War and its Aftermath
Hitler ascended to power in 1933, American
Jews undertook various measures
to protest the ever-worsening circumstances
They initiated a nation-wide boycott of
German goods and organized protest marches
and rallies in support of beleaguered German
Jewry. Although 100,000 Jews were able to
enter the United States during the 1930s,
millions more were left stranded as attempts
to ease America's immigration restrictions
largely failed and other potential havens
for Jews barred their entry. With the onset
of the war in 1939,
Hitler put his plan
to annihilate European Jewry into action.
On August 28, 1942,
the contents of a telegram from
Gerhardt Riegner were conveyed to Rabbi
Stephen S.Wise. Riegner,
an official of the World Jewish Congress
in Switzerland, outlined the Nazi intention
to exterminate Europe's Jews. Wise remained
silent, at the request of U.S. officials,
pending official confirmation of the report.
Some three months later, the State Department
verified what has come to be known as the “Riegner Telegram.” By
this time, the Nazis had already murdered
more than two million of the six million
Jews who ultimately perished in the Holocaust.
World War I
Sponsored by the Jewish
Relief Campaign, this World
War I poster below features a monumental
female figure offering the bounty of America
— a tray laden with food
— to Europe's
destitute women and children. The skyline
of New York City and the Statue of Liberty
are in the background. Between 1914 and 1924,
American Jews raised an unprecedented sixty-three
million dollars for relief of their suffering
Jewish Relief Campaign.
Brooklyn: Sackett & Wilhelms Corporation, 1917.
Color lithograph poster.
Prints and Photographs Division
Responding to the persecution
of Jews in
Hitler's Germany, American Jewry organized
a nation-wide anti-Nazi boycott movement
Sponsored by the American Jewish Congress
and the Jewish Labor Committee, the massive
rally pictured below filled New York City's
Madison Square Garden on March 15, 1937.
Speakers included John L. Lewis, head of
the CIO, New York's Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia,
Stephen S. Wise, head
of the American Jewish Congress.
Madison Square Garden, New York City,
March 15, 1937.
Gelatin silver print.
New York World-Telegram & Sun Newspaper Collection.
Prints and Photographs
The dual-sided English-Yiddish broadside
displayed below promotes a rally supporting President
Franklin Roosevelt and his “policy
of all aid to Great Britain, the Soviet Union,
and China,” sponsored by the Jewish Peoples
Committee, a pro-communist organization.
David Dubinsky, president of the International
Ladies Garment Union, declined to attend
this September 18, 1941, rally because he
viewed the sponsoring group as Communist
Mass Meeting sponsored by the Trade
Union Council and
New York City Committee
of the Jewish People, September 18,
Temple Oheb Sholom in Goldsboro,
North Carolina, held a special service to
mark V-E Day, May 8, 1945,
commemorating the surrender of Nazi Germany
the day before. The congregation's rabbi,
J. Gershon Tolochko, created a program for
a special service, which was then reproduced
in scroll form. The service began with the
singing of the national anthem, followed
by the recitation of a poem of the same name
by B. Franklin Hunter. The poem's last stanza
read: “And the Star-spangled Banner/
Of peace will yet wave. / O'er the lands
cursed with war/ That we still hope to save.”
Honoring the United Nations;
Special V-Day Services,"
Temple Oheb Sholom,
Goldsboro, North Carolina, .
Hand-colored mimeo type.
The hand-drawn plaque below
includes dual Hebrew prayers for Winston
Churchill and Franklin
Roosevelt. The one
for Roosevelt, based on the traditional Jewish
prayer for the government, reads: “[May He]
who gives salvation to President Roosevelt,
[He] whose kingdom is everlasting, protect,
and increase, and raise up all of the officials
of America, and [may] the King of Kings lift
them up and lengthen their days in office.”
Prayers for Roosevelt and Churchill,
Plaque with hand-drawn flags with manuscript
Less than two months after
V-E Day, President
Harry S. Truman sent Earl G. Harrison,
an expert on immigration and refugees, to
investigate charges of mistreatment of Jewish
Displaced Persons (DPs) by the U.S. Army.
Harrison inspected thirty DP
camps and submitted
the report below,
which changed America's policy towards the
Jewish refugees. Displayed here are two pages
from the report. The first page shown here
outlines Harrison's mission, and the other
page, includes Harrison's succinct assessment
of the situation: “As matters stand
now, we appear to be treating the Jews as
the Nazis treated them except we do not exterminate
them. They are in concentration camps in
large numbers under our military guard instead
of the S.S. troops. One is led to wonder
whether the German people, seeing this, are
not supposing that we are following or at
least condoning Nazi policy.”
G. Harrison (1899-1955).
a] Mission to Europe to Inquire
the Condition [of] the Displaced Persons.
. . .
Washington, 1945. National Council of Jewish Women
President Truman forwarded
Report to General
Dwight Eisenhower, instructing him to take
steps immediately to remedy the conditions
of the Jewish refugees in the American Zone
of Occupation. In his letter
Truman wrote: “I know that
you will agree with me that we have a particular
responsibility toward these victims of persecution
and tyranny who are in our zone. We must
make clear to the German people that we thoroughly
abhor the Nazi policies of hatred and persecution.
We have no better opportunity to demonstrate
this than by the manner in which we ourselves
actually treat the survivors in Germany.”
Harry S Truman (1884-1972) to Dwight
D. Eisenhower (1890-1969).
Typescript letter (enclosed with Harrison Report),
August 31, 1945.
Courtesy of the Truman Library,
National Archives and Records Administration,
Chaplain Abraham Klausner helped compile
an extensive list of Holocaust survivors,
which was published by the Central Committee
of Liberated Jews in Bavaria under the auspices
of the U.S. Army. As noted on the volume's
title page below, the list was compiled "so
that the lost may be found and the dead brought
back to life."
ha-Pley'tah: An Extensive List
Survivors of Nazi Tyranny. .
Munich: Central Committee of Liberated
Jews in Bavaria, 1946.
In 1946, under the auspices of the U.S.
Army, a special Passover seder
was convened in Munich that included many
Jewish Holocaust survivors.
A special, non-traditional supplement to
the haggadah was printed for the occasion,
its frontispiece announcing: “We were
slaves to Hitler in Germany. . . .” Displayed
below is the cover of that haggadah, featuring
the insignia of the United States 3rd Army.
le-Hagadah shel Pesah
[Passover Seder Service:
Deutsches Theatre Restaurant].
Munich: April 15-16, 1946.
At the request of a delegation
of rabbis from
Persons camps, a monumental
nineteen-volume edition of the complete Talmud was
published in Munich-Heidelberg in 1948 — only
three years after the war ended — to
help meet the religious needs of Holocaust survivors
in the American zone. It is dedicated to
the “United States Army,” which
provided the opportunity and the means for
its publication. Shown below is the title
page of this extraordinary work, which connects
the Holocaust with the hoped for rebirth
of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel.
At the bottom of the title page is a depiction
of a Nazi slave labor camp flanked by barbed
wire; above are the palm trees and the landscape
of the Holy Land. The legend reads: “From
bondage to freedom; from darkness to a great
[The Survivors Talmud, Vol. 1].
Munich-Heidelberg: United States Army, 1948.