Attitudes Toward Jews

Results of 10 surveys conducted between 1938-1941 gauging US attitudes to Jews and antisemitism.

In 1939, over 5000 Americans were randomly selected and asked in a poll with which of the following statements they agreed:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Jews have somewhat different business methods and, therefore, measures should be taken to prevent Jews from getting too much power in the business world.
  • 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.

Although 39 percent agreed with the first statement, 53 percent viewed Jews as “different.” About 32 percent wanted to restrict their “business methods” and about 10 percent favored their deportation. Eight percent had no opinion. Other polls resulted in similar findings. Few Americans were vehemently antisemitic, but many felt that Jews had to be kept in their “place.”


 David Wyamn, Paper Walls: America and the Refugee Crisis, 1938-1941 (Pantheon, 1985), 22 quoted in Facing History and Ourselves: Elements of Time, 77-79.

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