New Online Resource for the Public:
Encyclopedia of America's Response to the Holocaust
The most comprehensive resource on how America responded to news of the Holocaust is now available, and it's free to the public.
The online Encyclopedia of America's Response to the Holocaust is being launched by The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies,
in conjunction with this week's commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day (Yom HaShoah).
The unique online encyclopedia features hundreds of entries on individuals, events, and topics, compiled and edited by the leading scholars in the field of Allied responses to the Holocaust. Prof. David S. Wyman is editor in chief of the encyclopedia; the co-editors are Prof. Judy Baumel-Schwartz, Prof. Laurel Leff, Dr. Rafael Medoff, Prof. Stephen Norwood, Prof. Monty Penkower, and Prof. Bat-Ami Zucker.
"Now for the first time, anyone interested in any aspect of America's response to the Holocaust can find authoritative information on one website, with one click," said Wyman Institute director Rafael Medoff. "Whether you are a student, a journalist, or just someone who's curious about a particular topic, it's all here for you--and it's written by the top scholars in the field."
"Unlike traditional encyclopedias," Dr. Medoff pointed out, "the Encyclopedia of America's Response to the Holocaust is dynamic, with entries constantly being added or updated to reflect the latest research in the field."
The encyclopedia can be accessed at: http://enc.wymaninstitute.org and features a traditional alphabetical index as well as suggested entry points by topic and full text search capability.
New Revelations on FDR and the Holocaust
President Franklin D. Roosevelt privately wanted to restrict the number of Jews entering some professions and universities, and believed Jews should be "spread thin all over the world" so they would quickly assimilate, according to a new book about FDR's response to the Holocaust.
The book is FDR and the Holocaust: A Breach of Faith, by Dr. Rafael Medoff, published by the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies. Medoff, the founding director of the institute, is the author of 14 previous books on the Holocaust, Jewish history, and Zionism.
Click here to order the book on Amazon.
FDR and the Holocaust: A Breach of Faith reveals that Roosevelt remarked (in 1943) that "the complaints which the Germans bore towards the Jews in Germany" were "understandable" because there were many Jews in law, medicine, and other fields in Germany; FDR also claimed (in 1938) that the Jews were too prominent in Poland's economy, which he blamed for antisemitism there.
See the full article here.
New Study: Many Jewish Voters
Turned Against Truman in '48
President Harry Truman received far fewer Jewish votes in the 1948 election than previously believed--and almost lost the race as a result, according to a new study by the Wyman Institute.
The study, "Did the Jewish Vote Cost Truman New York? A New Look at the 1948 Presidential Race," was authored by Wyman Institute director Dr. Rafael Medoff. (To read the full study, click here.)
Truman triumphed in 1948 by eking out extremely narrow victories over his Republican challenger, Gov. Thomas Dewey, in a number of states that had large numbers of electoral votes; New York had the most, with 47. Truman lost New York by just 60,959 votes, or .98%.
Had Truman won in New York, the overall race would not have been nearly so close--and the famous Chicago Tribune headline, "DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN," would never have appeared. And the Wyman Institute's study shows that Jewish Democrats who defected to third-party candidate Henry A. Wallace cost Truman New York.
(See this full article here)
This Year's Conference: "The Jewish Vote, the Holocaust, and Israel"
The tenth national conference of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies will be held at Fordham University Law School, 140 West 62 St. (between Columbus Ave. and Amsterdam Ave.), New York City, on Sunday, September 23, 2012, from 10 am to 4 pm.
Speakers will include Prof. David S. Wyman on "FDR and American Jews," Mayor Ed Koch on "The Jewish Vote in 2012," Dr. Tevi Troy & Hank Sheinkopf on "Two Bush Administrations and the Jewish Vote," Prof. Sonja Wentling on "Herbert Hoover & the Jews," and Dr. Rafael Medoff on "A New Look at the Jewish Vote in the Truman-Dewey-Wallace Race of 1948."
The conference will be chaired by Stephen M. Honig, Esq. Prof. Thane Rosenbaum will be our MC.
The registration fee is $25; $15 for students. Registration includes a kosher box lunch. We strongly encourage registering through our web site in advance, to guarantee your seats; on-site registration will be available on the day of the event, but the conference could be sold out by then.
To register, please call 202-434-8994 or sign up online.
Book Reveals Hoover's Aid to Jews during Holocaust
Former president Herbert Hoover and other prominent Republicans actively promoted the rescue of Jews from the Nazis, a new book reveals.
The book, Herbert Hoover and the Jews: The Origins of the 'Jewish Vote' and Bipartisan Support for Israel, was authored by U.S. foreign relations professor Sonja S. Wentling and Holocaust historian Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of the Wyman Institute. It was released by the Wyman Institute on Holocaust Remembrance Day (April 19, 2012).
Click here to order the book on Amazon.
One of the initiatives that Hoover and other Republicans supported would have admitted 20,000 German Jewish refugee children to come to the United States. Teenage Holocaust diarist Anne Frank, who was a German citizen, could have qualified to come to America if the bill had passed.
See the full article here.
70 Holocaust Scholars Urge Action on Darfur
The Wyman Institute has mobilized 70 leading Holocaust and genocide scholars to sign a letter urging the Obama administration to cut aid to countries that host visits by Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for his role in the Darfur genocide.
See the full article here.
U.S. Holocaust Museum
Rebuffs FDR Defenders
Defenders of President Franklin Roosevelt's response to the Holocaust have been dealt a major blow, as a study by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has rejected a claim they frequently have made regarding the U.S. failure to bomb Auschwitz.
This aerial photo of Auschwitz was taken by Allied reconnaissance planes preparing for bombing raids on German oil factories near Auschwitz in June 1944.
In numerous speeches, articles, and conferences in recent years, officials and supporters of the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute in Hyde Park, NY have claimed that then-Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion opposed bombing Auschwitz (for fear of harming prisoners). Roosevelt supporters have made the claim to deflect criticism of FDR for the U.S. rejection of requests to bomb the death camp.
But a two-year study by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, completed in January 2012, concluded that Ben-Gurion opposed bombing the camp only for a period of several weeks when he believed it was a labor camp, and then reversed himself when he learned more about the true nature of Auschwitz, and thereafter supported bombing. Ben-Gurion's associates in Europe and the United States then repeatedly pressed Allied officials to bomb the camp.
"There is now broad agreement among Holocaust historians regarding the question of David Ben-Gurion's position on bombing Auschwitz," said Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, which had been urging the museum to study the subject in depth. "Roosevelt's apologists can no longer use Ben-Gurion to whitewash the Roosevelt administration's refusal to bomb Auschwitz."
The Wyman Insitute has issued a study of its own, "America's Failure to Bomb Auschwitz: A New Consensus Among Historians." Click here to see the Wyman study.
Among the many Jewish leaders who called on the Allies to bomb Auschwitz in 1944 were World Zionist Organization president (and later president of Israel) Chaim Weizmann, senior Jewish Agency official (and later Israeli prime minister) Moshe Sharett, veteran Jewish leader Nahum Goldmann, and Palestine Labor Zionist leader (and future Israeli prime minister) Golda Meir.
Virgin Islands Honored
for Holocaust Rescue Effort
Leaders of the Virgin Islands who tried to help rescue Jews from the Nazis--but were blocked by the Roosevelt administration--were honored posthumously at the Wyman Institute's ninth national conference.
L to R: Wyman Institute board member Sigmund Rolat, artists Bonnie Srolovitz and Michael Berkowicz, and Congresswoman Donna Christensen.
Congresswoman Donna Christensen, who represents the Virgin Islands in the U.S. House of Representatives, accepted the award at the ninth national conference of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, held at the Fordham University School of Law in New York City on September 18, 2011.
The conference theme was "While Six Million Lived: America and the Jewish Refugee Crisis, 1933-1939."
The Virgin Islands award was designed by internationally renowned Judaica artists Michael Berkowicz and Bonnie Srolovitz. They are also currently designing the forthcoming Holocaust memorial site in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
In 1939, Governor Lawrence Cramer and the Virgin Islands Legislative Assembly offered to open their doors to Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis. The offer came at a time when almost every country in the world, including the United States, refused to take more than a handful of refugees.
The Virgin Islands rescue plan was blocked by the Roosevelt administration, which claimed that the refugees might use the Virgin Islands as a vehicle to sneak into the mainland United States.
"At a time when most of the world turned the other way, the leaders of the Virgin Islands extended a brotherly helping hand," said Wyman Institute director Dr. Rafael Medoff. "This great act of humanitarianism deserves to be recognized and publicized. The leaders of the Virgin Islands are moral role models for every generation."
See the full article here.
Golda Meir Sought Bombing of Auschwitz
Researchers from the Wyman Institute have uncovered documents revealing for the first time that in 1944, Golda Meir, the future prime minister of Israel, tried to persuade the United States government to bomb the Auschwitz death camp.
The Wyman Institute released the new information on September 3, which is the 70th anniversary of the first gassings by the Nazis in Auschwitz.
The documents are described in "Golda Meir and the Campaign for an Allied Bombing of Auschwitz," a report authored by Wyman Institute director Dr. Rafael Medoff. Click here to read the report.
A number of Jewish leaders asked the Roosevelt administration to bomb the camp, or the railways leading to it, in 1944. What was not known until now is that Golda Meir was one of them.
