The Jews of Europe in WWII

Source: The Abandonment of the Jews David S. Wyman 1984

The British position

The British Government and the Foreign Office perceived any move towards rescuing Jews from wartime Europe as leading to a pressure to admit them to Palestine, which was within their Mandate, and therefore as a threat to the stability of Palestine because of Arab opposition to Jews being admitted there.

The U.S. position

The Presidency and the Defence Department perceived any move towards rescuing Jews from wartime Europe as dangerous because of the risk of alienating the mass of the American public, which was opposed to umlimited immigration of anyone.

The truth of what was happening to Jews in Nazi Europe was known in the United States by November 1942. Concerned Jews and non-Jews made it their business to bring the matter before the press, the public, the Presidency, the machinery of State, and to the attention of the rest of the world.

Thereafter, the U.S. State Department blocked communications from the most reliable sources in Europe and it was not until a year-long delay that the U.S. Treasury Department knew of the most recent developments.

The responsibility for refugees lay with assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long of the U.S. State Department. He was instrumental in delaying any concrete assistance. He was instrumental in setting up procedures that were intended to result in delay or in no action being taken. He tried to derail the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees and when he could not forestall calls for action (notably in the British Press) he sidetracked its efforts via a meeting that was to become known as the Bermuda Conference.

Jewish Groups

Jewish groups were divided on whether to pressure the Presidency or hope for its support. They were divided on whether to promote Zionism or the rescue of the Jews; in the end they put effort into promoting a Jewish homeland at the expense of pushing for the resuce of the Jews.

Nothing was done until the Treasury Department … to be continued