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.

Read more at Politico

More about: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Holocaust, Holocaust rescue


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount