An Interview with Rafael Medoff
by Jerry Gordon and Rod Reuven Dovid Bryant (October 2019)
Orthodox rabbis protesting in Washington DC, 1943. (Credit: The Gedolim Gallery)
On September 1, 2019, a new and important book by Dr. Rafael Medoff of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies was launched before a large and attentive audience at a Manhattan synagogue. The book is The Jews Should Keep Quiet: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise and the Holocaust. Medoff’s book unveils new archival evidence on President Roosevelt’s abandonment of European Jews prior to and during the Holocaust and the relationship between FDR and Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, especially the failure of the latter to confront the President on this issue. Wise was a leader of the American Jewish Congress and World Jewish Congress, a Reform Rabbi and an activist Zionist in his youth. As Rabbi Wise grew closer to power, he refrained from criticism of Roosevelt during World War II and was complicit in silencing Jewish criticism of President’s failure to aid in the rescue of European Jews during the Holocaust.
One graphic example was the March 1943 protest march of 400 Orthodox Rabbis at the White House organized by the five Palestinian Revisionist Jews of the Bergson Group with a petition calling for rescue of Europe’s Jews. President FDR’s private assimilated Jewish advisers suggested ignoring, the protest while the President left via a back entrance avoiding meeting with the Rabbis. The Rabbis were outraged which led to others to express criticism. But not Rabbi Wise.
The question of why Roosevelt dismissed Jews, can be found in FDR’s vision of America as white, Protestant and dismissive of immigrants. That view are evident in columns of FDR published in a Georgia newspaper in the early 1920’s opposing Japanese American immigration, intermarriage and inability to assimilate in the US. That view culminated in FDR’s Executive Order 9066 during WWII interning 120,000 American Japanese citizens. The new book finds parallelism in FDR views of Jews. FDR’s statement following the horrific Nazi Pogrom on November 9, 1938 simply called it “unbelievable”, without identifying the perpetrators and victims, Nazis and German Jews. Between 1933 and 1938, FDR maintained cordial relations with Germany not issuing one public statement critical of Hitler’s Nazi Regime. The book exposes the calumnies of the FDR Administration opposing and undermining the anti-Nazi boycott mounted by Jewish and other groups permitting evasion of labelling of German products to avoid country of origin.
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Following, the Kristallnacht pogrom, both the US Virgin Islands Assembly and the Dominican Republic offered safe havens for German Jewish Refugees. The Dominican Republic offered over 100,000 visas. FDR Administration blocked both the Virgin Islands and Dominican Republic offers because they were too close to the US which might provide access to enter America. The FDR White House followed that with lobbying against a Congressional bill in 1939 to let in 20,000 German Jewish youths below the age of 15. An act, which if passed, that would have saved both Ann and Margo Frank, who were eligible. The only gesture of FDR was to allow 5,000 German Jews with temporary travel visas in the US to remain here. By contrast, the British Government of Munich appeaser, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, allowed in 10,000 German Jewish children in the famed Kindertransports and 15,000 young Jewish women as nannies. This contrasts with the 1939 British White Paper denying European Jewish immigration to Palestine. FDR’s opposition to wartime European Jewish rescue came in the face of a major shift in US public opinion from the 1930’s to the 1940’s during WWII. With growing allied victories at Stalingrad, North Africa, Sicily and the surrender of Italy in 1943, public opinion in the US overwhelmingly favored unlimited numbers of Jews to temporarily reside in the US. In April 1944, the FDR White House commissioned a Gallup poll that found that 70 percent approved this policy. The reality was that FDR admitted less than 982 European and Jewish refugees in 1944 housed at an abandoned US Army Camp in Oswego, New York. As late as early 1944, 800,000 Hungarian Jews could have been rescued, before the country was occupied by the Nazis. The new book authored by Medoff suggests that this and other opportunities were squandered by FDR. When the question of why Auschwitz- Birkenau wasn’t bombed by the allies, Medoff points to excuses of critics who said that it would have resulted in casualties of killing center inmates and German resilience in repairing bombed rails. However, he noted that requests to bomb bridges betrayed that facts that Allied air forces had already bombed bridges, as they were difficult to repair, denying transit of troops and equipment. Bombing the bridges along the deportation route to Auschwitz might have saved tens of thousands of Jewish lives.
