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The International School for Holocaust Studies

Refugees and Rescue: The Diaries and Papers of James G. Mcdonald, 1935-1945

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Reviewed by Yael Weinstock

Refugees and Rescue: The Diaries and Papers of James G. Mcdonald, 1935-1945

Edited by Richard Breitman, Barbara Mcdonald Stewart, and Severin Hochberg
Indiana University Press, 2009
376 pages

Continuing where the prequel ends, this book is the second published in a 3-volume set in cooperation with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Refugees and Rescue presents a compilation of the personal papers of James Grover McDonald, as well as pieces from his diaries, beginning the year of his resignation from the post of High Commissioner for German Jewish Refugees, an offshoot of the League of Nations.

This book gives a new twist to the largely criticized actions of President Roosevelt during the Holocaust. An edited collection of official documents, diaries, and internal memos argues that Roosevelt schemed in 1938 to rally the world's democracies and relocate millions of European Jews to underdeveloped areas in Latin America and Africa. While this can still be contended, its mere proposal re-ignites the debate about whether FDR did enough to help Jewish refugees in the late 1930s.

Like the first volume, introducing this topic in the classroom is essential. Teaching about the refugee crisis and one way in which it was managed in the late 1930s will give your students the opportunity to engage with new types of material and answer questions perhaps not yet asked.