In the 1940s, Mrs. Meir, known as Goldie Myerson, was a senior official of the Histadrut, the powerful Jewish labor federation in British Mandatory Palestine. She and her colleagues received many harrowing messages from their Labor Zionist colleagues in Europe about Nazi atrocities. The authors of one such message located by the Wyman Institute described themselves as "separated from you by a sea of blood and continents heaped with corpses."
In an exchange of correspondence uncovered recently by the Wyman Institute in American and Israeli archives, Mrs. Meir forwarded one of the European messages to the Histadrut's U.S. representative, Israel Mereminski, in July 1944 together with an appeal to ask U.S. officials to undertake "the bombing of Oswienzim* [Auschwitz] and railway transporting Jews" to the death camp. Meir's appeal was cosigned by another Histadrut official, Herschel Frumkin.
Mereminski replied that he contacted the U.S. government's War Refugee Board, which in turn submitted "to competent authorities" the Meir-Frumkin request for "destruction gas chambers, crematories, and so forth."
The August 1944 issue of Jewish Frontier, the U.S. Labor Zionist journal, featured an unsigned editorial calling for "Allied bombings of the death camps and the roads leading to them..." The editorial was highly unusual; almost all such appeals were made through private channels. Although Mereminski is not known to have been involved in writing editorials for Jewish Frontier, he was a senior figure in Labor Zionist activity in America and was closely acquainted with its editors; it seems likely that his contacts with Meir, Frumkin, and the War Refugee Board on this issue were part of the discussions leading to the editorial.
Jewish leaders who requested the bombing of Auschwitz invariably received a stock reply from Assistant Secretary of War John McCloy, claiming it was "impracticable" because it would require "diversion of considerable air support essential to the success of our forces now engaged in decisive operations." Research by Prof. David S. Wyman later revealed that, in fact, U.S. planes in 1944 repeatedly bombed German oil targets adjacent to Auschwitz--some of them less than five miles from the gas chambers--so it would not have been a "diversion" to have them strike the mass murder facilities.
Prof. Henry Feingold, author of The Politics of Rescue: The Roosevelt Administration and the Holocaust, 1938-1945, and president emeritus of the Labor Zionists of America, provided the following statement to the Wyman Institute: "These documents shed new light on efforts by Labor Zionists in Europe and Palestine to bring about the bombing of Auschwitz. This information needs to be included in accounts of the Jewish response to the Nazi genocide."
(Note: "Oswienzim," as it appeared in the aforementioned document, contained a typographical error; "Oswiecim" was the Polish name for Auschwitz.)
Wyman Institute & Yad Vashem Sponsor July 17 Conference on Bergson Group
The Wyman Institute and Yad Vashem, Israel's central Holocaust institution, are teaming up to organize a conference in Jerusalem about the role of the Bergson Group in the rescue of Jews from the Holocaust. The event will coincide with the 70th anniversary of the creation of the Bergson Group.
The one-day conference, "The Bergson Group and America's Response to the Final Solution," will be held on Sunday, July 17, 2011, at Yad Vashem, in Jerusalem.
Featured speakers will include Prof. David S. Wyman; Dr. Rafael Medoff; Prof. Monty N. Penkower, Dr. Judith Baumel Schwartz, the Hon. Moshe Arens, former Defense Minister and Foreign Minister; Dr. Joel Zissenwine of Yad Vashem
Session chairs will include Yad Vashem library director Dr. Robert Rozett; the director of Yad Vashem's International School for Holocaust Studies, Dorit Novak; and Prof. Zohar Segev of Haifa University. There will also be opening remarks from Yad Vashem director Avner Shalev and the chief historian of Yad Vashem, Prof. Dan Michman.
Bergson's daughter, Dr. Becky Kook of Ben-Gurion University, will deliver the closing remarks.
An excerpt from Pierre Sauvage's film about the Bergson Group, "Not Idly By," will be shown.
All remarks will be simultaneously translated into Hebrew and English.
Admission is free, and advance registration is not necessary.
For the full conference schedule, click here.
New Evidence Reveals U.S. Diplomat Challenged FDR on the Holocaust
Documents uncovered by the Wyman Institute reveal that U.S. diplomat James G. McDonald repeatedly challenged President Roosevelt on his response to the Holocaust--contradicting earlier portrayals of McDonald as a defender of the president's Jewish refugee policies.
The new documents were located in the McDonald Papers at Columbia University. They are part of the Wyman Institute's new report, "James G. McDonald, FDR, and the Holocaust," which has been released in conjunction with Holocaust Remembrance Day. (Click here for the text of the report.)
