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Roosevelt and the Holocaust Hardcover – April 25, 2006

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From Publishers Weekly

Why didn't FDR bomb Auschwitz? Why did he abandon the St. Louis refugees? And why did he allow Breckinridge Long and the State Department to pursue an anti-immigration policy? Aided by novelist Josepher (What the Psychic Saw), Beir, a successful businessman and amateur Roosevelt scholar, grapples with familiar accusations waged posthumously against FDR, intertwining Roosevelt's career with memories from his own long life. Born in 1918, Beir lost a brother to strep throat and experienced anti-Semitism for the first time when he was 14. His parents' wealth from a fabrics business weathered the Depression, and Beir became the first in his family to go to college. After Brown and Harvard Business School, Beir entered the navy and, serving in London, decoded messages from FDR to Churchill. "What did servicemen in Great Britain know about the Holocaust during this time? The answer, simply, was nothing," he claims. Beir compares his father to FDR; both were secretive, imposing, prideful and elusive. Even though "great people are not great all the time," Roosevelt "was not an anti-Semite. He was not responsible for the Holocaust," Beir concludes, in a pedestrian account. (May)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Barricade Books; First Edition edition (April 25, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569803110
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569803110
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #906,815 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Alter Wiener on January 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Anti-Semitism was quite rampant in Poland when I was a little kid. Then, under the Germans occupation I was saddled with the most gruesome experiences. I saw the Germans looting, expropriating, mocking, beating, torturing, shooting, hanging, burning alive, babies choked or smashed to death, starving and other unimaginable acts of extreme wickedness carried out against innocent people. As a Jew, I was considered to be genetically programmed as subhuman. I was hated before I was born and tortured by people who did not know me. While being captive in forced labor and concentration camps, I kept asking how was it possible that nobody cares about me, about us? How does an adversary of humanity prevail? We felt a sense of abandonment and powerlessness. We prayed to God and hoped that the admired humanitarian President Roosevelt will come to our rescue; he will stop the ongoing slaughter.

Reading ROOSEVELT AND THE HOLOCAUST, I can see why the expected and deserved help did not come. Roosevelt had a full plate with domestic agenda and the New Deal. Furthermore, some of his closest advisors and members of his cabinet had no affinity for the Jewish people. I was not aware that so many Americans had feelings of enmity or even hatred toward Jews simply because they were Jews. The poisonous weed of Anti-Semitism was apparently transplanted from Europe. It is disheartening to learn from Beir's well documented book that there were very few outcries in America against German mass murder of innocent people. There were no rallies in America to counter the monster rallies in Germany of constant incitement to hatred. In the American Congress, only a few voices of protest were raised against the Nazi dehumanization of Jews while the Holocaust raged.
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17 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Valiant S. Vetter on January 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Before I launch my tirade, I should say that I feel Mr. Beir has done some excellent work and painted a historically accurate picture of President Roosevelt's actions before and during WWII.

He then goes on to make excuses for why Roosevelt "couldn't" help the Jews when they so dearly needed it.

Roosevelt was and is Beir's idol - he freely admits this - then he lists in great detail all of the things that Roosevelt DIDN'T do to lessen the suffering and death of Jews in Europe - EVEN when the chance to do so was dropped in his lap. (The case of the S.S. St. Louis)

Beir makes the excuse that Roosevelt's number one job was winning the war and that he couldn't use up his political favors to save any of Beir's own people. Roosevelt was a man who did what he wanted and didn't really seem to care if it was legal or not. He enacted unconstitutional social(ist) programs, tried to take over the Supreme Court when it dared oppose him, and in one of the most dastardly events of US history - stole American's gold when they needed it most. (Executive Order 6102)

Roosevelt had ample opportunity and demonstrated his ability to act when he desired.

Roosevelt WAS a masterful politician - and a man who had no problem doing what HE felt was right. He is completely undeserving of Bob Beir's defense of his lack of action to mitigate one of mankind's most shameful periods where "civilized" countries allowed 6 million innocents to be ruthlessly and cruelly murdered.

Bob Beir had no problem finding plenty of blame to go around for all of the other players in this tragic period of history. It's just plain shameful that Beir couldn't be as honest when assessing his idol's actions.

Read this book for the history.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Fulbright Scholar on May 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Roosevelt and the Holocaust is a masterpiece! It is a beautifully woven narrative, one that is as much a pleasure to read the second time as it is the first. Robert Beir's book is unique in the way that it creatively and effectively combines personal experiences with an examination of Roosevelt's policies during the Holocaust. Part autobiography, part history, part internal dialogue with Beir's hero, FDR, the book is ultimately a personal journey. But don't just take my word for it. Here's what two preeminent historians and authors of best selling books on FDR had to say about Beir's book.

"Among the many books on FDR and the Holocaust, this one occupies a uniquely powerful position. Having long considered Roosevelt his personal hero, Beir found it painful to confront the question of whether Roosevelt was indifferent to the plight of the Jews. Yet, in this moving story which is both a personal memoir and a scholar's quest, he provides an honest look at his hero, his country and himself." Doris Kearns Goodwin (author of No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt - The Home Front in World War II)

"A penetrating examination of one of the most haunting problems from World War II, vividly analyzed by a participant in that war, reflecting both his concern over FDR's blind spots and his understanding of the broader problems that Roosevelt faced." James MacGregor Burns (author of Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox and Roosevelt: Soldier of Freedom)
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15 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Opinionated Reviewer on June 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This may be a decent work, if you can get past the first 50 pages. Mr. Beir, in an attempt to work in his absurd views on current events into an absurd personal history, makes for a sometimes infuriating read. In discussing the Japanese Internment camps of WWII, he decides to inject his revulsion regarding our modern "Internment" of Arab Americans. Wow, I must have missed that story in the News! Next, in detail, he describes his (disgraceful) life of privilege in the WW2 Navy. Plum assignments in the lap of luxury in backwater ports in Scotland and England, Hobnobbing with the influential at exclusive parties, all attributable to his being well connected, and all of this while our young heroes are actually fighting and dying in the real war. The final insult is his Ship ride back to the States in the closing days of the war, when he somehow "wangles" himself a luxury stateroom on the Queen Mary, all the while apparently uninterested in the hordes of REAL soldiers aboard, who are quite literally returning from Hell after saving the World. Well, I guess they'll be just fine in Steerage....Anyway, he has important people to see in Washington DC.....
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