The Holocaust: Isolationism and Antisemitism

The Holocaust is one of the most horrendous and brutal events to happen in world history. It was a period of mass destruction forced upon European Jews by the Nazi’s of Germany between the years of 1933 when Hitler comes into power until 1945 where he’s defeated. Numerous tragedies of the Holocaust led to broken homes and families that people are still affected by.

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As 19th century Germans adopted Christianity and antisemitism, the demand for national and racial superiority became high. Hitler deemed the Germans as Aryan people (a pure master race characterized by blond hair, blue eyes, and a tall stature worthy of more respect than that of God himself). At last, the idea was born that Jews would be depicted as an insignificant race of foreigners, killers of Christ, and the cause of all economic and political misfortune. And so meditated genocide begun.

Although Jews suffered primarily throughout this event, other parts of society were left with lasting effects. Not only were the Nazi’s attempting to ravage Jewish people, but there were efforts made to destroy the Romans and Polish also. Jews would seek refuge in these areas of Europe as they escaped Hitler’s camps. The Holocaust is still very relevant today. Descendants of these groups of people may feel the impact of the ghastly count of genocide the world may have ever faced. The Holocaust is a part of history that brings light to the gruesome acts of hate and racism the world currently experiences. Often being compared to terrorism and civil rights movements in America.

The Holocaust prevailed, isolationism, and antisemitism. Investigative questions have arisen on America’s response to the Holocaust around the United States knowledge of this event and how they reacted. In spite of historical data supporting evidence of accommodating Holocaust victims, the United States crippled with issues of their own during the 1930’s made satisfying greater expectations difficult.

Options to respond to the persecution of Jews presented themselves to the United States a number of times throughout the history of the Holocaust. The refugee crisis of 1939 and the deportation of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz-Birkenau are a few of these times. In 1939, Jews from Hamburg, Germany, set sail on a ship called the St Louis to Havana, Cuba to pursue refuge only to find out their landing permits were invalidated by a Cuban law before the arrival of the ship. After nearly every passenger was dismissed of entering, the ship sailed to Florida with hopes of entry through a US port. Because of the depression and increase of anti-Semitism, the Roosevelt administration saw political danger in American policies regarding open immigration to the United States, making it very challenging for foreigners to enter. The ship was refused once again upon entry to Florida forcing the passengers to return to Europe.

Later, the United States received a report from the World Jewish Congress of the Germans plan to exterminate European Jews proposing American officials to bomb Auschwitz where the Jews were being deported from Hungary. The United States indicated numerous reasons for the denial of the proposal. Reasons being they didn’t want to divert military resources from war efforts against Germany and bombing may in rage more malicious action from the Germans. Heavily motivated by the Great Depression, anti-semitism justifies America’s stringent mindset of refusing Jewish refugees to enter American land. Furthermore, in hindsight, refusing to assist in Auschwitz would help to reinforce their intent to keep Jews from entering.

As Adolf Hitler became the Chancellor of Germany he soon prepared to organize policies to segregate German Jews forcing upon them ostracism, persecution and murder. Anti-semitism demanded a boycott of Jewish businesses, restricted education, and dismissed Jews from Civil service prohibiting them from being able to make a living as professionals. The writings of Jewish authors were burned. German businesses later announced their refusal to service Jews. Laws were passed that only allowed Aryans to become German citizens. Marriage and extramarital intercourse became illegal for Aryans and Jews to participate in together. The repressive nonviolent acts later turned violent and fatal when Nazi riots (Kristallnacht) destroyed hundreds of Jewish synagogues, schools, businesses, schools, and hospitals. Many Jews were murdered in a result of the violence. Police officers and firemen were ordered to halt their assistance except to extinguish burning building only on Aryan owned property.

American responses were informed by Roosevelt’s acknowledgment of Kristallnacht. His statement to the media announced the progression of anti-Semitism in Germany. Although he disapproved of the violence brought on by Nazi’s, this major event wasn’t enough to slacken the immigration rules that hindered multitudes of Jews from pursuing safety in the United States. Reason being that they wanted to decrease the possibility of Nazi spies settling in the US and because of the anti- Semitic ideas of the elite officials in the United States State Department.

Some American societies put forth astringent actions against Germany. The anti-Nazi Boycott gave troubled Americans an option to assist the Jews with the events happening in Germany. The American Jewish Congress and Jewish Labor Committee regarded the boycott of German goods as an explicit way to set back German pursuits. Additionally, the executive secretary of the Non- Sectarian Anti- Nazi League issued a letter to college and university students warning them to avoid importations from Germany at the supply house. Unfortunately, these efforts never externalized a strong, secure boycott of German goods.

Participation around the 1936 Berlin Olympics brought forth yet another boycott against the Germans. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) received a formal promise by Nazis that Jews and non-Aryan athletes would be granted access to equally train and compete with others. Some Americans and Europeans began to advocate an Olympic boycott after the discovering reports of discrimination of the Jewish athletes however.. The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) postponed the acceptance of their invitation to participate in the Olympics until an investigation was put forth regarding German prejudices Jewish Athletes. Catholic organizations and labor unions who had the support of the New York Times were involved in the boycott as well. Walter white head, who was the head of the NAACP in 1935, sent a request to the AAU to refuse participation in the Berlin Olympics assuming the black athletes and other nonwhite races may receive the same discriminatory actions as the Jews. The American team did enter the Olympics after all. A small number of Jews and African American athletes participated. The African American athletes especially seeing an opportunity to prove themselves.

There were segments of American society who urged the US government to essentially close the doors to refugees. The immigration quotas set by the US Congress were considerably limited which prevented undesirable groups of people access to the united states. American officials arranged for the US Coast Gaurd to refuse the St Louis ship to enter into the United States after the ship was refused in Cuba. The Roosevelt administration assumed it was a better decision to stay silent during Kristallnacht as not to provoke German spies from entering into the US.

In my opinion, during the Holocuast, America could have done more to assist the Jews seeking refuge in the United States. The long drawn out processes needed to approve the refugees only contributed to more Jews being murdered. Somehow, I understand somewhat of why certain groups were reluctant to be more helpful. The United States had to consider their part in the war with Germany and protecting their own people with job security after the Great Depression before they could examine options to let more people in. Regardless, more effort could have been made in how fast the decisions were made.

The Holocaust is one of the most horrendous and brutal events to happen in world history. Isolationism and antisemitism remained at the heart of the Holocaust. No matter what information slipped through to the United States from outside sources, The United States held their ground on their strict immigration policies throughout the life of the events of the Holocaust.

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