James G. McDonald
"Our research shows that U.S. diplomat James G. McDonald turned sharply against the Roosevelt administration in 1943-1944, over FDR's failure to respond to the Holocaust," said Wyman Institute director Dr. Rafael Medoff, author of the new report as well as twelve books about the Holocaust, Zionism, and Jewish history. "This new information contradicts previous depictions of McDonald's relationship with President Roosevelt."
The documents show that in 1943-1944, McDonald, in articles, letters, and speeches, publicly and privately criticized the Roosevelt administration's positions with regard to the plight of European Jewry. He did so at a time when he was still chairman of the President's Advisory Committee on Political Refugees. Key findings of the report:
"Endless Discussions": In a March 1943 article, McDonald challenged the forthcoming American-British conference in Bermuda on the refugee problem, saying "the time for lengthy discussion of this problem is long past." He criticized the Allies' "old-time diplomacy ...endless discussions and committees and unwillingness to face the peremptory need for bold planning and prompt action."
"Lip Service": In a speech in Buffalo on May 22, 1944, McDonald charged that the United States and its allies "paid only lip service" to the plight of Hitler's Jewish victims before the war, and "diplomats do not seem to have learned from past mistakes" and "today again are acting as if refugee problems were relatively minor matters." He said “timidity and fear of not being re-elected” were to blame for indifference to the plight of Jews in Nazi Germany.
"Pitifully Insufficient": In a speech in Chicago on November 19, 1944, McDonald said the Allies' response to the Holocaust was "pitifully insufficient." He accused the Allies of "hesitancy, procrastination, half-heartedness" and "calamitous blindness."
"Face-Saving Manuevers": In a letter to Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter on November 30, 1944, McDonald charged that the Allies "have almost never faced the realities of the tragedy of the refugees but that instead they have been guilty of face-saving maneuvers while millions of innocent men and women have been needlessly sacrificed."
The Wyman Institute's research reveals a side of McDonald very different from the one presented in the widely-publicized book 'Refugees and Rescue: The Diaries and Papers of James G. McDonald 1935-1945', by Richard Breitman, Severin Hochberg, and Barbara McDonald Stewart, which was published in 2009 by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Indiana University Press. The book claimed McDonald's diaries showed that Roosevelt tried to rescue Jewish refugees. It also gave the impression that McDonald consistently supported FDR's policy toward European Jewry.
Other Wyman Institute reports that are now available:
* "The Roosevelt Administration, David Ben-Gurion, and the Failure to Bomb Auschwitz; A Mystery Solved" (September 2009) (click here for text)
* "Not New, Not Evidence" (April 2009) (click here for text)
* "Whitewashing FDR's Holocaust Record" (September 2006) (click here for text)
Students' Effort Against Holocaust Recalled at Wyman Conference
The efforts by rabbinical students to mobilize public support for rescue of Jewish refugees in the 1940s were recalled at the Wyman Institute's eighth national conference, which was held in New York City on Wednesday, November 10, 2010.
One session of the conference was held at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), and the other at its Protestant counterpart, the Union Theological Seminary (UTS). This was intended to pay tribute to the activists' 1943 interfaith conference on Holocaust rescue, which was held at the two institutions.
The opening session, held at UTS, began with greetings from Dr. Serene Jones, President of UTS and Dr. Alan Cooper, Provost of JTS. Rabbi Prof. David Golinkin then gave an overview of the efforts by the rabbinical students, who were led by his father, Noah Golinkin, a student at JTS in the 1940s.
The 1940s student activists who were honored at the Wyman Institute's conference. From left to right: J. Herbert Brautigam, Jr., of the Union Theological Seminary, and Jerome Lipnick, Moshe "Buddy" Sachs, and Noah Golinkin, of the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Keynote speaker Prof. David S. Wyman then spoke on "American Christian Responses to the Holocaust." He characterized the response of American churches to the Nazi persecution of European Jewry as "woefully weak" and "deeply disappointing."
Dr. Susan Subak spoke on "The Role of the Unitarian Church in the Rescue of Jews from Europe," based on her new book, Rescue and Flight: American Relief Workers who Defied the Nazis (University of Nebraska Press, 2010) concerning efforts by American Unitarians to rescue Jewish refugees in the 1930s.
She was followed by Dr. Rafael Medoff, who described efforts by the student activists and the Bergson Group to recruit prominent Christian clergymen to support rescue. His remarks were based on the new book, The Student Struggle Against the Holocaust, which he coauthored with David Golinkin and which was launched at the conference. (The book was co-published by JTS, the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, the Wyman Institute, and Targum Shlishi. The foreword is by Aryeh Rubin of Targum Shlishi, and the introduction is by Rabbi Dr. Yitz Greenbeg. To order, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org)
The second conference session was held at JTS, and began with greetings from JTS chancellor Dr. Arnold Eisen and Prof. Daisy Machado, Academic Dean of UTS. Rabbi Prof. Golinkin then continued his overview of the student campaign. JTS campus rabbi Jonathan Lipnick, the son of 1940s student activist Jerry Lipnick, spoke on "Jerry Lipnick's Activism, from the 1940s to the 1960s."