Medoff is critical of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum exhibit, “Americans and the Holocaust” as it whitewashes the reputation of FDR given prevailing anti-immigration and anti-Semitism and priority of air bombing to destroy Nazi forces. He contends that the US Holocaust Memorial exhibit skims over the historical record rather than revealing the facts of FDR’s dismal record. Those are documented in the late Professor David S. Wyman’s 1984 landmark book: FDR and the Abandonment of the Jews. The Jews Should Keep Quiet: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise and the Holocaust, was published by The Jewish Publication Society and the University of Nebraska Press, both available on Amazon. For more on the David S. Wyman Institute, see: www.wymaninstitute.org.
Rod: It is the 11th of September 2019. Today, we are remembering the victims of 9/11 who died in the terrorist attack in New York City, at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania, 18 years ago. My co-host Jerry Gordon and I want to wish the best of memories of your parents and relatives who died in the attack and family members who have survived. You are amazing people to be able to go through this and to maintain your direction in life. We have a great guest coming on that we have had several times before, Dr. Rafael Medoff. We need to share his amazing book that he has talked about on Israel News Talk Radio- Beyond the Matrix. Our guest is well known is well known to our listeners.
Jerry: Dr. Medoff’s new book, which was released on September 1, 2019, is entitled, The Jews Should Keep Quiet. It’s all about FDR, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise who was the premier American Jewish leader in the 1930s and 1940s and the Holocaust.
Rod: There is a specific incident involving about four hundred Orthodox Jewish Rabbis who marched to the White House and embarrassed both the President and Rabbi Wise. It is an interesting story because that is where the title, The Jews Should Keep Quiet came from. Both FDR and Rabbi Wise didn’t want them to protest and embarrass them.
Jerry: It was an example of how cowardly many Jewish leaders were except for the courageous minority. It was also a credit to those Palestinian Revisionist Zionist Jews who defied them, known as the Bergson group. It was through the Bergson Group and supporters who created pageants, testimony before Congress, and stunts like the protests of the 400 Orthodox Rabbis who rallied trying to draw attention to the fate of Europe’s Jews during the Holocaust and who were not even admitted to the White House. All while Roosevelt snuck out the rear door of the White House to specifically avoid them.
Rod: What we are going to review today is review the historic record that has continued to repeat itself in the halls of Congress and the White House. We want to remind you that it is important that we continue to fight anti-Semitism and to continue to be vocal about its rise in America. We know what the result was of keeping quiet during the Second World War.
Rod: The title of your new book is The Jews Should Keep Quiet. Rafael, where did this come from and what is the genesis of this title?
Rafael: The book is brand new. It has just been released by the Jewish Publication Society of America and the University of Nebraska Press and the subtitle tells you everything you need to know: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise and the Holocaust. This is a study based on newly discovered archival documents of the relationship between President Roosevelt and Rabbi Wise, Americas foremost Jewish leader in the 1930s and ’40s and how their relationship affected America’s response to the ongoing Holocaust. The main title, The Jews Should Keep Quiet is a paraphrase of something that Roosevelt said to Wise in a conversation that I discovered. It is a recurring theme in the President’s relationship with Rabbi Wise. I found that President Roosevelt wanted American Jews to refrain from criticizing his policy to keep Jewish refugees out of America and he used Rabbi Wise to try to advance that goal. He manipulated Wise, played on his ego, pressured him, intimidated him and alternately flattered him in order to get Wise to try to suppress Jewish activists who wanted to challenge President Roosevelt’s abandonment of the Jews.
Jerry: Dr. Medoff you revealed several anti-Semitic statements that President Franklin Roosevelt made in private. Yet today, we know that even though Richard Nixon was anti-Semitic in private he was generally pro-Israel. Even though Harry Truman was anti-Semitic in private, he was the first world leader to recognize the newborn state of Israel. Why did it matter if FDR was anti-Semitic or not?
