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 How America "helped" the Jews.

the article that follows is about the Frank families desperate efforts to escape to the U.S. or Cuba:


A photograph of Otto Frank with his daughters Anne, center, and Margaret.

February 15, 2007
In Old Files, Fading Hopes of Anne Frank’s Family
On April 30, 1941, just days after a Gestapo courier may have threatened to denounce Anne Frank’s father, Otto, to the Nazis, he wrote to his close college friend Nathan Straus Jr. begging for help in getting his family out of Amsterdam and into America.

“I would not ask if conditions here would not force me to do all I can in time to be able to avoid worse,” he wrote in a letter that forms part of a 78-page stack of newly uncovered documents released yesterday. “Perhaps you remember that we have two girls. It is for the sake of the children mainly that we have to care for. Our own fate is of less importance.”

Frank needed a $5,000 deposit to obtain a visa and Straus, the director of the federal Housing Authority, a friend of Eleanor Roosevelt and the son of Macy’s co-owner, had money and connections. “You are the only person I know that I can ask,” he wrote. “Would it be possible for you to give a deposit in my favor?”

That letter begins a series of personal correspondence and official papers that reveal for the first time the Frank family’s increasingly desperate efforts in 1941 to get to the United States or Cuba before the Nazis got to them. The papers, owned by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York, had lain undisturbed in a New Jersey warehouse for nearly 30 years before a clerical error led to their unexpected discovery. Given the thorough historical research and extraordinary efforts to preserve Anne Frank’s legacy, the appearance of this overlooked file is surprising.

The story seems to unfold in slow motion as the painstaking exchange of letters journey across continents and from state to state, their information often outdated by the time they arrive. Each page adds a layer of sorrow as the tortuous process for gaining entry to the United States — involving sponsors, large sums of money, affidavits and proof of how their entry would benefit America — is laid out. The moment the Franks and their American supporters overcame one administrative or logistical obstacle, another arose.

Even the assistant secretary of state at the time, Adolf A. Berle Jr., despaired of the bewildering maze of regulations. As Richard Breitman, a historian at American University, pointed out in a separate background paper, Berle wrote in January 1941 that some consulates ask for a trust fund. “Others ask for affidavits. One particularly shocking case stated that nothing would be accepted save from a relative in the United States under a legal obligation to support the applicant,” he said. “It does seem to me that this Department could pull itself together sufficiently to get out a general instruction which would be complete enough and simple enough so that the procedure could be standardized.”

Ultimately, powerful connections and money were not enough to enable the Franks, not to mention most other European Jews, to break through the State Department’s tightening restrictions. By the summer of 1942, the Franks were forced into hiding. They remained in the secret annex for two years before being turned in, probably by the same courier who initially may have tried to blackmail them. As schoolchildren around the world know, the story ends with the death in concentration camps of 15-year-old Anne, her sister Margot and her mother, Edith, and the publication of Anne’s diary, now a literary and historical landmark that personalizes the Holocaust’s immeasurable loss.

Mr. Breitman explained that after France fell to the Germans in June 1940, fears grew in the United States of a potential fifth column of spies and saboteurs peopled by European refugees. By June of 1941, no one with close relatives still in Germany was allowed into the United States because of suspicions that the Nazis could use them to blackmail refugees into clandestine cooperation. This development closed off the possibility of getting the Frank girls out through a children’s rescue agency or having Otto Frank depart first in the hopes that the rest of his family would quickly follow.

By July, Germany shut down American consulates throughout its territories, retaliating for a similar action on the Americans’ part. As the exchange of letters show, Otto Frank would have had to get an exit permit out of the Netherlands, and transit visas for a series of Nazi-occupied countries to one of the four neutral areas where America still had consular offices. By the summer, an escape to the United States appeared hopeless. “I am afraid, however, the news is not good news,” Straus wrote to Otto Frank on July 1, 1941.

In order to reach a neutral country, Frank then tried to obtain a Cuban visa, a risky, expensive and often corrupt process. In a Sept. 8 letter to Straus, he wrote, “I know that it will be impossible for us all to leave even if most of the money is refundable, but Edith urges me to leave alone or with the children.” On Oct. 12, 1941, he wrote, “It is all much more difficult as one can imagine and is getting more complicated every day.” Because of the uncertainty, he decided first to try for a single visa for himself. It is granted and forwarded to Otto Frank on Dec. 1. No one knows if it ever arrived; 10 days later, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States, and Havana cancelled the visa.

The file, originally in the hands of the National Refugee Service, was turned over to YIVO in 1974 along with tens of thousands of other files from private Jewish refugee agencies.

