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New York - American Jews Did Little To Help Their Brethren During The Holocaust But Why?

Published on: April 20, 2009 11:56 AM
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Hitler, Goering, Goebbels, Hess. Yemach ShemomHitler, Goering, Goebbels, Hess. Yemach Shemom

New York - No one doubts that during the Holocaust, American Jews wanted to help their European brethren. But then why was so little done? Theodore Hamerow , a retired professor of history at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, answers this painful question by presenting an extensive study of the days when rescue was still possible.

He notes how religious bias against Jews was replaced by racial bigotry. During the 1930s it was easy for the Nazis to exploit existing ethnic prejudices, racial theories, economic crisis, unemployment, social unrest, impoverishment and the fear of Bolshevism. Soon Nazism became plausible to other nations, and a deep fear affected Jews everywhere.

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In the autumn of 1938, in the still-free and liberal France during the High Holy Days, the grand rabbi of Paris advised Jews to “avoid standing or gathering in front of places of worship, so as not to attract too much gentile attention.”

Barnard Lecache, president of the International League against Anti-Semitism, repeatedly urged Jews to be careful. This Jewish hush-hush strategy, a counsel of wisdom and prudence, was widely accepted.

In the US, just after Kristallnacht, polls found that 77 percent of Americans were against allowing a large number of Jewish refugees in. At the Evian Conference on Refugees, most countries closed their borders; German propaganda was highly successful.

In May 1939, Stephen Wise, one of the most vocal American Zionists, complained about the rising tide of anti-Semitism. He confessed that he didn’t know what to do. The British White Paper had closed the doors of Palestine, and the “Christian Front” - made up of Coughlinities - marched up and down New York’s 57th Street, shouting, “Hang Rabbi Wise from a flagpole! Lynch Rabbi Wise!” while the police stood by. Wise sadly recalled how the SS, on the eve of Hitler’s rise to power, had marched through the streets of Berlin vowing death to Rabbi Leo Baeck in a similar manner.

The Wagner-Rogers Bill suggesting that 20,000 German Jewish children be admitted to the US was rejected by Congress in February 1939 because public opinion polls indicated a negative attitude. Few Jews challenged this decision. Freda Kirchney, editor of The Nation, accused the bureaucrats in Washington of being the chief villains in the mishandling of refugees.

After America declared war on Germany, the Jews’ caution became even stronger. They had to convince their neighbors that this was not “a Jewish war.” Jews felt vulnerable, exposed to the Big Lie that they wanted the war as part of a secret plot for world domination.

ENDANGERING THE lives of Allied soldiers would spread anti-Semitism still further. The war was to be won quickly, and the war effort was everyone’s concern. It was only within this framework that America’s Jews could offer their European brothers any assistance. This was done, but with very limited success. Many efforts failed. One attempt to send food to the Warsaw Ghetto succeeded only after the ghetto had been destroyed.

As the truth about the genocide became known, a resolution was introduced in Congress in November 1943 urging the creation of a commission “to formulate and execute a plan of immediate action designed to save the surviving people of Europe from execution at the hands of Nazi Germany.” This failed after Karl Mundt of South Dakota expressed doubts as to whether a precedent could be established for “a single people.”

However, a month later, a resolution was passed unanimously by the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee urging president Franklin D. Roosevelt to establish a commission of diplomatic, economic and military experts “for saving the surviving Jews of Europe.” Plans were made to send food. But while deliberations dragged on, the gas chambers worked overtime.

In the Soviet Union, foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov had also progressively devalued Jewish suffering. In his first article on Nazi crimes, Jews were shown as the chief victims. In his second, they were mentioned evenly with other persecuted nationalities. In the third, they weren’t mentioned at all.

COULD US Jews have done more? During the war, the refugee problem was the last on the Allied agenda. US consuls in Vichy could easily have saved many Jews, but saved only a few carefully chosen individuals. Here, too, fear of anti-Semitism took a heavy toll. The Nation charged US consuls with putting insurmountable obstacles in front of Jewish refugees.