Rabbi Dr. Haskel Lookstein, of Congregation Kethilath Jeshurun and the Ramaz School, spoke on "Jewish Unity and Disunity During the Holocaust." He focused in particular on an episode in 1943 when his father, Rabbi Joseph Lookstein, hosted a rescue rally (which was an outgrowth of the student activists' campaign) that several other rabbis were reluctant to host.
Veteran American Zionist activist Robert Weintraub spoke on "American Jewish Responses to the Holocaust." The conference concluded with remarks by Rabbi Dr. David Ellenson, president of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
L to R: Rabbi Prof. David Golinkin, Hon. Moshe Arens, and Dr. Rafael Medoff speaking about 'The Student Struggle Against the Holocaust' at a recent event in Jerusalem.
New Research Sheds Light On Failure To Bomb Auschwitz
Research by the Wyman Institute has shed important new light on the Roosevelt administration's refusal to bomb the Auschwitz death camp or the railways leading to it.
For years, defenders of the Roosevelt administration's response to the Holocaust have tried to mitigate the Roosevelt administration's refusal to bomb Auschwitz by alleging that leaders of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, including future Israeli prime minister David Ben-Gurion, opposed bombing the death camp for fear of harming the prisoners there.
But the new research shatters that claim.
Speaking at the Wyman Institute's seventh national conference, held in New York City on September 13, 2009, Institute director Dr. Rafael Medoff described the research, which he recently undertook in the Central Zionist Archives, in Jerusalem. His work focused on the papers of the late Zionist leader Yitzhak Gruenbaum, which had been closed to the public more than twenty five years.
The documents Dr. Medoff uncovered demonstrate that Ben-Gurion and his colleagues opposed asking the Allies to bomb Auschwitz only for a period of several weeks, when they believed that Auschwitz was a labor camp. After they learned that Auschwitz was a death camp, the Jewish Agency leadership reversed its position and Agency officials in London, Washington, Cairo and elsewhere lobbied the Allies to bomb Auschwitz.
Click here to read Dr. Medoff's new report, "The Roosevelt Administration, David Ben-Gurion, and the Failure to Bomb Auschwitz."
The Wyman Institute intends to present the new evidence to officials of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. In 1996, the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute convinced the Holocaust Museum to change its exhibit on the bombing issue. The original exhibit stated that Jewish leaders favored bombing Auschwitz, but the administration refused their requests. The revised exhibit makes it appear that many Jewish leaders opposed bombing.
(A full report on the Wyman conference will be posted shortly.)
"New Evidence" on FDR and 1930s Refugee Crisis? Not New, Not Evidence
Leading Holocaust scholars have refuted a new book’s claim to have uncovered evidence that President Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to help Jewish refugees from Nazism in the 1930s.
The book, Refugees and Rescue: The Diaries and Papers of James G. McDonald 1933-1945, edited by Richard Breitman, Severin Hochberg, and Barbara McDonald Stewart, was published in May by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Indiana University Press. The book claims to “reveal” FDR’s interest in settling large numbers of Jewish refugees in Africa or Latin America in the 1930s.
“The claims in the book are not new, and they are not evidence that FDR was seriously interested in rescuing Jewish refugees,” said Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies. “It is well known that President Roosevelt dabbled in all kinds of pie-in-the sky resettlement schemes, but refrained from taking practical steps to implement them.”
The Wyman Institute has issued a report titled “Not New, Not Evidence: An Analysis of the Claim that Refugees and Rescue Contains New Evidence of FDR’s Concern for Europe’s Jews.” (Click here for the full text of the report)
Prof. Henry Feingold, who wrote extensively on the 1930s resettlement schemes in his book The Politics of Rescue, issued this statement to the Wyman Institute this week:
Jewish children in the Warsaw Ghetto, 1941. President Roosevelt claimed to be interested in finding a haven for Europe's Jews, but never took serious steps to make it happen.
“President Roosevelt considered himself a nation-builder --even to the point of falsely taking credit for writing the constitution of Haiti, in order to show his impact on history. His own administration had an agency that resettled large numbers of farmers from the Dust Bowl to Alaska and other undeveloped regions.
“There was no financial or political cost in having experts research all sorts of tropical regions and dozens of other remote locations where Jews might theoretically be settled. But when it came to projects that actually had some practical potential, such as Alaska, he was unwilling to cross swords with restrictionists who did not want refugees coming to American territory.
