- Discover essay samples

U.S Foreign Policy Toward Jewish Refugees During 1933-1939

4.9 of 5.0 (81 reviews)

2211 words

U.S Foreign Policy Toward Jewish Refugees During 1933-1939 Page 1
U.S Foreign Policy Toward Jewish Refugees During 1933-1939 Page 2
U.S Foreign Policy Toward Jewish Refugees During 1933-1939 Page 3
U.S Foreign Policy Toward Jewish Refugees During 1933-1939 Page 4
U.S Foreign Policy Toward Jewish Refugees During 1933-1939 Page 5
U.S Foreign Policy Toward Jewish Refugees During 1933-1939 Page 6
The above thumbnails are of reduced quality. To view the work in full quality, click download.

In reviewing the events which gave rise to the U.S.'s foreign policy
toward Jewish refugees, we must identify the relevant factors upon which such
decisions were made. Factors including the U.S. government's policy mechanisms,
it's bureaucracy and public opinion, coupled with the narrow domestic political
mindedness of President Roosevelt, lead us to ask; Why was the American
government apathetic to the point of culpability, and isolationist to the point
of irresponsibility, with respect to the systematic persecution and annihilation
of the Jewish people of Europe during the period between 1938-1945?
Throughout the years of 1933-1939, led by Neville Chamberlain and the
British, the United States was pursuing a policy of appeasement toward Hitler.
They had tolerated his military build-up and occupation of the Rhineland, both
violations of the Treaty of Versailles, as well as the annexing of Austria and
the take-over of the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia. Hitler realized early on in
his expansionist campaign that Western leaders were too busy dealing with their
own domestic problems to pose any real opposition. In the United States,
Americans were wrestling with the ravages of the Great Depression. With the
lingering memory of the more than 300,000 U.S. troops either killed or injured
in World War I, isolationism was the dominant sentiment in most political
circles. Americans were not going to be "dragged" into another war by the
British. The Depression had bred increased xenophobia and anti-Semitism, and
with upward of 30% unemployment in some industrial areas1, many Americans wanted
to see immigration halted completely. It was in this context that the
democratic world, led by the United States, was faced with a refugee problem
that it was morally bound to deal with. The question then became; what would
they do?
Persecution of the Jews in Germany began officially on April
1st 1933. Hitler had come to power a few weeks earlier and he immediately began
the plan, as outlined in his book Mein Kampf, to eliminate "the eternal mushroom
of humanity - Jews".2 German Jews were stripped of their citizenship by the
Nuremberg Race Laws of 1935 and had their businesses and stockholdings seized in
1938. Civil servants, newspaper editors, soldiers and members of the judiciary
were dismissed from their positions, while lawyers and physicians were forbidden
to practice. Anti-Jewish violence peaked on 9 November 1938, known as the
"Night of the Broken Glass" or Kristallnacht, when over 1000 synagogues were
burned. Jewish schools, hospitals, books, cemeteries and homes were also
The mistreatment of non-Aryans in Germany was common knowledge in the
U.S. in 1938. After the anschluss, the flow of refugees exceeded the
capabilities of both the Nansen Office and the Autonomous Office of High
Commissioner for Refugees. The commission had been formed in response to the
anti-Jewish persecution and had but the "tacit endorsement of the United States".
In light of the League's incapability, President Roosevelt and then Secretary of
State Cordell Hull, invited the representatives of more than 30 nations and 39
private organizations to an international conference at Evian, to discuss the
refugee problem. Myron C. Taylor, past chairman of U.S. Steel Corporation, was
named the chairman of the American delegation. In the weeks before the
conference, Ambassador Joseph Kennedy, in London, felt the growing concern in
the British Foreign Office as to the American position on the conference and the
refugee question in general. He cabled the U.S. State Department expressing his
concern, and received an evasive reply from Secretary Hull. Hull explained that
it was the French, that had assumed control of the planning of the conference
and that he would be advised of their position "in the near future". No reply
ever came and on the eve of the conference the British were unaware of U.S.
refugee policy4, a practice that would recur throughout the refugee crisis.
Assistant Secretary of State George Messersmith, in briefing the President's
Advisory Committee on Political Refugees (PACPR) before Evian, expressed the U.S.
desire to "create some permanent apparatus to deal with the refugee problem,"
but they, "envisioned no plan of official assistance to refugees."5 Taylor
expressed this policy in his opening speech at Evian in saying that the U.S.
would accept 27,000 refugees as outlined in the German and Austrian quotas, no
more. The only concrete achievement of the conference was the creation of the
Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees (IGCR), which was to be a voluntary
organization, totally dependent on private funding. Furthermore, no member of
the IGCR would be expected to change immigration policies and quotas. The
obvious lack of intended action was summed up in the final communiqu' of the
conference, "The governments of the countries of refuge and settlement should
not assume any obligations for the financing of involuntary emigration."6 The
conference concluded and Taylor, weary of the fact that nothing had been
accomplished in the week at Evian, cabled the State Department warning that if
the United States does not move to act, "other countries of settlement will
claim that they are not obligated to commit themselves."7 Secretary Hull cabled
back reminding Taylor of the rigid immigration laws and the restrictionist
sentiment in Congress. The unwillingness of the U.S. to set the example,
allowed for the attending nations to keep their borders closed, hiding behind
domestic unemployment, anti-Semitism and, American apathy.
So, before war broke out in September 1939, during that same
summer, President Roosevelt called for the deactivation of the IGCR, the now
600,000 refugees in need of aid were nowhere closer to asylum than they were at
its creation. The U.S. government had successfully maintained a policy of
restrictionism and isolationism. But the refugee problem would take a nasty
turn, presenting them with a more serious moral headache.
Three months after the conference at Evian the worst purging of German
Jewry yet took place in what came to be known as Kristallnacht. Thirty thousand
Jews were arrested and anti-Jewish violence peaked. In protest, President
Roosevelt ordered the American ambassador, Hugh Wilson, to return to Washington,
but refused to impose diplomatic or economic sanctions on the Nazi government8.
Roosevelt publicly denounced Nazi brutality, saying that he could scarcely
believe the Nazi barbarism. But when asked about getting masses of Jews out of
Germany, he replied, "The time is not ripe for that," and when questioned
further about the possibility of relaxing immigration restrictions, he responded,
"That is not in contemplation, we have the quota system."9 This policy of
rhetoric had been predominant in the U.S. approach to the refugees and would
continue well into the war. Even Hitler commented with bitter sarcasm regarding
Western hypocrisy, "It is a shameful example to observe today how the entire
democratic world dissolves in tears of pity, but then in spite of its obvious
duty to help, closes its heart to the poor, tortured people."10 Prompted by the
U.S., the international committee refused to even acknowledge publicly that the
main refugee problem, was a Jewish one.
The organized mass slaughter began with the German invasion of the
Soviet Union in June 1941, this was accomplished through the use of mobile
extermination units that followed behind the advancing Nazi army11. Scholars on
the subject have questioned when exactly, the Western world knew about the
atrocities occurring in Europe. From July 1941 until the end of 1942, U.S.
intelligence operations in Europe were only beginning to get underway. However
British intelligence was the focal point of all news coming out of Occupied
Europe. Early reports from aerial reconnaissance, returning soldiers, escaping
citizens, prisoners of war, neutrals, as well as reports from Polish, Dutch,
French and Czech intelligent services, all reported 'unofficial stories' - the
State Department viewed them as rumors - about Nazi plans of extermination12.
In May 1942, a report was transmitted to London from the Jewish Socialist Party
in Poland warning that the Germans had "embarked on the physical extermination
of the Jewish population on Polish soil.13" European news, such as the Swedish
Socialdemokraten, published a report in the Fall of 1941 about the killing of
Jews, "There was no doubt that this was a case of premeditated mass murder."14
Newspapers in Western Europe and the United States picked up on the reports
later. The London Daily Telegraph published an article on June 30 headlined,
"More Than 1 Million Jews Killed in Europe."15 The New York Times covered the
story that same day, skeptically putting it in the middle of the paper.16
Reports, although filing into the United States at an accelerated rate, were
still considered unconfirmed.
In November 1943, the Gillette-Rogers resolution was introduced in the
Senate and in the House. The resolution called for "the creation by the
President of a commission of diplomatic, economic, and military experts to
formulate and effectuate a plan of action to save the surviving Jewish people
from extinction..."17 SRes. 203 was supported unanimously, but in the House H.R.
352 faced the opposition of Breckinridge Long. In his testimony, he pointed out
that with "every legitimate thing" already being done, any more action by
Congress would "be construed as a repudiation of the acts of the Executive
branch."18 Very impressed by his words, the Committee on Foreign Affairs voted
down the Gillette-Rogers Bill on 26 December 1943.

