American Public Opinion Data

  1. In 1939, more than 5,000 Americans were randomly selected and asked in a poll whether they agreed with the following statements:
    • In the United States, the Jews have the same standing as any other people and they should be treated in all ways exactly like all other Americans. (39% of Americans agreed that Jews have the same standing as others.)
    • Jews are in some way distinct from other Americans but they make respected and useful citizens so long as they do not try to mingle socially where they are not wanted. (53% of Americans viewed Jews as different than themselves.)
    • Jews have somewhat different business methods and, therefore, measures should be taken to prevent Jews from getting too much power in the business world. (32% wanted to restrict Jewish business methods.)
    • We should make it a policy to deport Jews from this country to some new homeland as fast as it can be done without inhumanity. (Nearly 10% favored the deportation of Jews.) 8% had no opinion.
  2. Do you approve or disapprove of the Nazi treatment of Jews in Germany? (survey question taken in November 1938)

    Approve: 5%

    Disapprove: 88%

    No opinion or don’t know: 7%

  3. Should we allow a larger number of Jewish exiles from Germany to come to the United States to live? (survey question taken in November, 1938) 

    Yes: 23%

    No: 69%

    No opinion or don’t know: 9% 1

  4. What is your attitude towards allowing German, Austrian, and other political refugees to come into the United States? (survey question taken in July, 1938)

    We should encourage them to come even if we have to raise our immigration quotas: 4.9%

    We should allow them to come but not raise our immigration quotes: 18.2%

    With conditions as they are, we should try to keep them out: 67.4%

    Don’t know: 9.5% 2


  • 1 : David Wyman, Paper Walls: America and the Refugee Crisis, 1938-1941 (Pantheon, 1985).
  • 2 : Fortune magazine, 1938.

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