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September 23, 2014 4:31 pm

Betrayal: FDR and the Jews

avatar by Jerold Auerbach

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FDR. Photo: Frank O. Salisbury.

Like everyone else I knew in the Forest Hills of my boyhood, my parents were the American-born children of immigrants from Eastern Europe. But my grandparents, who left Russia and Romania in their desperate quest for freedom, opportunity and children who would become genuine Americans, always remained foreigners. They spoke Yiddish, brewed tea in samovars schlepped from Odessa, and shrieked hysterically – doubtlessly reminded of the Czar’s army – when my beloved uncle was drafted during World War II.

Their allegiance to the United States was pledged every four years when, like the overwhelming majority of American Jews of their generation, they voted for Franklin D. Roosevelt. During my childhood I believed that Roosevelt’s first name was “President”;  he was the closest thing to a Savior that our brand of Americanized Judaism permitted. We listened to his “fireside chats” and during the 1944 presidential campaign my mother dragged me to Queens Boulevard in  pouring rain to cheer his passing motorcade. I vividly remember glimpsing his delightful dog Fala, but not the President. At my father’s suggestion, I even wrote to the White House to ask him to buy a war bond to support our school’s patriotic campaign.

Six months later, the impact of his death registered only with the arrival of Life magazine. It displayed the photograph of a mournful black accordionist, weeping as he played “Going Home” when Roosevelt’s body left Warm Springs for burial in Hyde Park. That image ranked in memory – and still does – with the Jewish boy in Warsaw, my age exactly, raising his arms in terror as he confronted Nazi soldiers; and with the first horrific Life photos of emaciated survivors in the extermination camps.

All those memories were rekindled while I watched “The Roosevelts,” Ken Burns’ new documentary. As a professional historian, mentored by one of the commentators, I had long ago come to realize that FDR hardly was the saint that my parents, extended family, and virtually every American Jew outside privileged German Jewish circles, had worshipped. So I took with many grains of salt, but rising anger, the whitewash of FDR’s indifference to the plight of European Jewry that I was witnessing, even though I knew that disgraceful story all too well.

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But not until I read (or reread) some of Roosevelt’s most despicable statements about Jews, extensively documented in a series of on-line commentaries by Rafael Medoff, founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, did the depths of Roosevelt’s loathing for Jews, and refusal to lift a finger (which, unlike his legs, was not paralyzed) to rescue them, fully penetrate. As far back as 1920, when FDR was the Democratic party candidate for vice president, he had proposed that “the greater part of the foreign population of the City of New York” should be “distributed to different localities upstate” so as to feel pressure to “conform to the manners and customs and requirements of their new home.” As a member of the Harvard board of directors he supported a Jewish admissions quota.

In 1941 he told his Cabinet that too many Jews were federal employees in Oregon. One of his grandsons recalled that the protagonists in FDR’s jokes “were always Lower East Side Jews with heavy accents.” At a wartime White House luncheon with Prime Minister Churchill, he suggested “the best way to settle the Jewish question” was “to spread the Jews thin all over the world.” Indeed, enlightened Hyde Park residents surely would not object to adding “four or five Jewish families.” At the 1945 Yalta conference, FDR indicated to Stalin that as a concession to the king of Saudi Arabia he would “give him the six million Jews in the United States.”

Tragically, Roosevelt’s embedded anti-Semitism was not confined to jokes. It was displayed in the refusal of the American government in 1939 to admit the desperate refugees on board the S.S. St. Louis, who were returned to Germany – or to even fill the quotas that authorized the limited admission of Germans. It was revealed in American government suppression of information about the mass murder of European Jews. The White House opposed a resolution to create the War Refugee Board and delayed its establishment for fourteen months. Orders to bomb railroad tracks leading to the extermination camps were never given, although Nazi facilities merely five miles away were destroyed. And special American missions were launched to rescue art treasures – and performing Lipizzaner horses.

Roosevelt’s anti-Semitism did not cause the Holocaust. But his indifference to the annihilation of European Jewry contributed to its horrific consequences. “The Roosevelts” attempts to airbrush FDR’s dismal failure. Watching it, I was reminded of the power of boyhood myths and the durability of sanitized history. It reaffirmed my decision never to visit the Holocaust Museum in Washington, where a dark empty room would more accurately display  American silence about the fate of Jews that Franklin D. Roosevelt personified. And I understood, more deeply than ever before, why two generations of American Jews were lulled by FDR’s soothing reassurances into believing that their desperate yearning for acceptance was fulfilled.

Jerold S. Auerbach is a frequent contributor to The Algemeiner

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  • Robin

    FDR should rot in hell for eternity. He may be dead, but I hope he can still feel the pain I wish him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • proudoleh

    Algemeiner doesn’t cover Mondoweiss because Mondoweiss is anti-Semitic fake news. But thanks for citing the source.

  • Maalot76 .

