Letters They Wouldn't Publish

January 23, 2006

Letters to the Editor
New York Times

Dear Editor:

Your January 23 feature about the demise of The New Leader noted that after breaking with socialism in the 1930s, the magazine became "a powerful and outspoken voice [for] liberal anti-Communists."

Less well known is that during the Holocaust, The New Leader also published unusually powerful and outspoken criticism of the Roosevelt administration for failing to rescue Jewish refugees from Hitler. Especially memorable was an extraordinary J'Accuse authored by The New Leader's literary editor, Melvin J. Lasky, in the October 23, 1943 edition, titled “The Shame of a World.” Lasky condemned the Allies’ response to the Nazi genocide as “sympathetic mumbo-jumbo and do-nothingism.” Millions of Jews were being murdered, and the most they could expect was “obituary notices” from “eloquent and self-righteous” Allied political leaders, who were motivated “partly out of fear and ignorance, out of weary everyday conservatism, and out of a disgraceful moral emptiness.”

“The [European] continent has become a vast cemetery for a whole people,” Lasky wrote. “Relatives and friends will cry and mourn and remember, [but] for the rest, the terrible of a shame of a world will be forgotten.” He was mistaken. It will not be forgotten--thanks to the courageous few who spoke out, and the handful of periodicals that gave them a platform.


Rafael Medoff
The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies

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