The man in charge, assistant secretary of state Beckinridge Long, kept America’s doors tightly closed. In his testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, he claimed that the US had already accepted 580,000 European refugees and would accept more. He allowed the Joint to send food to Jews in Transnistria and was trying to save 20,000 Jewish children. He said the Allies had sent strong warnings to Balkan countries through the Swiss regarding the treatment of Jews. The White House had allocated $300,000 to transport 3,000 Jewish children from the Balkans to Palestine, but Germany ordered Bulgaria and Romania to drop this plan. Turkey had agreed to transport Jews to Palestine by rail, but Germany also prevented this move. Long said ultimate relief would come with an Allied victory.

As news about the ongoing genocide became known, the Jewish hush-hush policy was partly abandoned. Voices were heard arguing that Jews must be less cautious and more aggressive. But as the bearded rabbis protested in Washington, voices were heard claiming that this was counterproductive. The Bergson group demanded that Jews free themselves from the philosophy that sought to protect them from the public gaze; they must publish and demonstrate their grievances. The huge “Stop Hitler Now” Jewish rally in Madison Square Garden on March 1, 1943, attracted 75,000 people.

The Jewish effort to persuade the Allies to save Slovakian and Hungarian Jewry by bombing the lines to Auschwitz had failed for lack of goodwill. Indeed, the British had asked: “And what shall we do with all these survivors?” They were well aware of who would claim Palestine after the war.

In March 1943, Kirchney wrote: “The purge of Jews is not only a Nazi crime. In this country, you and I and the president of the US and the Congress and the State Department are accessories to this crime, and share Hitler’s guilt. If we behaved like humane and generous people instead of complacent, cowardly ones, two million Jews lying in the earth of Poland and Hitler’s other crowded graveyards would be alive and safe. And other millions yet to die would have found sanctuary. We had it in our power to rescue these doomed people and did not lift a hand to do it.”

Few Jews would have risked saying something like this in public.

The Allied threats to punish the Axis for its criminal actions helped Romanian Jews, but only after Stalingrad. One could not scare Hitler, whose Thousand Year Reich depended on the notion of racial supremacy.

The Holocaust put an end to European Jewry’s hopes and aspirations, but the tragedy also led to American Jewry’s reassessment of its potential and responsibility.

Hamerow’s biting humor through the tears, the treasure of quotes and little-remembered episodes all come together in one huge, revealing and provocative narrative, with an extensive index and bibliography. It certainly deserves an important place in our national library.


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1

 Apr 20, 2009 at 11:24 AM Anonymous Says:

How can a person read this article and not think of the great Tzaddik Reb Michoel Ber Weissmandl ZTVK'L .

Reb Michoel Ber Weissmandl once said that he has two pains that do not go away: The pain of the 6 million murdered by the Nazis and the pain that some people that could have helped did not.

Zecher Tzaddik V kadosh L'vracah. May His Memory Be Blessed

2

 Apr 20, 2009 at 12:13 PM Anonymous Says:

I don't know what the Chiddish is. Rabbi Weissmandel Zt'l Rosh Yeshiva of Nitra wrote this in his book over 40 years ago. "Min Hamaytzar"

3

 Apr 20, 2009 at 01:11 PM Anonymous Says:

it wasnt a question of why didnt they.
the two things to keep in mind is that people in america didnt know...many peopel especially jews had no idea the sheer magnitude of what was happening in europe until it was too late.
that aside, there are so many individual stories and many different things in respective capacities that american jews and rabbis attempted to do at the time.

4

 Apr 20, 2009 at 01:50 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

How can a person read this article and not think of the great Tzaddik Reb Michoel Ber Weissmandl ZTVK'L .

Reb Michoel Ber Weissmandl once said that he has two pains that do not go away: The pain of the 6 million murdered by the Nazis and the pain that some people that could have helped did not.

