The Abandonment of the Jews
By David S. Wyman
"To kill the Jews, the Nazis were willing to weaken their capacity to fight the war. The United States and its allies, however, were willing to attempt almost nothing to save them" (Pp 5). If we would have put half as much energy into loving the Jews as Hitler spent hating the Jews we could have made a great difference. Wyman's book, The Abandonment of the Jews was very intriguing to me. Although I found it very thorough it left me wanting to know how something this horrible could have been allowed to happen. Although Wyman does discuss why more was not done, I am still horrified that this was allowed to happen. Wyman proves that the US should and could have done more to help the dying Jews. I found a reoccurring theme to be that a large problem was that Jewish people had nowhere to go. No one wanted them.
The book begins by giving a brief background into the setting of America at the onset of the war. It details an anti-Semitic America. It also explains most of the anti-Semitism as passive, which ordinarily would do little harm, but during a holocaust crisis became a reason for America's inaction. The book then jumps right into the emergence of information that became available. The first major report was the Bund report. This estimated the number of victims to already be over 700,000. This report and the ones to follow were hard to believe. The state departments skepticism kept the news from reaching the media for several months. They were convinced that the deportations were for slave labor even though this explanation has huge flaws. As more reports of the mass murders developed they were finally confirmed, 17 months after the first killing began. One of the first steps taken was that seven different Jewish organizations came together to form the Temporary Committee. They decided on 5 steps of action and after obtaining them they dissolved the committee without much accomplished. Some of the steps included press announcements, a national day of mourning, and a meeting with President Roosevelt. The committee wanted action but had prepared no proposals. All they left with from their meeting with FDR was an agreement that the president would warn Germany of war crimes. This was the only meeting FDR granted to Jewish leaders. In December 1942 the UN Declaration was signed by the 3 main allies and the governments of 8 occupied countries. It was a strong warning that retribution would come to those responsible for war crimes. Proposals began to arise to help save the Jewish people. For every proposal there was a reason not to attempt it. The State Department conducted investigations that were always very superficial. The American Jews pressed for action. The Bermuda conference met in 1943 mainly as a way to quiet the call for action. The conference was between the US and Britain. The State Department limited the power so much that action was almost impossible. After a year the declaration decided at the conference still had not been endorsed. Richard Law saw this conference as a "façade for inaction." Wyman discusses how the government set restrictions so that even the small quotas could not be fulfilled. The Intergovernmental committee on Refugees was used to cover allied inaction. One of its leaders actually said, "We hope to operate as little as possible." "There is very little that can be done with regard to rescue," was his explanation. I do not see how a committee on refugees would hope to operate as little as possible during the holocaust. Other committees were established such as the Emergency Committee but very little was ever accomplished. In November 1943 a rescue resolution was introduced. Breckinridge Long of the State Department gave a testimony that opposed such a resolution claiming that the United States and the Intergovernmental Committee was already doing everything possible to save Jews. His testimony was full of exaggerations and lies....
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