Franklin Delano Roosevelt neither villain nor hero for Jews, says new book

Washington, Mar. 24 : Accounts of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's response to the suffering and slaughter of Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe fail to reveal the true strengths and failings of him and of his presidency, a new book has claimed.

In their research for the book on Roosevelt and the Jews, American University history professors Richard Breitman and Allan J. Lichtman scoured numerous libraries and archives for documents that presented a full image of a president weighing conflicting priorities in a country contending with depression and world war.

Drawing on these sources, Breitman and Lichtman debunk such persistent myths as Roosevelt's culpability in the turning away of the S.S. St. Louis-a popular belief perpetuated in the 1976 film Voyage of the Damned.

In the film, an indifferent Franklin Roosevelt sends 937 Jewish passengers from Germany aboard the St. Louis back to Germany where certain death awaits them. But that's not what really happened, Breitman and Lichtman said.

"In 1938, FDR pushed to find havens for persecuted Jews in Latin American countries, especially Cuba," Lichtman said.

"But when the St. Louis left Germany in May 1939, several thousand German Jews had already fled to Cuba. There was a backlash against the influx of Jews and in response, Cuba turned away most of the St. Louis passengers," he said.

The refugees could not legally enter the United States without jumping ahead of others on a long waiting list, nor could they enter as visitors without a place of return. If FDR had tried to evade such restrictions, Lichtman and Breitman said that his congressional opponents would have blocked his top priority of easing the Neutrality Acts as war loomed ahead.

So, instead Facilitated by the U. S. State Department, advocates for refugees found places for all the St. Louis passengers in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Britain.

--ANI (Posted on 25-03-2013)

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