Zecher Tzaddik V kadosh L'vracah. May His Memory Be Blessed

He had a third and even greater pain: deserting his wife and children

5

 Apr 20, 2009 at 02:16 PM we are all guilty Says:

I am just talking to myself out loud- It’s not too late to prove that we would have acted in the same manner?!?! How many times do we have the opportunity to help Jews with much needed charity, and perhaps prayer? And how do we do? You be the judge in a scale from 1- 10 (1 poor 10 great) a) how did we do helping the yidden from Yemen b) helping the yidden in Israel c) helping the yidden in our own back yard, there are numerous charity organizations that are willing and able to do the work for us, they just lack the necessary funds. They are Chashidish, Litvish, Sephardic, Zionists, etc. you pick a good cause and you can find 20 organizations that are actively, aggressively, and lovingly involved. There are multiple organizations involved in every aspect of Kiruv, Chinuch, Shalom Bayis, Bikur Cholim, Tomchai Shabbos, children at risk, Children with special needs, etc. etc. etc.
It’s very easy to judge the American Jews of the previous generation, perhaps they all should have taken out a mortgage on there homes to help the Jews in Europe?! But perhaps we should all take out a mortgage on our homes and help the Jews of our generation?! Do we all give the minimum 10% perhaps there are some us that can afford to give more than 10%?! Perhaps there are some of us that can find some time to say an extra capitel Tehillim. Perhaps there are some of us that can donate some time. So let’s stop looking back and pointing fingers, let’s move forward and give a hand.

6

 Apr 20, 2009 at 02:11 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
Anonymous Says:

He had a third and even greater pain: deserting his wife and children

R' Michoel Ber's love of klal yisroel was so big that the pain of klal yisroel caused him as much pain as his personal pain. BTW his rebetzin was niftar the first day of pesach. She never remarried even she was only about 30 when RMB died. The satamr rebbe told her that he wants her to re-marry for the sake of her her children and she answered that if you can find me another husband with the same gadlus and kedusha of RMB then I would go ahead. Since then she was an almonah for 51 years

7

 Apr 20, 2009 at 02:06 PM Anonymous Says:

Who was Kirchney?

8

 Apr 20, 2009 at 01:40 PM Aviva Says:

Dr. David Kranzler (zl) wrote a book called Thy Brother's Blood decades ago that delineates all of this in nauseating detail.

9

 Apr 20, 2009 at 01:36 PM Anonymous Says:

Reb Weissmandel's wife passed away this yom tov.

10

 Apr 20, 2009 at 02:43 PM happy Says:

look at gaza what did the jewish world do for them and the big rabbis do .that what happens when were selfish in america we have to think about are next vacation.all you here is this big rabbi that big rabbi we ned the moshiac.

11

 Apr 20, 2009 at 03:14 PM Askupeh Says:

Reply to #4  
Anonymous Says:

He had a third and even greater pain: deserting his wife and children

For the sake of decency I’ll explain what you mean. He was on the train with his wife and children to Auschwitz and he knew exactly what was expecting them, so he pleaded with his wife and mother-in-law to follow him in jumping from the train. When he saw that he couldn’t convince them because they at the moment thought that they were safe and why risk jumping? So a whole night he was pondering what to do; to jump and leave his family to their fate or not to jump and join them to die. It was too a difficult decision which he couldn’t forgive himself for making. Chas Vesholom to use such words as “deserting” his wife. He did what he thought the Reboneh Shel Oilom wanted him to do.

Reb Michoel Ber is my greatest hero of the century who shall go into history with golden letters; he was a person who risked his life daily trying to save the Jewish people. He was the one who alerted the West. He was the one who bribed a letter to the Vatican and he was the one who tried making a deal with Himmler YMV to save Hungarian Jewry. He escaped himself to try to save what was left of Klal Yisroel; his own survival wasn’t on his mind; but because he didn’t succeed he wasn’t sure with his decision which haunted him to the grave. He also couldn’t forgive American Jewry for not doing what was asked from them. His pain with the Vaad HaHatzolah is a bitter and sad chapter of the Holocaust where it was Mekuyem the Posuk “Umeishiv Chachomim Ochoir” Bimloi Mivon Hamiloh. I am too small to pass judgment on this matter which doesn’t make sense to me to this day.

