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Author: FDR failed to save more Jews during Holocaust because of his ‘vision of what America should look like’

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Jamie Weinstein
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      Jamie Weinstein

      Jamie Weinstein is Senior Editor of The Daily Caller. His work has appeared in The Weekly Standard, the New York Daily News and The Washington Examiner, among many other publications. He also worked as the Collegiate Network Journalism Fellow at Roll Call Newspaper and is the winner of the 2011 "Funniest Celebrity in Washington" contest. A regular on Fox News and other cable news outlets, Weinstein received a master’s degree in the history of international relations from the London School of Economics in 2009 and a bachelor's degree in history and government from Cornell University in 2006. He is the author of the political satire, "The Lizard King: The Shocking Inside Account of Obama's True Intergalactic Ambitions by an Anonymous White House Staffer."

Historian Rafael Medoff says Franklin Delano Roosevelt failed to take relatively simple measures that would have saved significant numbers of Jews during the Holocaust, because his vision for America only encompassed having a small number of Jews.

“In his private, unguarded moments, FDR repeatedly made unfriendly remarks about Jews, especially his belief that Jews were overrepresented in many professions and exercised too much influence and control on society,” Medoff told The Daily Caller in an email about his new book, “FDR and the Holocaust: A Breach of Faith.”

“This prejudice helped shape his overall vision of what America should look like — and it was a vision with room for only a small number of Jews who, he said, should be ‘spread out thin.’ This helps explain why his administration went out of its way discourage and disqualify would-be immigrants, instead of just quietly allowing the immigration quotas to be filled to their legal limit.”

Medoff, who currently serves as director of The David Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, says that there were actions Roosevelt could have easily taken that would have saved well over 100,000 Jews from Hitler’s extermination camps.

“He could have quietly permitted the immigration quotas to be filled to their legal limit — that alone would have saved 190,000 lives,” Medoff said.

“He could have pressed the British to open Palestine’s doors to Jewish refugees. He could have authorized the use of empty troop-supply ships to bring refugees to stay in the U.S. temporarily, until the end of the war. He could have permitted refugees to stay as tourists in a U.S. territory, such as the Virgin Islands, until it was safe for them to return to Europe. He could have authorized the bombing of Auschwitz or the railway lines leading to it, which would have interrupted the mass-murder process.”

Asked to respond to the argument that it was better for Roosevelt to focus on winning the war than divert resources to bomb Auschwitz, Medoff said “[b]ombing Auschwitz would not have required any diversion of resources, because U.S. planes were already bombing targets that were less than five miles from the gas chambers, during the summer and autumn of 1944.”

See TheDC’s full interview with Medoff about his book below:

Why did you decide to write the book?

My research uncovered important new information about America’s response to the Holocaust — including such critical issues as FDR’s private feelings about Jews, the Roosevelt administration’s decision to shut America’s doors to Jewish refugees and its refusal to bomb Auschwitz.

What do you think Roosevelt could have done to save victims of the Holocaust that he didn’t?

He could have quietly permitted the immigration quotas to be filled to their legal limit — that alone would have saved 190,000 lives. (Instead, the administration imposed extra requirements that disqualified most would-be immigrants.) He could have pressed the British to open Palestine’s doors to Jewish refugees. He could have authorized the use of empty troop-supply ships to bring refugees to stay in the U.S. temporarily, until the end of the war. He could have permitted refugees to stay as tourists in a U.S. territory, such as the Virgin Islands, until it was safe for them to return to Europe. He could have authorized the bombing of Auschwitz or the railway lines leading to it, which would have interrupted the mass-murder process.

Why wasn’t it a preferable strategy, as some suggest, to use all American resources to end the war quickly — and thus liberate the concentration camps earlier — than to divert resources to bomb Auschwitz?

Bombing Auschwitz would not have required any diversion of resources, because U.S. planes were already bombing targets that were less than five miles from the gas chambers, during the summer and autumn of 1944. Incidentally, one of the American pilots who flew over Auschwitz in 1944 was young George McGovern, the future presidential nominee.