Monday, March 11, 2013

FDR's Holocaust Record: Two Very Different Reviews of the Same Book

A new book published by Harvard University Press entitled "FDR and the Jews" by Richard Breitman and Allan J. Lichtman of American University reassesses FDR's record in responding to the Holocaust.  Richard Cohen of The Washington Post read the book and remains quite critical of FDR concluding: "Increasingly and deservedly, his reputation is being consumed by the very Holocaust he ignored."  Cohen's conclusion is biting.

In contrast, Jennifer Schuessler writing for The New York Times,  presents the authors' more balanced view -- namely that that FDR's top priority was winning the war and his options for saving Jewish lives were more limited.

At times, it seems hard to believe they read the same book.  The Times review seems closer to what the authors intended.  The first review of this book on describes it as a "vindication of FDR."

I am not sure of much at this point except to say that antisemitism did not begin in Hitler's Germany and did not only exist there.  Nor did antisemitism end on the day Hitler took his own life in defeat on April 30, 1945.