Rafael Medoff, a Holocaust scholar, has uncovered US government documents that shed new light on Franklin Roosevelt’s policy toward Jews. The SS St. Louis incident — in which nearly a thousand Jews fleeing Europe were denied asylum in the United States and sent back to Europe, where many of them were murdered — was no aberration. FDR was an anti-Semite.
The documents, which were publicized last week by former New York mayor Ed Koch, are the record of a meeting in Casablanca between Roosevelt and the notorious French general Auguste Noguès. In the wake of the Allied landings in North Africa, the Vichy government had released most of the Jews from their concentration camps, and Noguès wanted to know how much of the Jews’ civil liberties must be restored. The record (page 608) relates Roosevelt’s response:
It was also stated that the Jews, especially those in Algeria, had raised the point that they wish restored to them at once the right of suffrage. The President stated that the answer to that was very simple, namely, that there weren’t going to be any elections, so the Jews need not worry about the privilege of voting.
Mr. Murphy remarked that the Jews in North Africa were very much disappointed that “the war for liberation” had not immediately resulted in their being given their complete freedom. The President stated that he felt the whole Jewish problem should be studied very carefully and that progress should be definitely planned.
In other words, the number of Jews engaged in the practice of the professions (law, medicine, etc.) should be definitely limited to the percentage that the Jewish population in North Africa bears to the whole of the North African population. Such a plan would therefore permit the Jews to engage in the professions, and would present an unanswerable argument that they were being given their full rights.
To the foregoing, General Noguès agreed generally, stating at the same time that it would be a sad thing for the French to win the war merely to open the way for the Jews to control the professions and the business world of North Africa.
The President stated that his plan would further eliminate the specific and understandable complaints that the Germans bore towards the Jews in Germany, namely, that while they represented a small part of the population, over fifty percent of the lawyers, doctors, school teachers, college professors, etc., in Germany, were Jews.
(Paragraph breaks and emphasis added.)
In regard to the “over fifty percent” statistic, Medoff adds “It is not clear how FDR came up with that wildly exaggerated statistic.”
Such statements from a US president are astonishing and horrifying, and indeed are all the more horrifying because they were not merely anti-Semitic remarks, but a policy to be imposed on North Africa by the Allies.
There is no question as to the veracity of the account, as Koch observes:
Hard to believe a president would say such a thing? Maybe, but the source is unimpeachable: the transcript appears in Foreign Relations of the United States, a multivolume series of historical documents published by the U.S. government itself. The Casablanca volume was published in 1968, but did not attract much notice at the time. Dr. Medoff has done a public service by bringing it to our attention again.
(Via PJ Tatler.)