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Washington - Nancy Pelosi: My Father Worked For Rescue Group To Save Jews From Hitler

Published on: September 11, 2008 06:45 PM
By: Jpost
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US congressman Thomas D'Alesandro, Jr. of MarylandUS congressman Thomas D’Alesandro, Jr. of Maryland

Washington - The speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has detailed her father’s support for a World War II-era rescue group that worked to save the Jews of Europe in a new book.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi’s father, the late US congressman Thomas D’Alesandro, Jr. of Maryland, was a fervent Roosevelt Democrat, but he broke ranks with FDR by supporting the Bergson Group, which challenged the Roosevelt administration’s policies on the Jewish refugee issue during the Holocaust.

The Bergson Group was run by Irgun activists and worked in the US in the 1940s to raise awareness of the Holocaust and campaign for America to help save the Jews of Europe.

The group’s leader, Hillel Kook (the nephew of Abraham Isaac Kook, Israel’s first Ashkenazi chief rabbi), worked under the pseudonym of Peter Bergson.

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The organization was viewed by mainstream American Jewish leaders as being too direct in its criticism of the Roosevelt administration’s failure to rescue Jews; in recent years most Jewish leaders and Holocaust scholars have come to recognize the group’s important contribution.

“Although [my father] was a New Deal Democrat and followed Franklin D. Roosevelt’s lead, there was one area in which he disagreed with the administration,” Pelosi wrote in the book, Know Your Power: A Message to America’s Daughters.

“Daddy supported an organization called the Bergson Group, which held rallies, pageants, and parades focusing attention on the plight of European Jews during World War II and calling for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, which was not yet the administration’s policy.”

The activism of her father - a Catholic and the son of Italian immigrants - sprang in part from his early friendships in the Jewish community, she said, adding that as a boy, he had been “a Shabbos goy” and even learned Yiddish.

“His enthusiasm came from doing what he believed was right,” she wrote.

The publication of Pelosi’s book comes as Yad Vashem is again being urged to include an exhibit in its museum about the Bergson Group.

“The fact that one of America’s most important political leaders feels such pride in her father’s involvement with the Bergson Group should serve as a reminder to Yad Vashem that many Americans, Christians and Jews alike, are interested in how America’s response to the Holocaust is portrayed in Holocaust-related museums around the world,” the director of the Washington-based David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, Dr. Rafael Medoff, wrote to Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev on Wednesday.

“The Yad Vashem museum’s panels on America’s abandonment of the Jews need to also acknowledge those in America, such as the Bergson Group and Congresswoman Pelosi’s father, who did speak out for rescue,” Medoff wrote.

Yad Vashem has refused to add material about the Bergson Group in its museum, saying its history is taught in its vast research and educational facilities, and that inserting information about group without “the overall context” would be “misleading.”

Meanwhile, the daughter of another US congressman who worked to rescue Jews has also expressed disappointment that Yad Vashem does not include information about the rescue group in its museum.

“As the daughter of a member of the United States Congress who helped to bring about the rescue of Jews from the Holocaust, I am disappointed that my father’s efforts are not acknowledged in the Yad Vashem museum,” Valerie Somers, daughter of the late New York congressman Andrew L. Somers, wrote the Yad Vashem chairman.

“Since Yad Vashem has exhibit panels and a continuously-running film which describe the failure of the United States and its allies to admit significant numbers of refugees or to bomb Auschwitz, I believe it should also make some reference to those Americans, such as my father, who did promote rescue.”

The Bergson Group is credited with helping to persuade Roosevelt to establish in January 1944 the War Refugee Board, which saved 200,000 Jewish lives.

The Bergson Group campaigned to save Jews through theatrical pageants, lobbying on Capitol Hill, newspapers advertisements and organizing a march in Washington by 400 rabbis that was the only rally for rescue held there during the Holocaust.

For decades after the war, information about the Bergson Group was routinely left out of textbooks, encyclopedias and museums.


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Read Comments (21)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Sep 11, 2008 at 06:56 PM murray Says:

Why are they bringing this out now? So now we are suppossed to back Democrats and especially Obama, this story is I guess suppossed to bolster the 300 pro Obama "rabbit" story.
If, as is claimed - He helped Jews, then he can be compared to fine wine, too bad the next generation has turned into vinegar.

2

 Sep 11, 2008 at 07:48 PM American Rabbi Says:

Nancy Pelosis story about her late father is true. And I am sure that Hashem rewarded him for this great mitzvah. And I think that she is a good person. But she is not running. Barack Hussein Obama is. He is not a friend of the Jewish people or Israel, despite the endorsment of 300 Mickey Mouse "rabbis" who are NOT ShomerTorah or Mitzvos.