During the months leading up to the Bermuda Conference of April 1943,
the State Department vetoed the idea of temporary harboring of refugees in the
U.S., based on security reasons and the critical food shortage. They ruled out
rescue operations because that would require diversion from the war effort. In
addition they refused to use their abundant political influence to pressure
Britain into loosening immigration to Palestine. At Bermuda, the U.S. and
Britain reiterated the fact that they were not willing to change quotas or
immigration and stressed that no diversion from the war effort should be
employed for the refugees. The only positive outcome of the conference was the
revival of the IGC, whose mandate gave relief to those already rescued but did
not participate in rescuing. The New York Times writing on the conference noted,
"Not only were ways and means to save the remaining Jews in Europe not devised,
but their problem was not even touched upon, put on the agenda or discussed."19
Three million people had already perished.
It was already quite obvious that the American government didn't want to
help, and it was beginning to appear as if there were certain people in key
places who didn't want other nations to help either. However, in 1944, the tide
of American foreign policy was going to shift. The changes were precipitated by
a report submitted to the President by the Secretary of Treasury, Henry
Morgenthau Jr., dated January 16th 1994, entitled "A Personal Report to the
President". The report outlined the State Department's repression of news of
the Final Solution in cable No. 354, its policy of apathy, and recommended that
all rescue operations be removed from its hands. The report and the
recommendations formulated had the desired effect both because it was 'political
dynamite' and because 1944 was an election year20. The report consequently
spurred a chain of events in favor of cooperation toward rescue, no matter how
limited. On January 22nd 1944, Executive Order 9417 established the War
Refugee Board. Morgenthau, Hull and Henry Stimson were to head the WRB, and
John Pehle, a member of Morgenthau's Treasury staff, was named Director. Agents
were installed in Ankara, Istanbul, Lisbon and North Africa, funding,
negotiating and coordinating relief programs. The WRB sent threats of
punishment to Axis nations in an effort to deter them from collaborating with
the Nazis in the deportation of Jews.21
The State Department, a major actor in the policy making process,
although removed from the issue, continued to subtly obstruct the workings of
the WRB. The board requested that a message be transmitted via Switzerland to
Latin America countries, requesting them to validate fraudulent visas for Jews
interned in a German camp at Vittel, France. Internal confusion caused the
transmission to be delayed and in the interim 250 people were sent to
Auschwitz.22 After eyewitness accounts and drawings of Auschwitz were made
available to the WRB in June 1944, they suggested the bombing of the gas
chambers or the rail lines leading to it. Assistant Secretary of the Army, John
J. McCloy said that ...

You are currently seeing 50% of this paper.

You're seeing 2211 words of 4422.

Similar essays

Capital Punishment: For

With out the death penalty families of murder victims would be delt a double blow. Many families feel that the only justice they could posiblly recive is having the murder put on death row. In the book "Rights of execcution" by louis Mansor there was a case where a girl had both her parents brudally murdered, the book reads "She cries every day,...