    In deference to what Mr Auerbach has stated there are many statements that are not backed by facts.
    Yes there was, and still is anti-semitism in many wealthy families in America. Regretfully anti-semitism was and still is part and parcel of the “privileged” WASP society.
    There is still hatred of the Jews in many of the lower classes for their Socialistic and Communistic views. Many Jews embraced Socialism and Communism as part of the Mitnagdim or enlightened Jewish movement in Russia supposedly as a means to escape anti-semitism. As such when they came to America, as many of our grandparents did they joined Unions and fought for equality in America.
    Anti-Jewish feelings reached their heighth during the Isolationist post WWI period with the hanging of Otto Frank in Georgia.
    So when Hitler rose to power there were many in American society that found anti-Foreigner anti-Jewish hatred once more. It was this hatred that we see in the rejection of the Jewish refugees of the St Louis. Read this from the Wikipedia entry:
    “Prohibited from landing in Cuba, the St. Louis and the remaining 907 refugees[10] headed towards the United States. Captain Schröder circled off the coast of Florida, hoping for permission to enter the United States. Cordell Hull, Secretary of State, advised Roosevelt not to accept the Jews, however. Captain Schröder considered running aground along the coast to allow the refugees to escape, but, acting on Cordell Hull’s instructions, US Coast Guard vessels shadowed the ship and prevented such a move.

    After the St. Louis was turned away from the United States,[11] a group of academics and clergy in Canada tried to persuade Canada’s Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King, to provide sanctuary to the ship’s passengers, as it was only two days from Halifax, Nova Scotia.[12] But Canadian immigration official Frederick Blair, hostile to Jewish immigration, persuaded the Prime Minister on June 9 not to intervene. In 2000, Blair’s nephew apologized to the Jewish people for his uncle’s action.[13]

    As can be seen it was NOT FDR that prohibited the Jews from landing but Cordell Hull in the US State Department and Frederick Blair in Canada.

    An as was mentioned in another comment made here one should listen to Jan Karski and what he states to Claude Lanzman in his series Holocaust. It is quite evident from the interview that FDR was aware of Hitler’s actions against the Jews and because of his “status’ as the “leader of the free world” he referred the issue to Felix Frankfurter -who was his closest advisor on Jewish affairs. Also since Churchill received daily reports from the Enigma group at Bletchly Park, who were monitoring the German High Command and Hitler’s messages. FDR was also made aware of activities from within the NAZI Hierarchy.
    What I am referring to is not just the communiques between SS Headquaters and the SS Einzegruppen but the minutes of the Wannsee Conference given to Hitler by Eichman, as he acknowledged in his testimony at his trial here in Jerusalem.
    As to the issue of: “Why Aushwitz was never bombed?” One must realize that the Allies were fighting a “Total War” and strategically they were maxed out and did not have ALL the ability to “hit” the rail ways to Auschwitz. Besides by bombing Auschwitz in June of 1944 when the Poland’s Jewry had been decimated in Treblinka and the other camps what was left of some 300,00 out of some 400,000+ Hungarian Jews was what was seen in the 1978 CIA “discovered” -undeveloped since WWII aerial reconnaissance photos – were already murdered.

  • Maalot76 .
  • Kurt Tolksdorf

    If FDR had truly been antisemitic he would not have surrounded himself with such advisors as Morgenthau, Rosenman, Frankfurter, Brandeis, and the rest. Roosevelt was aware of the background level of antisemitism in the U.S. at that time — which was considerable, and was extremely paranoid about losing even a few percentage points of support by showing excess partiality to the Jews. FDR can be faulted for many things — perhaps most of all for failing to make contact with Germans who were in a position to depose Hitler before 1938 — but to call him antisemitic is a stretch.

    • maxwell squirt

      FDR was a filthy antisemite as was his mother. Supposedly she taught him to hate Jews.
      FDR,Nixon,Carter,Joseph Kennedy, and others were all filthy antisemites behind closed doors. FDR’s antisemitism was lethal to European Jewry though. He didn’t lift a finger to help them. American troops liberated the concentration camps after all the gassing, burning, and torture had been done and 6 million Jews had died.
      It’s really unfortunate that FDR’s antisemitism is not talked about and taught to school children. I still remember my history teacher in high school telling us that FDR was one of the greatest Presidents we had ever had. When I raised my hand and told her that this was not what my grandparents said about FDR, she told me that both I and my grandparents didn’t know what we were talking about.
      I’ve come to the sad conclusion that all non Jews hate Jews and nothing will ever change that.

      • Bobo

        During the Yom Kippur war the Israeli forces had run out of certain vital munitions. Nixon ordered the U.S. Military to air lift huge quantities of munitions to Israel. Agreed he had anti Jewish rhetoric but had Kissenger as his closes advisor

    • Margie Christian

      Read of Roosevelts reaction to Jan Karski who brought him news of the hell that Jews were going through in the Warsaw ghetto. There are videos on youtube that will shock you beyond imagining. Felix Frankfurter simply refused to believe Karski, Churchhill as well as Anthony Edding. Roosevelt-all he told Karski was-“Tell them we shall win the war”. He was very depressed and rarely if ever talked about what happened about his bringing news of the crimes committed against the Jews.

  • Excellent!

  • EDWARD BAUMAN

    I NEGLECTED THE BEAUTY OF THEM ALL JIMMY CARTER LOVER OF ALL THAT IS WRONG JIMMY LOVER OF THE ARABS IN GAZA AND PALASTINE

    • GodaN

      I am not sure where Auerbach gets some of this stuff, much of which is just factually wrong. In the first place, the St. Louis passengers were not sent back to Germany — great effort was made NOT to send them there — but to Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands and France, all of which were considered safe places in May 1939 when the St. Louis episode took place. No one knew that war would break out in September, no one knew that if it did, the Germans would overrun two neutral countries as well as France (still condidered the preeminent military power) and everyone knew that in WWI, the Germans never invaded the Netherlands, or took Paris. The Joint took control of negotiations for the St. Louis passengers and had them placed in areas where they could wait in relative peace for the US visa quota numbers to come up. In fact, the villains in the St. Louis episode were the members of the Cuban government, who decided at the last minute that Jews who had purchased tickets for Cuba could not stay there while waiting for their US visas. For some reason, this is always painted as something FDR did, and it is always painted as if FDR sent the passengers back to certain death in a war zone. This is just factually incorrect.

