THE ABANDONMENT OF THE JEWS: America and the Holocaust, 1941-1945 by David S. Wyman

THE ABANDONMENT OF THE JEWS: America and the Holocaust, 1941-1945

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Maybe Allied indifference to the victims of the Holocaust needs to be restated periodically; perhaps it's a subject on which too much can't be said. This flat, declamatory chronicle adds little to our understanding, nonetheless. What Wyman presents as his major findings, is a mix of inarguable generalities (""The American State Department and the British Foreign Office had no intention of rescuing large numbers of European Jews""), undisputed facts (""Authenticated information that the Nazis were systematically exterminating European Jewry was made public in the United States in November 1942""; ""Because of State Department administrative policies, only 21,000 refugees were allowed to enter the United States during the three-and-a-half years the nation was at war with Germany""), and the resulting indictment: ""much more could have been done""; FDR's unconcern was ""the worst failure of his presidency."" Particular to Wyman are stresses on: American anti-Semitism (manifest in opposition-to-immigration from ""the conservative coalition of Southern Democrats and fight-wing Northern Republicans""); the non-response of Christian leaders (""Since Christianity is a religion committed to succoring the helpless, the Christian churches might have been expected. . .""); and deficient press coverage (with examples, development-by-development). A further ""finding"" concerns the American military's well-known refusal to bomb the railroads leading to Auschwitz, or the Auschwitz gas chambers; the crucial document (Asst. Army Secretary John McCloy's refusal to divert ""resources"") has previously been published. What Wyman adds is a lot of internal-communication detail, along with much discussion of how the operations could, indeed, have been executed. The one respect in which Wyman's book does stand out from either Arthur Morse's While Six Million Died or Henry Feingold's The Politics of Rescue, the two premier books on the subject, is of a different nature: he has quite a bit of material on the disputes among Jewish organizations, and the conflicts of purpose, that also hampered rescue efforts. No vigor or polish as history--but of some utility as a source of information.

Pub Date: Nov. 14th, 1984
Publisher: Pantheon