Typically, when one asks a Democrat about FDR they immediately develop a sense of awe that reminds me of those little green aliens (undocumented space men?) in Toy Story every time they see Buzz Lightyear.” AHHHHH!”
I’ve never understood the reverence for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He gets points for picking great Generals and led this country to victory in WWII. But he totally mismanaged the economy, making the great depression longer…in 1937 unemployment spiked again reaching 19% (the previous high was 25%), his freedom-sapping policies never did get this country out of the Great Depression, and don’t forget that he tried to circumvent constitutional separation of powers (now who does that remind me of?). And then there is the issue never discussed, he was a bigot, his hatred of Jews caused hundreds thousands to be added to the ranks of Hitler’s victims.
Winston Churchill’s appeasement of the Palestinian Arabs doomed tens of thousands more.
Some point to the fact he didn’t he bomb and destroy the train tracks that were shipping Jews to the concentration camps? But my opinion sides with the people who say that wouldn’t have worked. The real question to be explored was why didn’t allow more Jews into the country and why didn’t he pressure Britain to allow Jews to move from Nazi controlled areas into what was then called Palestine?
In the book “FDR and the Holocaust: A Breach of Faith,” historian Rafael Medoff suggests that Roosevelt failed to take relatively simple measures that would have saved significant numbers of Jews during the Holocaust, because his vision for America was one that had a small number of Jews. In other words, FDR doomed many Jew to suffer not because he wanted them to die, but because he didn’t want a lot of them living in his neighborhood.
In a piece for the Brandies Center, Medoff shared some of the hateful/public anti-Semitic statements Roosevelt made when he let his guard down:
In 1923, as a member of the Harvard board of directors, Roosevelt decided there were too many Jewish students at the college and helped institute a quota to limit the number admitted. In 1941, he remarked at a Cabinet meeting that there were too many Jews among federal employees in Oregon.
In 1938, he privately suggested that Jews in Poland were dominating the economy and were therefore to blame for provoking anti-Semitism there. In 1941, he remarked at a Cabinet meeting that there were too many Jews among federal employees in Oregon. In 1943, he told government officials in Allied-liberated North Africa that the number of local Jews in various professions “should be definitely limited” so as to “eliminate the specific and understandable complaints which the Germans bore towards the Jews in Germany.”
In 1936, he characterized a tax maneuver by the publisher of the New York Times as “a dirty Jewish trick.” In 1938, FDR privately suggested to Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, the era’s most prominent American Jewish leader, that Jews in Poland were dominating the economy and were to blame for provoking antisemitism there. In 1939, Roosevelt expressed (to a U.S. senator) his pride that “there is no Jewish blood in our veins.” In 1940, he dismissed pleas for Jewish refugees as “Jewish wailing” and “sob stuff.” In 1941, President Roosevelt remarked at a cabinet meeting that there were too many Jews among federal employees in Oregon.
The most detailed of FDR’s statements about Jews was made during his meeting on January 17, 1943, in Casablanca, with leaders of the new local regime in Allied-liberated North Africa. U.S. ambassador Robert Murphy remarked that the 330,000 Jews in North Africa were “very much disappointed that ‘the war for liberation’ had not immediately resulted in their being given their complete freedom.”
(Before the war, when the Jews lived under the colonial French regime, they enjoyed rights similar to French citizens. But when the pro-Nazi Vichy French took over the French colonies in 1940, they stripped Jews of those rights. In 1943, upon the defeat of the Vichyites, the Jews had expected their rights would be restored.)
According to the official record of the conversation (later published by the U.S. government in its ‘Foreign Relations of the United States’ series), the president replied that “the number of Jews engaged in the practice of the professions (law, medicine, etc) should be definitely limited to the percentage that the Jewish population in North Africa bears to the whole of the North African population,” which “would not permit them to overcrowd the professions.”
FDR explained that his plan “would further eliminate the specific and understandable complaints which the Germans bore towards the Jews in Germany, namely, that while they represented a small part of the population, over fifty percent of the lawyers, doctors, school teachers, college professors, etc, in Germany, were Jews.” (It is not clear where FDR obtained those wildly inflated statistics.)
Perhaps his distaste for Jews was the reason, that while there were many actions FDR could have taken to stop or slow down the Holocaust, he didn’t. “He could have quietly permitted the immigration quotas to be filled to their legal limit — that alone would have saved 190,000 lives,” Medoff said…