Secretary of Interior on Campaign to Stop German Annihilation of Jews -The Holocaust- During WWII

October 18, 1943

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Secretary of Interior on Campaign to Stop German Annihilation of Jews -The Holocaust- During WWII
Typed Letter Signed
1 page | SMC 1616

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      In early 1943, a Gallup poll asked Americans: "It is said that two million Jews have been killed in Europe since the war began. Do you think this is true or just a rumor?" Although the Allied leadership had publicly confirmed that two million Jews had been murdered, the poll found that only 47% believed it was true, while 29% dismissed it as a rumor; the remaining 24% had no opinion.
      -Rafael Medoff, "We Will Never Die”: Shattering the Silence Surrounding the Holocaust, The Holocaust Encyclopedia.
      In October 1943, the United States government finally began to do too little, too late, to save millions upon millions of European Jews from Hitler’s genocidal war of extermination.  As a result of several factors earlier that year – a popular play, a failed British-American conference, a campaign of newspaper ads, public rallies, and lobbying on Capitol Hill – a bill was introduced in Congress urging the creation of a U.S. government agency to rescue Jewish refugees. At the resolution hearings, a State Department official wildly exaggerated the number of refugees who had already been permitted to enter the United States – even as a group of senior aides to Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, Jr., were uncovering a pattern of attempts by the State Department to obstruct rescue opportunities and block the flow of Holocaust information to the United States. This letter from the humanitarian-minded Chapman, to Will Rogers Jr. - with his anti-Nazi Hollywood constituency - shows that Washington was abuzz, at last, with the news of what Winston Churchill called “the greatest and most horrifying crime ever committed in the whole history of the world.”
      A group of interested persons are meeting together next Sunday afternoon, October 24, to discuss some realistic possibilities for combating the deliberate campaign of annihilation which the Germans are now conducting against the Jewish people of Europe. I am sure you agree that this is not just a problem for Jewish people to work out alone, but one of urgent concern for America and all the United Nations.
      Two months later, President Roosevelt established the War Refugee Board, charged with rescuing the victims of Nazism facing imminent death. It received little assistance, financial or otherwise, from other U.S. government agencies: most of its funding, in fact, came from Jewish organizations. It is thought to have saved between 20,000 to 200,000 Jews.

      Typed Letter Signed, as Assistant Secretary of the Interior, 1 page, quarto, on the letterhead of the Department of the Interior, Washington, October 18, 1943. To Congressman and Mrs. Will Rogers, Jr., of California. With the date and place underlined in red pencil, and a filing direction at top.
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