22 Friday, May 6, 1983
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
New FDR Biography Discusses Holocaust, Other Facets
Many legacies, shared by
this nation and all man-
kind, are in the record of the
exciting life of President
Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The New Deal and the
score of personalities who
had a share in it, the war
years and the F.D.R. ad-
monitions to the nation that
the only fear is fear itself,
th4 numerous other
chronicled events, combine
to enrich the life story of the
man who had an immense
influence on his generation,
generating cumulative ef-
fects on the generations
that followed it.
"F.D.R. — An Intimate
History" by Nathan Miller
(Doubleday) is presented as
the complete one-volume
biography of the late
President. It is certainly a
very provocative work,
covering the major events in
an exciting lifetime, with
numerous other incidents
and historical notes.
Much of what Miller
has introduced has been
elsewhere. Yet, what the
offers stimulates further
study. It touches on the
basics and provides great
value to a well
The F.D.R. record of
shortcomings in treating
the tragedy of Jews under
Nazism has been a subject
for rebuke, for bitter criti-
cisms of the hesitancy with
which the Holocaust had
been treated by Roosevelt
and his administration.
Miller does not overlook it.
He takes it into account.
- Miller doesn't pull
punches in his judgment of
the Roosevelt role in treat-
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Representatives of the believe that such things
board, including Raoul Wal- could occur in a 20th-
lenberg, a Swedish busi- Century civilization,'
nessman who worked in Roosevelt told the press.
Budapest, rescued The American ambassador
thousands of Jews from the to Berlin was recalled, and
gas chambers. But had about 15,000 German and
Roosevelt acted sooner, Austrian refugees in the
other hundreds of United States on visittors
thousands of people might permits were allowed to re-
also have been saved. As in main. But there was no re-
the case of the Japanese, his 1 axation of immigration
sin was not one of commis- quotas.
sion but omission — with
"Public opinion re-
ing the atrocities that we re even more tragic results."
mained a barrier to re-
Much more has been writ- vision, but the feeling
perpetrated against th e
ten and the exposes of an persists that had
Dealing with America n anti-Semitic tinge in the Roosevelt mounted an ef-
American consular system fort to permit the victims
reactions to the Nazi terro r
reviewing the Rooseve 1 i has caused many shocks, o f Nazism to come to the
Administration's treatmen t the F.D.R. attitude result- United States in greater
ing in shocking echoes and n umbers, the nation's
of the Hitler tide of terro r
in severe criticisms of the humane instincts might
the Miller biographic a
President. Miller states:
FDR account relates:
have been aroused.
"Following the annexa- Thousands of people who
"By early 1942 detail
of Hitler's plan for th s tion of Austria, the Nazis later died in the Nazi gas
Final Solution ha d e stepped up the perseuc- chambers could have
of the Jews. A trickle been
reached the State De
Jews had Roosevelt been more
partment, but many offs
reached the United concerned about their
refused to believ
the reports. They likene e States since Hitler had fate."
come to power in 1933,
The Miller biography in-
them to the German at
rocity stories spread b y but Congress had refused troduces Dr. Stephen S.
to broaden immigration Wise as a controversial per-
Allied propagandists t
quotas out of fear of add- sonality who, with the Rev.
inveigle the United State
into World War I. Yet th e s ing to the unemployment John Haynes Holmes, con-
and relief rolls. American ducted campaigns against
evidence of death camp
officials inter- political chicanery and ap-
and mass murder
s preted the statutes so pealed for social and eco-
rigorously that almost nomic improvements in
"Repeated appeals to th
Americans and British to e three-quarters of the treating the less fortunate
German quota went un- in society. Miller makes this
bomb the rail lines leading filled.
reference to a dispute be-
to the camps were unheeded
"Three thousand Jews be- tween President Roosevelt
on the ground that such di
versions would only delay - sieged the American consu- and Rabbi Wise:
• "Rabbi Stephen Wise told
victory — the best hope for late in Vienna, and Rep.
Emanuel Celler, of New Felix Frankfurter that he
"Following an Anglo- York, thought the State De- would rue his support of
partment's heart was 'muf- Roosevelt. "There is no basic
American conference in fled
stuff in the man. There are
Bermuda in 1943 to discuss
President, who was no deep-seated convictions.
the refugee problem, Secre-
tary Hull told Roosevelt, sympathetic to the plight of He is a tremendously
the Jews but had done little agreeable and attractive
`The unknown cost of re-
alleviate it, was under person, but there is no bed-
moving an uridertermined
number of persons from an pressure to do something to rock iii him. He is all clay
and no granite.'
undisclosed place to an un-
"Frankfurter's reply. was
known destination, a
hardly a ringing endorse-
scheme advocated by cer-
ment of the candidate: `I am
tain pressure groups, is of
supporting Roosevelt fun-
course out of the question.'
damentally because I think
"It may have been so for
the most urgent demand of
Hull but not for Henry
the hour is to turn Hoover
Morgenthau. As a Jew he
out .. . Politics, perhaps you
was anguished by the re -
sometimes forget, is a choice
ports reaching Washington,
of the second best.' "
and early in 1944 he in-
This serves as a remin-
structed Randolph Paul; the
der of a related dispute
involving Stephen Wise.
general counsel, to prepare
His differences of views
a study of the State De-
with F.D.R. were re-
partment's handling of the
solved and he was again
"Paul produced a HENRY MORGENTHAU JR. welcomed as a guest by
Roosevelt. He estab-
bluntly worded indict-
ment, 'Report to the Sec- assist the refugees. He in- lished a friendlier rela-
retary on the Acquies- vited 32 nations to an inter- tionship at the White
cence of This Govern- national conference at House. That's when a
ment in the Murder of the Evian, France, to establish serious conflict arose.
Jews,' which pulled no a committee to facilitate the Wise's chief antagonist in
punches. State Depart- emigration of the victims of Jewish - ranks was Dr.
ment officials, it charges, Nazism„ but he cut the Abba Hillel. Silver, who,
ground e-ut from under it unlike Wise the Demo-
`have not only failed to
the declaration that crat, leaned toward the
use the governmental
machinery at their dis- there would be no changes Republican ranks and
posal to rescue Jews in American immigration premises.
In the ranks of the Ameri-
from Hitler, but have laws.
"On Nov. 10, 1938, the can Zionist Public Affairs
even gone so far as to use
this governmental Nazis burned 195 syna- Committee which acted in
machinery to prevent the gogues in Germany, sav- the period of the move-
agely beat every . Jew they ment's emergencies, Wise
rescue of these Jews.'
"Morgenthau personally could find, hauled 25,000 and Silver having alter-
presented these findings to people to• concentration nated in the chairmanship,
the President, who ap- camps, and shattered the where was concern over the
peared surprised. Within a windows of 800 Jewish- F.D.R. attitude. Wise often
week, Roosevelt created a owned shops in a fit of rage defended the President;
War Refugee Board outside and destruction that came Silver expressed doubts and
of the State Department to to be known as Kris- was critical. Silver and his
associates sought the aid of
take over the refugee prob-
" 'I myself could scarcely
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