This book answers the most pressing question about the Holocaust: Why did the West do nothing as Hitler's killing machine took hold?
The Allies stood by and watched Nazi Germany imprison and then murder six million Jews during World War II. How could the unthinkable have been allowed to happen? Theodore Hamerow reveals in the pages of this compelling book that each Western nation had its own version of the Jewish Question—its own type of anti-Semitism—which may not have been as virulent as in Eastern Europe but was disastrously crippling nonetheless. If just one country had opened its doors to Germany's already persecuted Jews in the 1930s, and if the Allies had attempted even one bombing of an extermination camp, the Holocaust would have been markedly different. Instead, by sitting on their hands, the West let Hitler solve their Jewish Question by eliminating European Jewry.
In this brilliantly conceived and superbly narrated account, University of Wisconsin professor emeritus of history Hamerow (On the Road to the Wolf's Lair) makes it undeniably clear that anti-Jewish sentiments drastically slowed the response of the United States and other countries to Nazi atrocities when intervention through diplomacy, loosening of immigration rules and, later, surgical bombing was entirely possible. Citing opinion surveys from the 1930s and '40s, Hamerow concludes that virtually all Western peoples would have agreed that the world "had to deal with something called the 'Jewish question.' " Looking at the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Britain and France, the author carefully traces the ancient roots and history of anti-Jewish sentiment, describes the powerful xenophobic lobbies in such nations as the United Kingdom and the United States working against unrestrained Jewish immigration and shows how general skepticism in the United States about reports of mass murder also played a role. Hamerow's important book is more than history: it is an indictment and an essential cautionary tale about how easily bigotry combined with complacency facilitates evil. 30 illus.