Rod Bryant and Jerry Gordon of Israel News Talk Radio -Beyond the Matrix bring back Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies to discuss the Nazi pogrom against Germany’s Jews- on its 80th anniversary, FDR’s and American Jewish leaders responses and the implications for policymakers facing existential threats today like Iran’s nuclear and genocidal threats to wipe the Jewish nation of Israel off the map of the world.
November 9-10, 2018 marked the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the “night of broken glass” in 1938 when Hitler perpetrated a nation-wide pogrom in response to the assassination of a German diplomat Ernst Von Rath at the Paris Embassy by a 17-year-old Polish Jew Herschel Grynspan. The Nazi SA and Hitler youth rampaged through Germany and Austria 7,500 Jewish homes and businesses were ransacked, 267 synagogues were attacked, 76 were destroyed, nearly 100 Jews were killed. Most significantly 30,000 Jewish men were sent to Nazi concentration camps at Dachau, Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen. German Jews were fined over $400 million for the cleanup of the Nazi pogrom. It marked the end for Jews in Germany. Many consider it as the precursor for Hitler’s Final Solution, the murder of six million European Jewish men, women and children in unspeakable ways.
Gordon spoke of encounter with the parents of his freshman roommate at Boston University the father of whom was one those incarcerated at a Nazi concentration camp and released after his wife bribed the Nazi camp commandant.
Medoff drew attention to the “whitewashing’ of FDR in the controversial US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC in his responses to Kristallnacht at press conferences a few days after the Nazi pogrom not challenging the Hitler regime, not even identifying the victims- Jews. This contrasted with headlines in US and foreign newspapers drawing attention to the Nazi existential threats to Germany’s Jews. FDR’s State Department even ruled against offers by the Governor of the US Virgin Islands to take in German Jewish refugees. Medoff pointed out the little-known offer of the Dominican Republic, made earlier than Kristallnacht in 1938, to take in over 100,000 German Jews- in the end they took in less than 1,000 in the settlement of Sosua. The FDR Administration were concerned that these German Jewish refugees would ultimately infiltrate the US! That was reflected less than six months later in June 1939 when the 930 German Jews aboard the fateful ship the St. Louis were barred entry by the State Department, many of whom went to their deaths in Nazi killing centers. Medoff noted FDR didn’t want strong action against Hitler’s Germany for fear of triggering a war and impacting trade during the economic Depression. Hollywood’s Jewish moguls didn’t want to lose export markets in German for film productions. Many Jewish leaders remain silent for fear of anti-Semitism, while a few demonstrated against the Hitler Nazi regime. Medoff noted that in contrast the British took in 10,000 Jewish children in the so-called Kinder transports and 15,000 young Jewish women as nannies and maids.
Medoff when asked about the implications of the Kristallnacht episode said that if FDR and other western leaders had adopted economic sanctions, much like those currently used against a Nuclear Iran, perhaps the Nazi pogrom might have been stopped. Looking at the debacle in the current Syrian civil war, Medoff speculated that if the US coalition had attacked Assad it might have prevented the massive refugee flight to the West and the US.