      The author also neglects to mention what FDR did to expand, albeit quietly, the number of Jews that could come to the US. He did not leave the quota unfilled as the author says, but rather for the first time had it completely filled in 1939 (this following Kristallnacht) by having, through the State Department, US consuls abroad act more liberally in granting US visas. In March 1938 when Austria ceased to exist, he quietly added the old Austrian quota to the German quota. And he extended the travel visas of German Jews who were already in the US rather than allow their deportation. He did not unilaterally raise the legaal quotas themselves — one needed Congress for that. And he knew that to raise the issue with Congress would likely result in Congress cutting back the quotas rather than expanding them. Knowing then political landscape, he took the actions that were available within it.

      Another thing. In 1938 Roosevelt called the Evian Conference, held in France, to try and find a plan for other countries to expand their own willingness to take Jewish refugees. The US made it clear that it would not shrink its own quotas (everyone else CUT immigration possibilities after Kristallnacht including the Latin American states), and suggested that perhaps other states could help as well. The White House put pressure afterwards on other states to do so including Argentina, Brazil, and the Domincan Republic. The point to be made is that the conference was FDR’s idea and he sent his own personal representatives like Myron Taylo, James McDonald, etc.. He did not work through the State Department (which had proved unhelpful) or the League of Nations (which had also proved unhelpful) on this, and frankly, there was nothing to be gained politically by calling this meeting. The failure of Evian was due mainly to the Germans, who, though obviously not at the conference steadfastly refused afterwards to allow German Jews to leave with any of their savings; and countries like Brazil, etc., were less willing to take immigrants who would be destitute. Britain’s answer, meanwhile, was to issue the White Paper in 1939, which sharply cut the number of Jews who could go to Palestine, a step that Roosevelt argued was illegal under the terms of Britain’s League of Nations Mandate for the region.

      It is worth mentioning that ALL of this was before the war even began, when no one imagined that the Germans, three years later, would decide on such a thing as mass extermination. The author is similarly wrong on a number of wartime events like FDRs discussions with King Ibn Saud in 1945, but that is perhaps a subject for another time.

    • Godan

      I am not sure where Auerbach gets some of this stuff, much of which is just factually wrong. In the first place, the St. Louis passengers were not sent back to Germany — great effort was made NOT to send them there — but to Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands and France, all of which were considered safe places in May 1939 when the St. Louis episode took place. No one knew that war would break out in September, no one knew that if it did, the Germans would overrun two neutral countries as well as France (still condidered the preeminent military power), and everyone knew that in WWI, the Germans never invaded the Netherlands, or took Paris. The Joint Distribution Committee took control of negotiations for the St. Louis passengers and had them placed in areas where they could wait in relative peace for the US visa quota numbers to come up. In fact, the villains in the St. Louis episode were the members of the Cuban government, who decided at the last minute that Jews who had purchased tickets for Cuba could not stay there while waiting for their US visas. For some reason, this is always painted as something FDR did, and it is always painted as if FDR sent the passengers back to certain death in a war zone. This is just factually incorrect.

      The author also neglects to mention what FDR did to expand, albeit quietly, the number of Jews that could come to the US. He did not leave the quota unfilled as the author says, but rather for the first time had it completely filled in 1939 (this following Kristallnacht) likely by having, through the State Department, US consuls abroad act more liberally in granting US visas. In March 1938 when Austria ceased to exist, he quietly added the old Austrian quota to the German quota. And he extended the travel visas of German Jews who were already in the US rather than allow their deportation. He did not unilaterally raise the legaal quotas themselves — one needed Congress for that. And he knew that to raise the issue with Congress would likely result in Congress cutting back the quotas rather than expanding them. Knowing then political landscape, he took the actions that were available within it.

      Another thing. In 1938 Roosevelt called the Evian Conference, held in France, to try and find a plan for other countries to expand their own willingness to take Jewish refugees. The US made it clear that it would not shrink its own quotas (everyone else CUT immigration possibilities after Kristallnacht including the Latin American states), and suggested that perhaps other states could help as well. The White House put pressure afterwards on other states to do so including Argentina, Brazil, and the Domincan Republic. The point to be made is that the conference was FDR’s idea and he sent his own personal representatives like Myron Taylor, James McDonald, etc.. He did not work through the State Department (which had proved unhelpful) or the League of Nations (which had also proved unhelpful) on this, and frankly, there was nothing to be gained politically by calling this meeting. The failure of Evian was due mainly to the Germans, who, though obviously not at the conference steadfastly refused afterwards to allow German Jews to leave with any of their savings; and countries like Brazil, etc., were less willing to take immigrants who would be destitute. Britain’s answer after Kristallnacht, meanwhile, was to issue the White Paper in 1939, which sharply cut the number of Jews who could go to Palestine, a step that Roosevelt argued was illegal under the terms of Britain’s League of Nations Mandate for the region.

      It is worth mentioning that ALL of this was before the war even began, when no one imagined that the Germans, three years later, would decide on such a thing as mass extermination. The author is similarly wrong on a number of wartime events, like FDRs discussions with King Ibn Saud in 1945, but that is perhaps a subject for another time.

