55 Scholars Protest Book's Claims About FDR & Holocaust

Historians in the News

Fifty-five leading Holocaust scholars have denounced a new book which asserts that criticism of President Franklin Roosevelt's response to the Holocaust is "anti-American" and "America-bashing." The book also contains false allegations against reputable historians, severely misrepresents key historical facts, and contains at least twenty-one passages that use language from other books without appropriate attribution.

The book, Saving the Jews: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Holocaust, by South Carolina divorce attorney Robert N. Rosen, was published by Thunder's Mouth Press earlier this year. Rosen has been invited to address the Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park, NY, and the Carter Presidential Library, in Atlanta, as well as other institutions.

The scholars' petition, organized by The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, criticizes Rosen for "impugning the patriotism of scholars, including Prof. David S. Wyman, who have taken issue with the Roosevelt administration's response to the Holocaust ...As scholars who have written about the Holocaust, we protest Mr. Rosen's attempt to demean the motives of reputable historians who have documented important facts about how America responded to the Nazi genocide. Does your publishing house really mean to suggest that questioning the policies of a particular administration is grounds for branding a scholar 'anti-American'? Such name-calling and invective are deplorable, false, and have no place in serious discussion of the Roosevelt administration's response to one of the greatest moral crises of the Twentieth Century."

The signatories include Rabbi Dr. Irving (Yitz) Greenberg, former chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council; Prof. Hubert G. Locke, Dean Emeritus at the University of Washington; Dr. Gregory H. Stanton, president of Genocide Watch; Dr. Michael Berenbaum, Professor & Director at the University of Judaism's Ziering Institute on the Holocaust; Prof. Blanche Cook of the City University of New York, author of the acclaimed multi-volume biography of Eleanor Roosevelt; Prof. Israel W. Charny, editor of the Encyclopedia of Genocide; Prof. Susannah Heschel of Dartmouth College; and Thane Rosenbaum, novelist and professor of human rights law at Fordham University.

For the full text of the petition and the list of signatories, call the Wyman Institute at 202-434-8994 or visit www.WymanInstitute.org

At the same time, the Wyman Institue has issued a 33-page report analyzing Saving the Jews. The report, titled Whitewashing FDR's Holocaust Record, was co-authored by Wyman Institute director Dr. Rafael Medoff; Dr. Racelle Weiman, director of the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion; and Dr. Bat-Ami Zucker of Bar Ilan University, author of In Search of Refuge: Jews and U.S. Consulates in Nazi Germany 1933-1941.

For the full text of the report, call the Wyman Institute at 202-434-8994 or visit www.WymanInstitute.org

Highlights of the Wyman Institute's report:

* Rosen Makes False Allegations against Reputable Historians:

Rosen makes false allegations against prominent Holocaust scholars such as Deborah Lipstadt, Henry Feingold, David Wyman, and Laurel Leff. For example, Rosen falsely accuses Prof. Feingold of calling President Roosevelt "a coward," and calling the U.S.and British governments "unspeakable antisemites." He also alleges that Feingold essentially manufactured evidence to make a State Department official appear antisemitic. Rosen falsely alleges that Prof. Leff described Jewish activist Peter Bergson as the leader of the Palestine Jewish community.

* Rosen Severely Misrepresents Key Historical Facts:

--Rosen misquotes historians Richard Breitman and Alan Kraut to make it seem as if they praised FDR's response to Kristallnacht, when in fact they were critical of FDR's response. (p.78)

--Rosen manipulates immigration statistics to claim the U.S. accepted twice as many refugees from Hitler as the rest of the world combined (p.442), when in fact the rest of the world took in nearly twice as many the United States.

--Rosen falsely claims that FDR was so "incensed" by the 1939 British White Paper (which closed off Palestine to almost all Jewish immigrants), that he began pushing for the removal of Arabs from Palestine to make room for the Jews. (p.485) In fact, FDR's discussions about Arab emigration took place more than six months before the White Paper, and his response to the White Paper was very weak.

--Rosen defends FDR's failure to speak out about the persecution of Europe Jews, on the baseless grounds that verbal protests would have led to increased persecution. (pp.455-456) Rosen also defends the British White Paper, claiming that Jewish immigration to Palestine would have caused Arabs to become pro-Nazi and possibly kill Jews in the Middle East. (pp.274, 116-117)

--Rosen falsely claims that not a single prominent U.S. Jewish leader asked the Roosevelt administration to bomb the Auschwitz death camp. (pp. 404, 475) In fact, Nahum Goldmann, co-chairman of the World Jewish Congress and U.S. representative of the Jewish Agency, did ask the administration to do so, and his request is mentioned even in a document from 1944 that Rosen himself lists in one of his footnotes. Other Jewish leaders, organizations, and publications also called for bombing the death camps.

* Rosen Falsely Portrays Jewish Activists as Draft-Dodgers:
Rosen portrays the 1940s Jewish activists known as the Bergson Group as draft-dodgers. He claims that their leaders "sat out the war in America, preferring to agitate for the overthrow of the British in Palestine rather than enlist and fight Nazis themselves." (p. 303) In fact, two of the group's five leaders, Yitshaq Ben-Ami and Dr. Alexander Rafaeli, enlisted and fought in the U.S. Army (in the Battle of the Bulge and the Normandy invasion, respectively), and the other three were classified 4-F.

* Rosen Uses Other Authors' Language without Appropriate Attribution:

Saving the Jews contains at least twenty-one passages that have language identical to, or virtually identical to, language used in books by other authors. In these twenty-one passages, Rosen does not use quotation marks to indicate that the words were composed by a different author. The American Historical Association's official Standards on Professional Conduct and Statement on Plagiarism define plagiarism as "the use of another's language without quotation marks and citation." The Statement also notes: "Plagiarism includes more subtle and perhaps pernicioius abuses than simply expropriating the exact wording of another author without attribution ... a historian ... should never simply borrow and rephrase the findings of other scholars."

The Wyman Institute has alerted the American Historical Association's Professional Division concerning Rosen's book and the twenty-one passages in question.

comments powered by Disqus