President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the War Refugee Board (WRB) on 22 January 1944. My thesis analyses the various forces that ushered the Board into existence. While several Jewish organisations had suggested the creation of an agency that would function like the WRB, the key elements to consider in its emergence are: A resolution being discussed in Congress that recommended the creation of an agency that would ultimately become the WRB. In fact, the resolution was sponsored by the Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe; a non-sectarian group that was organised by a faction of the Revisionist Zionist movement. The second factor to consider was a meeting between Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr., and Roosevelt in which Morgenthau was critical of the State Department response to the Holocaust. The Treasury Secretary suggested removing the responsibility for refugee policy from that State Department and to create a new agency that would coordinate activities aimed at rescuing as many Jews as possible. Treasury Department operatives became key figures in the newly created Board.
The thesis will examine American policy towards the European Jews from the 1930´s through the Holocaust in an effort to place the events that led to the creation of the WRB in context. American Jewry´s response the Holocaust is also an important element that will be considered in order to place the thesis in proper context. Disagreement between the various factions of American Jewry over potential rescue and relief measures and the issue of Palestine will also be considered. There was a great deal of friction between the Zionist groups and the Revisionists in particular.
My thesis will challenge some to the traditionally held arguments concerning the creation of the WRB; particularly, the impact of the Jewish led groups. The piece is based on a wide range of primary sources, including, State Department records, the records of Jewish led groups such as the World Jewish Congress, American Jewish Conference and the Palestine Statehood Committees as well as the Morgenthau Diaries and records of the WRB.
MLIS in Library and Information Studies University of Rhode Island (USA)
MA in History Utah State University (USA)
BS in History Utah State University (USA)
'Felix Kersten and Count Bernadotte: A Question of Rescue.' Journal of Contemporary History 29 (1) (1994) pp. 39-51.