Synopses & Reviews
How does one explain America's failure to take bold action to resist the Nazi persecution and murder of European Jews? In contrast to recent writers who place the blame on anti-Semitism in American society at large and within the Roosevelt administration in particular, Richard Breitman and Alan M. Kraut seek the answer in a detailed analysis of American political realities and bureaucratic processes. Drawing on exhaustive archival research, the authors describe and analyze American immigration policy as well as rescue and relief efforts directed toward European Jewry between 1933 and 1945. They contend that U.S. policy was the product of preexisting restrictive immigration laws; an entrenched State Department bureaucracy committed to a narrow defense of American interests; public opposition to any increase in immigration; and the reluctance of Franklin D. Roosevelt to accept the political risks of humanitarian measures to benefit the European Jews. The authors find that the bureaucrats who made and implemented refugee policy were motivated by institutional priorities and reluctance to take risks, rather than by moral or humanitarian concerns.