A new book, written by Jewish author Neil Rolde, entitled Breckinridge Long, American Eichmann??? An Enquiry into the Character of the Man Who Denied Visas to the Jews has recently been published.
Breckinridge Long was the US State Department Assistant Secretary during World War II. He reported to Secretary of State Cordell Hull, who allowed him to create his own guidelines in deciding whom to allow to emigrate to America, according to Neil Rolde.
This quote is from a news article, about Rolde’s book, in the Seacoastonline newspaper:
Nazi SS Lt. Col. Adolf Eichmann is widely regarded as one of the major organizers of the Holocaust. When he was tried on charges years later, he said he was “just following orders,” Rolde said.
I put Long into that class. He said he thought he was following orders, and what he was really doing is sending people to the gas chambers,” Rolde said.
In fact, the son of Macy’s Department Store owner Nathan Strauss petitioned for his friend, Otto Frank, to be able to leave Amsterdam, but the visa was denied. Frank’s daughter was Anne Frank.
As it turned out, Otto Frank ended up in Auschwitz-Birkenau, but he wasn’t sent to the gas chamber, even though he was 56 years old. Jews over 45 were allegedly sent directly to the gas chamber in the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, but not Otto Frank. He survived and walked all the way back to Amsterdam after the camp was liberated.
One of my earliest blog posts, written two weeks after I started blogging, was entitled Anne Frank –What If. This quote is from that blog post:
In 1933, when Hitler came to power, Otto Frank was not in danger of being persecuted – he was in danger of being prosecuted. That’s right, Otto Frank and his brother were both indicted for bank fraud in 1933, and were scheduled to be put on trial. Otto Frank tried to get a visa to come to America, but was denied, so he escaped to Holland and entered the country illegally. His family followed him a few months later.
However, it was not because Otto Frank and his brother were crooks that they were denied entry into the US. Otto Frank’s brother was allowed to enter, but when Otto Frank was denied entry, he escaped to the Netherlands.
This quote is from an article, written by Richard Breitman, which you can read on this website:
In 1938, according to his own testimony, Otto Frank first applied at Rotterdam for immigration visas to the U. S. for himself and his family. As Germans living in the Netherlands, the Franks fell under the American immigration quota for Germany.
At that time there were some prospects for hope. After Nazi Germany took over Austria in mid-March 1938 and launched severe persecution of Austrian Jews, President Franklin D. Roosevelt told his cabinet that he hoped to liberalize U. S. immigration procedures and to persuade Latin American countries to take in additional refugees. He approved a formal list of American proposals on March 22 that implicitly involved full use of the combined German-Austrian immigration quota.
FDR then invited a range of other governments to attend a refugee conference and to set up a new international committee on refugee problems. This conference and the international committee would try to bring about and finance emigration of political refugees from Germany and Austria. But, mindful of widespread public opposition to increased immigration, the U.S. explicitly stated that countries participating would not be expected to change their existing immigration laws.
At the July 1938 refugee conference held at Evian, France one country after another explained why it could not take in more refugees, with some noting in particular why Jews were undesirable. The President’s initiative had seemingly failed, dashing the hopes of hundreds of thousands of Jews and other victims of persecution. Only one country, the Dominican Republic, volunteered to take in substantial numbers of refugees.
The negative public face of the Evian Conference overshadowed some positive developments. For the first time since the 1920s, the United States did make available its full immigration quota for Germany, so that more than 27,000 Germans and Austrians-about 90% of them Jewish-were able to immigrate in the course of a year. And a number of Latin American countries showed themselves open to take in refugees with sufficient means to support themselves-or with foreign backers willing to support them and create jobs for them. Jewish emigration to some Latin American countries such as Cuba, Brazil, and Bolivia quietly continued.
At the same time, Nazi Germany’s persecution of Jews sharply escalated. Especially after the Night of Broken Glass in November 1938, tens of thousands more German, Austrian, and Czech Jews, some of them beaten in concentration camps and released with dire warnings to leave the country soon, became desperate to leave. New would-be emigrants, plus those who had already applied to leave, swamped the places available abroad. By early 1939 the waiting list for an immigration visa to the U. S. contained more than 300,000 names.2
Under these circumstances Otto Frank’s turn on the waiting list for American visas apparently did not come up. Feeling protected by his successful business in Amsterdam, he was not threatened enough to try other opportunities abroad.