Jews, Quakers and the Holocaust
By the spring of 1939, after the Night of Broken Glass (more commonly referred to as Kristallnacht), German Jews were desperate to escape what they had considered their Fatherland. Unable to find nations willing to accept them, many parents begged for the assistance of those who would help in transporting their children to safety. Other children who could have been saved were those of fathers in concentration camps or the children of parents who had taken their own lives. Because of their special roles in feeding German children at the end of World War I, Quakers commanded a level of respect that allowed them to assume the leadership of an effort to save Jewish children. At least a third of those identified in Nazi Germany as Jewish children by race (having one Jewish grandparent) may have been of mixed religious backgrounds.
In Europe, Quaker groups assumed leadership in what came to be called the Kindertransport. They removed and provided homes for nearly 10,000 children. On the day after Kindertransport, a Quaker fact finding mission from the U.S. flew to Germany. An effort to replicate the Kindertransport in the U.S. depended upon the passage of the Wagner-Rogers Bill. That Bill, introduced in Congress in February 1939, provided for the admission of twenty thousand "unaccompanied children" (outside of the quota of a 27,000 a year from Germany) under the age of 14 over a two-year period at no cost to the U.S.
The struggle to enact the Wagner-Rogers Bill introduces us to people in the United States who assumed leadership roles in that effort. It identifies virulent opponents, and allows us to speculate as to what best explains the failure of the Bill to become law.
Author: Ira Zornberg. A graduate of Brooklyn College, he taught history and served as assistant principal in charge of social studies in New York City high schools. He was part of a U.S. Department of Education panel to study social studies curricula across the country and develop units for inclusion about the Holocaust. He worked with students to create the "John Dewey Holocaust Center and Center for the Study of Humanity." He is author of "Classroom Strategies for Teaching About the Holocaust" (10 lessons for classroom use) and "Forty-Eight Years in the Trenches" (his personal history as an educator in the City of New York).
Publisher: Self-published through CreateSpace
Publication date: September 2016