Rafael: It mattered because in Roosevelt’s case his private sentiments played a role in shaping his policies toward Jews, specifically toward Jewish refugees who were trying to escape from the Holocaust. In the case of Truman and Nixon, whatever they may have felt about Jews in private does not seem to have had any impact on their policies toward the State of Israel or other Jewish concerns. In the case of Roosevelt, what I found was that the reasons that lay behind his policy of trying to keep out all but a handful of Jewish refugees, the motivation was his vision of what America should look like. Roosevelt preferred an America that was overwhelmingly white, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant and he did not want large numbers of Jews or many other foreign groups coming to the U.S. The research that I undertook which lead me to this conclusion began with the discovery of private comments that Roosevelt made about Jews which were extremely unfriendly to say the least. The key to my research findings was when I compared those statements about Jews to Roosevelt’s statements in writing in public about Asian Americans, specifically Japanese Americans. I’m referring to a series of articles that Roosevelt wrote when he was a columnist for a newspaper in Georgia during the 1920’s. Let me just emphasize that he was not some young unknown figure at that time when he was a columnist for a Georgia newspaper just before he was elected Governor of New York. It was just after he had run unsuccessfully as a Democratic candidate for Vice President in 1920. At that point in his life FDR was already a mature politician, he was a public figure and in his columns for this newspaper he was commenting on one of the hot issues of the day which was Japanese American immigration. In these articles he referred to Japanese Americans in what today could only be described as shockingly racist terms. He warned against intermarriage between Japanese Americans and Caucasians, arguing that Japanese Americans should not be allowed to have the right to hold land and other kinds of restrictions on them that would have relegated them to almost a second-class status in America, even though they were American citizens. The information about Roosevelt’s attitude toward Japanese Americans is significant because it helps explain the otherwise inexplicable decision by the president to later intern one hundred and twenty thousand completely innocent Japanese Americans in detention camps through World War II. They help explain his attitudes toward the Jewish refugee issue. What I noticed was a striking similarity between what Roosevelt thought about Jews and what he thought about Japanese Americans. The common themes in his remarks about both minority groups were that these people cannot be fully assimilated, they can’t be trusted, they can’t become fully loyal Americans. Therefore, they must be restricted, restrained or kept out of the country if possible.
Jerry: Many people lavish praise on FDR for his response to the Kristallnacht pogrom in Germany in November of 1938. Your book has a different take on that question. What was it?
Rafael: After that pogrom, in which nearly one hundred Jews were murdered in Germany by the Nazis tens of thousands of Jewish homes, synagogues, businesses, were smashed or burned down, the President issued a statement where he said he found it unbelievable. He said he could scarcely believe that something like that could happen in the twentieth century. That was widely understood, at the time, as a condemnation of the German government’s actions. However, when you look closely at the statement and you look at the context, you notice several interesting things which have not been remarked upon by previous historians. The first thing you notice is the two groups who are not mentioned at all in this condemnation of an anti-Jewish pogrom: the Germans are not mentioned, and the Jews are not mentioned. Now the reason the Germans are not mentioned is President Roosevelt’s policy toward the government of Nazi Germany during 1930s, all the way up until the eve of World War II, was in fact to have cordial even friendly relations with the Hitler regime. This is something that is not widely remembered or understood. Today, we remember that FDR led America to the brink of victory in World War II against the Germans before he tragically passed away in office. We remember him as the President who led the war against Hitler. However, it is important to recall that before America went to war and before Germany declared war on the United States in 1941, the policy of the U.S. government was to have friendly diplomatic and economic relations with Hitler. When you look at President Roosevelt’s statements in 1930’s you can’t find a single public statement between 1933 and Kristallnacht, November 1938, in which President Roosevelt directly criticized the government of Germany, the Nazi government, for persecuting the Jews. He just simply would not say it.
Rod: Recently there was a controversy when several radical left Democrat congresswomen introduced a bill supporting the boycott of Israel. Now in their bill they recalled that many Americans boycotted goods from Nazi Germany in the 1930s. However, you are rebutting this whole idea. Could you give us more of what we are talking about? Did Franklin Roosevelt oppose the anti-Nazi boycott?
