Rescue and the Holocaust

This is a summary of the overall response of some countries and areas to the plight of the Jews in Nazi occupied Europe.


  • America did nothing urgent in response to the authentic reports of Holocaust. Foreign officials called reports of gas chambers mere 'atrocity stories'.
  • Roosevelt did nothing until 1944, as he did not want to upset the electorate.
  • By 1942, hostility to Jewish immigration was greater than in Britain and there was widespread anti-Semitism.
  • The Allies did not want to be seen as fighting a war for the Jews.


Eastern Europe

  • The local population of many countries participated enthusiastically in the Nazi campaign of mass murder.
  • In Poland, despite their own ill treatment by Nazis, there were Poles who turned Jewish neighbours over to the Nazis.
  • There was also a courageous minority who took great risks to help and rescue Jews escaping ghettos.

Western Europe and Rescue

  • Western officials seemed indifferent to the plight of the Jews.
  • Jewish groups who were fully assimilated were reluctant to show dual loyalty by supporting the Jews in other countries.
  • There were some impassioned appeals for rescue but overall this was to no avail and the Allies refused to negotiate with the Nazis or to change immigration quotas. They also failed to realise the significance of the unique aspects of the tragedy of the Holocaust (the Nazis plan of genocide).