1944 Sees Creation of War Refugee Board

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This year marks the 75th anniversary of the creation of the War Refugee Board, a subject to be discussed at the Baltimore Jewish Council’s upcoming May 5, Yom Hashoah event.

Seventy-five years ago, in the Jan. 14, 1944, edition, the JT ran a column urging support for the creation of the board to help rescue European Jewry.


The column, “Help Pass House Joint Resolution 154,” urged JT readers, Jews and non-Jews alike, to write their Congressman immediately to support passage of the bill that would “mean immediate rescue of the religious, racial and political refugees from Nazi Europe.”

“This temporary asylum may spell the difference between life and death for thousands, for hundreds of thousands, because once the United States adopts this policy, other countries are likely to follow and adopt similar legislation.

“Eyewitnesses escaped from purgatory, reports from territories liberated by the Red Army, leave no doubt that the reports we have hitherto received of the Nazi extermination campaign aimed at Jewry, were not mere ‘atrocity stories,’ as those seeking a ‘peace now’ would imply. Few of those who have survived till now will survive the zero hour if not rescued immediately. So far, the democracies have done little or nothing in this regard.”

The War Refugee Board would be created a week later on Jan. 22, 1944. And while the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum estimates the board helped aid more than 100,000 people, many thought the effort should have been started sooner and saved more lives.

Flashback is a feature that honors the JT’s 100th anniversary. Have a particular date you’d like us to look at? Let us know.

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