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January 29, 1982 - Image 6

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1982-01-29

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

6 Friday, January 29, 1982

Feingold's 'Politics of-Rescue' Explores
the Failures to Save Victims of Nazism

MURRAY & GOLDA HARTZ

wish to sincerely thank their dear family,
friends and business associates for their
many good wishes while Murray is still in'
ttle hospital.

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Moral aspects of the
Holocaust, the lessons of
Auschwitz and World War
II, the attitudes of the world
powers, are among the ex-
periences dealt with in "The
Politics of Rescue" (Schoc-
ken). Originally written by
Prof. Henry L. Feingold of
City University of New
York and published by Rut-
gers University Press in
1970, the revised edition
continues to merit high
rank in the Holocaust Li-
brary and in the analyses of
World War II history.
Dr. Feingold deals exten-
sively with the role of
President Franklin D.
Roosevelt in the efforts to
rescue the victims of
Nazism. He states at the
outset that charges of indif-
ference are difficult to ac-
cept. He declares: "The ac-
cusation that the Roosevelt
Administration did not do
enough has no meaning
until we determine how
much might have been
done. Yet it was precisely
the question of what was
possible which was at the
heart of the argument be-
tween rescue advocates and
State Department officials.
Even today, with all our
perspectives, it is still dif-
ficult to determine pos-
sibilities . . ." He contends:
"The energy, sources, and
will committed to rescue
never remotely matched the
Nazi commitment to liq-
uidation of the Jews."
The Roosevelt role in the
rescue appeals is thus de-
fined by Prof. Feingold:
"In America it was
business as usual. What
was being done to Jews
was a European affair.
Roosevelt viewed the
admission of refugees in
the domestic political
context, the only one he
really knew and could
control to some extent.
He understood that the
American people would
never understand the
admission of thousands,
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FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT

perhaps millions, of refu-
gees while 'one third. of
the nation was ill housed,
ill fed and ill clad.' In
case he dared forget,
Senators Reynolds, a
Democrat from North
Carolina in the forefront
of the struggle to keep
refugees out, was there to
remind him, and did so by
using the President's
own ringing phrases.
"That brings us to one of
the most bitter ironies of all
concerning the role of
America. The Roosevelt
Administration's inability
to move on the refugee front
was a classic case of democ-
racy at work, the democracy
which American Jewry re-
vered so highly.
"The American people,
including its Jewish com-
ponent before 1938, did not
welcome refugees. So strong
was this sentiment that it
would have taken an act of
extraordinary political
courage to thwart the popu-
lar will. Had Roosevelt done
so there was a good chance,
as Rep. Samuel Dickstein,
the Jewish chairman of the
House Committee on Immi-
gration and Naturalization
pointed out, that there
would have occurred a Con-
gressional reaction of even
more restrictive laws in the
face of the crisis.
"Roosevelt was occasion-
ally capable of such political
courage, especially on a
major issue. Witness his ac-
tion on the Destroyer-Bases
deal which he implemented
by Executive Order in Sep-
tember 1940. But in the case
of refugees, even Jewish
refugee children, he chose to
be more the fox than the
lion. He settled first for a
politics of gestures.
"That is perhaps the
key to the mystery of the
invitation of 32 nations to
Evian extended in
March, 1938 to consider
the refugee problem. The
invitation was carefully
hedged. It stated that the
United States would not
alter its immigration
regulations and did not
expect other states to do
so. That of course con-
signed the Evian Confer-
ence to failure.
"Soon the 'politics of ges-
tures' became more elabo-
rate. It featured among
other things an enthusiasm
for mass resettlement
schemes. That usually
amounted to tucking away a
highly urbanized Jewish
minority in some tropical
equatorial rainforest or
desert to 'pioneer.' The Jews
predictably could not mus-

