Did the Western World Do Enough For the Jews In the Holocaust


"When they came for the gypsies, I did not speak, for I am
not a gypsy. When they came for the Jews, I did not speak,
because I wasn't a Jew. When they came for the Catholics, I
did not speak, for I am not a Catholic. And when they came
for me, there was no one left to speak."
-On the Wall at the Holocaust Museum in Washington
It is impossible to learn about the Holocaust and the
Second World War without the question of how it possibly
could have happened arising, and along with that question
comes another. The question of whether or not the Western
World did enough to help the Jews in Europe. What was their
reaction to the campaign of systematic persecution, robbery
and murder the Third Reich inflicted upon the Jewish people?
During the time leading up to the outbreak of World War II,
the Western Press consistently carried numerous reports of
the German's anti-Jewish policies and their purposeful
victimization of the Jews living in Nazi Germany as well as
the annexed territories. The general public cannot claim
that they did not know what was going on, that they were
uninformed. Whether or not they chose to believe it
however, is a completely different story. The public were
indeed outraged in many of the cases but the governments of
the major European democracies felt that it was not for
them to intervene for they felt that the Jewish problem
classified as an internal affair within a sovereign state.
The truth behind this is simply that the governments were
anxious to establish cordial relations with Germany and
didn't want to cause any hostility. Thus they stood idly by
and remained silent as Hitler went from denying the Jews of
their civil rights to denying them of their means of
earning their daily bread.
As much as they wanted to remain neutral, the countries of
the Western World were finally forced to take a stand on
the issue of emigration of Jews from the Reich who were
seeking refuge. The United States maintained strict
immigration quotas which severely limited the number of
Central and Eastern Europeans admitted to the country each
year. Even under such extreme circumstances, the US
insisted on adhering to these policies and refused to
modify them even slightly. Great Britain proved to be
merciless as they blocked entry into Palestine and limited
the amount of entry permits. The states that had the
ability to absorb the immigrants such as Australia, Canada
and most countries of South America, accepted agricultural
workers but denied entry to professionals, merchants and
skilled artisans. There were actually protests in the US
and Britain organized against the admission of immigrant
The President of the United States initiated the Evian
Conference in 1938 in an attempt to find a means that would
aid emigrants from Germany and Austria and enable their
absorption elsewhere. Thirty-two countries sent delegates
with hopes that a solution would be found however, it
quickly became clear to all that the even the great powers
who had initiated the conference were not willing to take
any significant steps towards accepting the refugees.
Despite the speeches and the appeals, no one country was
willing to commit themselves to practical measures, the
smaller countries following the example of the larger ones.
An international committee was set up in London for refugee
affairs but it lacked funding as well as a place towards
where they could direct the refugees. It is evident here
that it is not a lack of knowledge that something had to be
done, but rather an unwillingness that prevented the
Western World from helping the Jews. Words are just that,
mere words, unless they are put into action. As a result,
the Evian Conference is regarded as a complete failure.
Once the war began, the comprehensive information regarding
the conditions in Germany that the Western World had at one
time been provided with, ceased. Still, news of the
Einsatzgruppen 's activities and the mass killings in the
death camps found its way to the west. Up until the middle
of the year 1942, the general tendency was to regard the
consistent persecution of the Jews as just one part of the
complex of oppression in the occupied countries. By the
mid-1942 the horribly terrifying rumors about Hitler's
Final Solution as well as the operations and atrocities
being conducted were confirmed.
Once again the reactions of the United States and Britain,
who were the major countries of the anti-Nazi alliance,
were of horror and anger. The Jews put forth plans to
combat the Nazis persecution of their people such as a
demand for the exchange of Germans for Jews or the
launching of retaliation strikes against the Germans until
the murders ceased. Not only were these proposals refused
simple consideration, but there was not even a willingness
to halt the formal procedures governing the transfer of
dollars abroad which may have saved the lives of many Jews.
All proposals which, if out into action, could have saved
thousands of children and other victims, were submitted to
administrations that merely contemplated rather than
decided and thus, produced no tangible results.
As Jews were fighting for their lives in Warsaw Ghetto, a
conference of the major allies convened in Bermuda to
consider the "problem" of refugees. As with the Evian
Conference, no practical solutions were proposed, The only
thing it did accomplish was an attempt at reviving the
International Committee for Refugee Affairs, which had no
executive powers.
Finally, the conclusion of the Allies was that rescue would
only be accomplished through a final victory over the
Nazis. It was decided that in the meantime, no military
action should be taken which was not part of the purely
military-strategic plan. This policy was strictly adhered
to and therefore no operation for relief or rescue was
undertaken, even if such an action did not conflict with
military objectives or require the use of military power.
"He who preserves one life, it as if he has preserved an
entire world." - The Talmud. Anytime the world stands idly
by and remains silent as 6 000 000 worlds are shattered,
not only did they fail to come up with a solution, but they
became a part of the problem. Hitler attempted to erase an
entire race of people, because of him there was a
generation lost. My entire grandparents family was murdered
and many of their friends still bear the numbers that were
etched into their skin. They have endured nightmarish
atrocities not fit for the world of the awake. They have
been witness to ideas, thoughts and actions one would deny
human being's capability of even imagining. Their eyes have
been robbed of their innocence after seeing sights that
would cause anyone to shut them in fear and disgust but
this was an option they did not have. Now you look into
those eyes and you tell them that the Western World did all
they could to help the Jews.

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