To write about Franklin Roosevelt’s reaction to the Nazi murder of approximately six million Jews is to engage in speculation. As far as is known, he said very little about it and wrote virtually nothing. It does not follow, however, that FDR was unconcerned or indifferent to Nazi mass murders of Jews.1 Some of his comments and his actions during the late 1930s seem to indicate the contrary; he wanted to get Jews out of Germany before the murderers gained full sway.2


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  1. 4.
    Breckinridge Long Diary, 22 May and 22 June 1940, Library of Congress (LC), cited and discussed in Joseph Lash, Roosevelt and Churchill, 1939–1941: The Partnership that Saved the West (New York: Norton, 1976), 137.Google Scholar
  2. 7.
    Presidential Press Conference, 5 June 1940, in Presidential Press Conferences, vol. 13–14 (New York: Da Capo Press, 1972). See Wyman, Abandonment of the Jews, 79–103.Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    Richard Dunlop, Behind Japanese Lines (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1979), 210–11; and Bernard Wasserstein, Britain and the Jews of Europe, 1939–1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979), 84–102.Google Scholar
  4. 9.
    Bullitt’s speech is reprinted in the New York Times, 19 August 1940. Information about Welles and Roosevelt is in Bullitt’s memorandum, 12 August 1940, reprinted in For the President, Personal and Secret: Correspondence between Franklin D. Roosevelt and William C Bullitt, ed. Orville H. Bullitt (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1972), 499. Bullitt had earlier, well before the fall of France, written FDR much the same thing—that large numbers of Jewish refugees in France were spying for Germany. See Ted Morgan, FDR (New York: Grafton Books, 1986), 498–499.Google Scholar
  5. 14.
    Henry Feingold, Politics of Rescue: The Roosevelt Administration and the Holocaust, 1938–1945. (New York: Rutgers University Press, 1980), 155–156.Google Scholar
  6. 17.
    Robert Dallek, Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, 1932–1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979), 334–335.Google Scholar
  7. 26.
    Walter Laqueur, The Terrible Secret: Suppression of the Truth about Hitler’s “Final Solution” (Boston: Little, Brown, 1980), 3, 237.Google Scholar
  8. 27.
    Ibid. 157–195.Google Scholar
  9. 28.
  10. 29.
  11. 31.
    President of the Jewish Labor Committee Adolph Held’s account of meeting, pt. 3, sec. 1, no. 15, Jewish Labor Committee Archives, quoted by Monty Noam Penkower, The Jews Were Expendable (Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1983), 85–86; and Jewish Delegation Press Release, 8 December 1942, copy in RG 1, EXO-29, Waldman Papers, Germany/Nazism/American Jewish Congress, American Jewish Committee Archives.Google Scholar
  12. 37.
    Jan Ciechanowski, Defeat in Victory (Garden City: Doubleday, 1947), 179–180. Nowak’s message is reprinted in Laqueur, The Terrible Secret, 232.Google Scholar
  13. 43.
    Martin S. Gilbert, Auschwitz and the Allies (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1981), esp. 267–76.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Breitman

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