Rafael: As soon as Hitler rose to power in early 1933, many American Jews supported by many non-Jews, began boycotting German goods. Both as a statement of moral rejection of the Nazi regime and the persecution of the Jews. As a tactic, and as a strategy they tried to weaken the Hitler regime and hopefully drive it from power. As the boycott grew in the ’30s the boycott movement activists were surprised and disturbed to find that the Roosevelt administration not only was opposed to the boycott, because it was trying to maintain friendly relations with Hitler. Further, it even went so far as to directly undermine the boycott. It was an episode in 1934, when boycott activists discovered that the Roosevelt administration had been quietly allowing the Nazis to evade the boycott by putting misleading labels on their products. Normally when a product was imported from another country it had to have a label clearly stating the country of origin. What the Roosevelt administration did was it allowed the Germans to use labels which only mention a region of their country or the town names which would not be easily recognized by the average consumer. Anyone walking into Macy’s purchasing a garment or other product and checking the label to make sure it didn’t come from Nazi Germany might just see a name of some small town in Germany that they wouldn’t recognize. They wouldn’t realize that it was a German product. The Roosevelt administration also permitted the Germans to use labels that were inserted in the product in such a way that it was almost impossible to read them. Either the type would be so small that it would be illegible, or it was stuffed into the products so you couldn’t even physically access the label. That was a way in which FDR allowed the Germans to evade the boycott that had been promoted by many American Jews.
Rod: What I find interesting is that this discussion is just as apropos today as it was in any other time in history. There has always been this anti-Semitism and we forget how it creeps back into our society.
Jerry: Dr. Medoff, you describe in your book how the leaders of the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic both offer to take in Jewish refugees, but the Roosevelt administration opposed them doing that. Why?
Rafael: One of the important questions that I explore in the book, The Jews Should Keep Quiet, is whether there were any realistic opportunities for the Roosevelt administration to help Europe’s Jews. In other words, it’s all well and good to say that FDR should have done something. However, looking at the context of the times what options were there. The Dominican Republic and the Virgin Islands are two territories, one country and one U.S. territory, that in the 1930s offered to take in Jewish refugees. This was not a case in which somebody had to be pressured or pleaded with to open their doors. In fact, the leaders of the Dominican Republic for their own reasons in 1938 publicly offered to take in as many as 100,000 Jewish refugees from Europe. Around the same time the governor and legislative assembly of the U.S. Virgin Islands said that they would open their doors to Jewish refugees. Here were two opportunities for the U.S. government to do something helpful and to support, at least not interfere with these efforts, to find a haven for Jewish refugees. It would not have represented any political harm to President Roosevelt. There really would have been no price at all. Instead, the administration rejected and blocked any attempt to let Jews into the Virgin Islands and it interfered with and undermined the effort to bring Jews into the Dominican Republic. As a result, less than two thousand Jewish refugees ever reached the Dominican Republic. The reason it did that was the President and his advisors were afraid that, since the Virgin Islands and Dominican Republic were relatively close to the United States, the refugees who settled in those territories might then have easier access to try to reach the American mainland. Based on that fear and the determination of the President and his administration to keep Jews out it blocked and obstructed what would have been two prime opportunities to rescue hundreds of thousands of Jews before the Holocaust.
Rod: President Roosevelt refused to support a bill in 1939 to admit twenty thousand German Jewish children into the United States but just a year later he rushed to open the American doors to several thousand British children fleeing the blitz. Was this a double standard? Is this just another proof positive of his anti-Semitic attitude?
Rafael: It may sound harsh to say that the British children were allowed in because they were Christian, or overwhelmingly blonde-haired and blue-eyed. The sad reality was that these two examples stand in stark contrast to one another. In 1939 a bill was introduced in Congress that would have permitted the admission of 20,000 German Jewish refugee children. Incidentally, Anne Frank and her sister Margot could have been among those who would have qualified to come in since they were German citizens and they were fifteen years or younger. That was what the bill would have allowed. The president refused to support that bill and it was buried in the subcommittee and the proposal to bring over these Jewish children never materialized. A short time later when London was being bombed by the Germans several thousand British children were brought to the United States. The President rushed to Congress to push through the necessary legislation to enable those children to come and thank God that he did. However, it is a tragedy, of course, that he would not make, even take the most minimal step, to assist Jewish refugee children.
