Did FDR and the New Dealers Abandon the Jews?
Most people elevate the Holocaust to a moral status much higher than the Ten Commandments. Without discussion or qualification or thinking, we are supposed to condemn the Nazis and the Holocaust they perpetrated. But the injunction against discussion means that we’ll never truly understand the machinations of a future Holocaust, which will undoubtedly not look at all like the original.
World War II saw the emergence of Big Governments on all sides, or was it Big Government that caused the war? The socialists Stalin and Hitler seemed to share a common sense that human life can be expended freely and that religion was culturally retrograde.
Our reliance in the West on Big Government comes directly out of FDR’s welfare state, with its reliance on central planning, managers, experts, and entitlements. Computers, statistics, logic, and social engineering rule this world today. Absent are values and traditions and heritage, including cultural anchors like Judaism, Christianity and Western Civilization.
David S. Wyman’s The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust 1941-1945 forces us to explore a possible cause-and-effect connection between the Holocaust and the New Deal mindset. President Roosevelt’s administration systematically turned their backs on rescuing the Jews, Wyman argues, even though hundreds of thousands could have been saved by more direct action.
New York Rabbi Stephen S. Wise and Abba Hillel Silver brought overwhelming evidence of the death camps to FDR, as early as July 1942, but to no avail beyond token words of sympathy. No support for raising immigration quotas (existing quotas were unfilled). Even Britain didn’t want to anger the Arabs by sending Jews to Libya or Palestine. Diplomacy and appeasement trumped morality once again.
The lone champion was Interior Secretary Harold Ickes, then in charge of the Virgin Islands, who personally asked FDR if 2,000 Jews could temporarily be housed there. FDR’s refusal was immediate.
Even with the war winding down, FDR refrained from bombing extermination factories like Auschwitz that were killing at a rate of ten thousand per day. In 1944, military targets 5 miles from the gas chambers were okayed, however.
To be fair, Wyman announces right away that both Jews and Christians in the United States during the war were weak, divided, and seemed to lack moral conviction that would translate into any meaningful support for their principles.
But Wyman is clear that the New Deal’s defense of “liberty” in the abstract was almost a mockery. He questions the worth of any religion that won’t stand up and act decisively when history presents a clearcut imperative.