It wasn’t until 2005 that YIVO received a grant to organize and index the 350 file cabinets worth of material it had warehoused in an off-site storage center. In the summer of that year, Estelle Guzick, a part-time volunteer, was sorting through files when she saw that a file jacket was missing the subject’s date of birth, said Carl J. Rheins, YIVO’s executive director. He said that she opened it and saw that the children’s names were Anne and Margot Frank, and said, “Oh my God, this is the Anne Frank file.”

YIVO kept the actual documents under wraps until yesterday because it was figuring out the complicated legal questions of confidentiality and copyright, Mr. Rheins said. The papers are now available to scholars at YIVO on West 16th Street in Manhattan.

The last items in the file date from June 1945 to mid-1946. They include a letter from Otto Frank’s brother-in-law Julius Hollander, who was trying to locate the Franks and arrange for them to emigrate to the United States. There is also a four-line notification that “Mrs. Edith Frank died; daughters are still missing.”

What follows is a letter on Feb. 2, 1946, from Hollander saying that “Otto Frank said he wants to stay in Amsterdam” and no longer wants to come to the United States.

 2007/2/14 22:27

 A Decision not to save 20,000 Jewish children

A Decision Not to Save 20,000 Jewish Children:

The Failure of the Wagner-Rogers Bill

Perhaps the most poignant and revealing example of the American response is the Wagner-Rogers Bill. Prior to 1939, several nations had made modest efforts to rescue German-Jewish children; Holland admitted 1,700 young Jews, and Britain, 9,000 Jews. Inspired by those examples, a group of clergy persuaded Congressman Robert Wagner, author of the famous pro-labor Wagner Act, to co-sponsor legislation that would admit 20,000 Jewish children over two years. Under the act, which was introduced in February 1939, the number of children admitted would not be subtracted from the established quotas; otherwise, the bill would save Jewish children at the expense of other Jews. The children would be subsidized by Jewish agencies and they would not even be permanent citizens, but would return to their parents after the war

It is important to remember some of the events taking place at about the time the Wagner-Rogers Bill was introduced. A few months before, on November 9, the Nazis had conducted their "night of broken glass" in which riots left about one hundred Jewish people dead and many of their stores, homes and synagogues destroyed. It also marked the beginning of deportations to the concentration camps. In January, Hitler publicly warned the impending annihilation of the Jewish race of Europe. It was becoming clear to Jewish people living in Germany and to many concerned Americans that the best hope for Jews, particularly the children, was to get them out of Germany.

The United States had been trying to survive a decade of severe depression and many desperate people searched for scapegoats. Millions of Americans listened to the anti-Semitic speeches of Father Charles Coughlin who called the "might of broken glass" a defense mechanism against the Jewish Communist conspiracy. A public opinion poll was taken in April of 1939 – at the very same time that Congress was considering the Wagner-Rogers Bill. It revealed that 42.3 percent of the American people believed that anti-Semitism was the result of unfavorable Jewish traits. In another poll that same year, most people agreed that among all the immigrant groups, Jews and Italians were the worst citizens.

A number of religious and civic organizations spoke out in support of the bill. The prominent Quaker, Clarence Pickett, warned that if the United States did not respond, it would be forsaking its mission to the world; "The issue is whether the American people have lost their ability to respond to such tragic situations, If it turns out that we have lost that ability, it will mean that much of the soul has gone out of America." A bishop from Chicago said, "In providing [these children] a sanctuary where they can grow up in the ways of peace and walk the paths of righteousness, we will help not only them but ourselves…we still demonstrate to the world our own devotion to the sanctity of human life."

Francis Kinicutt, president of the Allied Patriotic Societies, led a force of thirty organizations to oppose the bill. He claimed that the bill was for Jews and sponsored by Jews. "The bill," he suggested, "if passed, will be a precedent … in response to the pressure of foreign nationalistic or racial groups, rather than in accordance with the needs and desires of the American people." Other opponents stressed that the Jews were not the only victims of persecution. For example, "if this bill passes, there is no reason why we should not also bring in twenty thousand Chinese children. Certainly they are being persecuted too." Several congressmen picked up on this theme and asked supporters of the bill whether they would agree to admit Polish, Russian, or French children. When one supporter replied that the need was greatest for Jewish children, a congressman suggested that there was a Jewish conspiracy behind the bill. One opponent revealed to a friend one of his real fears which was that "…twenty thousand children would soon grow into twenty thousand ugly adults."

Because of the pressure by numerous lobbying groups and because of their awareness of anti-Semitism in America, the congressional committee dealt a deathblow to the bill. It was agreed that the 20,000 children would only be admitted as part of the regular immigration quota, not in addition to that quota. That meant that Jewish children would be admitted at the expense of Jewish adults.

The only chance for saving the bill rested with the President and the executive agencies, but as one official wrote, "There is a lot of sentiment about [these children] but the enthusiasm is liable to wane at the end of a long period." Even though Eleanor Roosevelt pushed the President to support the bill, he still responded with one note of appeal, " File – no action, FDR." The Secretary of State told the congressional committee that the bill would raise difficult administrative problems.