92 reviews
NAFTA And Its Effects

On January 1, 1994, Canada, the United States and Mexico entered into the North American Free Trade Agreement. For the first time in history, the three countries agreed to create a single North American marketplace. THE EFFECTS OF THE NORTH AMERICAN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT The North American Free-Trade Agreement has proven to be a pox on American Soc...

36 reviews
The Need For Affirmative Action

Affirmative action has been the subject of increasing debate and tension in American society. The debate has been more emotional than intellectual, and has generated more tension than shed light on the issue. Participants in the debate have over examined the ethical and moral issues that affirmative action raises while forgetting to examine the sys...

95 reviews
The Theories Of Hobbes And Locke

What justifies the authority of government? Under what conditions is revolution against that government justified? How does Locke's answer to the previous differ from Hobbes's? What difference in their "social contract" theories results in that difference? Each of these questions will be addressed in order to further understand the governmental phi...

140 reviews
Imperialism: A State Of Powerlessness

George Orwell's essay 'Shooting an Elephant' shows how imperialism makes the Burmese and the British powerless. In 'Shooting an Elephant' the British have colonized India. The Europeans' powerlessness is seen through George Orwell, a sub-divisional police officer, and the Indians' powerlessness is seen through their lack of control in political a...

148 reviews
Capital Punishment: For

"execution prevents eighteen murders per year."(Hirsch, 122) Opponents argue that capital punishment is immoral. But if you follow the Old Testament, it is moral. In one passage from Genesis, 'Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed.' Another from Exodus, 'Eye for an eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn...

203 reviews
The New Federalist Party

Part I As the sole member of , it is with great honors that I now present to you the very first New Federalist platform. PREAMBLE The growing dissension between the two major political parties today has drawn them away from the public's views. It has been determined that the citizens of the United States cannot get what they want from the curre...

151 reviews
The 26 Amendments Of The US Constitution

Amendment I (1791) Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Amendment II...

20 reviews
Legislative Proposals

Today the first meeting of the Continental Congress we had an opening speech by Benjamin Franklin and George Washington they talked about a government based on freedom and all 13 colonies will be united into one nation. We are going to have three branches of government; Legislative, Executive, and Judicial. Delegates from all 13 colonies appeare...

95 reviews
State of the Union Outline

* There is a lot of progress to report + Brave men and women are coming home * Business created over 6 million jobs * More cars bought in the US over 20 years * Real estate is healing, economy is growing + State of the union is stronger and we are making progress * Economy adding jobs and a lot of people still cant find full time employment + Wa...

119 reviews
The Rise And Fall Of American Communism

During the twentieth century, the popularity of the American Communist party was fueled less by its beliefs, than by the Government's ever-more-antagonistic attitude toward foreign influences in America. After the armistice of World War I, disillusioned by the political and social turmoil abroad, the United States sought to unify its people, and t...

114 reviews
The Secret Service

is a service that many people do not know about. In addition to guarding the president, has been used for many other tasks since its creation. At the close of the Civil War, between one-third and one-half of all U.S. paper currency in circulation was counterfeit. On July 5, 1865, the Secret Service was created as a bureau under the Department...

24 reviews
Juvenile Justice

The American juvenile justice system was designed over 100 years ago to reform kids who were found guilty of minor crimes such as petty theft and truancy. It is a network of agencies that deal with juveniles whose conduct has come in conflict with the law. The system acts as a shield for juveniles who perform adult criminal acts or status offences-...

110 reviews
The Federal Bureau Of Investigation

To uphold the law through the investigation of violations of federal criminal law; to protect the U.S. from foreign intelligence and terrorist activities; to provide leadership and law enforcement assistance to federal, state, local, and international agencies; and to perform these responsibilities in a manner that is responsive to...

128 reviews
Atsisiųsti šį darbą