Academic journal article Shofar

In Search of Refuge: Jews and U.S. Consuls in Nazi Germany, 1933-1941, by Bat-Ami Zucker

Academic journal article Shofar

In Search of Refuge: Jews and U.S. Consuls in Nazi Germany, 1933-1941, by Bat-Ami Zucker

Article excerpt

London: Vallentine Mitchell, 2001. 229 pp. $49.50.

Among the many issues that continue to swirl around the interpretation of the Shoah is the question concerning what the Allied Nations, particularly the United States, could and should have done differently that might have led to the saving of thousands of additional Jewish lives. This is a lively and ongoing focus of research and controversy that has produced much impressive scholarship, notably the works by Henry L. Feingold, The Politics of Rescue (1970), Saul S. Friedman, No Haven for the Oppressed (1973), Richard Breitman and Alan Kraut, American Refugee Policy and European Jewry, 1933-1944, David S. Wyman, Paper Walls (1968) and The Abandonment of the dews (1984), among others. Bat-Ami Zucker's book, In Search of Refuge: Jews and U.S. Consuls in Nazi Germany 1933-1941 (2001), makes an important contribution to the contextualization of this issue.

Zucker is less concerned, in this well-researched and presented book, with examining the global factors that may have been at work here such as the role of President Roosevelt, American public opinion, American indifference to the plight of the refugees, and the role of Congress. Her study, largely based on primary sources, focuses instead on United States Consuls in Berlin, Stuttgart, Hamburg, and post-Anschluss Vienna, who were assigned exclusive responsibility for issuing the visas without which the refugees could not enter the United States. The Johnson-Reed Bill of 1924 mandated that instead of determining at the point of entry whether there were any grounds for excluding an immigrant, American consuls in Europe were now made responsible for examining the immigrants and granting the required visas. On September 13, 1930, the Department of State, on President Hoover's directive, further restricted potential immigration, by publishing a limitation on the LPC ("Likely to become a public charge") clause of the 1917 immigration act. The operative phrase instructs the consular official to refuse a visa to an applicant he believes may become a public charge "at any time." So much now obviously depended on the consul's individual interpretation and frame of mind on the refugee question. …

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