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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2010
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. The American leaders and the populace kept mostly silent when victim groups such as "asocials" Gypsies, Homosexuals, Poles, Russians, Jehovah Witnesses were being eliminated by the Nazis.

Beir mentiones Szmul Zygielbojm, who managed to escape to England, was saying on BBC:
"It will really be a shame to live on, a shame to belong to the human race.... The governments of Great Britain and America must be compelled to put an end to this mass murder. [Zygielbojm appealed to governments, because human rights or charitable organizations did not have the resources, as governments had, to stop the Nazis.] For if we do not try to find means of stopping it we shall bear part of the moral responsibility for what is happening. I cannot be silent; I cannot live while the remnants of the Jewish population of Poland are perishing... By my death I wish to make my final protest against the passivity with which the world is looking on and permitting the extermination of the Jewish people. I know how little life is worth today, but I was unable to do anything during my life, perhaps by my death I shall contribute to breaking down the indifference of those who may now, at the last moment, rescue the few Polish Jews still alive."
He spoke for millions whose voices were stilled. Ultimately, Zygielbojm committed suicide.

I have often been asked by my life audiences, or readers of my autography: How could such a terrible thing as the Holocaust happen? I respond with Winston Churchill's famous statement, "The Holocaust was not just a Jewish tragedy; it was the world's tragedy, because the world did let it happen." In his well researched book, ROOSEVELT AND THE HOLOCAUST, Robert L.Beir corroborates that great statesman's statement.

Anybody interested in the events and the political environment in the United States during the Holocaust, in Nazi Germany, will benefit from reading this book. A German woman asked her father, in her book, that its title I forgot, "where were you daddy during the Holocaust? Did you resist or at least protest the Holocaust? Are you one of those Germans who claim "We haben nichts gewusst" [we knew nothing]. I have never heard you saying: "tut mir leid" [I am sorry]."

Robert Beir, who was born in New York City, puts the same poignant question to many Americans, including himself. Beir sounds to have qualms of conscience for being somewhat indifferent during the Holocaust. It was not an ephemeral calamity, but an apocalyptic onslaught followed by mass slaughter going on for at least four years. Any person of compassion should feel compunctions about his or her indifference to the horrors during the Holocaust, as well as about other genocides that have taken place, in other countries, since the Holocaust. Compassionate people have no right to remain silent in face of genocide against any people. Silence is actual complicity. If we let the seeds of racism and prejudice to be sown, they will sprout and eventually flourish. The specters of similar holocausts are looming over us, because prejudice and bigotry still prevail in many places all over the globe. In my eyes, when an innocent person, regardless race, nationality or ethnicity is attacked the whole of humanity is attacked.

Beir, a Roosveltian, was asked rhetorically by a student "what about the St. Louis?" Namely, where was Roosevelt, the Great Humanitarian, when the St. Louis with 937 refugees was compelled to sail back to Europe, in ineluctable harms' way! This act gainsays the inscription on the Statue of Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.....Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" Beir became embarrassed not knowing the answer to that student's question. This incident had prompted Beir to look into it. He did extensive research and in process had realized how vital it was to know thoroughly the history and philosophy of the person he had entranced.
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17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2007
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. Toss Beir's personal assessment of Roosevelt in the trash.

A note on that last chapter: True as much of it is - it belongs in another book. Beir is an expert at identifying anti-Semitism - except when it is practiced (or at least apathetically allowed to flourish) in the administration of his hero, FDR.

5 stars for the history.
-3 stars for the intellectual dishonesty perpetrated by the author.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2006
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
on June 9, 2006
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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on November 11, 2014
This is a meticulously researched account of Roosevelt and the WW2 era. Highly recommended. I question those who call it an inaccurate tribute to FDR and that he could have done far more. He sent my father from NYC to die and he ended the war. What more can be asked? Even many of the Jewish people in Europe did not know the extent of the Nazi atrocities.
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5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2006
At its heart, this book details a series of interconnected journeys. The journey of its author, Robert Beir. The journey of a president, FDR. And the journey of an incomparable event, the Holocaust.

At its heart, this book resonates with a personal sense of intimacy and poignancy. Robert Beir lived through the Great Depression and WW II era. Beir lived through the age of a pervasive and deeply ingrained anti-Semitism. He lived through General Eisenhower's deeply disturbing tour of a German concentration camp, with the piles of charred bodies, "too grisly for the American mind to comprehend," to quote Eisenhower. He lived through President Truman's decision to use atomic bombs on Japan. His memories speak to the hope, fear, destitution, exhilaration and incredible patriotism of the age.

They also serve as an introduction to a large, and currently contentious, historical question. Roosevelt's and America's legacy regarding the Holocaust. Here you will find a historian on a search. This is not a pro-Roosevelt book, unwavering in its support. Nor does this book attempt to castigate the president. Instead, and quite remarkably, this book becomes an investigation with the goal of truth in mind.

How many histories strive for such a fundamental goal? How many succeed? Here is one.
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2010
This is an attempt for the Roosevelt cult to re-write and hide the historical fact that Roosevelt was lobbied continuously by Jewish groups with mounting evidence to destroy several of the largest concentration camps, they were consistently and deliberately refused. THere is now evidence that several bombing raids sent to attack armor depots near Auschwitz returned loaded with bombs instead of bombing Auschwitz even after it was clear the identity of the location to many pilots. This was a clear policy of the president. The Roosevelt cult has worked hard to erase any evidence they can to prevent anyone from learning the truth about his tyrannical presidency. Only recently the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute one of the biggest Roosevelt legacy white washing groups bullied the US Holocaust Museum into changing their wording regarding Roosevelt. The exhibit used to say "American Jewish organizations repeatedly asked the U.S. War Department to bomb Auschwitz. Their requests were denied." That has since been removed thanks to people just like the author who wants white wash the dark legacy of the Roosevelts. FRD was not and will never be a Hero...ever.
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