Podcast: Rafael Medoff on Reconsidering Roosevelt

The historian and author of The Jews Should Keep Quiet: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, and the Holocaust joins us to talk about his work.

The last photograph of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, taken on April 12, 1945 at Warm Springs, GA by Nicholas Robbins. He died the following day. Wikipedia.

The last photograph of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, taken on April 12, 1945 at Warm Springs, GA by Nicholas Robbins. He died the following day. Wikipedia.

Observation
Tikvah Podcast at Mosaic and Rafael Medoff
March 13 2020
About the authors

A weekly podcast, produced in partnership with the Tikvah Fund, offering up the best thinking on Jewish thought and culture.

This Week’s Guest: Rafael Medoff

 

American Jews have loved Franklin Delano Roosevelt since his presidency. He led the nation out of the Great Depression and brought a previously isolationist America into World War II, during which, together with Churchill and Stalin, he defeated the greatest enemy of the Jews of modern times.

Yet concerns have long lingered about Roosevelt’s wartime conduct toward the desperate plight of European Jewry. Under his command, the Allies refused to bomb train tracks leading to the Nazi concentration camps, and refused to bomb the camps themselves, thereby allowing the mass murder of the Jews of Europe to continue.

The historian Raphael Medoff has been thinking about this, and about FDR’s attitude toward Jews in  general, throughout his career. Now, in his book The Jews Should Keep Quiet: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, and the Holocaust, he examines the wartime decisions of both Roosevelt and the leading American rabbi Stephen S. Wise; he reluctantly concludes that Roosevelt was an anti-Semite and Wise a tragic sycophant. (You can read Mosaic‘s review of the book here.) On today’s podcast, he is interviewed by special guest host Daniel Kane.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble, as well as “Ulterior” by Swan Production.


Background

 

For more on the Tikvah Podcast at Mosaic, which appears roughly every Thursday, check out its inaugural post here.

If you have thoughts about the podcast that you’d like to share, ideas for future guests and topics, or any other form of feedback, just send an email to [email protected].

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

More about: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, History & Ideas, Holocaust, World War II