      • maxwell squirt

        You’re wrong. The St Louis was indeed sent back to Germany. All the documentation is stored at the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC.

  • Julian Clovelley

    Jerold gives us a snippet of family history in this article. I’d like to give one too. My brother was born at the time Hitler invaded Poland, and a second child was born to my mother two years later – just in time for the attack on Pearl Harbour

    In the intervening period my parents witnessed the collapse of France, the evacuation of British forces from Dunkirk using a fleet that included tiny boats. As Londoners they were bombed night after night during the period called the Blitz. They saw the aerial fights of the Battle of Britain in the skies South of London. In later years they endured the missile attacks, including one that came very close to killing my mother and her two babies. As an air raid warden my father saw London bombed and burning, night after night, and dragged the wounded out of the rubble of their homes.

    Whilst Britain stood alone against the Nazi onslaught, she was supplied by the American president using strategies to circumvent the policy of isolationism, and non involvement, forced upon him. With the attack on Pearl Harbour Roosevelt leaped to declare open warfare on the axis powers. In England my parents breathed a sigh of relief and gratitude.

    Roosevelt, in his defense of Britain, was able to save all of Britain’s Jews, including refugees Britain had admitted. He was able to press into Europe and liberate more than half the continent – leaving the rest to his then Allies, the Soviet Union, who were the actual liberators of Auschwitz. Do we celebrate Oskar Schindler for those he saved or criticise him for those he did not save? Roosevelt was but one man in the campaign to rescue the Jews of Europe – There were many heroes – some few recorded as the Righteous by Yad Vashem – and some remembered only by those they saved and by their proud families. I have one friend whose grandparents ferried Jews from Denmark to Sweden. I wish they all could have been saved

    Jerold seems to be using this article to open up another attack on the Democrat Party – and I note the usual nuns chorus of Obama Hate Propagandist Astroturfers in the comment columns. But what really is this article other than a form of Historical Revisionism – something the Jewish community most deplores? It even contains a cruel insult accusing Roosevelt of not lifting a finger “which unlike his legs was not paralyzed.”

    We may question his earlier policies of dispersal of immigrant communities, but the alternative so easily becomes ghetto-isation of such communities. In the context of the 1920s a policy of assimilation made sense to many people, and for many people it works. My own Australian family contains many Jews who became assimilated into the community some 150 to 100 years ago. I don’t hear their descendants complaining.

    if there is a parallel it is perhaps in the European desire to be rescued after a post Great War period of making a total mess of things. We can explain this incompetence using many measures – Conservative, moral, economic or Marxist. But the bottom line is that it is unreasonable to consider yourself always “entitled” to be rescued from the effects of your own errors. America’s present President is insulted and reviled by many extremists in the Jewish community – particularly extremist Zionists. But the cap will be held out for help if it all goes bung and I have little doubt the help will continue(sic) to arrive

    All this is in the real time context of a Palestinian demand that the United Nations reach a firm position on Israeli withdrawal to the pre-Occupation borders. Articles like this one and their supporting comments seem fired by some false belief that an incoming Republican is likely to support continuing Occupation and blockade – Dream on!

    The Jews were not the only people persecuted by the Nazis. The true death toll is likely to be well over sixty million – to this day we do not have an accurate Russian estimate. The total number of Nazi concentration camps exceeded 20 thousand. In them were murdered as well as Jews those labelled “Communists”, “Socialists”, “Social Democrats”, “Gypsies” , “Jehovah Witnesses”, “homosexuals”, “Social deviants” and even prisoners of war. The disabled and intellectually handicapped were murdered in the hospitals meant to protect and look after them. Nazism was an assault on everyone.

    Our true responsibility is to ensure this never happens again. That is why sometimes when I read article promoting the American Right, and a repressive “Globalism” a chill goes through me

    We can wear the odd tasteless joke – what we cannot withstand is the re-creation of an entrenched Fascism, on a Global scale, on the backs of a Revisionist History

    Lest We Forget.

    • This has ZERO to do with whether one is a Democrat or Republican or a supporter of the Democrat Party, excepting that today, Democrats, for the most part, have been hijacked by a Left-wing agenda that does NOT support a strong ISRAEL with secure safe borders, nor JERUSALEM as her eternal undivided capital.
      Your revisionism is more then palatable.
      DELANO, in no way, ‘saved all of England’s JEWS.’
      Just his crimes of NOT bombing the train tracks to AUSCHVITZ, and the fate of those aboard the St Louis alone, are enough to relegate him to hell.
      How, in GD’s name, any JEW or any human being who is awake can support his ‘Crimes Against Humanity’, JEWs, during WWII and the NAZI era, is unbelievable.
      NEVER AGAIN
      NEVER FORGET

      • Harold Landa

        Julien, it would be preferable if you admitted the truth.
        My father stood in Auscwicz in 1944 and 1945 begging God to let an American bomber strike the crematoria. Apparently, neither God nor FDR listened.
        Please do NOT argue that he nothing about that. Oh…and please do not argue about collateral damage from such a bombing (Dresden- by the way, I agree with that decision, and unlike revisionist historians, I am proud of what the USAF did)

        Please note the implications of what you wrote: “….Roosevelt, in his defense of Britain, was able to save all of Britain’s Jews, including refugees Britain had admitted.”
        Where do you have evidence that that was a consideration?
        Where were we when London was being bombed? Do you think the Nazis exempted Golders Green??? We let London get bombed. We didn’t get into the war until 1941.

