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January 13: “Report to the Secretary on the Acquiescence . . .”
January 13, 2017
Three senior officials of the U.S. Treasury Department presented Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr., the only Jew in President Franklin Roosevelt’s Cabinet, with an eighteen-page “Report to the Secretary on the Acquiescence of This Government in the Murder of Jews” on this date in 1944. The report was an attack on the State Department for being “guilty of the following: (1) They have not only failed to use the Governmental machinery at their disposal to rescue Jews from Hitler, but have even gone so far as to use this Government machinery to prevent the rescue of these Jews. (2) They have not only failed to cooperate with private organizations in the efforts of these organizations to work out individual programs of their own, but have taken steps designed to prevent these programs from being put into effect. (3) They not only have failed to facilitate the obtaining of information concerning Hitler’s plans to exterminate the Jews of Europe but in their official capacity have gone so far as to surreptitiously attempt to stop the obtaining of information concerning the murder of the Jewish population of Europe. (4) They have tried to cover up their guilt . . .” Three days later, Morgenthau and two of the authors of the report met with FDR, warning of “future negative assessments of the will and actions of Roosevelt administration with respect to trying to rescue European Jews,” according to the Holocaust Encyclopedia of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and urging him “to agree to a more focused effort by the U.S. government to provide relief and, if possible, rescue Jews and non-Jews threatened with death in German-occupied and German-influenced Europe. The president issued an executive order establishing the War Refugee Board (WRB) on January 22, 1944.” The WRB played a key role in rescuing some 200,000 Jews, primarily in Hungary, with the help of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. “Since the time when this government knew that the Jews were being murdered, our State Department has failed to take any positive steps reasonably calculated to save any of these people.” --Report to the Secretary . . .
Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.