Churchill, Roosevelt and the Holocaust
2. The War—Constraints and Opportunities 43
Chapter 2: The War—Constraints and Opportunities The apologists for Churchill and Roosevelt, that is, apologists for their tragic role in the history of the Holocaust, invariably dwell on the drastic con- straints allegedly imposed upon these leaders by the exigencies of War. They sought victory. Victory required resources, and it required popular support. Anti-Semitism could have undermined this support. Victory also required intense focus by the decision-makers on the critical job at hand. “Distrac- tions” could not be tolerated. The murder of the Jews could have been a distraction, presumably. However, this virtually universal interpretation of the role of war in apo- logetic literature is itself a monumental misinterpretation: precisely because of what it leaves out. What is left out of these accounts actually highlights the Western leaders’ culpability as Hitler’s silent accomplices to the crime of the ages. War actually increases the opportunity of response to hostile or “wrong- ful” acts on the part of an opponent. If we may, for a moment, hypothetically, assume that Nazi Germany in the years between 1933 and 1941 was an “opponent” of the United States in the sense that its various policies offended American sensibilities, what range of responses was available to American leaders? The state of peace imposed some constraints. There could have been such things as public protests, official critical statements; there could have been some symbolic acts; measures in trade or tourism. All these possibili- ties, however, are very much outweighed by the opportunities created by a 44...
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