12

 Apr 20, 2009 at 03:06 PM PMO Says:

Stop this!!! NOBODY knows what they knew back then and when they knew it. NOBODY knows how much was believed to be true or not.

This is a complete desecration of the name and memory of every yid alive then!

You cannot judge any of the yidden at that time. Many believed the killings to be rumor. Many believed that people were just going to refugee camps. Many perhaps knew the truth but could not face it. None of us today could possibly understand. We should accept the accounts of those who were there and not defame or slander them!

13

 Apr 20, 2009 at 03:20 PM Charlie Hall Says:

Reply to #3  
Anonymous Says:

it wasnt a question of why didnt they.
the two things to keep in mind is that people in america didnt know...many peopel especially jews had no idea the sheer magnitude of what was happening in europe until it was too late.
that aside, there are so many individual stories and many different things in respective capacities that american jews and rabbis attempted to do at the time.

America closed its borders in the 1920s in large part due to racism and anti-Semitism. Had the immigration laws of the 1840s been in effect in the 1940s Jews of Europe would have had a place to flee. This memory should cause us to fight for open borders in case there is ever another attempt at a Shoah, chas v'shalom.

14

 Apr 20, 2009 at 03:42 PM Askupeh Says:

Reply to #12  
PMO Says:

Stop this!!! NOBODY knows what they knew back then and when they knew it. NOBODY knows how much was believed to be true or not.

This is a complete desecration of the name and memory of every yid alive then!

You cannot judge any of the yidden at that time. Many believed the killings to be rumor. Many believed that people were just going to refugee camps. Many perhaps knew the truth but could not face it. None of us today could possibly understand. We should accept the accounts of those who were there and not defame or slander them!

We knew many people who were alive then and it is sadly true that very little was done to save European Jewry. The Rosha Steven Weiss was in charge and didn’t loose any sleep during WWII. True that many didn’t know, or didn’t know to what extent, but relative to what they did know they still did very little. The problem was not that they didn’t know but that they didn’t want to know. The Zionists were busy building a Medineh; the Reform who everyone has forgotten that they opposed the Medineh were busy making themselves comfortable in America and not wanting to make any waves. We call them the “Mah Yofis Yidalach” who we are Gebenched with even today. They concocted an Oslo with the vicious slogans like “enemies of peace” and “sacrifice for peace”, and who knows what else they will concoct, Hashem Yishmereinu.

15

 Apr 20, 2009 at 03:32 PM Askupeh Says:

Reply to #13  
Charlie Hall Says:

America closed its borders in the 1920s in large part due to racism and anti-Semitism. Had the immigration laws of the 1840s been in effect in the 1940s Jews of Europe would have had a place to flee. This memory should cause us to fight for open borders in case there is ever another attempt at a Shoah, chas v'shalom.

And if we fought for open borders, who will guarantee that it will remain open when we need it. We believe too much in the decency of the Umois Ho’oilom, and too little of our fellow Jews. The amount of confidence someone has in the Umois Ho’oilom is exactly as much as the amount of disdain he has of Klal Yisroel.

16

 Apr 20, 2009 at 04:26 PM Joseph Says:

As Rabbi Miller ZT'L said the rich and influential Jews of that period listened only to what Stephen Wise said, and he wouldn't allow anyone to do anything. He had the ear of FDR and he advised him many times to do nothing. The frum Jews didn't have much money to do much back then. Ayin shom (or "oizen shom") to tape # 213 where he speaks about it at the end.

17

 Apr 20, 2009 at 04:53 PM dovy Says:

Reply to #13  
Charlie Hall Says:

America closed its borders in the 1920s in large part due to racism and anti-Semitism. Had the immigration laws of the 1840s been in effect in the 1940s Jews of Europe would have had a place to flee. This memory should cause us to fight for open borders in case there is ever another attempt at a Shoah, chas v'shalom.

