America and the Holocaust


America and the Holocaust

A Documentary History

Rafael Medoff

352 pages
41 figures, 2 tables, index


May 2022


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

May 2022


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

May 2022


$30.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

2023 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

The first comprehensive volume to teach about America’s response to the Holocaust through visual media, America and the Holocaust: A Documentary History explores the complex subject through the lens of one hundred important documents that help illuminate and amplify key episodes and issues.

Each chapter pivots on five key documents: two in image form and three in text form. Individual introductions that contextualize the documents are followed by explanatory text, analysis of historical implications, and suggestions for further reading. A concluding state-of-the-field essay documents how scholars have arrived at the presented information. A complementary teacher’s guide with questions for discussion is available online.

The twenty chapters address a broad range of subjects and events, among them America’s response to Hitler’s rise, U.S. public opinion about Jews, immigration policy, the Wagner-Rogers bill to save children, American rescuers, news coverage of atrocities, American Jewish and Christian responses to the Holocaust, the campaign for U.S. rescue action, the question of bombing Auschwitz, and liberation.

Viewing real documents as a means to understanding core issues will deepen reader involvement with this material. High school and college students as well as general readers of all levels of knowledge will be engaged in understanding this crucial chapter in American history and weighing questions regarding mass atrocities in our own era.

Author Bio

Rafael Medoff is founding director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies and the coeditor of the institute’s online Encyclopedia of America’s Response to the Holocaust. He has written more than twenty books about American Jewish history, the Holocaust, and related topics, including The Jews Should Keep Quiet: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Stephen S. Wise, and the Holocaust (JPS, 2019).


"Well written and well argued, Medoff’s indictment makes for a compelling read."—Gaëlle Fisher, American Jewish Archives Journal 

"This work is much more than a documentary history. Rafael Medoff, one of the foremost authorities on American responses to the Holocaust, presents an excellent overview of the subject, drawing on cutting-edge scholarship in the field and providing an in-depth analysis of primary sources. Medoff addresses a wide array of convergent issues. Readers at all levels—scholars of the Holocaust, as well as university and high school students encountering this material for the first time—will find much of value on the Holocaust, the Roosevelt administration, World War II, and antisemitism."—Stephen H. Norwood, Holocaust and Genocide Studies

"The division of the Medoff book into 20 chapters makes it an ideal choice for a semester-long high school, college or adult-education class on the Holocaust."—Greater Houston Jewish News

"Medoff's documentary history is a valuable source for all readers seeking reference material on the Holocaust tragedy."—C. C. Lovett, Choice

“This is an important and long-overdue book—exactly the material students need to understand this crucial chapter in American history and inform them as they consider issues related to genocide in our own time.”—Bat-Ami Zucker, professor of American history at Bar Ilan University

“Replacing slogans with facts, uninformed opinions with information, and hyperbole with solid historical documents, this documentary history will go a long way toward helping students and interested lay readers become better informed about the relationship between America and the Holocaust.”—Alan Berger, Raddock Family Eminent Scholar Chair in Holocaust Studies, Florida Atlantic University

“Highly impressive. This expertly constructed documentary history is a major contribution to understanding America’s response to the Holocaust.”—Steven T. Katz, Slater Chair in Jewish Holocaust Studies, Boston University

“Provides a vital context by which to approach the American response to the Holocaust. America and the Holocaust will be of direct benefit to educators and students engaged in Holocaust Studies, U.S. immigration history, the history of Jews in the United States, and those undertaking studies of human rights in the twentieth century.”—Paul Bartrop, former professor and director, Center for Holocaust and Genocide Research, Florida Gulf Coast University

“America and the Holocaust is a must for anyone, but especially students and educators, who wish to learn how the U.S. responded to the growing avalanche of anti-Jewish measures culminating in the horrific extermination of millions of European Jews. Appropriate documents highlight the topics under discussion. Rafael Medoff’s well-written book will apprise the reader of everything one needs to know on the response or lack of response of American officialdom and public figures to the danger posed by Nazi Germany, not only to the Jews, who constituted the principal target, but to civilization as a whole.”—Mordecai Paldiel, former director, Department of the Righteous, Yad Vashem