“It was not expensive for Roosevelt to sit in his office and say ‘if you can get me a large scheme that can attract money, I could pursue it’. It cost him nothing to say he was interested. But ultimately he was just being his normal expansive self. The Jewish issue was peripheral to him. FDR was unwilling to confront powerful restrictionists and isolationists, and take the political risks involved.”
See the full article here
400 Rabbis Urge Yad Vashem to Recognize Bergson Group
More than 400 rabbis, including senior leaders of all denominations, have signed a petition urging Yad Vashem, Israel’s central Holocaust museum, to add materials recognizing the march by 400 rabbis to the White House in 1943 and other Holocaust protests organized by the Bergson Group.
The petition was delivered to Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, the new head of Yad Vashem, who was visiting New York to address the United Nations on the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day (Jan. 27, 2009).
The rabbis marching from Union Station to the Capitol.
For the text of the petition and the complete list of signatories, click here.
The petition was organized by The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies and spearheaded by Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, one of the first historians to write about the rabbis’ march, and Rabbi Benyamin Kamenetzky, dean emeritus of the South Shore (Long Island) Yeshiva, who was one of the marchers in 1943.
“The rabbis’ march was the only rally for rescue of Europe’s Jews that was held in the nation’s capital during the Holocaust,” the petition states. “The march and the Bergson Group’s other protests --rallies, lobbying in Washington, and hundreds of newspaper advertisements-- helped shatter the silence surrounding the Holocaust, and put pressure on the Roosevelt administration to take rescue action. These efforts played an important role in bringing about the creation of the U.S. government’s War Refugee Board, which helped save more than 200,000 Jews from Hitler.”
Peter Bergson (Hillel Kook)
“Yad Vashem already includes material pertaining to various aspects of the Allies’ disappointing response to the Holocaust,” the petition points out. “Visitors to Yad Vashem need to know that although too many people were silent during the Holocaust, there were some who spoke out. Publicizing this fact can help inspire future generations to speak out against injustice.”
Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of the Wyman Institute, said: “Yad Vashem cannot ignore the fact that sich a wide range of American Jewish religious leaders feel so strongly about the omission of the Bergson Group from Yad Vashem’s museum.”
Dr. Medoff called the petition “a remarkable and unprecedented display of intra-Jewish unity,” and noted: “Imagine how much more might have been accomplished during the Holocaust years, if Jewish leaders had acted in this spirit and set aside their differences. Today’s rabbinical leaders recognize the mistakes of the past and want the historical record to be set straight, so that we can all learn from it.”
Leaders of all Jewish religious denominations signed the petition to Yad Vashem.
Reform leaders who signed the petition include Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism; Rabbi Peter Knobel, president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis; former CCAR president Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman; Hebrew Union College vice president Rabbi Chalres Kroloff; and Rabbi Uri Regev, former president of the World Union for Progressive Judaism.
Conservative leaders who signed include Rabbi Daniel S. Nevins, dean of the Jewish Theological Seminary; Rabbi Dr. David Golinkin, president of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies and grandson of one of the 1943 marchers; and the the Rabbinical Assembly’s executive vice president, Rabbi Joel H. Meyers and past president, Rabbi Stanley Rabinowitz.
Orthodox leaders who signed include Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, chancellor of Yeshiva University; Rabbi Shalom Carmy, editor of the Orthodox scholarly journal, Tradition; Rabbi Michael Myers, dean of the Hebrew Theological College; Rabbi Avi Weiss, head of the Yeshivat Chovevei Torah rabbinical school; and the Biala Rebbe, Grand Rabbi Aaron Shlomo Rabinowitz.
Reconstructionist leaders who signed include Rabbi Dan Ehrenkrantz, the president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College; Rabbi Gail Glicksman and Rabbi Amber Powers, deans of the college; and Rabbi Jack Cohen, former leader of Reconstructionism’s world center, the Society for the Advancement of Judaism.
Other notable signatories:
* The Chief Rabbi of Poland, Rabbi Michael Schudrich.
* Franklin D. Roosevelt’s great-grandson, Rabbi Joshua Boettiger.
* The director of the City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission,
Rabbi Allen I. Freehling.
Other recent developments regarding the Bergson Group:
--The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, in Washington, recently installed a new display recognizing the achievements of the Bergson Group, including a photo of the rabbis’ march.
--More than 130 prominent Israelis, including past and present Knesset Members, cabinet ministers, Supreme Court justices, writers, and artists last year signed a petition to Yad Vashem, urging recognition of the Bergson Group.
--Research by the Wyman Institute revealed that then-Congressman Thomas D. Alesandro, Jr. father of current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was an active supporter of the Bergson Group. In her recent memoir and in speeches, Pelosi said she is “deeply proud” of her father’s link to Bergson.
