Franklin D. Roosevelt DBQ Essay

Being Jewish anywhere in the world was hard in the 1930s and 40s. Almost all know about German jewish hardship, the systematic slaughter of millions of jews in death camps across Hitler’s empire, but what many do not understand is that anti-semitism was incredibly strong in the United States as well. However, in a time when almost none stood by their side, Franklin Delano Roosevelt seemed the only world leader who cared. However, his cabinet did not share his welcoming attitude, and attempted to sabotage him. Although Roosevelt demonstrated that he did care about saving the Jews, his administration perpetrated systematic denial of Jewish entry to the country. Because he did not do enough to investigate this until it was too late, he is…

In his 1935 letter to New York Governor Herbert Lehman, who asked him about allowing more jews in, he explained that they already were, and, “[C]onsular officers have been instructed that in cases where it is found that an immigration visa cannot obtain a supporting document . . . the requirement of such document may be waived” (Document 1). Roosevelt specifically instructed his officers to grant visas to those who were lacking sufficient paperwork. He obviously did care enough to try and ease entry into the United States. Not only that, but he also made sure no special preference was given to christians over jews. In 1936, Roosevelt gave his signature of approval to a statement that, “[I]t would not be appropriate for the president to support one particular class of Refugees” (Document 2). The corollary that Roosevelt had signed off on was specifically designed to block any attempt to give preferential treatment to christian refugees over jewish ones. He attempted to give jews a fair chance. In addition, after Kristallnacht, a night in November 1938 in which almost 100 jews were killed and thousands of jewish business where torched and looted in Nazi Germany, he gave a condemning public statement denouncing Germany for its actions, writing in the margins, “I myself could scarcely believe that such things could occur in a Twentieth Century Civilization” (Document 4). Roosevelt obvious cared deeply about the…

In aforementioned letter to Governor Herbert Lehman, he foolishly wrote, “I believe that the department of state have had no other desire than to carry out the immigration duties placed upon them by the immigration acts of 1924” (Document 1). Roosevelt, as of 1935 when this letter was written, believed that the state department was doing every possible thing it could to save jews in Europe. This could be true, but even without Breckenridge Long, the anti-semitic assistant Secretary of State that would later be appointed and intentionally deny visas to jews based on red tape, the State Department was still remarkably anti-semitic. The fact that the president wrote that he merely “believed” the state department was not up to no good leads one to believe that he did no verification while looking into them. He simply operated on a false assumption that all would comply. And this assumption cost millions their lives. Once Breckenridge Long was appointed in 1940, the denial of visas became verified and systematic. In a damning memo, written soon after he was appointed in 1940, but hidden from all but the state department, he advised to, “[P]ostpone and postpone and postpone the granting of the visas” (Film) in order to keep jews out. This was a major scandal in the administration, but it should have been seen coming, given Breckenridge’s history. Edward Stettinius, Undersecretary of State at…