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Author’s Corner: Book sheds new light on FDR’s opinions about Jews

Special to the Ledger

book coverPresident Franklin D. Roosevelt privately wanted to restrict the number of Jews entering some professions and universities, and believed Jews should be “spread thin all over the world” so they would quickly assimilate, according to documents uncovered by a veteran Holocaust scholar and published in a new book being released on March 5.
The book, FDR and the Holocaust: A Breach of Faith, by Dr. Rafael Medoff, is published by the Washington, D.C.-based David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies. Medoff, who is founding director of the Wyman Institute, is the author of 14 previous books on the Holocaust, Jewish history, and Zionism.
In the book, Medoff reveals that in 1943 Roosevelt remarked that “the complaints which the Germans bore towards the Jews in Germany” were “understandable” because there were many Jews in law, medicine, and other fields in Germany; FDR also claimed (in 1938) that the Jews were too prominent in Poland’s economy, which he blamed for antisemitism there. Because of his view that Jews should not be permitted to concentrate in professions, institutions, or regions, FDR promoted a quota on admitting Jewish students to Harvard in the 1920s.  Medoff posits that President Roosevelt’s private views help explain why he refused to allow Jewish refugees to enter the United States up to the limit of existing laws during the Holocaust years. (Nearly 200,000 immigration quota places were left unused.)
“Did [Roosevelt] do all he could to save the Jews of Europe during the Holocaust?” writes Columbia University Professor Ari L. Goldman, former New York Times religion correspondent and author of The Search for God at Harvard, on the book’s jacket. “In his excellent new book FDR and the Holocaust, Rafael Medoff reveals new and compelling research that sheds important light on this question.”

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