In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin

by Erik Larson

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Student Question

In In the Garden of Beasts, is Ambassador Dodd anti-Semitic?

Expert Answers

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If we look at this question from a modern point of view, we would have to say that Dodd was anti-Semitic.  However, in comparison to people of that time, he was not particular so.

We can clearly see in the book that Dodd has some negative views of Jews.  He is one of many people who agrees that the Jews in Germany have to some degree brought their persecution on themselves (remember, this was a point when the Jews were "just" being harassed and abused, not killed).  He thought that Jews tended to be too pushy and arrogant and that that is why they were hated.  This view would be very offensive today.  However, for the time, it was not.  Dodd was perfectly willing to socialize and to correspond on friendly terms with American Jews like Rabbi Wise of the American Jewish Congress.  Therefore, I would argue that he was not anti-Semitic in comparison to people of his time but that his views would be seen as anti-Semitic today.

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