The following is a letter to editor in the Washington Post regarding a previous article in the publication:
Geoffrey Wheatcroft [Outlook, Sept. 28] recalled that in the 1920s, Congress slammed the door on “immigrants (even desperate Jews fleeing Nazi Europe).”
That’s true, as far as it goes. But immigration quotas were only part of the story. Many more Jews could have been saved if President Franklin D. Roosevelt — without changing a single law — had simply permitted the existing quotas to be filled.
The quota for immigrants from Germany and Austria would have allowed 27,370 refugees to enter the country each year. But the Roosevelt administration encouraged U.S. consular officials abroad to create bureaucratic obstacles to reduce refugee immigration to levels far below what the law allowed. Thus, during Hitler’s first year in power, 1933, less than 6 percent of the German quota was filled. The following year, less than 14 percent of those spaces were filled. During Hitler’s entire reign, 1933-45, less than 36 percent of the German-Austrian quota places were used.
During the years that the Nazis were slaughtering 6 million European Jews (1941 to 1945), nearly 190,000 quota places from Axis-controlled countries sat unused. That is 190,000 lives that could have been saved, had FDR shown even a minimal amount of humanitarian interest in their plight.