Letters to the Editor
I read with more than casual interest the well researched and factual article by Gad Nahshon "Holocaust: The American Jewish Conspiracy of Silence." As a survivor and a student of the history of the events leading up to the Holocaust, as well as the lack of action by both the American government and the leadership of the American Jewish community before and during the war, I want to applaud your newspaper in publishing this article.
In 1985, Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, one of the most distinguished rabbis and scholars in the United States, published a book "Were We Our Brothers Keepers?" with the subtitle "The Public Response of American Jews to the Holocaust 1938 - 1944."
In his book, Rabbi Lookstein using official documents from the 1930's, documents clearly the failure of the official leadership of the American Jewish community to deal effectively with the threat to the eventual virtual destruction of European Jewry.
The tragic story of St. Louis is too well-known to repeat here. What is less known is the conference called by President Roosevelt in Evian, Switzerland. It took place in July 1938 and was attended by high ranking representatives of over 30 countries. The conference was chaired by the head of U.S. Steel and was called for the purpose of trying to save the Jews of Germany. The result of the conference was abominable. One single country offered to take in a few hundred Jews. All major western countries, England, the United States, Canada, and Australia, did not offer to open their doors to those wanting to get out of Germany. I was one of those. All efforts by my parents to find a country willing to let me immigrate were fruitless. Subsequently, I spent the years from 1939 - 1945 in 11 forced labor and concentration camps. My parents were killed in Auschwitz.
In discussing the tragic lack of action to save European Jewry by our own U.S. government, the name of Breckenridge Long must be mentioned. (The only exception in the top echelons of the U.S. government was Henry Morgenthau, Jr., Secretary of the Treasury who tried - unsuccessfully - to persuade the President to take some action.) Long served as Assistant Secretary of State immediately preceding and during World War II. Long, a member of the Louisiana Long family, was an outspoken anti-Semite. In his official capacity as head of the visa section of the State Department, he did everything he could to prevent Jews, even those holding visas, from coming to the United States.
The whole story is authentically and effectively documented in Rabbi Lookstein's book, to whih I referred earlier.
Ernest W. Michel
Executive Vice President UJA Federation of New York
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