The closing of the borders was not only due to Racism. It was also because of rampant political extremism (communism, socialism, anarchism etc...) amongst the European immigrants (many of whom were Jewish, such as the infamous Emma Thompson). After the assasination of President Mckinley by an immigrant anarchist, public opinion turned against immigrants (much like today's opposition to Mexican immigrants for other reasons). I do agree with Charley's point that we should oppose closing the borders.

18

 Apr 20, 2009 at 04:49 PM dovy Says:

Reply to #4  
Anonymous Says:

He had a third and even greater pain: deserting his wife and children

He did not "desert" them, you sicko! He was deported to Aushwitz and separated from them forcibly. He escaped by sawing through the bars of the cattle car. Perhaps you don't know what the word "deserting" means.

19

 Apr 20, 2009 at 04:41 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #5  
we are all guilty Says:

I am just talking to myself out loud- It’s not too late to prove that we would have acted in the same manner?!?! How many times do we have the opportunity to help Jews with much needed charity, and perhaps prayer? And how do we do? You be the judge in a scale from 1- 10 (1 poor 10 great) a) how did we do helping the yidden from Yemen b) helping the yidden in Israel c) helping the yidden in our own back yard, there are numerous charity organizations that are willing and able to do the work for us, they just lack the necessary funds. They are Chashidish, Litvish, Sephardic, Zionists, etc. you pick a good cause and you can find 20 organizations that are actively, aggressively, and lovingly involved. There are multiple organizations involved in every aspect of Kiruv, Chinuch, Shalom Bayis, Bikur Cholim, Tomchai Shabbos, children at risk, Children with special needs, etc. etc. etc.
It’s very easy to judge the American Jews of the previous generation, perhaps they all should have taken out a mortgage on there homes to help the Jews in Europe?! But perhaps we should all take out a mortgage on our homes and help the Jews of our generation?! Do we all give the minimum 10% perhaps there are some us that can afford to give more than 10%?! Perhaps there are some of us that can find some time to say an extra capitel Tehillim. Perhaps there are some of us that can donate some time. So let’s stop looking back and pointing fingers, let’s move forward and give a hand.

How about giving a Jew a job where he can be Shomer Shabbat and not be told by goyim "the job requires you to be here" when it's a low level job that anyone could fill if businesses would give up the "block schedule" model and obey the EEOC laws regarding religious accommodation. 25 years ago I worked with goyim and Jews in a store. We worked the xtian holidays and sunday for them and they'd work Saturdays and Yom Tov for us. Now, company policy forbids that easy informal accommodation. If we hadn't made aliyah, we'd be middle aged and on the streets. On second thought, we wouldn't be anywhere because we died on the streets and there were no Jews who cared to help our survival.

20

 Apr 20, 2009 at 06:34 PM frater Says:

#12, I don't know about Jewish officials, but American government was briefed:
"n 1942 Karski reported to the Polish, British and U.S. governments on the situation in Poland, especially the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto and the Holocaust of the Jews. He met with Polish politicians in exile including the prime minister, as well as members of political parties such as the PPS, SN, SP, SL, Jewish Bund and Poalej-Syjon. He also spoke to Anthony Eden, the British foreign secretary, and included a detailed statement on what he had seen in Warsaw and Bełżec. In 1943 in London he met the then much known journalist Arthur Koestler. He then traveled to the United States and reported to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. His report was a major factor in informing the West.

In July 1943, Karski again personally reported to Roosevelt about the situation in Poland. He also met with many other government and civic leaders in the United States, including Felix Frankfurter, Cordell Hull, William Joseph Donovan, Samuel Cardinal Stritch, and Stephen Wise. Karski also presented his report to media, bishops of various denominations, members of the Hollywood film industry and artists, but without success. Many of those he spoke to did not believe him, or supposed that his testimony was much exaggerated or was propaganda from the Polish government in exile. It is possible, however, that Karski's descriptions influenced FDR to create the War Refugee Board several months later in January 1944."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_Karski

21

 Apr 20, 2009 at 06:32 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #8  
Aviva Says:

Dr. David Kranzler (zl) wrote a book called Thy Brother's Blood decades ago that delineates all of this in nauseating detail.

