Reading

Secretary Morgenthau's Report on the Acquiescence of the US Government in the Murder of the Jews

The notorious Breckinridge Long memo was only the tip of the iceberg of the State Department obstructionist attitude and practices, much of it went undetected for most of the war. But things finally began to change in 1944.

On the one hand, Jewish organizations, activists, and witnesses who escaped Europe, provided mounting evidence about the systematic killing of Jew and other minorities in Europe. On the other, officers from the Treasury Department headed by Secretary Henry Morgenthau, Jr.,1 found ample evidence that the State Department was not only inactive in helping Jewish refugees, but also actively trying to stop them from escaping Nazi atrocities. After repeated efforts to persuade the president to act, Morgenthau’s aides put together the report below. Secretary Morgenthau then took it to the President.2 As a result of this report FDR ordered, the establishment of a War Refugee Board which was involved in saving as many as 200,000 Jews. The War Refugee board also provided funds to Raul Wallenberg in his effort to protect the Jews of Hungary.


 

 

  1. Citations

    • 1 Henry Morgenthau, Jr., FDR choice for the Treasury Secretary, was not only Jewish, but also the son of Henry Morgenthau, who the U.S. ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, uncover evidence about the Armenian genocide some 30 years earlier and begged the State Department to take action against what he called the “race murder” of the. The nation chose to remain neutral. Adam Strom (primary writer), Crimes Against Humanity and Civilization: The Genocide of the Armenians (Brookline: Facing History and Ourselves National Foundation, 2004).
    • 2 Document related to US government approach to the wartime refugee crisis can be found at the PBS site PBS(accessed May 2, 2013).

Connection Questions

  1. What charges against the US State Department does the author list in the Report?
  2. Why were these charges so explosive?
  3. According to the Report, what did the State Department know about the plans to murder the European Jews?
  4. What might this Report imply about the State Department’s prevailing sentiments towards Jews and other immigrants during the war?

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