        Shame on you.
        You would likely vote for him even after he sent back the St. Louis….or did you forget that one too?

    • KENNETH C WILLIAMS

      WELL SAID JULIAN!!! 🙂

  • Liam Babington

    That Roosevelt was Antisemitic may be a fact, bu there were other considerations to look at. We were fighting what was then and is still known as “TOTAL WAR” which included civilian populations, it is true that bad decisions were made especially turning back the S.S. St. Louis, beyond a doubt this was a tragic and sad thing. But one MUST consider that 20 million Russians were killed in WWII. 8 percent of the US population was also killed or maimed in this war, the list goes on and on. The ability to wage war, or make weapons was important, in doing so, we were able to bring NAZI Germany to it’s knees and destroy it. As one who is a Jewish and a Veteran of Iraq & Afghanistan, I choose to step back and see the bigger picture. Again beyond a doubt, perhaps as stated in this article, we could have bombed the railroads leading to the concentration camps, but the NAZI’s would have just found another way to get our ancestors there. It is easy to surgically take an example of what could have been done, in hindsight, one MUST look at the bigger picture of what the overall goal was at the time and place! WE ALL SUFFERED…AND WE ARE STILL HERE!!

  • Judith

    The Cluj (Kolozsvár, Klausenburg) Railway Station in Transylvania-Romania was YES carpet bombed by the American Air Force in 2 June, 1944. in the midst of deportations to Auschwitz of the city’s Jews. Only on October 11, 1944 the city was captured by Romanian and Soviet troops.

  • Adam

    The Americans were largely bowing to pressure from the British administration and especially the foreign office. Everyone was against the Jews and tried to sabotage rescue apart from Churchill himself. The British threatened to boycott a conference on Jewish refugees if Palestine were brought up. Britain was given Palestine by the League of Nations in order to set up a Jewish state within it. Their foreign office lobbied the Americans (who needed them for the war) not to bomb the train tracks or send any help.

  • Robert Weintraub

    It is fruitless to blame Roosevelt for failing to act on behalf of the Jews of Europe. His job was to defeat Hitler. In this he was successful and probably vital. FDR didn’t help the Jews of Europe because he was not pressured by the American Jewish leadership to do so. In fact the Jewish leadership vocally supported the president and undermined the efforts of dissident groups, Jewish and non-Jewish to fight for more aggressive action on behalf of the Jews of Europe.

    All of this was unknown to the Jewish public while the war was going on. I didn’t learn of the machinations of Roosevelt and the Jewish leadership until I happened upon a book by Ben Hecht called “A Child of the Century.” published twenty years after the war ended.

    Eleanor was once asked about FDR’s anti-Semitism. She replied that he had the anti-Semitism of his class. That hatred was rooted in fear of Jewish success that exceeded by far that of any other immigrant group. While Jews were the most prolific contributors to American success we were viewed as a threat by the American elite.

    .

  • Jon R.

    Speaking of “betrayal,” how about the Israeli betrayal of African refugees? Anyone interested in that or would you all prefer to chant the same whiny mantra about FDR 70+ years ago?

    Here’s the situation THIS YEAR–not 70 years ago–Israel:

    “In December 2013, the Israeli Knesset circumvented a three-month old High Court ruling, quashing the law that criminalized all African asylum-seekers in the country. In its place, the Netanyahu government instituted a new policy to corral the Africans onto an ethnic-cleansing assembly line that forces them into a dead-end desert detention center, where they are pressured to self-deport.

    “Since December, tens of thousands of African asylum-seekers in Israel have taken to the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to protest the government’s master plan to expel them all by the end of the decade. For all of their considerable efforts, they have not managed to convince the Israeli people or their elected representatives to end the efforts to expel them and examine their refugee status claims instead.”
    http://mondoweiss.net/2014/02/americans-waging-africans#sthash.GboBNw5q.dpuf

    Wonder why the Algemeiner doesn’t cover this story. Actually, I don’t wonder–I know why–because the problems of African immigrants in Israel has nothing to do with “what’s good for the Jews.”

    The hypocrisy never ends, does it?

  • If he was in fact anti-semetic that in itself was far outweighed by his ushering in the welfare sstate in the U S where lazy people can get paid for being shiftless. In my estimation he was a rich scum and his policies shifted in high by another useless politician from Texas—lbj.
    We gentiles have nothing but disdain for him as well.

  • William

    WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE, WHO NEEDS ENEMIES?
    Some of the comments above are poinient and to the point. In America, unlike here in Oz, voting is non-compulsory, and the people, including American Jews, made their choices, over the years.

  • Jonathan Mishkin

    Truly the article and the subsequent comments show remarkably little perspective. Even if Roosevelt was an anti-Semite, he was by no means the only anti-Semitic president in US history. More relevant, in those days, before WW2 and before Jews had entered the upper middle class mainstream, that was much more the social norm than it is today. That doesn’t excuse it, but let’s have some perspective.

    Yes, FDR tolerated some very restrictive immigration policies in the State Department. Glad that we are so much more tolerant of other nationalities facing harsh conditions in their homelands today. Not.