He was a leading historian on the subject of rescue by Jews during the Holocaust, a field which his works founded. He also researched and created awareness for the mid-1944 Swiss grass roots protests triggered by George Mantello publicizing Rabbi Michael Ber Weissmandl's translation of one of the Holocaust's most important documents: the Auschwitz Report. Dr. Kranzler was convinced that these actions led to stopping of the transports from Hungary in mid-1944 and enabled the Wallenberg Mission and other important rescue initiatives in Budapest. (source Wikipedia)

22

 Apr 20, 2009 at 05:51 PM Anonymous Says:

wat about reb irving bunim????

23

 Apr 20, 2009 at 05:18 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #16  
Joseph Says:

As Rabbi Miller ZT'L said the rich and influential Jews of that period listened only to what Stephen Wise said, and he wouldn't allow anyone to do anything. He had the ear of FDR and he advised him many times to do nothing. The frum Jews didn't have much money to do much back then. Ayin shom (or "oizen shom") to tape # 213 where he speaks about it at the end.

Rahm Emanual is a recycled Stephen wise. Where are we know when Iran threatens Israel and the USA lead by the Obama admin. is bargaining for more time rather than do something.

24

 Apr 20, 2009 at 08:17 PM duvið Says:

There isn't a single major disaster/war etc. In which historians would come up with a discovery that everybody did everything right...

Its completely arrogant and no big deal writing as such
While sitting in a warm house on a comfortable chair surrounded with all comfort ability and whining about things in the past that people who are dead now could've done differently at the time.

God forbid chas v'sholom an equivalent event should happen today would we be any better? No we won't!

we are today way more selfish, more comfortable, and self centered then our forgoers.

25

 Apr 20, 2009 at 07:24 PM PMO Says:

I don't doubt that some people in the government and military knew. But I do not believe that most yidden knew and did nothing. I refuse to judge them all in one big lump. Who could believe such stories? A country that could kill millions? With all the propaganda then nobody knew what to believe. I could never possibly understand the psychology behind the thoughts people had then and again I will not judge them.

26

 Apr 20, 2009 at 07:24 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #23  
Anonymous Says:

Rahm Emanual is a recycled Stephen wise. Where are we know when Iran threatens Israel and the USA lead by the Obama admin. is bargaining for more time rather than do something.

rahm emanuel's father was in the irgun and rahm flew to israel to volunteer for the idf during the first gulf war

27

 Apr 20, 2009 at 07:23 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #13  
Charlie Hall Says:

America closed its borders in the 1920s in large part due to racism and anti-Semitism. Had the immigration laws of the 1840s been in effect in the 1940s Jews of Europe would have had a place to flee. This memory should cause us to fight for open borders in case there is ever another attempt at a Shoah, chas v'shalom.

ironically, frum republican jews are against this, and it is sad and ironic that if not for such things they wouldnt even be here enjoying this great country and shouldnt deny it to others

28

 Apr 20, 2009 at 07:22 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #12  
PMO Says:

Stop this!!! NOBODY knows what they knew back then and when they knew it. NOBODY knows how much was believed to be true or not.

This is a complete desecration of the name and memory of every yid alive then!

You cannot judge any of the yidden at that time. Many believed the killings to be rumor. Many believed that people were just going to refugee camps. Many perhaps knew the truth but could not face it. None of us today could possibly understand. We should accept the accounts of those who were there and not defame or slander them!

and many are still here and living who can and do tell us exactly what they knew what they didnt know when they knew and what and how they tried to help

29

 Apr 20, 2009 at 07:22 PM Be careful of broad statements that are motzi laaz on great numbers of Yidden Says:

I would like to know what Hungarian Jews did from 1939 until the churban hit them to save the Poylishe, Galitzianer, Yekkishe, Litvishe, etc., Yidden who were being neherag al kiddush Hashem, while they were basically spared until app. 1944?

