THE NAME SHOULD HAVE SAID IT ALL
One would assume the War Refugee Board of the United States of America would have been formed to assist refugees to escape from, and recover from, the carnage and wreckage wrought by World War II.
But that was not the case. In fact, the War Refugee Board was created as a cover-up for blatant antisemitism that was rampant within FDR’s administration.
Racial prejudice against Jews was largely an unspoken given but it came to light in 1943 when Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau attempted to arrange the transfer of money from Jewish charities to Europe to fund a program for the relief and rescue of Jews. He was quickly stalled by an antisemitic bias within the FDR administration overall and from within the WRB itself which was frequently steered by non-elected appointee John J. McCloy.
“That there was a number of antisemites in the State Department,” recalled Josiah E. DuBois, Jr. of the U.S. Treasury Department, “there is no doubt.”
In an interview conducted with Dubois, Jr. in the 1970s and provided by the Wyman Institute, DuBois, Jr. recalls, “We worked our program out and presented it to the State Department by the end of June. Then ensued months of delay in which the State Department was opposed to the program and the British also got into the act and said they were opposed to it. Their reason for opposition—which was, I guess, the thing that shocked me the most—was that they said they were opposed to any program designed to rescue the Jews because of ‘the difficulties of disposing of [ie. accommodating] any considerable number of Jews should they be rescued.’”
The British message of non-cooperation came to the U.S. State Department in December of 1943. “It was such a shocking cable,” Dubois, Jr. recalled, “that even Secretary [of State, Cordell] Hull had prepared a memorandum which he showed to Secretary Morgenthau in which he expressed his shock at this cable from the British. That sort of broke the deadlock. And so the State Department agreed go along with us and issue the license [to send money from Jewish donations in America to assist Jews in Europe].”
Revulsed by evidence of indentured antisemitism on both sides of the Atlantic, Secretary Morgenthau requested an investigation of what Dubois, Jr. termed “the State Department’s handling of this problem of the murder of the Jews.” Josiah Dubois, Jr. undertook such an investigation as requested and prepared a report dated January 13, 1944 and entitled Report to the Secretary on the Acquiescence of this Government in the Murder of the Jews.
It was not made public. In fact, this communication has only recently been fully declassified and uncensored eighty years later.
Later, when asked in the 1970s if he had uncovered a State Department conspiracy deliberately designed to suppress reports coming from Europe about the annihilation of the Jewish population, Dubois, Jr. replied succinctly, “That is correct.”
“The tragic history of this government’s handling of this matter,” said Dubois, Jr., “reveals a certain State Department official of [being] guilty of the following:
- They have not only failed to use the governmental machinery at their disposal to rescue Jews from Hitler but have gone so far as to use this governmental machinery to prevent the rescue of these Jews
- They have not only failed to cooperate with private organizations in the efforts of these organizations to work out individual programs of their own but have taken steps designed to prevent these programs from being put into effect.
- But in their official capacity have gone so far as to surreptitiously to attempt to stop the obtaining of information concerning the murder of the Jewish people of Europe.
- They have tried to cover up their guilt by concealment and misrepresentation and the issuance of false and misleading statements.
Unless remedial steps of a drastic nature are taken, and taken immediately, I am certain that no effective action will be taken by this government to prevent the complete extermination of the Jews in German-controlled Europe and that this government will have to share for all time responsibility for this extermination. -Josiah E. Dubois Jr.
Three days after its completion by Dubois, Jr., the report was diluted slightly by the highest-ranking Jewish official in the president’s inner circle, Morgenthau, and retitled “Personal Report to the President.” This version was personally presented by Secretary Morgenthau to Roosevelt. Morgenthau later told Dubois, Jr. that President Roosevelt had been “as much shocked by the report as he was.” As Morgenthau’s suggestion, Roosevelt immediately agreed to form the War Refugee Board.