Table of Contents

1. Responses to Hitler’s Rise
America Hopes for a Restrained Hitler
            Document 1.1 “Just in Case He Goosesteps Too Much!”
Dorothy Thompson Reports from Germany
            Document 1.2 “Starve, Humiliate, Degrade the Jew; In Every Walk, Trade Profession, Nazi Pressure in Law and Slogan”
The New York Times Interviews Hitler
            Document 1.3 “Hitler Seeks Jobs for All Germans”
Boycotting German Goods
            Document 1.4 “No Trading with Germany”
Hitler on Trial at Madison Square Garden
            Document 1.5 Hitler on Trial—Resolution and Verdict
Further Reading
2. The American Mood
Antisemitism in Congress
            Document 2.1 Congressman John Rankin’s Remarks before the House
“Racial Science” Spreads
            Document 2.2 The Passing of the Great Race
Father Coughlin and Hate Radio
            Document 2.3 Father Coughlin’s Radio Address Concerning Kristallnacht
Antisemitic Attitudes among the Public
            Document 2.4 Polls by Roper (1938) and Opinion Research (1940) on Antisemitic Attitudes
Antisemitism in the State Department
            Document 2.5 Antisemitic Remarks by State Department Officials
Further Reading
3. Doing Business with Hitler
U.S. Participation in the Nazi Olympics
            Document 3.1 “To the Sport-Loving Public of the United States”
Apologizing to Hitler
            Document 3.2 Secretary of State Apologizes to Hitler
A Cabinet Member Participates in a Pro-Nazi Rally
            Document 3.3 “‘Heil Hitler’ Resounds as Steuben Society Denounces Boycott, Acclaims New Germany”
Censoring Criticism of Hitler
            Document 3.4 FDR Objects to Secretary of the Interior’s Criticism of Hitler
FDR Urges “Quarantining” of Aggressor Nations
            Document 3.5 “FDR’s Quarantine Speech”
Further Reading
4. The Universities and the Nazis
Nazi Ambassador Speaks at Columbia
            Document 4.1 “Luther Calls Hitler Critics ‘Old-Timers’”
Nazi Official Visits Harvard
            Document 4.2 “Render unto Caesar”
A Nazi University Celebrates
            Document 4.3 “Heidelberg”
American Students in Nazi Germany
            Document 4.4 “Germany Discussed by One Who Spent Junior Year There”
Abandoning Refugee Scholars
            Document 4.5 Hamilton College President’s Letter Regarding Hiring Refugee Scholars
Further Reading
5. U.S. Immigration Policy
Immigration Statistics
            Document 5.1 “Annual Quotas and Quota Immigrants Admitted, Fiscal Years Ended June 30, 1925 to 1944, by Countries”
When Anne Frank Tried to Come to America
            Document 5.2 Anne Frank’s Father Asks American Industrialist to Help the Frank Family Immigrate
“Postpone and Postpone and Postpone” 
            Document 5.3 The Assistant Secretary of State on Ways to Obstruct Immigration
The “Close Relatives” Rule
            Document 5.4 U.S. Immigration Regulation Regarding Applicants Leaving “Close Relatives” Behind
Albert Einstein’s Plea to the First Lady
            Document 5.5 Albert Einstein Asks the First Lady to Oppose New Immigration Restrictions
Further Reading
6. Searching for a Haven
James McDonald Resigns in Protest
            Document 6.1 Resignation of the High Commissioner for Refugees Coming from Germany
Eyewitness to Horror
            Document 6.2 “Jews Humiliated by Vienna Crowds”
The Evian Conference
            Document 6.3 Refugee Problem Announcement in Preparation for the Evian Conference
Suicide of a Jewish Refugee
            Document 6.4 “Ends Life to Escape Return to Germany”
FDR Responds to Kristallnacht
            Document 6.5 President Roosevelt’s Statement Concerning the Kristallnacht Pogrom
Further Reading
7. The Doomed Journey of the St. Louis
Offer of Haven in the Virgin Islands
            Document 7.1 “Virgin Islands Too Offer Haven for Oppressed Jews”
A Child Appeals to the First Lady
            Document 7.2 Eleven-Year-Old Beseeches the First Lady to Accept the Refugees
St. Louis Passengers Appeal to the White House
            Document 7.3 St. Louis Captain’s Log Record of Passengers’ Telegram to the White House
Secretaries of State and Treasury Discuss the St. Louis
            Document 7.4 Secretary of State and Secretary of the Treasury Confer on the St. Louis
