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Unit 8: the Bystanders and the Rescuers

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  1. USA: win the war first • Realistic arguments: • Defeat 2 major enemies on 2 fronts • War didn’t turn in favor of Allies until 1942 with El Alamein and Stalingrad • “Beyond belief”: accounts out of Europe must have been exaggerated! • FDR didn’t want to fight a “Jewish war” • Much American antisemitism in 1920’s • Intensified with the Depression • Need for scapegoats Unit 8: the Bystanders and the Rescuers

  2. 1939: 41% of Americans believed Jews had too much power • Of those, 10% favored Jewish deportation • 50% would never vote for a Jewish presidential candidate • 33% questioned Jewish patriotism • 33% endorsed antisemitism • 120+ antisemitic groups in USA in 1930’s Unit 8: the Bystanders and the Rescuers

  3. April, 1939: public opinion poll at time of Wagner-Rogers bill (proposed to admit 20,000 Jewish children above quota) • 42.3% believed antisemitism was result of negative Jewish traits • Similar poll later that year said that of all immigrants, Jews and Italians made the worst citizens • Quakers and some other groups were in favor of the bill • Bill died in committee (FDR stamped it – file: no action) • Later, British refugee children were admitted Unit 8: the Bystanders and the Rescuers

  4. Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945), 32nd President of the United States Breckinridge Long (1881 -1958), assistant Secretary in the State Dept.’s Visa Division Unit 8: the Bystanders and the Rescuers

  5. Bombing Auschwitz in 1944 was dangerous • Anti-aircraft activity around Osweicim • Railroads could have been rebuilt easily • Thousands of inmates would have been killed • Planes were needed elsewhere Unit 8: the Bystanders and the Rescuers

  6. Unit 8: the Bystanders and the Rescuers

  7. FDR wanted to win the war • Jewish question was a very minor part of the big picture • FDR had fought against isolationism • Had also fought domestic antisemitism • Had Jews in his cabinet, Jewish friends Unit 8: the Bystanders and the Rescuers

  8. Major questions to above policies: • US refugee policy was terrible • Breckinridge Long, asst. Sec. of State, did all he could to stymie immigration, particularly Jews • Antisemitic tendencies, right-wing leanings • War Refugee Board: formed early 1944 • Saved thousands of lives • 1943 Bermuda Conference • US and UK met to discuss Jewish problem Unit 8: the Bystanders and the Rescuers

  9. The Holocaust was “beyond belief” • Deliberately misunderstood and swept underfoot • FDR could have taken a risk in “the Jewish War” • Took risks in other places • American Jewry could have done more • Lack of unity • Petty squabbles and disputes • Lack of understanding/knowledge of magnitude Unit 8: the Bystanders and the Rescuers

  10. July/August – November, 1944: 150,000 gassed at Auschwitz • Bombing would have slowed or disrupted Final Solution • Eleanor Roosevelt pushed humanitarianism beyond policy, bureaucracy • Why didn’t FDR? First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt (1882-1962) Unit 8: the Bystanders and the Rescuers

  11. The Vatican • Policy of silence: Pope Pius XII said nothing • No declaration on behalf of Jews • As cardinal, he was Vatican envoy to Berlin and had negotiated a Concordant with Hitler in 1933 – major diplomatic victory for Nazis Unit 8: the Bystanders and the Rescuers

  12. Nov. 1942: joint US/British condemnation of Nazis • Pius XII made no statement • In 1937, Pius XI issued an encyclical condemning Nazi racism; some evidence he was going to issue another condemning Nazi treatment of the Jews Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli (later Pius XII) signs the Concordat with Berlin in 1933 Unit 8: the Bystanders and the Rescuers

  13. Oct. 1943: Jews of Rome (8000) rounded up and deported • Pope made no statement • Interests of church took precedence over anything • After the war, Catholics helped Nazis escape to S. America, etc. • Leading Catholic Nazis, including Hitler, were never condemned or excommunicated Unit 8: the Bystanders and the Rescuers

  14. Defense of papal actions • German and Austrian Catholics: would have undermined unity and morale if Pius had chosen sides in the issue • USSR was atheistic; Catholics fighting atheists • Pius XII tried to soften some decrees against Jews in non-German lands Unit 8: the Bystanders and the Rescuers

  15. Many individual Catholics (nuns, priests, citizens) aided Jews, sometimes even in convents and monasteries • Aid to Italian Jews • How much power did the Church have? • Could Pius truly have influenced the world?? • Vatican archives on these times won’t be opened until well into the 21st Century. Unit 8: the Bystanders and the Rescuers

  16. The Rescuers • Minimum estimate: 100,000 rescuers saved 250,000 Jewish lives • As of 1996, 11,000 rescuers had been recognized by YadVashem • A rescuer is someone who endangered himself to save a Jewish life during WWII without expectation of reward (monetary or that the Jew would convert) Unit 8: the Bystanders and the Rescuers

  17. Unit 8: the Bystanders and the Rescuers

  18. Factors associated with rescue: • Rescuers came from all socioeconomic classes • Friends of Jews didn’t always rescue • Political or religious persuasion didn’t seem to matter • Gender didn’t seem to matter • Age didn’t seem to matter; there were child rescuers • Rescuers were not marginalists –many were fully- involved in society • Rescuers were: artisans, peasants, doctors, shopkeepers, factory workers, maids, teachers, grocers, businessmen, Germans, Poles, church leaders, etc. Unit 8: the Bystanders and the Rescuers

  19. Motivations of rescuers: • Helped because of pre-War Jewish relationships • Part of resistance networks • Patriotism; anti-Nazi feelings • Sometimes overrode feelings of antisemitism • Deeply-held religious beliefs • Mother Maria of Paris made her convent a headquarters for the rescue of Jewish children • Caught and transferred to Ravensbruck on 4-23-43 • Continued to minister to 2500 women in her cell block • 3-31-45: last day seen alive; on her last day she gave a Jewish woman her Aryan card Unit 8: the Bystanders and the Rescuers

  20. Deeply-held moral values • Alex Rozlan: resident of Warsaw who saw children in the ghetto • Took in 3 Jewish brothers at great risk • Never considered themselves heroes; duty-bound Unit 8: the Bystanders and the Rescuers

  21. Explanations of rescue: • Mordecai Paldiel: former head of YadVashem’s rescue project • Altruism is a human archetype, the origin of which we do not know • Anyone is capable Unit 8: the Bystanders and the Rescuers