3

 Sep 11, 2008 at 07:55 PM Anonymous Says:

No, what we need are more Republicans, like Bush, who put Hamas in power, forced Israel to give back Gaza, tried his hardest to end settlements, stated publicly that everything up to the '49 armistice lines in negotiable and who's family not only has a heritage of supporting the Nazis in the 30s, they are economically and politically most closely allied to the Saudis and Dhubai.

4

 Sep 11, 2008 at 08:04 PM murray Says:

NEWSFLASH!!! Bush is Not running. Mccain ,no matter how hard you try to paint the picture is NOT the 3rd term of George W. Bush.

5

 Sep 11, 2008 at 08:51 PM American Rabbi Says:

Reply to anonymous at 7:55PM. Bush did not force Israel to evacuate Gaza nor did he put Hamas in power. The leftist Kadima party did. The Talmud says that we can learn from our enemies how NOT to act. The fact that Hamas, Kadafi, and all the Arab websites are rooting for Obama should tell you something. Namely, that he is NOT our friend.

6

 Sep 11, 2008 at 08:36 PM ChuchomGudel Says:

All this means is that he was a good person. Everyone else should be judged on his or her own merits.

7

 Sep 11, 2008 at 08:28 PM Anonymous Says:

either way, nancy pelosi is second in the line of succession to become president do matter who wins. so if its mccain/palin or obama/biden
pelosi is still at #3.

8

 Sep 11, 2008 at 08:27 PM Anonymous Says:

Was anyone here invited to join president bush for his ramadan iftar seuda this week? (the only president to ever do and to do it every single year)

9

 Sep 11, 2008 at 08:26 PM Anonymous Says:

Murray, McCain has voted 96% of the time with bushie!

10

 Sep 11, 2008 at 08:26 PM Anonymous Says:

NO BRINGING OUT, ITS PART OF A BOOK, WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?
why is it that any time a democrat is associated with anything good or posoitive for yidden you critical leeaches have to come out and mock it?

11

 Sep 11, 2008 at 11:39 PM Anonymous Says:

this is the same Pelosi who asked protesters chanting for more oil drilling during the republican convention, and I quote, "Can we drill your BRAINS?" !!!!!

12

 Sep 11, 2008 at 11:51 PM Anonymous Says:

Bush had more to do with the mistakes israel made in the last 8 years than clinton didnt when he was involved as president

13

 Sep 12, 2008 at 12:33 AM McCain-Palin 08 Says:

Bush is a great friend of Israel. So is McCain. Palin may not be (supports Buchannan), but she's not running for president. She will follow McCain.

14

 Sep 12, 2008 at 10:01 AM open your eyes Says:

anon 7:55

what do you suggesst? because bush's appointee rice is a total loser in her position (incidently for those that don't know - her dptmnt has more to do with foreign policy and presidents go along with it) we should vote for obama?

15

 Sep 12, 2008 at 10:30 AM Anonymous Says:

Mcain palin is the way to go!!

16

 Sep 12, 2008 at 10:48 AM Hesh Says:

Yad Vashem, a secular organization, does not represent the Torah community!

17

 Sep 12, 2008 at 11:05 AM moshe klass Says:

Palin does not support Buchannan. She was supporting Steve Forbes at the time and wore a Buchannan button as a courtesy when he visited her city.

18

 Sep 12, 2008 at 03:32 PM Anonymous Says:

MAY HIS MEMORY BE BLESSED . SO FEW HELPED BERGMAN.
THIS WAS THE GROUP THAT BEN HECHT "PERFIDY " WAS IN .....

19

 Sep 12, 2008 at 03:56 PM Avrohom Abba Says:

Dear Nancy,
Your father was a true hero!
Thank you for honoring his memory by bringing it to our attention!
The fact that you are proud of him also shows us your stance and that is wonderful and beautiful!
Thank you!

20

 Sep 12, 2008 at 05:35 PM Anon Says:

Moshe Klass:
There is a youtube where Buchannan thanks her for her fundraising. She doesn't deny it.

21

 Sep 15, 2008 at 05:13 AM Matzahlocal101 Says:

A few historical facts:
Ben Hecht worked together with Bergson on the production of "We shall never die" which was performed in Madison Square garden to bring attention to the Nazi annihilation of European Jews. Among those opposed to Bergson was Rabbi Stephen Wise SR"Y. His name appears all over reform temples, schools, and libraries. It is time that his "contribution" to the holocaust was recognized as well. His grave is located in Westchester in case anyone is passing by and feels the need to relieve themselves....

22

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