America’s traditional policy of open immigration had ended when Congress enacted restrictive immigration quotas in 1921 and 1924. The quota system allowed only 25,957 Germans to enter the country every year. After the stock market crash of 1929, rising unemployment caused restrictionist sentiment to grow, and President Herbert Hoover ordered vigorous enforcement of visa regulations. The new policy significantly reduced immigration; in 1932 the United States issued only 35,576 immigration visas.
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One War Refugee Board operative, Raoul Wallenberg, technically a Swedish diplomat in Budapest, provided at least 20,000 Jews with Swedish passports and protection.
State Department officials continued their restrictive measures after Franklin D. Roosevelt’s inauguration in March 1933. Although some Americans sincerely believed that the country lacked the resources to accommodate newcomers, the nativism of many others reflected the growing problem of anti-Semitism.
Of course, American anti-Semitism never approached the intensity of Jew-hatred in Nazi Germany, but pollsters found that many Americans looked upon Jews unfavorably. A much more threatening sign was the presence of anti-Semitic leaders and movements on the fringes of American politics, including Father Charles E. Coughlin, the charismatic radio priest, and William Dudley Pelley’s Silver Shirts.
Although the quota walls seemed unassailable, some Americans took steps to alleviate the suffering of German Jews. American Jewish leaders organized a boycott of German goods, hoping that economic pressure might force Hitler to end his anti-Semitic policies, and prominent American Jews, including Louis D. Brandeis, interceded with the Roosevelt administration on the refugees’ behalf. In response, the Roosevelt administration agreed to ease visa regulations, and in 1939, following the Nazi annexation of Austria, State Department officials issued all the visas available under the combined German-Austrian quota.
Responding to the increasingly difficult situation of German Jewry, Roosevelt organized the international Evian Conference on the refugee crisis in 1938. Although thirty-two nations attended, very little was accomplished because no country was willing to accept a large number of Jewish refugees. The conference did establish an Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees, but it failed to devise any practical solutions.
Essay Treatment of the Jews During the Holocaust
1088 Words5 Pages
Treatment of the Jews During the Holocaust
The Nazi slaughter of European Jews during World War II, commonly referred to as the Holocaust, occupies a special place in our history. The genocide of innocent people by one of the world's most advanced nations is opposite of what we think about the human race, the human reason, and progress. It raises doubts about our ability to live together on the same planet with people of other cultures and persuasions. Before it happened, virtually no one thought such a slaughter likely or even possible. To be sure, for many centuries anti-Semitism had been widespread throughout Europe. Devout Christians had viewed the Jews as Christ killers and deliberate misbelievers, but conversion was…show more content…
The most that I learned happened was those anti-Semitic minorities that took the "Jewish problem" seriously liked to solve it by assimilating the Jews into the larger population or else repealing their emancipation and restoring the old discriminatory laws. Even the toughest that may have thought there was a Jewish conspiracy to dominate the economy, recommended their expulsion as a remedy of last resort. So I believe that anti-Semitism was necessary prior to the Holocaust, but did not make it inevitable. I have learned that after World War I, Europe experienced severe economic and political problems that intensified anti-Semitism almost everywhere. This added to the old charges that Jews were unpatriotic and greedy and there was the accusation that they were behind the spread of Communism. In Germany, Adolf Hitler, who had become a racial anti-Semite as a youth in his birth country of Austria, made attacks on the Jews from the beginning of his career in the Nazi party in postwar Munich. Such attacks became the mainstay of Nazi propaganda throughout his rise to power, but he did not always use them. Hitler and his followers used these attacks when it played for their position and not when it served against them. However, once in power, the Nazis showed that they were sincere anti-Semites from the start. Jews were fired from government jobs, and were subjected to discriminatory laws, sporadic