In this volume Yehudi Bauer describes the efforts made to aid European victims of World War II by the New York-based American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, American Jewry's chief representative abroad. Drawing on the mass of unpublished material in the JDC archives and other repositories, as well as on his thorough knowledge of recent and continuing research into the Holocaust, he focuses alternately on the personalities and institutional decisions in New York and their effects on the JDC workers and their rescue efforts in Europe. He balances personal stories with a country-by-country account of the fate of Jews through ought the war years: the grim statistics of millions deported and killed are set in the context of the hopes and frustrations of the heroic individuals and small groups who actively worked to prevent the Nazis' Final Solution.
This study is essential reading for anyone who seeks to understand the American Jewish response to European events from 1939 to 1945. Bauer confronts the tremendous moral and historical questions arising from JDC's activities. How great was the danger? Who should be saved first? Was it justified to use illegal or extralegal means? What country would accept Jewish refugees? His analysis also raises an issue which perhaps can never be answered: could American Jews have done more if they had grasped the reality of the Holocaust?