Ariel Center for
Policy Research



NATIV   ■   Volume Twelve   ■   Number 4&5 (69-70)  ■  September 1999   ■  Ariel Center for Policy Research




FDR and the Jews: The Vision and the Reality

David Krakow

The politician that the Jews of America adored above all others was President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose inauguration in 1933 occurred at about the same time as the accession of Hitler and whose 12-year administration coincided with the final agony of European Jewry as ordered by the Fuhrer.  Despite his many impressive accomplishments, not the least being the indispensable support he extended to the British during their "Finest Hour", Roosevelt, the darling of American Jewry, steadfastly refused to lift a finger to save the Jews of Europe until he was compelled to establish the (wholly inadequate and hobbled) War Refugee Board late in the war.  Presented with numerous opportunities to throw a lifeline to the desperate Jews of Europe, as a practical matter he availed himself of none.  He would not rebuke Hitler by a diplomatic and economic boycott or by forbidding American participation in the Berlin Olympics.  He would not admit Jewish children on an emergency basis or utilize more than a fraction of the immigration quotas to save Jewish lives once the war had begun. He refused admission to the United States of escaping Jews who had reached American waters, some within sight of the shore.  He would not exercise his prerogatives under the American-British Convention of 1924 or, simply, as the dominant partner in the alliance with Britain to secure a safe-haven in the "Jewish National Home" for Jews in imminent danger of annihilation.  With one paltry and grudging exception, he would not provide temporary shelters to Jews in the United States or its possessions, nor would he oblige the British to do so in their far-flung empire.  He would not order the bombing of Auschwitz, the gassing of Germans, or air-drops to Jews revolting in Warsaw or elsewhere.  In short, instead of demonstrating in some tangible way, a concern for the lives of Jews, he sent an altogether different message to Hitler and the rest of the world, namely, that the Jews were, indeed, expendable.

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