    But here is what FDR did do. For the benefit of the Jews. He organized the preparation for the war with Nazi Germany by arming Britain and the Soviet Union. He named George Marshall, one of the most successful generals in American history, to lead the war effort. BTW, if Marshall was not an anti-Semite, he was an anti-Zionist. He initiated a peace time draft while the country was still very isolationist. He won the 1940 election, defeating the very isolationist and anti-Semitic Republican Party. He faced down Lindbergh and the other anti-Semites. If FDR had not prepared the British and the Soviets to fight the Germans, many more Jews would have been killed, including those who were able to escape into the USSR. And Germany would have defeated the British in Libya and Egypt and overrun Palestine.

    We have all learned in the past 50 years that organizing a war effort is not as easy as it looks. A little perspective, please.

  • My wife and I catching up on recorded episodes of the film by Ken Burns. I keep saying, “Is he going to show the antisemitic warts of FDR?” My parent’s generation remembers FDR as the guy that ended the Depression and beat the Nazis. Me, I can’t get out of my head the millions of Jews that could have been settled in this country, even if it was Alaska. His Secretary of the Interior tried to move FDR in that direction, fruitlessly. (http://www.jewishpost.com/archives/news/haven-the-untold-story-of-harold-ickes.html)
    At that time I imagine that too many were concerned about there being an antisemetic backlash..possibly true. But, what of possible medical and scientific break-throughs, not to mention the possibility of peace in the Middle East?
    FDR’s political future would have been different. Probably not re-elected.

    Forks in the road of history are constantly in play.

  • Estaben

    Most people are antisemitic because they don’t understand the plight of the Jew. I too did not understand the Jewish plight until I traveled to Israel. What keeps the Jewish story alive are JEWS and informed Christians. I am enthralled with my own race and our treatment in this good ole US of A. After visiting Israel, I saw the connection of Judaism with my Christian faith. Roosevelt was antisemitic like he was also slow with the plight of my people in this country.

  • Edward Saslaw

    He cannot be judged by the standards of these days. This is a country that was dead set against joining the “European war” until shortly before Pearl Harbor. The interest in this country among non-Jews, in saving Jews was minimal at best.

    And, we have never had a more important and better president for the Jews and Americans of any stripe.

  • FDR could have saved in excess of 2 MILLION JEWS.
    The Delanos were self-outing ANTI SEMITES.
    Rabbi Eliezer Silver z”l led a delegation of 400+ Rabbis to the White House, three days before YOM KIPPOR in 1943. It was The Grand Rabbis March.
    FDR ignored them and played golf.
    His self-loathing COURT JEWs advised him.
    With the exception of Morganthau, they stunk.
    The delegation met with VP Wallace.
    How do I know?
    Rabbi Eliezer Silver z”l is my grandfather, and I have a picture of him and the US Vice Pres in my home.

    • Over and over, “White Wash”?; you should do your own historic epic and go over the racist and anti Semitic culture of the Roosevelt’s! This was a story of how they came to be presidents and what influenced their road to the white house. WHY would he put anything about spurious elements to their personal life?
      The epic did NOT make them out to be saints, far from it; you missed the point that Ken Burns was going for, clearly biased and angry.

    • Mr. Stephen L Tecot

      Paralyzed President played golf? I don’t think so and that statement put the credibility of your post in question.

    • Michael

      So he played golf while unable to stand up? That’s some feat!

    • David Blacher

      FDR was physically unable to play golf. No matter how correct your criticism may be, to accuse a man paralyzed from the waist down of playing golf betrays any credibility you may claim.

    • moshe brodetzky

      judy== keep the faith & the fight GEMAR TOV

  • George

    We now have a president that is just as much of a Jew hater as was FDR….and no one really cares…in fact most Jews voted for him…twice..

    • george what do you expect—he is a muslim and an arab.
      You wont be invited to the WH for goat and veggies

    • Laurie Norton

      Please substantiate your Obama-hating by citing something concrete that this president has done to show he “hates” Jews, something, that is, beyond his not falling down at the feet of the belligerent and anti-peace Netanyahu.

    • Bob Steingut

      Absurd–The author of such hatred is reprehensible.
      Disagreement over policy does not give free reign to label
      our President a bigot.
      Shameful

  • brian ellman

    Lest we forget—-Roosevelt decision in regard to the St.Louis was influenced by Sulzberger—publisher of the New York Times and also the president of the Reform Hebrew congregation in New York
    He specifically came from New York to Washington to intercede with his friend Roosevelt.
    Sulzberger of German Jewish origin felt that the eastern European Jewish immigration would ignite anti-semitism in the USA—-and that may explain his attitude to the St Louis—although there were many German Jews on board,including my uncle
    It should be noted that on Sulzbergers instruction prior to 1939—events in Germany(including Kristallnacht) were relegated to the inside pages of the paper and never merited the front page —-if reported at all

    • Irene Solnik

      German Jews were very much against the immigration of eastern Jews in the 1890s. things don’t change much. FDR was a man of his time, the gentleman’s agreement type.there is a lot more to say but I am exhausted from getting ready for Yom Tov. I will add my uncle and his daughter (5 years old) were sent back to Poland where they were murdered.

  • Shifra Paikin

    Sadly, the same scenario is being played out today by the current president of the United States.

  • H Fox

    Roosevelt was a man of his times, and the times were drenched in racism and propaganda.

    That Jews still fall for some of the most blatant propaganda is baffling.

  • Jacqueline

    That is very interesting comparison to the Jews today who embraced Obama when he was clearly not pro Israel Sheep to the slaughter.

  • Doris Epstein

    Even in Canada he was revered by Jews. Nobody knew in l942 when a special envoy told him abut the Nazi massacres, that he ignored and suppressed the information. But I didn’t realize the extent of his dislike of Jews until I read this article. I hope the Roosevelt mythology gets exposed and the facts are publicly disseminated for all time.

