Eleanor Roosevelt Intervenes

Posted on July 9, 2007 In Blog

Recently, Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Arthur Schneier Center for International Affairs published Diplomatic Heroes of the Holocaust, which Ambassador Richard Holbrooke points out is notable for how thin a book it is. The book, which we are in the middle of reading, is fascinating.

For obvious reasons, there are no American entries in that book. Until now, the only known story was of the SS St. Louis, turned away and sent to Europe, where her passengers were engulfed in Europe’s inferno. Not a proud moment in the annals of US Foreign Policy.
While Roosevelt chronicler Doris Kearns Goodwin writes that “Eleanor’s failure to force her husband to admit more refugees remained, her son Jimmy later said, ‘her deepest regret at the end of her life,'” the Sunday NY Times has a write up of one brief profile in courage wherein refugees on the SS Quanza, denied asylum in New York and refueling coal in Norfolk for the return to Europe, has a State Department official arrive and covertly issue visas, saving dozens from the Nazis. The bureaucrat was on orders from First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who issued the directive in direct contradiction to the wishes of her husband’s Secretary of State, Cordell Hull.

The full article is here.