About the Book
Publication Date: September 2019
Based on newly discovered documents, The Jews Should Keep Quiet reexamines and reassesses the hows and whys behind the Roosevelt administration’s fateful policies during the Holocaust. Medoff delves into these and other difficult truths: FDR went out of his way to suppress immigration far below the limits set by US law. He strove to maintain friendly relations with Nazi Germany, sending representatives to Nazi rallies and censoring anti-Hitler remarks by a cabinet member. He refused to admit Jewish refugees to the US Virgin Islands when the local government there was ready to open the doors. The Roosevelt administration also dismissed proposals to use empty Liberty ships returning from Europe to carry refugees, and rejected pleas to drop bombs on the railways leading to Auschwitz, even while American planes were bombing targets miles away—actions that would not have conflicted with the larger goal of winning the war, as some have claimed.
Medoff further explores the sensitive question of FDR’s private sentiments toward Jews. Unmasking the strong parallels between Roosevelt’s statements regarding Jews and Asians, he probes the connection between the president’s policy of excluding Jewish refugees and his mass internment of Japanese-Americans.
The Jews Should Keep Quiet also shows how FDR’s personal relationship with Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, American Jewry’s foremost leader in the 1930s and 40s, affected American Jewry’s response—and, consequently, the US response—to the Holocaust. Medoff details how Roosevelt and his administration pressured a Jewish leader enamored of the president to stifle American Jewish criticism of FDR’s refugee policies. Taking into account the challenging political and social climate of the period, he explores the dilemmas faced by the American Jewish community in pressing the president and the administration’s realistic options for rescue action which, if taken, would have saved many lives.