It is easy to lash out at others if you don't know all the facts, but we are taught by Hillel in Pirkei Avos (2:5), Al todin es chaveircho ad shetagia limkomo. To say that American Jews bichlal did nothing is a sheker. Some made great efforts. We have to make that clear and not make overly broad statements that are not true and that are motzi laaz on tayere Yidden. I know personally about what happened in my family where the American side made great efforts to help those in Europe at that time.

30

 Apr 20, 2009 at 07:22 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #11  
Askupeh Says:

For the sake of decency I’ll explain what you mean. He was on the train with his wife and children to Auschwitz and he knew exactly what was expecting them, so he pleaded with his wife and mother-in-law to follow him in jumping from the train. When he saw that he couldn’t convince them because they at the moment thought that they were safe and why risk jumping? So a whole night he was pondering what to do; to jump and leave his family to their fate or not to jump and join them to die. It was too a difficult decision which he couldn’t forgive himself for making. Chas Vesholom to use such words as “deserting” his wife. He did what he thought the Reboneh Shel Oilom wanted him to do.

Reb Michoel Ber is my greatest hero of the century who shall go into history with golden letters; he was a person who risked his life daily trying to save the Jewish people. He was the one who alerted the West. He was the one who bribed a letter to the Vatican and he was the one who tried making a deal with Himmler YMV to save Hungarian Jewry. He escaped himself to try to save what was left of Klal Yisroel; his own survival wasn’t on his mind; but because he didn’t succeed he wasn’t sure with his decision which haunted him to the grave. He also couldn’t forgive American Jewry for not doing what was asked from them. His pain with the Vaad HaHatzolah is a bitter and sad chapter of the Holocaust where it was Mekuyem the Posuk “Umeishiv Chachomim Ochoir” Bimloi Mivon Hamiloh. I am too small to pass judgment on this matter which doesn’t make sense to me to this day.

You are entitled to your opinion but not to your facts. To say that the rebbetzin thought they "were safe" on a train hurtling to Auschwitz is to be in a state of denial. The fact is she simply couldn't leave their 3 young children to their fate. Yes, Rav Weissmandl was a gadol and it is no stain on his name to state that he, like thousands of other Holocaust survivors, never recovered from "Survivor's Syndrome," being "chosen" to live while his entire family were incinerated.

31

 Apr 20, 2009 at 07:14 PM Anonymous Says:

We have to ensure we do not make the mistake of not supporting israel in its battle over its enemies because of anti semitism.

32

 Apr 20, 2009 at 07:06 PM Anonymous Says:

My father, who was an American rabbi with a pulpit during WWII, told me that there was a movement to "discourage" American Jewish involvement in saving the European Jews, since then they may come to other countries or maybe even the US instead of go to Palestine. The Zionist dream wanted the European Jews to go to Palestine ONLY, and therefore discouraged any move which would have resulted in their getting away to other places.

He was lead to believe that to save the "European Jew" any other way than to have them go to Palestine was being a traitor to Zionism.

Years later, he finally understood that this attitude resulted in COUNTLESS Jewish deaths in the Holocaust. It seems that the "Cause of Zionism" was put above the very lives of the European Jews. In tears my father cried, "Israel was built on the dead bodies of the Kekoshim of the Holocaust."

He also told me that he later realized that the murder of the European Jews resulted in the "Guilt" and the "Funding" which finalized the Zionist Dream, and was not accidental. He believed the Zionists of those days were instrumental in the deaths of many, many Jewish lives. He cried too over this, as he too did not speak out. He had bought into it at the time.
He never realized the extent or the magnitude of the Holocaust, but he realized his original Zionist idols did realize and predict it. They used it.

Every time my father retold this story he would cry.

33

 Apr 20, 2009 at 09:16 PM Charlie Hall Says:

Reply to #17  
dovy Says:

The closing of the borders was not only due to Racism. It was also because of rampant political extremism (communism, socialism, anarchism etc...) amongst the European immigrants (many of whom were Jewish, such as the infamous Emma Thompson). After the assasination of President Mckinley by an immigrant anarchist, public opinion turned against immigrants (much like today's opposition to Mexican immigrants for other reasons). I do agree with Charley's point that we should oppose closing the borders.