“The Saddest Ship Afloat” 
            Document 7.5 “Refugee Ship”
Further Reading
8. The Wagner-Rogers Bill to Save Children
The Wagner-Rogers Bill
            Document 8.1 Text of the Wagner-Rogers Bill (H.R.J. Res. 165 and 168)
“20,000 Ugly Adults” 
            Document 8.2 Remark by FDR’s Cousin against Wagner-Rogers
President Roosevelt’s Position
            Document 8.3 FDR’s “File No Action” Note on Wagner-Rogers
Helen Hayes Testifies for Admitting Children
            Document 8.4 “First Lady of the American Theater” Testifies for Admitting German Refugee Children
Agnes Waters Testifies against Admitting Children
            Document 8.5 “Mother Witness” Testifies against Admitting German Refugee Children
Further Reading
9. American Rescuers
The State Department Rebuffs Varian Fry
            Document 9.1 “You Should Inform Dr. Bohn and Mr. Fry”
The Krauses Rescue Fifty Children from Germany and Austria
            Document 9.2 Erika Tamar’s Passport to America
The Sharps’ Rescue Mission in Czechoslovakia
            Document 9.3 Martha Sharp’s Recollections about Rescue Work in Czechoslovakia
Lois Gunden Shelters Children in Vichy France
            Document 9.4 Recollections of Hiding French Jewish Children from the Nazis
Roddie Edmonds Shields Jewish GIs from the Nazis
            Document 9.5 Testimony Regarding Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds’s Bravery
Further Reading
10. Genocide Confirmed
The Bund Report
            Document 10.1 “Report of the Bund Regarding the Persecution of the Jews—May 1942”
The Riegner Telegram
            Document 10.2 Gerhart Riegner’s Telegram Revealing the Nazis’ Annihilation Plan
The Sternbuch Telegram
            Document 10.3 The Sternbuch Telegram Revealing Additional Details of the Mass Murder
The Allies’ Declaration
            Document 10.4 “German Policy of Extermination of the Jewish Race”
Jan Karski Reports to President Roosevelt
            Document 10.5 A Polish Underground Courier’s 1943 Conversation with President Roosevelt
Further Reading
11. All the News the Media Could Fit
The New York Times on Babi Yar
            Document 11.1 Two Reporters’ Contrasting Accounts of the Babi Yar Massacre and Why
The Media and the Allies’ Declaration
            Document 11.2 U.S. News Media’s Coverage of the Allies’ Declaration on the Mass Murder
The Media and the Deportations from Hungary
            Document 11.3 “Jews in Hungary Fear Annihilation”
The Nation Urges Rescue
            Document 11.4 “While the Jews Die”
I. F. Stone Investigates
            Document 11.5 “Justice Department Immigration Figures Knock Long Story into Cocked Hat”
Further Reading
12. American Christian Responses
Rabbi Wise Pleads with Christian Clergy
            Document 12.1 Meeting of Rabbi Wise and Christian Clergy, 1933
The U.S. Catholic Press on Kristallnacht
            Document 12.2 “Nazi Atrocities and the American War Fever: Are We Preparing for War with Germany?”
Christian Century Doubts the Holocaust
            Document 12.3 “Horror Stories from Poland,” “From Rabbi Wise,” “From the Editors”
Jewish and Christian Students Speak Out
            Document 12.4 “On Implementing Brotherhood”
A Baptist Farmer’s Gesture
            Document 12.5 “Farmer Rogers, His Brother’s Keeper”
Further Reading
13. American Jewish Responses
The President and the Rabbi
            Document 13.1 Rabbi Wise’s Student Questions His Relationship with FDR
Jewish Leaders Appeal to the President
            Document 13.2 “Report on the Visit to the President”
Jewish Congressmen Meet with the President
            Document 13.3 “Minutes of Dinner Meeting on Wednesday Evening March 22nd at the Statler Hotel”
“If They Were Slaughtering Horses” 
            Document 13.4 “Confidential Memorandum of Rabbi Meyer Berlin”
Jewish Leaders Discuss Strategy
            Document 13.5 Meeting of Jewish Leaders Concerning Rescue Advocacy
Further Reading
14. The Bermuda Conference
A Jewish Proposal for Bermuda
            Document 14.1 “The Following Proposals Are Respectfully Submitted”
Announcement at the End of the Conference
            Document 14.2 “Report of the Bermuda Meeting on the Refugee Problem”
