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How was the United States involved in the Holocaust?

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ekp1993 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 20, 2010 at 7:44 AM via web

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How was the United States involved in the Holocaust?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 20, 2010 at 7:52 AM (Answer #1)

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The main way that you can say the United States was involved in the Holocaust is to talk about what the United States did not do.

Specifically, the United States did not do much to help rescue Jews who were trying to get away from the Nazi regime before WWII broke out.

In the United States in those days, there was a great deal of anti-Semitism.  Henry Ford, for example, was extremely anti-Semitic and put a lot of money into publishing anti-Jewish propaganda.  Because of this, there was very little desire to let any Jewish refugees into the US.

Because the US did not let very many Jews into the country, you could say that we were complicit in what happened to the Jews in the Holocaust.

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mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted January 20, 2010 at 8:17 AM (Answer #2)

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The United States did not at frist have any reason to become involved.  As the previous editor mentioned, there was a strong feeling of anti-semitism in America.  The United States did not get involved officially unitl the Germans began to attack English ships.  In addition  the United States turned away the Fraz Joseph ship called  the "St. Louis,"  the ship of Jews that came to America hoping for safe harbor.  

This is not to say that no Americans tried to help.  There were pockets of Americans that had been concerned about the situation of the Jews in Germany.  Word was spread mostly though the relatives of German Jews who were living  in America.  Splintered groups advocated for the Jews.

America and several other countries sent the Red Cross over to assess the condition of the Jews at one period.  However, German propaganda showed the representatives a nice well managed camp that had available food, running water, and decent quarters.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 20, 2010 at 9:25 AM (Answer #3)

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Similar to the previous posts, I would submit that the denial of what has happening helped cement the inaction of the United States regarding the Holocaust.  Many in the nation were gripped with the economic depression and the hard times forced on many.  In placing emphasis on Europe, many argued for an isolationist's point of view, suggesting that the United States had no reason to involve themselves in a "domestic matter" in Europe.  On some level, the anti semitism that gave rise to the Holocaust was evident on some level in America.  This was suggested as much in the previous posts.  In a speech delivered at the White House in 1999, Elie Wiesel intimated as much when he asserted that President Roosevelt and others took more than a silent role in seeking to not involve themselves in stopping Hitler:

And now we knew, we learned, we discovered that the Pentagon knew, the State Department knew. And the illustrious occupant of the White House then, who was a great leader -- and I say it with some anguish and pain, because, today is exactly 54 years marking his death -- Franklin Delano Roosevelt died on April the 12th, 1945, so he is very much present to me and to us.

No doubt, he was a great leader. He mobilized the American people and the world, going into battle, bringing hundreds and thousands of valiant and brave soldiers in America to fight fascism, to fight dictatorship, to fight Hitler. And so many of the young people fell in battle. And, nevertheless, his image in Jewish history -- I must say it -- his image in Jewish history is flawed.

The depressing tale of the St. Louis is a case in point. Sixty years ago, its human cargo -- maybe 1,000 Jews -- was turned back to Nazi Germany. And that happened after the Kristallnacht, after the first state sponsored pogrom, with hundreds of Jewish shops destroyed, synagogues burned, thousands of people put in concentration camps. And that ship, which was already on the shores of the United States, was sent back.

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