Pope Pius XII Defended
With Voodoo Math
Apologists for Pope Pius XII's Holocaust record have been citing an obscure book written in 1967 by an Israeli diplomat, Pinchas Lapide, which claimed that the Vatican rescued 700,000 to 860,000 Jews during the Holocaust.
How did Lapide reach that conclusion? Through voodoo math.
Dr. Susan Zuccotti, the foremost scholar of the Vatican's response to the Holocaust, explains:
"The estimate that the pope and his representatives saved hundreds of thousands of Jews came from Pinchas Lapide, who explained clearly that he came to that conclusion first by subtracting the 6 million Jewish dead from the total of 8.3-million Jews in German-controlled Europe before the war,then by subtracting roughly 1 million who fled into the free world from the total of 2.3 million who escaped death, and finally by subtracting 'all reasonable claims' of rescues made by Protestants and non-Christians. He thus calculated that 'the Catholic Church had been instrumental' in saving at least 700,000 Jews, and more probably 860,000. Such methodology was obviously flawed, and the results were unreliable. Also, Lapide did not say that the 700,000 to 860,000 Jews were all saved by the pope and his representatives. He included Catholics in general among the rescuers. See his 'The Last Three Popes and the Jews' (Souvenir, 1967), 212-215. The book was published by Hawthorn in New York the same year, under the title 'Three Popes and the Jews'."
(From page 394, note 7, of Prof. Zuccotti's book Under His Very Windows: The Vatican, and the Holocaust in Italy [Yale University Press, 2000].)
Jewish Leaders “Failed Miserably”
in 1940s, Hebrew Union College
Pres. Says at Wyman Conference
Rabbi Stephen Wise and other American Jewish leaders “failed miserably” in their response to the Holocaust, Rabbi Dr. David Ellenson, president of Reform Judaism’s Hebrew Union College, said at the Wyman Institute’s recent national conference in New York City.
Rabbi Ellenson was a featured speaker at “They Spoke Out: American Voices for Rescue from the Holocaust,” the Wyman Institute’s sixth national conference, which was held on September 21, 2008, at the Fordham University Law School. His statement about Rabbi Wise was particularly significant because Wise was the founder and longtime leader of Hebrew Union College.
Rabbi Ellenson said that while it was “understandable” that many American Jews were afraid of provoking an anti-Semitic backlash, “Jewish leaders have an obligation to be sufficiently flexible and imaginative to deal with unprecedented situations.”
See the full article here
130 Israeli Leaders Urge Yad Vashem to Recognize Bergson Group
JERUSALEM- One hundred and thirty Israeli political and cultural leaders --including former Supreme Court justices, cabinet ministers, and cultural figures-- have signed a petition to Yad Vashem, Israel's central Holocaust institution and museum, urging it to add to its exhibits material about the Holocaust rescue activists known as the Bergson Group.
The petition was organized by The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies.
The Bergson Group was a maverick political action committee in the United States in the 1940s that used rallies and newspaper ads to pressure the Roosevelt administration to rescue Jews from Hitler. Its efforts played a key role in facilitating the rescue of more than 200,000 Jews during 1944-1945.
The signatories on the petition included former Supreme Court chief justice Meir Shamgar and fellow-justice Mishael Cheshin; political leaders from the left such as Meretz Party leader Yossi Beilin and former Education Minister Shulamit Aloni, as well as political leaders from the right such former Defense Minister Moshe Arens and former Justice Minister Dan Meridor; leading novelists and playwrights, among them A.B. Yehoshua, David Grossman, and Yehoshua Sobol; and senior historians such as Pulitzer Prize winner Saul Friedlander and Mordecai Paldiel, former head of Yad Vashem 's Department of the Righteous.
(The text of the petition, and the complete list of signatories, follows in the continuation of this article.)
Comic Book Legends & Wyman Institute Fight For Return of Auschwitz Art
Three of the biggest names in the comic book world have teamed up with the Wyman Institute to launch a new campaign for the return of the portraits that Dina Babbitt painted in Auschwitz.
The Auschwitz State Museum, in Poland, has seven of Mrs. Babbitt's paintings but refuses to return them. (For more about the background to this story, click here.)
Neal Adams, one of the famous artists in comic book history, has drawn a comic strip chronicling Mrs. Babbitt's experiences in Auschwitz and her battle for return of her artwork. The text for the comic strip was authored by Wyman Institute director Dr. Rafael Medoff. Comic art legend Joe Kubert inked part of the strip; Stan Lee, creator of Spider-Man and the Hulk and longtime head of Marvel Comics, authored the introduction.
See the New York Times's recent feature story about the new Babbitt comic strip here.
Mrs. Dina Babbitt at work recently on a re-creation of the Snow White mural that
she painted on the children's barracks at Auschwitz in 1943.
