How the Treasury Department Exposed the State Department’s Efforts to Stifle Reports about the Holocaust

Sept. 30 2022

Even after the U.S. entered World War II, the Roosevelt administration was opposed to taking any action intended specifically to help the Jews of Europe. Particularly hostile toward any plan that might lead to Jewish refugees turning up in America was the State Department and its anti-Semitic assistant secretary, Breckinridge Long. Henry Morgenthau, Jr.—the secretary of the treasury and a close friend and confidant of Franklin Roosevelt’s—discovered this when he and a team of Treasury Department lawyers attempted to do something to aid Jews in escaping the Nazis. Andrew Meier tells the story, which begins in 1943 with the efforts of the Switzerland-based lawyer Gerhard Riegner, who worked tirelessly and heroically throughout the war on behalf of his fellow Jews:

Riegner saw an opportunity to save the remaining Jews in Romania and France. The Romanian dictator, Marshal Ion Antonescu, long an accomplice to Hitler, feared an Axis loss approaching. He offered to let the Jews out—at a price of at least $50 a head. It was also possible, Riegner had added, to save tens of thousands of Jewish children in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. An underground network—sympathizers, mercenaries, bribable officials—was in place. Riegner only needed the funds. He sent this appeal to Leland Harrison, the U.S. envoy in Bern, in April; it reached Morgenthau’s men in June. They had seen a paraphrased version of the appeal, but had demanded to see the entire, original cable.

For months, as [the group at Treasury] petitioned the State Department for details, they received only vague denials. . . . Morgenthau’s lawyers were sure, as [one of them], Joe DuBois wrote, “It was Treasury business, all right.” They had become obsessed with funding a rescue mission—to find a way of “financing these escapes,” DuBois would recall, “that wouldn’t at the same time benefit the enemy.”

On July 16, 1943, Treasury signaled that it was prepared to issue the license to Riegner’s group, the World Jewish Congress, but at State the lawyers met with stonewalling. The more they probed, the more their suspicions grew. Finally, they took matters into their own hands. Quietly and without any formal brief, Treasury undertook to investigate another arm of the federal government. Their boss counseled caution: Morgenthau feared the hunt would boomerang, hurting his standing with FDR—and dooming any chance of saving the refugees. The Treasury lawyers soon got glimpses behind the curtain from two “moles” at State. It took months, but as [they] sorted out the history, they uncovered a second trail of documents, one that exposed an ugly—perhaps even criminal—series of delays and denials, lies, and cover-ups.

The State Department had deliberately tried to stop the news of the mass murder from reaching anyone in the United States—and then lied to the Treasury about it.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Holocaust, Holocaust rescue

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship