bush presidency by New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker (Days of Fire, Doubleday) portraying Bush as a much more hands-on chief executive than his detractors ever imagined.
Readers who’ve stuck with the Monitor over the years will forgive this rerun of sorts, but as we approach the fortieth anniversary of the Yom Kippur War – and with the stench of presidential indecisiveness hanging so heavily over Washington these days – it seemed only appropriate to revisit Richard Nixon’s role in enabling Israel to recover from the staggering setbacks it suffered in the first week of fighting.
Shakespeare had it right. The evil that men do indeed lives after them. Case in point: Nahum Goldmann, who served in a variety of Jewish and Zionist organizational leadership posts from the 1920s through the 1970s.
Oscar “Ossie” Schectman, who scored the first basket in the history of the league that evolved into the National Basketball Association, died last week at age 94.
It’s certainly been a while, hasn’t it? And yet it seems like the conversation was never really interrupted, as I’ve enjoyed, in the three and a half months since this column last appeared, many an interesting exchange, via e-mail and phone, with some very intelligent readers.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/news-magazine/fdr-defenders-top-list-of-absurd-holocaust-statements/2010/01/27/
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