  • Esther Sargrad

    And why was the St. Louis ship not even mentioned on the PBS program…which was a great history of those years?

  • Michael Garfinkel

    Mr. Auerbach, whom I admire, is quite right about the Ken Burns hagiography.

    And yes, it is clearly evident that FDR shared in the ugly anti-Semitic prejudices of his class and of his time.

    Having said that, It is also unmistakably true that Roosevelt was, in the final analysis, a competent leader and a man of great charm and humanity.

    In a world dominated by Franco, Mussolini, Stalin and Hitler, Roosevelt must have seemed like a godsend.

    And when viewed from that perspective, he was.

    Yes, the Jews adored him, but so did most of the country.

    For all his failings, which were considerable, FDR was the last of the three great presidents, preceded by Washington and Lincoln.

    And this writer remains an admirer.

    • Mark Z

      Good for you.

    • Michael Fish

      Here, here, as the Brits say. Point well taken. Anti-Semitism was still rank in the 1940’s. Currently, it may not be PC to express it but that doesn’t mean that it is a thing of the past, either.

    • Phil

      Michael Garfinkel, how can you continue to be an admirer? Even you acknowledged his virulent anti-Semitism and yet you wrote that he was a man of great charm and humanity. How could someone be a man of great humanity when he had the power to save thousands of doomed humans and refused to do so because he hated Jews? Roosevelt was indeed a clever and charming leader who tried to end the depression and confront the dictatorships. However, being a bigot who deliberately did nothing to save children who were condemned to a horrible death disqualified him from being a great president and someone to admire.

  • Clarence Zylstra

    I am an immigrant from the Netherlands who came to the U.S in 1948. As a teenager experienced 5 years of Nazi rule.Am now a retired college instructor. I had some knowledge of FDR anti-Semitism but not of the extend of it. I wonder if he had seen what I have, whether he would have a different view.Anti Semitism is again on the increase, even more in Europe than the U.S.I always have on my shirt color a small Star of David and have had some interesting comments on it because I am not Jewish. Thanks for the article. Clarence Zylstra.

    • jonfox

      As the son of a Holocaust Survivor, thank you sir for your quiet commemoration.

  • nelson marans

    Let us add to the list, the failure to bomb the extermination camp at Auschwitz and allowing the anti-semitic State Department to block to the admission of German Jews leaving the quota for that country unfilled. Roosevelt was an astute politician and he demonstrated this by pulling the wool over the eyes of most Jews, excluding many of the Orthodox rabbis who assessed the situation correctly

    • Sue Strassman

      The author could not be more accurate. Roosevelt met regularly with Rabbi Stephen Wise who attempted to induce support from America to aid in saving Europe’s Jews–and Roosevelt lied each time they met. Roosevelt gave platitudes and promises and carried out none of them. FDR lied consistently and nefariously–he is a President to be scorned not diefied. His name should go down in history in shame. Thank G-d he died (but not soon enough to save Jews)and Harry Truman took office.

    • Ruben Dybner

      He was a bad person and a clear antisemitewell deserve his polio

    • hanna zehnwirth

      the author of this article is correct many jews were not allowed to enter the USA and therefore perished in concentration camps It was a time for this wonderful country to hide its head in shame

    • EDWARD BAUMAN

      REMEMBER THAT MORGANTHAU AND I BELEIVE STEPHEN WISE DID NOTHING AND HAD ENTRY TO THE PRESIDENT

  • Unfortunately, the history cannot be denied.

  • yaakov ainoris

    Listen to what Peter Bergson (Hillel Kook) uncovers in his 1977 interveiw…against the tide. Only Orthodox rabbis spoke out and attempted to ask evil roosevelt for help…..but behind the scenes it was maskilim haskalah influencing state dept to restrict frum yidden from coming here….watch on David Wyman site…also see the Wagner-Rogers bill which was also rejected..my great uncle was Wagner..goyim didnt prevent immigration…you decide.That is why all yidden need to Stick together now and not repeat history…Shalom

  • My heart and mind were in total agreement with everything Jerold wrote about, since I was a kid in Brooklyn whose parents came from Russia and who knew only one president from 1932 to 1945. I also lived through the anti-Semitic army experience of WWII eventually being stationed in the notorious Dachau concentration camp in Germany. I wrote a book about the emotional and psychological effect on the first Americans who liberated Dachau, (The Day the Thunderbird Cried).
    I disagree with Jerold about the Holocaust Museum in Washington. Being the most popular tourist attraction in Washington it gives millions of Americans their first true to life look at what Hitler and the Nazis inflicted on the civilized world. I inscribe all my books, “Lest we forget”. In my humble opinion, The Holocaust Museum in Washington sends the same message.

  • Marv Hershenson

    The author has it correct. The memory of many Jews of my parents’ generation was based upon fantasy. And even today, many libs of the MOT sector have fond memories of a man who was no friend of the Jewish people as many of his advisors. The really person of the Roosevelt family was Eleanor. Now there was a human being, a real mensch.

    • Janek El

      As to Eleanor she visited a Gulag prison while in the Soviet Union and liked it so much she proposed to reform US penitentiary system along Gulag lines. A mensch indeed.

      • Warren Boroson

        She became a fervent friend of the Jews and of Israel.

