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The Holocaust and Western Help


"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 doctors.

 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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