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US Government Rescue Efforts

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Treasury Department Report to President Roosevelt

Morgenthau Report
US Holocaust Memorial Museum
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tags: Jews in North America relief & rescue

type: Report

Though the title of this January 1944 report sounds routine, the US Treasury Department officials who wrote it believed they had stumbled on a scandal in the US government. They used information contained in this memo to convince President Roosevelt to remove issues related to refugees and to Nazi atrocities from the State Department and create a new organization to rescue European Jews. Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr., a close friend of President Roosevelt's and the only Jewish Cabinet secretary, signed the final copy of this report (and is the "I" throughout the text), even though his staff wrote it. 

The report describes, in a detailed list beginning on the second page, the State Department's long delay in issuing a "license" (permission to send money or aid into areas controlled by Nazi Germany and its collaborators) to a World Jewish Congress representative who wanted to aid Jews in France and Romania.1 While investigating these delays, Treasury officials discovered that in February 1943, the State Department had ordered US diplomats in Switzerland to stop forwarding information about Nazi mass murder. After explaining their complicated proof of the State Department’s obstruction on pages 4-7—and the ways in which State Department officials tried to cover their tracks—the Treasury Department’s report asked, "Is it anything less than an attempted suppression of information requested by this Government concerning the murder of Jews by Hitler?"

The featured document is a draft of the report which includes two copies of the final page, each ending the memo in a different way. The final paragraphs show that the Treasury staff debated either merely warning Roosevelt about a possible scandal within his administration or warning him that by failing to take action to rescue European Jews, the US government would share responsibilities for their deaths.  

On January 16, 1944, Treasury staff presented "Personal Report to the President" to Roosevelt (who did not read it or keep his copy) and successfully convinced him to issue an executive order establishing the War Refugee Board (WRB) and announcing for the first time that the US government had an official policy of rescuing and providing relief for Jews and other minorities being persecuted by Nazi Germany. Although the War Refugee Board worked with State Department officials, most of the WRB's staff were Treasury Department officials, including some of the people who drafted this report.

The original title of the report, not produced here, was damning: "Report to the Secretary on the Acquiescence of this Government in the Murder of the Jews."

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Archival Information for This Item

Source (Credit)
US Holocaust Memorial Museum
Accession Number 2014.115.1
Date Created
January 8, 1944
Author / Creator
Henry Morgenthau, Jr.
Washington, DC
Document Type Report
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