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Jewish Refugees from Austria

The incorporation of Austria into Germany spelled terror for the 200,000 Jews in that country. Between 1,500 and 3,500 Austrian Jews applied for immigration visas (documents needed for permission to enter a country) to come to the United States. President Franklin Roosevelt was sympathetic to their plight but believed that he did not have the public’s support to ask Congress to change the quota system under which immigrants were admitted. A poll published in Fortune magazine in 1938 reveals much about public opinion in the United States.

Attitudes toward Allowing German, Austrian, and Other Political Refugees into the United States, July 1938

We should encourage their arrival even if our immigration quotas are raised.

4.9%

We should allow their arrival but not raise our immigration quotas.

18.2%

Given our current conditions, we should keep them out.

67.4%

I don’t know.

9.5%

Source: Fortune magazine, July 1938.

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