ter much passion for it. Re-
settlement imposed on
Jews, whether conceived in
Berlin or Washington, they
understood as a concealed
form of group dissolution,
and they would have little
to do with it. Thus it was
doomed to failure.
"By the time Henry
Morgenthau Jr., Roosevelt's
Secretary of the Treasury
and perhaps his closest
Jewish friend, was enlisted
in the rescue effort, it was
already late in the game.
Morgenthau did succeed in
convincing the President to
establish the War Refugee
Board in January 1944. He
prepared a highly secret
brief which demonstrated
that the State Department
had deliberately and consis-
tently sabotaged efforts to
rescue Jews. It was a devas-
tating document, and the
WRB which it brought into
existence did play an impor-
tant role in saving those
Hungarian Jews in
Budapest who survived the
war. But it was created too
late to save the millions."
There was the anti-
Semitic, the negative, as
indicated, in the Congress,
in the State Department, in
the Consular corps.
Dr. Feingold especially
exposes the venom of
Breckenridge Long,
Assistant Secretary of
State for Special Prob-
lems, who prior to that
was the U.S. Ambassador
to Rome. Long's career,
his friendship with FDR
and his son James, and
with Cordell Hull who
later became his boss, as
Secretary of State, de-
scribes an ambitiousness
for politics.
Dr. Feingold points out
that as Ambassador to Italy
Long, "from the moment
King Victor Emanuel sent
his special royal carriage for
the elaborate presentation
of credentials ceremony, the
Fascist regime seemed to
have captured his heart.
"The head of the govern-
ment (Mussolini) is one of
the most remarkable per-
sons," he wrote to his friend
Joseph E. Davies, the soon-
to-be ambassador to Bel-
gium, "and he is surrounded
by interesting men. And
they are doing a unique
work in an original manner,
so I am enjoying it all."
There are lengthy de-
scriptions of Long's admira-
tion for the Fascists and
there is also this important
reference to him and to an-
other eminent American:
"Only Joseph P. Kennedy
attached discouragement
(for Europe's future). Both
men harbored a distrust for
the motives of the British
and the French; both ulti-
mately turned to a sophisti-
cated brand of isolationism,
and both hinted that an ac-
commodation with Berlin
would be necessary."
In his revelations of
Long's consistent efforts to
thwart the rescue of refu-
gees, Dr. Feingold states:
"Not until May 1943,
almost a year after the

HENRY MORGENTHATY--1"")

first report of the I\ _
Solution, did Brecken-
ridge Long inform the
State Department that 'it
may for present purposes
be accepted as more than
Jewish propaganda that
a large number of Jews
have been killed.' "
The Long record thus
echoes the vilest of the
anti-Semitic actions.
Who were collectively the
guilty for the Holocaust?
Dr. Feingold examines
thoroughly the human reac-
tions, concluding with: "The
indictment of the witnesses
is based on the old assump-
tion that there exists such a
spirit of civilization, a sense
of humanitarian concern in
the world, which could have
been mobilized to save
Jewish lives during the
Holocaust. It indicts the
Roosevelt Administration,
the Vatican, the British
government and all other
witnessing nations and
agencies for not acting, for
not caring, and it reserves a
special indignation for
American Jewry's failure to
mobilize a spirit which did
not in fact exist."
It was not all silence. The
roles of Henry Morgenthau
Jr., Stephen S. Wise, Ira
Hirschmann and others are
recorded.
The current outburst of
support for the Poles indi-
cates the changing climate.
Similarly, the welcome sign
for refugees from many
lands in the present think-
ing emphasizes the con-
trasting situations of the
Nazi era of wholesale mur-
ders and closed doors for
Jews with the humanism of
the 1980s. Nevertheless,
the criticism is legitimate,
especially as a lesson for fu-
ture actions, both in defense
of Israel and in rejecting all
forms of anti-Semitism.

Israeli Chosen
to Head U.S.
Textile Concern

NEW YORK — Uzi Rus-
kin has been named
president and chief operat-
ing officer of United
chants and Manufactui
Inc., a textile concern.
Ruskin is the leader of an
investment group that owns
22.4 percent of the com-
pany. An Israeli citizen who
served as an assistant to the
Finance Minister, Ruskin
was also the U.S. represen-
tative for the Israeli-based
Clal Corp.

j

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