“I personally feel that part of the reason for the formation of the Board was the fact the President Roosevelt realized that if these facts became public it would be dynamite,” said Dubois, Jr. “In fact—I have never said this before publicly but I don’t mind saying it now—I had some hesitation as to what the President might do and I told Secretary Morgenthau personally that unless the President took some strong action I planned to resign and give out the facts to the public.”
Consequently, due to the integrity of only a few individuals—Dubois Jr., Morgenthau, Interior Secretary Harold L. Ickes and John Pehle—President Roosevelt capitulated and decided it was necessary to establish the War Refugee Board to ostensibly assist in rescuing the Jews of Europe. The WRB was mandated to take all measures it could to rescue “the victims of enemy oppression who are in imminent danger of death.” Therefore, all Jews in Europe ought to have qualified for assistance.
The proof that Roosevelt only created the WRB to protect his own reputation—and not to rescue Jews—is blatantly obvious if one considers:
- FDR’s government only agreed to admit a maximum 1,000 refugees to the United States throughout the duration of World War II.
- The WRB had a budget of only $1 million—for administration—so it had to depend on support from Jewish organizations.
- Some 982 Jewish refugees were admitted and mostly forced to remain as virtual prisoners within an abandoned army camp at Oswego, New York, on Lake Ontario after they arrived on August 5, 1944.
- The War Refugee Board was the only Allied agency created during World War II to help Jews.
- By the time the WRB was formulated, more than 85 percent of the victims of the Holocaust were already dead.
- As WRB’s Director, the former Treasury Department lawyer John Pehle would ruefully conclude, “What we did was little enough. It was late… Late and little, I would say.”
As outlined in the DESK MURDERER section, no military resources were ever utilized throughout World War II to rescue Jews.
In 1995, the whistleblower Jan Karski — who had spent more than an hour with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the White House, trying to convince him to take some action to curtail the genocide — commented on the Allies’ failure to rescue most of the Jews from mass murder:
“It was easy for the Nazis to kill Jews, because they did it. The Allies considered it impossible and too costly to rescue the Jews, because they didn’t do it. The Jews were abandoned by all governments, church hierarchies and societies, but thousands of Jews survived because thousands of individuals in Poland, France, Belgium, Denmark, Holland helped to save Jews. Now, every government and church says, ‘We tried to help the Jews,’ because they are ashamed, they want to keep their reputations. They didn’t help, because six million Jews perished, but those in the government, in the churches they survived. No one did enough.”
“Slowly but surely,” wrote David S. Wyman in his multi-award-winning study, The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust, 1941-1945, “ the American public is coming to grips with the tragic fact that our beloved nation failed, and failed dismally, when confronted with one of history’s most compelling moral challenges.”
Wyman also concluded: “America’s response to the Holocaust was the result of action and inaction on the part of many people. In the forefront was Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose steps to aid Europe’s Jews were very limited. If he had wanted to, he could have aroused substantial public backing for a vital rescue effort by speaking out on the issue. If nothing else, a few forceful statements by the President would have brought the extermination news out of obscurity and into the headlines. But he had little to say about the problem and gave no priority at all to rescue….It appears that Roosevelt’s overall response to the Holocaust was deeply affected by political expediency.
Most Jews supported him unwaveringly, so an active rescue policy offered little political advantage. A pro-Jewish stance, however, could lose votes. American Jewry’s great loyalty to the President thus weakened the leverage it might have exerted on him to save European Jews. The main justification for Roosevelt’s conduct in the face of the Holocaust is that he was absorbed in waging a global war. He lived in a maelstrom of overpowering events that gripped his attention, to the exclusion of most other matter. Roosevelt’s personal feelings about the Holocaust cannot be determined. He seldom committed his inner thoughts to paper….There are indications that he was concerned about Jewish problems. But he gave little attention to them, did not keep informed about them, and instructed his staff to divert Jewish questions to the State Department. In the end, the era’s most prominent symbol of humanitarianism turned away from one of history’s most compelling moral challenges.” (Pantheon Books, 1984; p. 311-313)
Next: VRBA ON AUSCHWITZ