Congressman Emanuel Celler’s Response
            Document 14.3 Response to Bermuda
A Jewish Leader’s Response
            Document 14.4 “The Mockery at Bermuda”
“An Appeal to the Conscience of the World” 
            Document 14.5 “I am taking the liberty of addressing to you, Sirs, these my last words”
Further Reading
15. Obstacles to Rescue
Congressional Sympathy
            Document 15.1 Text of the Barkley Resolution (Senate Concurrent Resolution 9)
A Cartoonist Challenges the State Department
            Document 15.2 “Refer to Committee 3, Investigation Subcommittee 6, Section 8B, for Consideration”
FDR on “Rescue through Victory” 
            Document 15.3 “Speech of the Honorable A. A. Berle Jr.”
The Allies’ Declaration in Moscow
            Document 15.4 “Declaration of the Four Nations on General Security”
Empty Ships for Refugees
            Document 15.5 “Shipping for Refugees”
Further Reading
16. The Campaign for Rescue
The Bergson Group’s “Race against Death” 
            Document 16.1 “This Is a Race against Death”
The Rabbis’ Petition to FDR
            Document 16.2 “In the Name of God, Creator of the Universe”
Congressional Resolution on Rescue
            Document 16.3 Text of the Gillette-Rogers Resolution (H. Res. 352)
Breckinridge Long’s Testimony
            Document 16.4 “Statement of Hon. Breckinridge Long, Assistant Secretary of State”
Exposing the State Department
            Document 16.5 “Report to the Secretary on the Acquiescence of This Government in the Murder of the Jews”
Further Reading
17. Zionism and the Holocaust
The White Paper
            Document 17.1 “Palestine Statement of Policy Presented by the Secretary of State for the Colonies to Parliament by Command of His Majesty” (White Paper)
A Christian Zionist Speaks Out
            Document 17.2 “The Fifth Freedom”
Proposed Anglo-American Statement
            Document 17.3 “Statement for Issuance by the Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom Regarding Palestine”
1944 Republican and Democratic Party Platforms
            Document 17.4 Republican Party Platform of 1944 and Democratic Party Platform of 1944
FDR’s 1944 Statement on Zionism
            Document 17.5 Proposals and Revisions of President Roosevelt’s October 1944 Statement Regarding Palestine
Further Reading
18. The War Refugee Board
Creation of the War Refugee Board
            Document 18.1 “Executive Order No. 9417 Establishing a War Refugee Board”
A Presidential Warning
            Document 18.2 Proposals and Revisions of President Roosevelt’s March 24, 1944, Statement Regarding Nazi Collaborators
A Surprising Poll
            Document 18.3 Gallup Poll Findings Concerning Temporary Admission of Refugees
Rescuing Romanian Jews
            Document 18.4 Life Line to a Promised Land
Raoul Wallenberg’s Mission
            Document 18.5 With Wallenberg in Budapest
Further Reading
19. Bombing Auschwitz
The Auschwitz Escapees’ Report
            Document 19.1 “The Extermination Camps of Auschwitz (Oswiecim) and Birkenau in     Upper Silesia”
A Plea to Bomb the Railways
            Document 19.2 Diary of Jacob Rosenheim
A Plea to Bomb the Gas Chambers
            Document 19.3 World Jewish Congress Official Urges Assistant Secretary of War to Bomb Gas Chambers at Auschwitz and Nearby Railways
The War Department’s Rejection Letter
            Document 19.4 Assistant Secretary of War Rejects Proposal to Bomb Railways to Auschwitz
A Public Appeal for Bombing
            Document 19.5 “Last Chance for Rescue”
Further Reading
20. Liberation
A GI Encounters the Holocaust
            Document 20.1 Liberation of Dachau
Eisenhower Urges Media to See the Camps
            Document 20.2 Call for Prominent Witnesses to “Conditions of Indescribable Horror”
Marlon Brando, Holocaust Witness
            Document 20.3 A Flag Is Born Play
An American Chaplain in Buchenwald
            Document 20.4 An American Chaplain Encounters Survivors in Buchenwald
The Harrison Report
            Document 20.5 “Report of Earl G. Harrison”
State of the Field


2023 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

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