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WHAT DID THE UNITED STATES KNOW ABOUT THE HOLOCAUST AND HOW DID IT RESPOND?

Despite a history of providing sanctuary to persecuted peoples, the United States grappled with many issues during the 1930s that made living up to this legacy difficult. These issues included widespread antisemitism, xenophobia, isolationism, and a sustained economic depression. Unfortunately for those fleeing Nazi persecution, such issues greatly impacted US refugee policy, reinforcing an official and popular unwillingness to expand immigration quotas to admit greater numbers of people endangered by Nazi persecution and aggression at a time when doing so might have saved lives.

Over the years, scholarly investigation into US responses in the era of the Holocaust has raised a number of questions, such as: What did the United States know? What did government officials and civilians do with this knowledge? Could more have been done? Scholars have examined US immigration policy, the reactions of the US government to reported atrocities, and sluggish efforts to organize operations aimed at rescuing European Jews.

Debates have sparked over key events, including the voyage of the St. Louis, the establishment of the War Refugee Board, the role of the American Jewish community, US media coverage of Nazi crimes and violence, and the contentious question of bombing Auschwitz. The topic continues to evolve with the introduction of new documentation and revised hypotheses.

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Originally posted 2017-12-17 21:32:56.