Roosevelt tried to save Jewish refugees during World War II, claims book

May 2nd, 2009 - 12:40 pm ICT by ANI  

London, May 2 (ANI): A new book has disputed widely held assumptions that during World War II the then US president Franklin D. Roosevelt was insensitive to the plight of European Jews under the Nazis, and said that he tried to save thousands of Jewish refugees.

The book, “Refugees and Rescue” concludes that Roosevelt tried to arrange resettlement for thousands of refugees in the late 1930s, only to be thwarted by his own State Department.

The book claims FDR developed plans in 1938 for the United States to fill its immigration quota with 27,000 Jews from Germany and Austria, and to send others to British-held Palestine and friendly nations in Africa and Latin America.

“Most of the initiatives to resettle refugees in underdeveloped areas proved impossible, met substantial resistance abroad, or developed very slowly partly because of resistance by the State Department,” the Centre for Jewish History said in a statement about the book.

The claim that Roosevelt actively sought ways to help Jews escape Europe before the war began in 1939 challenges the widely accepted view that he ignored warnings of Adolf Hitler’s plan to exterminate them, The Telegraph reported.

The American Government’s refusal to allow the SS St Louis, a German ship carrying more than 900 Jewish refugees, to dock at a US port in 1939 is often cited as evidence of FDR’s lack of interest in the fate of the Jews.

Instead, the ship was sent back to Europe, where many passengers later perished in Nazi camps.

The book is based primarily on diaries of James G. McDonald, the League of Nations’ top official concerned with refugees from Nazi Germany in the mid-1930s. (ANI)

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