I think you mean Emma Goldman, the famous (or infamous) Jewish anarchist. Emma Thompson is an living non-Jewish actress.

34

 Apr 21, 2009 at 11:25 AM Allan Says:

WWII took place before I was born but I remember hearing of the great crying that went on when FDR died. Someone correct me if I am wrong but was not FDR the one that could have helped by allowing bombing of the rail lines to the camps and refused to do so. My thought is that our people who cried for him didn't then know the truth that he really wasn't our true friend.

35

 Apr 21, 2009 at 03:56 PM Askupeh Says:

Reply to #29  
Be careful of broad statements that are motzi laaz on great numbers of Yidden Says:

I would like to know what Hungarian Jews did from 1939 until the churban hit them to save the Poylishe, Galitzianer, Yekkishe, Litvishe, etc., Yidden who were being neherag al kiddush Hashem, while they were basically spared until app. 1944?

It is easy to lash out at others if you don't know all the facts, but we are taught by Hillel in Pirkei Avos (2:5), Al todin es chaveircho ad shetagia limkomo. To say that American Jews bichlal did nothing is a sheker. Some made great efforts. We have to make that clear and not make overly broad statements that are not true and that are motzi laaz on tayere Yidden. I know personally about what happened in my family where the American side made great efforts to help those in Europe at that time.

Hungarian Jews did what they can to hide the Polish Pleitim. You must understand that since 1939 the situation in Hungary also became difficult with the men sent away to Munka Tabor" (forced labor camp), so how much were they able to do? European Jews in general behaved like they should, Ameican Jews in general did not.

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 Apr 21, 2009 at 04:05 PM Askupeh Says:

Reply to #30  
Anonymous Says:

You are entitled to your opinion but not to your facts. To say that the rebbetzin thought they "were safe" on a train hurtling to Auschwitz is to be in a state of denial. The fact is she simply couldn't leave their 3 young children to their fate. Yes, Rav Weissmandl was a gadol and it is no stain on his name to state that he, like thousands of other Holocaust survivors, never recovered from "Survivor's Syndrome," being "chosen" to live while his entire family were incinerated.

My facts come from Reb Michoel Ber himself. No, the reason she didn't jump was because she was afraid to jump, and no-one can be Don her for that. If she would have jumped then he would have helped his children jump too. The one who suggested that he deserted his wife Chas Vesholom, should go with a Minyan to Reb Mechoel Ber’s grave in Mount Kisco and ask for forgiveness.

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 Apr 21, 2009 at 04:26 PM daniael Says:

Because the clergy of Europe discouraged immigration to America during the turn of the century, the most religiously pius stayed in Europe. Similarly the least religious (in a statistical sense) came to America. One can surmise that since Ameica's Jews were more predisposed to assimilation and subsequent apostacy and intermarriage, they were less committed to go out of their way to help Eastern European Jews.
It is not surprising that the survivors play a disproportionate role in religiosity in todays america.

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 Nov 18, 2009 at 01:46 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
Anonymous Says:

it wasnt a question of why didnt they.
the two things to keep in mind is that people in america didnt know...many peopel especially jews had no idea the sheer magnitude of what was happening in europe until it was too late.
that aside, there are so many individual stories and many different things in respective capacities that american jews and rabbis attempted to do at the time.

I am doing a history project on the Holocaust in America i found this article somewhat interesting but back then i totally agree with american jews didnt know what was going on in Europe they knew about the war but that was pretty much just a distraction from what was going on in europe with jews. Americas main focus was staying out of the war but then when japan bombed them they got invovled and they pretty much just wanted to end the war.

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 Oct 16, 2012 at 02:53 PM avibenyacov Says:

For all those claim no one knew,or that American Jews hands were tied,and that Zionists did nothing to save our people please educate yourselves to Hillel Cook ''Peter Bergson''was ,what he did and what Zionist Movement he belonged to.

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