  • Fred

    To day the same Jews are lulled to believe that Obama is the saviour. Yet, he never admonishes Hamas, threatened to withhold arms to Israel while it is being attacked. Show in public some unfriendly gestures towards Israel. What has changed????

    • KRIS KRISTIAN

      I BLAME THE US JEWS FOR VOTING FOR THIS GARBAGE INTO THE WH.
      US JEWS WOULD HAVE VOTED HITLER INTO POWER, IF HE STOOD FOR DEMOC RATS.
      TIME FOR US JEWS TO WAKE UP THEY MU\ISSED A WONDEFUL OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE A REAL FRIEND IN TH WH, MITT ROMNEY.

      THE WORLD WOULD HAVE BEEN A BETTER PLACE FOR ALL, AND ISRAEL WOULD HAVE HAD MORE PEACE WITH THE PROTECTION FROM THE WH UNDER ROMNEY.
      I HOPE THAT AT THE NEXT PRESIDENTIAL VOTE, THE JEWS WILL ENSURE THAT THE NEXT PERSON TO OCCUPY THE WH, WILL BE A REAL, TRUE FRIEND OF ISRAEL AND THE JEWS.

    • Michael Garfinkel

      Everything has changed.

      These are very different times – and very different Jews.

      From a historical perspective, it is quite understandable why FDR was highly regarded.

      There is no legitimate perspective, historical or otherwise, to justify the disproportionate Jewish support Obama has enjoyed, save for a self-loathing and narcissistic rancor.

      • David Nash

        you are a putz Romney is the perfect embodiment of Roosevelt you idiothe is the embodiment of Roosevelt type facade and he could give a shit about the Jews unless they are very rich jews…..he would have kept out the poor Jews from Poland just like Roosevelt

      • David Nash

        why is it that when Jews repudiate preferential and special care and consideration for them as a group that they are called self loathing self hating how about the word fair in a real world is time for Israel to put on big boy pants and not use mamas stars and stripes skirt to run to when being a bully

      • Steve Wenick

        BINGO!

  • NCS

    This needed to be said. Thank you Mr. Auerbach.

  • Fritz Kohlhaas

    Roosevelt was a sleazy anti-Semite!

    • anthony c abela

      Roosevelt was sleazy period,like most American presidents he was self centred, uncaring, and a narcissist to boot. Can anyone come up with a good American president for the last 70 years or so?. The worst are the last 5 presidents especially, Clinton both Bush and the crème de la crème,O’Bama, a disgrace to their country and the world in general. How could the Americans be so stupid to elect a president that hardly anyone knew who he was and was elected by the colour of his skin. Pox on them and their houses.

    • monroe steindorf

      Roosevelt’s image was positively etched into American consciousness, not without reason. I am not going to list any of his achievements, while in office. suffice it to say that he was universally beloved by the public, witness, his multiple terms in office. It serves no one’s purpose, to sully his image now. Granted, his failure to rescue jews. Was that his calling as chief executive of the usa? It was certainly not. Get on with your lives.

  • Wm. J. Levy

    So sad and so true and what has changed. Jews are among the wealthiest people in America and still hated because we have not insisted that we be treated with the same respect shown to everyone else. Why else in Jonathan Pollard in jail for almost 30 years when more dangerous spies have long since been released.

    Jews have money and still they get killed by blacks, whites, and now Arabs and they still do nothing. There is no Jewish Unity and that is why they Jews say ?|”Never Again” and I say “Why Not”.

    We act like strangers to one another. We don’t demonstrate in force. We died for the blacks but not for the Jews. Jews were happy when the Jewish Defense League founder Rabbi Meir Kahane was murdered by an illegal Arab and acquitted. We are 5-6 million strangers and we will pay the price.

    We need a strong leader not a wealthy leader or an Abe Foxman who is protected by bodyguards but has done nothing for the Jews.

    All these Jewish organizations should be disbanded. Do you know how many Jewish organizations there are in the US. Over 5,000!!

  • Sheldon Kirshner

    Prof. Auerbach, in the Burns’ series there was a reference to a poll which purportedly yielded an outcome where 25% of the Jews polled were against admission of immigrants fleeing German. I find this difficult to believe as indicative of reality. Do you know anything about this? I will writing to the Burns people about who did the survey, who was polled, and what questions were asked.

  • Jerrold, this is a good and truthful article. But you err on one point. The Holocaust was not restricted to Jews in Europe. The Nazis intended to murder all Jews whom they could get their hands on. That included Jews in the Middle East and North Africa. In fact, the Germans occupied Tunisia and Libya and sent Jews from both countries to murder camps in Europe. 1000s of Jews in North Africa were also sent to labor camps, where some of them died. Let’s end the cover up of Hitler’s intentions toward Jews in the ME & NA. By the way, Hitler promised the top Palestinian Arab leader, Haj Amin el-Husseini, the mufti, that murdering those Jews too was part of his plan. The mufti was pleased with Hitler’s promise to him to murder the Jews in Arab lands.

  • zadimel

    I will certainly try to obtain as much reading material on Roosevelt’s anti-Semitism,whose indifference to the fate of European Jewry was astonishing and confounding. I,indeed,appreciate your insight and knowledge. Thank you.

  • Kathleen

    Thank you for this article. I sort appreciate Ken Burn’s efforts to make history more accessible to Americans, but yes, I see white washing like this, too.
    Anti-Semitism was very much a part of the culture (still is to some degree) & oddly enough, Jews had better opportunities & fairer treatment in the South than up North.

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