A major event took place in Jerusalem last week examining in depth, perhaps for the first time, whether the Allied countries could have done more to save Jews during the Holocaust.
The event, entitled "The Allied Powers’ Response to the Holocaust," featured speakers such as Dr. Rafael Medoff of he David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, Professor Robert Wistrich of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Professor Stephen Norwood, University of Oklahoma, among others from the U.S., UK, China, Poland, and Israel – all of whom have written about the matter. The event was sponsored by the Begin Center and the Public Relations department of the World Jewish Congress (WJC).
In several books, Medoff has examined the role of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt in actions – or lack of them – to assist Jews during the Holocaust. Roosevelt, contended Medoff at the event, had a “problematic” attitude to Jews, and rejected nearly all proposals to assist Jews who were attempting to flee the Nazis.
Professor Alexander Groth of University of California-Davis spoke about Holocaust denial and the increasing influence of Holocaust “revisionists” in recent years, as they attempt to minimize or outright deny the reality of the destruction of European Jewry.
In addition, he said, there has been of late a tendency to equate victimization of Jews and Germans, with the latter said to have suffered “almost” as much as the Jews because of Nazi control of the country. The objective, he said, is to reclassify the Holocaust as one of many human tragedies, instead of regarding it as the unique, horrifying event that it was.
During the event, a film by Claude Lanzmann, called The Jan Karski Report, was screened.
The film depicts the experiences of Karski, a member of the Polish underground, who in 1942 gathered evidence of what was going on in the Warsaw Ghetto and the concentration camps in Poland, showing that the Nazi crimes were indeed far different than anything humanity had previously experienced. Karski managed to reach the United States, but officials he presented his evidence to dismissed him.
At the conference, Lanzmann himself presented the film and conducted a discussion of Karski's efforts to publicize the truth of the Holocaust – and his rejection by Western leaders.