Jerry: Dr. Medoff in contrast to what the Roosevelt administration did at that time what did the British do?
Rafael: The British are perhaps best known for shutting out Jewish refugees from Europe entering Palestine. They did that at the beginning of 1939, with their policy known as “the White Paper,” which restricted and prevented nearly all Jewish immigration to Palestine precisely at the time that it was most needed. At the same time it is important to recall that the very same British government of Neville Chamberlain, which infamously sold out Czechoslovakia to the Nazis and which practiced appeasement and that shut off Palestine to Jewish refugees, actually did more to help German Jews in the wake of Kristallnacht than President Roosevelt, who is today remembered as the great humanitarian, progressive and liberal minded president. The British government admitted ten thousand German Jewish children on the famous Kindertransports. They were brought to England in late 1938 and early 1939 and survived the Holocaust as a result. In addition, the British allowed fifteen thousand young German Jewish women to enter their country on the pretext that they would work as nannies and housekeepers. Thus, twenty-five thousand young German Jews were ultimately granted haven by the British government. There you have the irony. While President Roosevelt is praised and remembered by some historians for his verbal statement condemning the Kristallnacht pogrom, it was the British who took the most concrete action. I should add that President Roosevelt did make one gesture to, regarding Jewish refugees from Germany after Kristallnacht. In addition to that vague statement of condemnation he did agree to allow German Jews in the U.S. who were in America temporarily on tourist visas, to stay in America not to be forced to return to Germany when their visas expired in a few months. A total of about five thousand German Jews who already in America therefore were not forced to go back to Nazi Germany. However, compared to the British response, compared to the British immigration policy, FDR’s gesture really was meager. Especially considering America’s enormous size and its distance from the battlefront, as opposed to the British, who were right there on the front lines and were gearing up for a war that they expected that they would have to fight with the Nazis.
Jerry: We are often told that the American public strongly opposed immigration and that is why FDR couldn’t do more. What did you find in your research concerning trends in American public opinion in the 1940’s?
Rafael: Earlier historians have often pointed to the fact that public opinion polls in the 1930s consistently showed that most Americans were strongly opposed to immigration. There is no doubt about that. What most previous studies of this period ignore is that there was a very important shift in American public opinion in the middle of World War II. This shift began when the Germans were stopped by the Soviets at Stalingrad in 1943 and when Italy surrendered later that year. When it was becoming clear that the allies were going to win the war many more Americans were for the first time willing to consider allowing in a significant number of Jewish refugees, not on a permanent basis. The idea was to allow them in temporarily during the war in order that they could escape from the Nazis. A very important poll was taken in April 1944 commissioned privately by the White House because there was growing pressure from the public and some members of Congress to allow Jews in temporarily. This poll that was commissioned by the White House was a Gallup poll. It found seventy percent of Americans were in favor of admitting an unlimited number of Jewish refugees for the duration of the war. Only twenty-three percent were against that proposal, seven percent had no opinion. Thus, there was a very strong public support for the idea of bringing in Jewish refugees temporarily. Despite that overwhelming support for temporary admissions, despite this remarkable and important shift in public opinion, President Roosevelt was still unwilling to bend his policy. He ultimately would agree to allowing in only one temporary group of refugees, nine hundred eighty-two Jews, who came in the summer of 1944 and were housed for the remainder of the war in an abandoned Army camp in upstate New York in the Town of Oswego. The argument was that his hands were tied because of public opinion. You could make that argument in the 1930s, but you surely could not make it in 1944, and yet the President still refused to budge.
Rod: Was it too late by 1944 to have effectively done much if he would have changed his mind?
Rafael: There were still many hundreds of thousands of Jews alive in Europe. There were many people who could have been saved, Hungary for example. Hungary was the last major Jewish community that had not been occupied by the Germans up until March 1944. Hungary was unoccupied with more than eight hundred thousand Jews. There were still many Jews left alive in the Spring, Summer and Fall of 1944. There were many people who could have been saved. Many opportunities were squandered because the President’s policy was to not save them. It was not that the President wanted the Jews to be killed by the Nazis. I’m certainly not saying that. It is that President Roosevelt’s policy regarding immigration and how he wanted American society to look stood in stark contrast to the possibility of taking in Jewish refugees even temporarily.
