FDR and the Holocaust.

Author:Steinberg, Arthur K.
 
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Verne W. Newton, ed., (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996), 278 + pp. $49.95 cloth (ISBN 0-312-12226-8).

This slender volume poses questions concerning FDR's awareness of and response to the Holocaust. The work results from a two-day seminar entitled "Policies and Responses of the American Government Toward the Holocaust." The main issue centers around FDR`s responsibility for the death of six million Jews resulting from the policies of Hiderian Germany. This disaster, and the American response, are examined by scholars interpreting FDR's actions. The conference contributors sought to resolve the question, and culpability, of Roosevelt for the demise of the six million Jews and untold others considered untermenschen and occupiers of lands destined for Teutonic lebensraum.

The conference's originators and participants compiled an impressive list of scholars for participation in the sessions; experts whose publications have inspired contributors are challenged by others seeking to justify FDR`s administrative policies. The discussion and publication offer readers an opportunity to witness how, even now, the intellectual community has not defined FDR`s role in the fate of the Jewish victims of Germany's "slide" to Valhalla.

This book has one major shortcoming. The surfeit of sources pre-date 1990. If the editor's intentions were to create a document interpreting facts, it may justify the paucity of recent materials. The contributors cite a variety of sources; government documents are as plentiful as the abundance of primary and secondary works. In juxtaposition to the chapter organization, the index does not mention some items referred to in the text: Franklin D. Roosevelt, David Wyman, and Yad Vashem are not listed. Their omission makes it more difficult for one seeking to cross reference source materials.

The preface strengthens the narrative beginning with a summation of participants' statements at the conference. Objections to David Wyman's views serve as a centerpiece for discussion, and several commentators evidence a lack of professionalism in dissection of his research and scholarship. In fact, if one wished to cross reference Wyman, it would not be possible since he is not mentioned in the index despite the vilifications.

The central issue questions FDR's role in the events surrounding the Holocaust. Some participants defer to the political climate extant in the United States prior to America's entry into World War II. Only after...

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