Previously, the Wyman Institute and Joe Kubert mobilized 450 cartoonists and comic book creators from around the world to sign a petition urging the Auschwitz State Museum, in Poland, to return Mrs. Babbitt's paintings. (To read more about the petition, click here.)
For those interest in expressing their opinion regarding the Babbitt case, please contact the director of the Auschwit Museum, Mr. Piotr Cywinski, at: email@example.com
Pres. Bush and Democrats Agree:
U.S. Should Have Bombed Auschwitz
“We should have bombed it.”
With those five words, President George Bush joined a growing list of U.S. leaders from both political parties who have said publicly that the United States should have bombed the Auschwitz death camp or the railroad lines leading to it.
On his visit to Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial on January 11,208, the president viewed an enlargement of an aerial reconnaissance photograph of Auschwitz that was taken in the spring of 1944. Mr. Bush then turned to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and remarked, “We should have bombed it.”
Similar statements have been made in the past (see below) by President Bill Clinton; Cyrus Vance, when he was Secretary of State in the Carter administration; U.S. Senator and 1972 Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern; and U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell (D-Rhode Island), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
For many years after World War Two, the popular assumption in the United States was that President Franklin Roosevelt, with his reputation as a humanitarian and champion of the ‘little man’, surely must have done whatever was feasible to save Jews from the Holocaust.
See the full article here
The photo President Bush viewed at Yad Vashem: Auschwitz as seen from U.S. airplanes in 1944.
U.S. Holocaust Museum Agrees to
Recognize Bergson Activists in Exhibit
In response to petitions by Holocaust scholars, Jewish leaders, and families of Holocaust rescue activists, and an appeal by Elie Wiesel, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has for the first time publicly pledged to change its Permanent Exhibit to acknowledge the rescue work of the Bergson Group.
The Wyman Institute organized the petitions following statements made at the Institute's June 2007 conference by Prof. Wiesel, Prof. David S. Wyman, and Jewish leader Seymour Reich, urging the Holocaust Museum to add the Bergson Group to its exhibits. (To read more about the conference, click here.)
The Bergson Group, also known as the Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe, was a maverick 1940s political action committee that used newspaper ads, rallies, and lobbying on Capitol Hill to publicize the plight of the Jews under Hitler and the need for U.S. rescue action.
In a letter to The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, dated July 30, 2007, Dr. Steven Luckert, chief curator of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, pledged to make changes in the Museum’s Permanent Exhibit “by early spring of 2008” in order to acknowledge “the positive contributions that the Bergson Group made in raising American awareness of the Holocaust and in advocating Jewish rescue.”
The changes will be made in the Museum’s segment concerning the War Refugee Board, a U.S. government agency that was belatedly established by President Franklin Roosevelt, in 1944, as a result of pressure by the Bergson Group, Members of Congress, and Treasury Department officials.
For the text of the petition by the scholars and Jewish leaders, click here.
For the text of the petition by the families of the rabbis, click here.
Watch the Conference Videos To view a videotape of the 2007 conference, including the remarks by Elie Wiesel, David Wyman, and others, click here.
Elie Wiesel delivering the keynote address at the Wyman Institute conference.
Catholics, Jews Urge Vatican:
Open Holocaust Archives
WASHINGTON, D.C.- Thirty-five leading Catholic and Jewish scholars and interfaith activists have signed a petition urging the Vatican to open its archives pertaining to the response of Pope Pius XII to the Holocaust.
The petition was organized by internationally-known Jewish leader Seymour Reich and The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies.
Although the signatories have a variety of views on the Vatican's response to the Holocaust, they found common ground in the demand to open the archives so the full historical record can be revealed. The signatories include Holocaust scholar Prof. Deborah Lipstadt; Catholic scholar and activist Prof. Leonard Swidler, editor of the Journal of Ecumenical Studies; Rev. Vincent A. Lapomarda, S. J., Holocaust Collection coordinator at Holy Cross College; Prof. Padriac O'Hare, director of the Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations at Merrimack College; and Prof. Michael Berenbaum of the University of Judaism.
For the full text of the petition and the list of signatories, click here.
55 Scholars Protest New Book's Claim
That Criticism of FDR on Holocaust is
Fifty-five leading Holocaust scholars have denounced a new book which asserts that criticism of President Franklin Roosevelt's response to the Holocaust is "anti-American" and "America-bashing." The book also contains false allegations against reputable historians, severely misrepresents key historical facts, and contains at least twenty-one passages that use language from other books without appropriate attribution.
The book, Saving the Jews: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Holocaust, by South Carolina divorce attorney Robert N. Rosen, was published by Thunder's Mouth Press earlier this year. Rosen has been invited to address the Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park, NY, and the Carter Presidential Library, in Atlanta, as well as other institutions.