Roo­sevelt and the Holocaust

Robert L. Beir, Bri­an Josepher
  • Review
By – October 18, 2011
Roo­sevelt and the Holo­caust is an overview of the President’s reac­tions (or lack there­of) to the over­whelm­ing anti-Semi­tism in Europe, and espe­cial­ly in Germany. 

Robert L. Beir is to be admired for pro­duc­ing, at the age of 85, this view of a man we thought we knew so well. The author calls him­self Roo­sevelt­ian,” but is filled with doubts. 

For exam­ple, Beir tells the famil­iar sto­ry of the S.S. St Louis, which set sail from Ham­burg, Ger­many, for Cuba, but was turned away. Roo­sevelt refused to let the ship dock in the US, and it was forced to return to Europe, where most of its 937 Jew­ish pas­sen­gers ulti­mate­ly per­ished in Auschwitz and oth­er con­cen­tra­tion camps.

Why hadn’t he act­ed to save these peo­ple? Was he afraid to chal­lenge and fur­ther alien­ate an anti-immi­grant, iso­la­tion­ist and anti-Semit­ic Con­gress? This and oth­er instances in which Roo­sevelt and his anti- Jew­ish advi­sors could have respond­ed to aid Germany’s Jew­ish vic­tims is the sub­stance of Beir’s work. 

One can hard­ly call this book enjoy­able read­ing, but it is an excel­lent schol­ar­ly exposé of shame­ful events that occurred dur­ing Roosevelt’s administration. 

Mo Alter was a retired edu­ca­tor with degrees from Brook­lyn Col­lege and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mia­mi. He served in the Pacif­ic The­atre dur­ing World War II. He passed away in ear­ly May, 2006, at 91 years of age.

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