The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum will present the inaugural Holocaust Remembrance Day Morgenthau Lecture: “The United States Government’s Reaction to Kristallnacht” with Richard Breitman coauthor of FDR AND THE JEWS. The program will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 in the Henry A. Wallace Center at the FDR Presidential Library and Home.
This is a free public event but registration is required.
The Holocaust Remembrance Day Morgenthau Lecture is a component of The Henry Morgenthau, Jr. Holocaust Collections: A Curatorial Project — a pathfinding initiative to discover unique but dispersed Holocaust subject material across the Roosevelt Library’s archival holdings. By introducing emerging practices from the field of digital humanities in developing this project, the Library is working to provide better access — building on existing digital resources — to its Holocaust-related records. These collections will be available through the Library’s website at www.fdrlibrary.org.
FDR AND THE JEWS is an examination of the contentious debate over whether Franklin Delano Roosevelt turned his back on the Jews of Hitler’s Europe. Co-authors Richard Breitman and Allan J. Lichtman find that the president was neither savior nor bystander. They draw upon many new primary sources to offer an intriguing portrait of a consummate politician — compassionate but also pragmatic — struggling with opposing priorities under perilous conditions. For most of his presidency Roosevelt indeed did little to aid the imperiled Jews of Europe. He put domestic policy priorities ahead of helping Jews and deferred to others’ fears of an anti-Semitic backlash. Yet he also acted decisively at times to rescue Jews, often withstanding contrary pressures from his advisers and the American public. Even Jewish citizens who petitioned the president could not agree on how best to aid their co-religionists abroad.
Though his actions may seem inadequate in retrospect, the authors bring to light a concerned leader whose efforts on behalf of Jews were far greater than those of any other world figure. His moral position was tempered by the political realities of depression and war, a conflict all too familiar to American politicians in the twenty-first century.
Richard Breitman is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at American University and is editor of the journal Holocaust and Genocide Studies. His books, THE ARCHITECT OF GENOCIDE: HIMMLER AND THE FINAL SOLUTION and OFFICIAL SECRETS: WHAT THE NAZIS PLANNED, WHAT THE BRITISH AND AMERICANS KNEW, were translated into five foreign languages.
FDR AND THE JEWS, co-authored with Allan J. Lichtman, won the 2013 National Jewish Book Award in American Jewish Studies and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in History.