The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust, published in 1984, is a book by David S. Wyman, former Josiah DuBois professor of history at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Wyman is currently the chairman of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies.
The Abandonment of the Jews argues that American (and British) political leaders during the Holocaust, including President Roosevelt, turned down proposals that could have saved hundreds of thousands of European Jews from death in German concentration camps; for example, by refusing asylum to Jewish refugees and by failing to order the bombing of railway lines leading to Auschwitz. In the same time, most Jewish leaders in America and in Palestine did almost nothing to pressure these governments to change their policy. Some American newspapers, including the New York Times, are said to have under-reported or buried reports off their front pages, and not just for reasons of anti-Semitism, as the Times was owned by Jews, who may have wanted to not appear as Jewish advocates in their coverage.
Wyman examines the documents suggesting that the U.S. and British governments turned down numerous proposals to accept European Jews. The issue was raised at a White House conference on March 27, 1943 of top American and British wartime leaders, including President Roosevelt, U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull, British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, presidential advisor Harry Hopkins, and the British Ambassador to Washington, Lord Halifax. Hull raised the question of having the Allies offer to accept 60,000 to 70,000 Jews from Bulgaria, a German ally.
Wyman writes that, because of a combination of anti-Semitism and an unwillingness to act on any proposal not of direct strategic value, thousands and possibly million of Jews died who might otherwise have been saved.
Wyman's arguments have been challenged by other researchers, most notably by James H. Kitchens III, and by William D. Rubinstein, whose book The Myth of Rescue: Why the Democracies Could Not Have Saved More Jews from the Nazis argues that the Western powers had a creditable record of accepting immigrants and that effective allied action against the Extermination Camps was not possible. The Auschwitz bombing debate remains unresolved.
Examples where Jews were saved from the Axis countries
On the other hand, many historians (e.g. Dr. David Kranzler) note that large number of Jews were saved and argue that even more could have been saved.
- For example the Papal Nuncio's intervention in 1942 was a key factor in stopping the deportation trains from Slovakia for about two years.
- Protection papers handed out from Switzerland by Jewish rescuers George Mantello and Recha Sternbuch saved large numbers.
- Rabbi Solomon Schonfeld arranged refuge for many hundreds of Jews in Britain.
- In the USA persistent pressure on the Roosevelt administration by Hillel Kook and his rescue group led to establishment of the War Refugee Board. One if its actions was support of the Wallenberg mission to Budapest. David Wyman and Rafael Medoff credit the War Refugee Board with the rescue of over 200,000 (including 120,000 in Hungary, in part because of the Wallenberg mission).
- Twenty four hours after receipt George Mantello publicized what has now been called the Wetzler-Vrba Report included in the Auschwitz Protocol. This triggered a major grass roots protest in Switzerland, with about 400 glaring headlines protesting against Europe's barbarism and its Dark Age in the twentieth century. Publication of the report also triggered Sunday sermons in Swiss churches expressing deep concern over the fate of Jews and there were various street protests. This led to Churchill, Roosevelt and other world leaders threatening Hungary's ruler Horthy, who stopped the transports carrying 12,000 Jews a day to Auschwitz.
- The lull in deportations enabled the Wallenberg mission and also rescue by many others in Budapest, such as Carl Lutz, Monsignor Angelo Rotta, Giorgio Perlasca, the Spanish legation, the Zionist Youth Underground in Budapest and "put rescue in the air" empowering ordinary citizens to act on behalf of the remnant of Hungary's Jews.
- After controversial negotiations between Rudolf Kastner and Adolf Eichmann, a train carrying some 1,700 Hungarian Jews was sent to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in return for money and gold and freed at the end of 1944.
- There were many other successful rescue initiatives and also many more which some argue could have succeeded if Churchill and Roosevelt had received more public pressure. With ships packed with refugees, such as the St. Louis and refugee ships headed for Palestine were turned back it is difficult to make a case for the thesis that rescue was not possible. (References to books and views on various Web pages, for example David Kranzler, Hillel Kook, Chaim Michael Dov Weissmandl).
Impossibility of greater effective rescue
There are noted Holocaust historians who have a different view, and state that rescue was not possible. Gerhard Weinberg and William D. Rubinstein represent this school of thought.
- Wyman, David S. 'The Abandonment Of The Jews: America and the Holocaust. New York: Pantheon Books, 1984, 444pp.
- Wyman, David S., Medoff, Rafael. A Race Against Death: Peter Bergson, America, and the Holocaust. New Press, 2004.
- "Could The Allies Have Bombed Auschwitz", Jewish Virtual Library.
- Abraham Fuch, The Unheeded Cry
- Ben Hecht, Perfidy
- David Kranzler, The Man Who Stopped the Trains to Auschwitz: George Mantello, El Salvador, and Switzerland's Finest Hour, Forward by Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Syracuse University Press (March 2001)
- David Kranzler, Holocaust Hero: The Untold Story of Solomon Schonfeld, an Orthodox British Rabbi, Ktav Publishing House (December 2003)
- David Kranzler, Thy Brothers' Blood: The Orthodox Jewish Response During the Holocaust, Artscroll (December 1987)
- David Kranzler, Heroine of Rescue: The Incredible Story of Recha Sternbuch Who Saved Thousands from the Holocaust
- Laurence Jarvik, Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die (video documentary, distributed by Kino International at: http://www.kino.com/video/item.php?film_id=349)
- Rapaport, Louis. Shake Heaven & Earth: Peter Bergson and the Struggle to Rescue the Jews of Europe. Gefen Publishing House, Ltd., 1999.
- VERAfilm, Among Blind Fools (documentary video)
- ^ pp. 26, 38, 76, 299n, 321 & n, etc.