State Department Hindered Efforts to Rescue Jews from the Nazis

Scathing Treasury Department report prompted action by President Roosevelt

Tim Gebhart
10 min readJan 11, 2022
Jews deported by Nazis looking from railroad car (Wikimedia Commons)

AAntisemitism was an overt pillar of Adolf Hitler’s political philosophy and, from 1933, official German policy. Nevertheless, it still took years before America took tangible steps to help European Jews. In part, the change came about, thanks to the Department of Treasury accusing the State Department of obstructing rescue efforts.

On January 16, 1944, Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr. gave President Franklin Roosevelt an eight-page report detailing some of the State Department’s actions. Six days later, Roosevelt issued an executive order creating the War Refugee Board to lead an effort “to rescue victims of enemy oppression who are in imminent danger of death.”

The Impact of US Immigration Law

One of the problems in escaping Nazi territory to America came more than a decade before Hitler came to power. In the first two decades of the 20th century, America wanted to reduce the number of immigrants coming from poorer regions of southern and eastern Europe.

In 1921, Congress, for the first time, imposed quotas based on nationality. Until 1924, the Emergency Quota Act set each country’s…



Tim Gebhart

Retired Lawyer. Book Addict. History Buff. Lifelong South Dakotan. Blog: