Saturday, June 29, 2013

FDR and Hitler

To the Editor:

Fantasies die hard.

In a June 14 editorial in The Great Neck News (“FDR and Hitler”), the writer once again takes issue with the notion that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was no friend of the Jews during World War II, when the then-president knew the intimate details of Hitler’s maniacal genocide but did nothing.

Make that did something, like severely limiting the number of Jews admitted to the U.S. during the Nazi years and failing to bomb the railroads that were bringing suffocating Jews in cattle cars to their unspeakably grisly deaths.

The editorial writer suggests we read the review of the leftist radio station NPR on “FDR and the Jews,” written by two coldly neutral historians who predictably white-washed FDR’s shameful record.

How about sticking to the cold hard tragic facts? In an eerie echo of today’s fascistic use of the Internal Revenue Service to harass, intimidate and threaten conservative groups and Jewish organizations like Z Street, FDR used his State Department and Assistant Secretary of State Breckenridge Long – as well as the FBI and the IRS – to harass, intimidate and threaten the few Jews in America who were desperately trying to change our government’s policy and to rescue as many Holocaust victims as possible.

In exhaustive detail, Dr. Rafael Medoff, whose latest book is “FDR and the Holocaust: A Breach of Faith,” spells out in a recent issue of, how “U.S. government wrath” was inflicted on the Bergson Group, a political action committee led by Peter Bergson (born Hillel Kook), a Zionist from Palestine. In addition to newspaper ads, rallies, and lobbying FDR to save the Jews, Bergson brought 400 rabbis to Washington to plead for help.

Medoff describes FBI eavesdropping on the Bergson Group, the illegal opening of its mail, sifting through its trash, and planting informants. They tried to link Bergson to the Communist Party, and a private letter from J. Edgar Hoover called the playwright Ben Hecht and six other Bergson supporters “fellow travelers.” An aggressive IRS inquiry sought to revoke the group’s tax-exempt status.

All investigations utterly failed. But not, Medoff says, before an FBI report about one of Bergson’s fellow activists complained that the man was trying to “smear” Nazi sympathizers in New York City.

FDR’s racism had a long history. Here are some other damning cold hard tragic facts that Professor Medoff has documented:

*** FDR wrote that he favored the admission of some Europeans to America, as long as they had what he called “blood of the right sort.”

*** He alone made the decision to intern thousands of Japanese-Americans in detention camps during World War II, even though none of them had been engaged in espionage.

*** In 1938, FDR privately suggested to Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, the era’s most prominent American Jewish leader, that Jews in Poland were dominating the economy and were to blame for provoking anti-Semitism there.

*** In 1941, Roosevelt remarked at a cabinet meeting that there were too many Jews among federal employees in Oregon.

*** In May 1943, President Roosevelt met with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill at the White House. At one point FDR offered what he called “the best way to settle the Jewish question.” VP Henry Wallace recorded portions of the conversation in his diary and quoted FDR as speaking approvingly of a plan “to spread the Jews thin all over the world.”

*** While FDR quickly approved a 1943 proposal to create a government agency to rescue medieval art and architecture in war-torn Europe, he fought tooth and nail against creating a refugee rescue agency to save the Jews from annihilation in the Holocaust.

Make no mistake. The fish stinks from the head. It was not his underlings and lackeys who sought to destroy the heroic people racing against time to save six million Jews from incineration, it was FDR himself.

In another article, Medoff writes during the Hitler years another 190,000 Jewish lives could have been saved by a mere nod of Roosevelt’s head… but that nod never came.

The editorial writer of this newspaper wags his finger at those of us who value facts over leftist fantasies. “In 2013,” he says, “it is too easy in the comfort of Long Island to simplify and ridicule the tough decisions that FDR faced.”

Actually, nothing could have been easier for FDR than opening the floodgates to fleeing Jews, all of whom would have contributed immensely to this country. FDR could have accepted the 938 passengers of the transatlantic ocean liner St. Louis instead of cruelly sending them back to the ravages of the Third Reich. FDR could and should have embraced and emulated Bergson’s epic efforts. But he did none of these things.


Joan Swirsky


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