The bill was finally reported out to the full Congress on July 1, 1939, but the chief sponsor could no longer support his own bill because of all the changes. He said, "The proposed changes would in effect convert the measure from a humane proposal to help children who are in a cute distress to a proposal with needlessly cruel consequences for adults in Germany…." In July, the sponsor of the bill to rescue 20,000 Jewish children from persecution withdrew his bill.

It is interesting that several years later, the Congress passed a bill to evacuate British children who were endangered by the Nazi attack on England. These children who were admitted to America were not considered as refugees and none were Jewish.

 2007/2/14 22:49

 Re: The American Patriotic Society

if you ever wonder why Jews are suspiscious of Christians and some in the right wing consider this recent bit of history:

But a powerful group of isolationists and anti-Semites banded
together and planned their strategy to prevent these bills from
becoming law. By April, when the Congressional hearing started, the
conspirators against the Children's Rescue Bill were well organized.
Francis H. Kinnicutt represented thirty 'patriotic organizations
united in the Allied Patriotic Societies' of which he was
president! These included the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American
Legion, the Society of Mayflower Descendants, the Daughters of the
American Revolution, the Lord's Day Alliance of the United States,
the Daughters of the Confederacy, and other isolationist

Mr. Kinnicutt spoke up quite openly, '...this is just part of a drive
to go back to the condition when we were flooded with foreigners who
tried to run the country on different lines from those laid down by
the old stock...Strictly speaking, it is not a refugee bill at all,
for by the nature of the case most of those admitted would be of the
Jewish race.' There was of course more activity on the part of those
united to prevent the bill from becoming law. There was heavy
lobbying in Congress. Colonel John Taylor lobbied for the American
Legion against the bill and in support of a bill by North Carolina
Senator Robert Reynolds which would abolish all immigration to the
United States for the next ten years. Mrs. Agnes Waters,
representing, as she claimed, the Widows of World War I veterans,
testified, that if the Children's Rescue Bill should pass, the United
States 'would be made helpless to guarantee our children their rights
under the Constitution to life, liberty and the pursuit of
happiness...if this country is going to become the dumping ground for
the persecuted minorities of Europe. The refugees...can never become
loyal Americans.'

Because the lobbying in Congress was going well, those who supported
the bill hoped that the President might make his influence felt.
Congresswoman O'Day of New York wrote to Mr. Roosevelt hoping to
obtain a statement in favor of the bill. But the President refused to
become involved in a subject opposed not only by many Republicans but
bitterly resented by the conservative Democrats of the solid South.
O'Day's letter forwarded to Mr. Roosevelt by his secretary carries on
the margin in his own handwriting the notation" 'File - No action.'

In Washington, more issues are often revealed and decided at
diplomatic cocktail parties than at formal meetings. Mr. Pierrepoint
Moffat, chief of the State Department's Division of European Affairs,
reports in his diary, now in the National Archives, about such a
cocktail party which points out clearer than the official debates the
true nature of the attitude of the insiders toward this rescue
attempt. Mrs. James Hougheling, wife of the all powerful Commissioner
of Immigration said: 'The trouble with the Wagner-Rogers bill was
that 20,000 children would all too soon grow up into 20,000 ugly

Well, the bills never left the committee. The conspiracy of
anti-Semites and isolationists succeeded in torpedoing the rescue
bills and the children did not grow up into any kind of adults."
(Perl, 19-21)

 2007/2/14 23:01

 Re: How America "helped" the Jews.

Thanks for sharing this. Having read Anne Frank's diary I found it interesting that they just now discovered those files and information...

For those interested in this subject I just read [url=]The Last Jew of Rotterdam[/url], which is the story of some Jewish people who went into hiding during the holocaust and how during that time they found Yeshua as their Messiah.

 2007/2/16 14:16

 Re: How America 'helped' the Jews

These included the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, the Society of Mayflower Descendants, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Lord's Day Alliance of the United States, the Daughters of the Confederacy, and other isolationist organizations......

if you ever wonder why Jews are suspiscious of Christians and...

Neil, thank you. They make grim reading. It sounds very different in the US, and I have trouble wrapping my head round the rehearsals of these tragedies, you know?
...and the children did not grow up into any kind of adults.

There was an item on the radio here (UK) today, about how effective the HIV AIDS lobby has been in commandeering no less than 25% of available medical resources in Africa for their 'chosen' medical condition - while millions of children under a year old, making up a larger % of need, die of pneumonia and malaria - obviously (note my sarcasm) too young to have made influential friends.

It is not a little terrifying to understand that the choices we make are, one way or another, the fulfilment of prophecy. But, as you've shared elsewhere, finding that place of forgiveness, [b]is[/b] the breakthrough.

 2007/2/16 16:48

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