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"Passionate Crusaders" cover

(JNi.media) As Syrian refugees risk their lives to immigrate to other countries, many are reminded of the attempts of Jews to escape Nazi persecution in the 1930s and 1940s. In 1944, the US government created the War Refugee Board, in an effort to save Jews from the raging European Holocaust. Heather Voight’s new book, “Passionate Crusaders: How Members of the US War Refugee Board Saved Jews and Altered American Foreign Policy during World War II,” her debut work, is the first book ever to focus exclusively on the War Refugee Board and its accomplishments. A well-researched work, it will be of interest to anyone interested in immigration issues in America, today and yesterday.

By January 1944, Treasury Department officials Henry Morgenthau, John Pehle, and Josiah DuBois had already convinced President Franklin Roosevelt to create the War Refugee Board, an agency with the authority to provide rescue and relief for Jews and other groups persecuted by the Nazis. Scholars have criticized the Board for its inability to save more Jews, insisting the agency should have been created sooner. Heather Voight’s research shows that despite its shortcomings, the War Refugee Board changed history and forever altered American foreign policy. Its creation ended the cycle of indifference that the government and the American public had shown to victims of the Holocaust. In the words of Henry Morgenthau, from 1944-1945 “crusaders, passionately persuaded of the need for speed and action” risked their reputations and sometimes their lives to save Jews.

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Voight’s book doesn’t merely tell readers the War Refugee Board was important—it shows how it was created, the actions it took to save lives, and the determination of its members to combat anti-Semitic and anti-immigration attitudes. “Passionate Crusaders” shines a light on the agency that President Franklin Roosevelt created in the midst of a State Department scandal, was staffed by mostly non-Jews who risked their reputations and sometimes their lives working for the Board, saved more than 100,000 Jews using a combination of diplomatic and clandestine methods, and pressured the War Crimes Commission to change its definition of war crimes–the same definition used today.

“I first read about the War Refugee Board while working on my college thesis,” Voight told an interviewer. “When I started to talk about the Board to other people, I got a lot of blank stares. Despite the number of people aided by the War Refugee Board and its lasting impact on American foreign policy, few Americans have ever heard of it. I wrote this book to tell the story of the Board’s members who tried to do so much in so little time.”

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22 COMMENTS

  1. These analogies between Jews and Muslims are always false.

    In WWII, every Jew in Europe was under a death sentence. In complete contrast, the majority of muslim “refugees” are economic migrants who were in no danger of anything.

    We must never forget that as their reward for being law abiding, industrious, and willing to assimilate, Jews in Europe were marginalized and exterminated. Muslims in Europe today have extremely high rates of unemployment, criminality, educational underachievement, and dependency on social benefits, but European governments admire them, pander to them, protect them, and often give them special priveliges not available to the native populations.

    There are no two groups in European history who have had experiences more different from one another.

  2. We as Jews had nowhere to escape to plus it was not one Jewish person slaughtering another. These refugees own neighbouring “Brothers” have not opened their doors to the to help them. Wherever we as Jewish People have lived we have added to those societies culturally, economically and been law abiding citizens – not causing mayhem and chaos wherever we were. We have always been sought after to be exterminated!

  3. Did the Jewish refugees mentioned above try to change American society to fit their own beliefs and agendas or did they accept the norms of society? Did they contribute economically, culturally and socially towards that society? I think we all know that all answers are affirmative. Now, those rased in a hateful dictatorship who have been brainwashed to hate Jews, who do not understand democracy, pluralism, womens´and gay rights, how will they fare and how will society fare with them present in it?

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