Rod: That is a shocking finding especially since he has such heroic image in American eyes in politics. Just to hear this information is motivation to read your new book.
Jerry: American Jewish leaders, like revered Rabbi Stephen S. Wise who was a member, leading figure in the American Jewish Congress and World Jewish Congress stand in sharp contrast to Palestinian Jew, revisionist Zionists of the Bergson Group, who came to the United States to tell the world that Jews were being killed in mass numbers. In March of 1943, four hundred Orthodox Rabbis protested at the White House. Dr. Medoff what was the reaction by the White House, and why were the Bergson Group so effective in getting this message across?
Rafael: One of the remarkable phenomena that I explore in the book, The Jews Should Keep Quiet, is the fact that Rabbi Wise, the foremost American Jewish leader of his time began his public career as a young militant Zionist. He was outspoken. He was anything but quiet in his early years. Remember that he was a Reform Rabbi, but he was an ardent Zionist at a time when most Reform Rabbis were anti-Zionist. What I found throughout his public career is that the closer he got to the halls of power, the more worried and almost timid he became about being willing to challenge the President. The relationship he developed with President Franklin Roosevelt was not an even or equal one. It was a situation in which Wise enjoyed being able to occasionally meet with the President, to have the President call him by his first name to praise him. As a result, Wise became not only reluctant to speak out against the President’s Jewish refugee policy, he also began condemning, pressuring and haranguing the minority of Jewish activists who did try to speak out. The protest march in 1943 to the White House by four hundred Orthodox Rabbis was precisely the antithesis of this keep quiet idea. This was exactly what president Roosevelt did not want and what Rabbi Wise found so embarrassing. The spectacle of four hundred Rabbis with long black coats and long white beards marching to the gates of the White House to plead with the president was something which horrified both FDR and his Jewish supporters like Rabbi Wise. Other American Jewish leaders tried their best to persuade the Rabbis not to go to the White House. The rabbis marched anyway and the President’s advisors, some of whom were assimilated Jews, who were also against any protests urged him to avoid the Rabbis. The President left the White House literally through a rear exit in order to avoid seeing or being seen by these rabbinical protestors. Ironically, the next day’s newspapers reported that the Rabbis were profoundly upset that they had been snubbed by the President of the United States. He would not even agree to meet a few of them and receive their petition pleading for the rescue of the Jews who were still left alive in Europe. In those days American Jews never criticized President Roosevelt in public. The fact that these Rabbis, for the first time, protested and publicly said that they were snubbed by the President was a very significant change. It reflected the mood in the American Jewish Community and the growing resentment among American Jews both at the abandonment of Europe’s Jews by FDR and the role being played by mainstream Jewish leaders like Rabbi Wise.
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Jerry: In your chapter about the Roosevelt administration’s refusal to bomb Auschwitz you talked not only about the idea of bombing the gas chambers or the railways leading to the camp, you also repeatedly referred to the idea of bombing certain bridges. Could you explain that?
Rafael: The issue of the bridges is not one to be understood but it deserves to be and here’s why. Today, we read debates between critics and supporters of President Roosevelt and the question of his refusal to bomb Auschwitz often comes up. The defenders of the President’s record will often say that bombing the gas chambers of the crematoria might not have been such a great idea because some of the prisoners themselves would have been killed. They also argue that bombing the railway lines over which Jews were deported might not have been such a worthwhile idea because the Germans were known to be able to repair railway lines pretty quickly but what is often left out of the debate is this, many of the appeals to the Roosevelt administration to bomb Auschwitz specifically also asks that the bridges along the deportation routes should also be bombed. We have that in the documents, requests to bomb the railways and specific bridges are sometimes listed in these requests. The reason is, when a bridge was taken out it would have been much harder to repair and the allies regularly bombed bridges in Germany and German-occupied territory for that reason. It was a way to disrupt the movement of enemy troops and supplies. A bridge could not be quickly repaired unlike a railway line. If the Roosevelt administration had even the most minimal interest in interrupting the mass murder of the Jews, the planes that were already bombing bridges in German occupied territory, could have dropped a few bombs on the requested bridges along the deportation route. That could have seriously interrupted the deportation of Hungary’s Jews and others to Auschwitz. Even brief interruptions would have meant saving many lives as the war would soon be over and at any day the gas chambers would cease to operate. Knocking out the deportation route bridges could have made a big difference.
