WASHINGTON, D.C. – Several prominent historians have withheld documents that reveal unflattering remarks about Jews made by presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman, according to new research.
The revelations appear in an essay, “Antisemitism in the White House,” by Dr. Rafael Medoff, which will appear later this year in the 2014 volume of Antisemitism in America, a multidisciplinary series of books published by Academic Studies Press and edited by Prof. Eunice G. Pollack. (To view the essay, please visit www.WymanInstitute.org) Dr. Medoff is founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, in Washington, D.C.
Medoff’s essay also reveals that that the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute, at Hunter College in New York City, has acknowledged that it erred in publicly portraying FDR’s mother as a champion of Jewish refugees. The institute has removed an article about Mrs. Roosevelt from its web site and pledged to correct it.
Dr. Medoff’s essay concludes: “Unfortunately, some historians have chosen to withhold documents, or portions of documents, that reflect unfavorably on FDR’s views [about Jews]…Such actions in effect amount to censorship of portions of the historical record, contravene accepted standards of scholarly research, and have impeded the public’s understanding of the Roosevelt administration’s response to the Holocaust.”
Some of the examples cited in “Antisemitism in the White House”:
— Professors Richard Breitman and Allan Lichtman, authors of FDR and the Jews (2013) withheld a portion of a 1938 memo in which President Roosevelt alleged that Jews were dominating the Polish economy; in the memo, FDR also claimed the Jews’ behavior was the cause of antisemitism in Poland. Breitman and Lichtman had the memo in their possession: they quoted from a part of it concerning a different subject, but omitted the part about Polish Jews.
— Prof. Arthur Schlesinger (1917- 2007), the acclaimed historian of the New Deal, obtained a document in which FDR privately boasted to a colleague, “We know we have no Jewish blood in our veins.” Schlesinger obtained the document in 1959, yet he never mentioned it in the numerous articles and books he wrote about President Roosevelt in the years to follow. In fact, in a 1996 essay, Schlesinger specifically denied that FDR harbored antisemitic feelings.
— Professors Breitman and Lichtman acknowledged in FDR and the Jews that Roosevelt made antisemitic remarks in meetings with Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov in 1942, and with Soviet leader Josef Stalin at Yalta in 1945. But Breitman and Lichtman claimed that in both instances, FDR was merely “using antisemitism as an ice-breaker,” to facilitate discussions with the Soviets–not because he actually shared those sentiments. Dr. Medoff’s essay reveals that Roosevelt actually made his remarks to Molotov near the very end of a long evening of discussions; and he made his remark to Stalin on the next-to-last day of their week-long conference. Hence none of those remarks could have been “ice-breakers”–a fact which must have been known to Breitman and Lichtman.
— Historian John Morton Blum (1921-2011) revealed in a private interview that he discovered a statement by Harry Truman in 1945, in which the president used the term “Jew boys” to disparage Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, Jr. and adviser Bernard Baruch. Blum withheld the statement from publication.
— William Hillman, the first editor of Harry Truman’s papers, obtained a 1945 memo in which Truman lambasted Jews for believing that God “picked ‘em out for special privilege.” But when Hillman’s volume was published in 1953, that passage was altered to read simply: “…I never thought God picked any favorites. It is my studied opinion that any race, creed or color can be God’s favorites if they act the part–and very few of ‘em do that.”
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ABOUT THE WYMAN INSTITUTE: The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, located in Washington, D.C., is a research and education institute focusing on America’s response to the Holocaust. It is named in honor of the eminent historian and author of the 1984 best-seller The Abandonment of the Jews, the most important and influential book concerning the U.S. response to the Nazi genocide.