Jerry: We have heard a lot about a new exhibit at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. The exhibit is called “Americans in the Holocaust”. How does the exhibit address the points you are raising?
Rafael: This exhibit which opened last year is the first time that the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has taken a serious look at the question of America’s response to the Holocaust. Sad to say, that the exhibit is very seriously flawed. The recurring theme of this five thousand square foot exhibit was that there was relatively little President Roosevelt could have done. That his hands were tied because of public opinion, because Congress was mostly against immigration, that it would have been difficult to bomb the railways, bomb Auschwitz. The overall theme of the exhibit is to minimize and even make excuses for Roosevelt’s abandonment of the Jews. It is sad that the Holocaust Memorial Museum is not willing to take a more honest look at how President Roosevelt responded to the Holocaust. Much research has been done in recent years by historians exposing different aspects of Roosevelt’s abandonment of the Jews, including the research that appears in my book, The Jews Should Keep Quiet, but also in my previous research and many others’ books. There is no dispute as to the historical record, the material is there. Unfortunately, the powers that be at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum decided to skim over those aspects of the historical record that reflect particularly badly on President Roosevelt. I don’t know their motives for doing that. I have been to the exhibit multiple times and it does not accurately reflect President Roosevelt’s record during that period.
Jerry: Dr. Medoff, where can our listeners find your book and more on the work of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies?
Rafael: The Jews Should Keep Quiet is available at Amazon. For more information about the work of the David Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies just go to the website at: wymaninstitute.org.
Rod: We hope that the book has continued success. We understand that the launch in Manhattan attracted an interested audience. We are pleased about that. This information is very germane to our modern political environment. It is important for people to understand that anti-Semitism has existed from the very beginning. While we thought it been vanquished, however, it doesn’t look like that has been the case. The work that you have been doing is very pivotal. Could you tell our listeners what your organization does and why its work is important?
Rafael: Professor David S. Wyman, who passed away last year, was the author of The Abandonment of the Jews, a book which remains the gold standard in the history of Americas response to the Holocaust. It is the definitive study. The David Wyman Institute was established by myself and other colleagues of Professor Wyman’s in order to carry on his research and to study the American response, the response of the government, the American news media, the American Jewish community, the American churches and to learn lessons from that period that can be applied to our own time.
Rod: Thank you very much. This has been an engrossing and informative conversation. Today being September the 11th, those who have lost family members in the terrorist attack, our thoughts and prayers are with you, the children and relatives of many of those victims. We wish you the best for your future the nation of Israel and America in their quest for independence and freedom in this world. You have been listening to Beyond the Matrix here on Israel News Talk Radio until next week, shalom.
Listen to the Israel News Talk Radio—Beyond the Matrix interview with Dr. Rafael Medoff.
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Jerome B Gordon is a Senior Vice President of the New English Review, author of The West Speaks, NER Press 2012, and co-author of Genocide in Sudan: Caliphate Threatens Africa and the World, JAD Publishing, 2017. Mr. Gordon is a former US Army intelligence officer who served during the Viet Nam era. He is producer and co-host of Israel News Talk Radio – Beyond the Matrix. He was the co-host and co-producer of weekly The Lisa Benson Show for National Security that aired out of KKNT960 in Phoenix Arizona from 2013 to 2016 and co-host and co-producer of the Middle East Round Table periodic series on 1330amWEBY, Northwest Florida Talk Radio, Pensacola, Florida from 2007 to 2017.
Rod Reuven Dovid Bryant is creator and host of Israel News Talk Radio-Beyond the Matrix.
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