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Publisher's Summary

America has long been criticized for refusing to give harbor to the Jews of Europe as Hitler and the Nazis closed in. Now, a US Holocaust Museum scholar tells the extraordinary story of the War Refugee Board, President Roosevelt's little-known effort late in the war to save the Jews who remained.
In January 1944, a young Treasury lawyer named John Pehle accompanied his boss to a meeting with the president. For more than a decade, the Jews of Germany had sought refuge in the US and been stymied by Congress's harsh immigration policy. Now, the State Department was refusing to authorize relief funds Pehle wanted to use to help Jews escape Nazi territory. At the meeting, Pehle made his best case - and prevailed. Within days, FDR created the War Refugee Board, empowering it to rescue the victims of Nazi persecution, and put John Pehle in charge.
Over the next 20 months, Pehle pulled together a team of DC pencil pushers, international relief workers, pirates, diplomats, millionaires, confidence men, and rabble-rousers to run operations across four continents and a dozen countries. Together, they tricked Nazis; forged identity papers; smuggled food into concentration camps; recruited spies; leaked news stories; negotiated ransoms; and funneled millions of dollars into Europe. They bought weapons for the French Resistance and ships to transport Romanian refugees to Palestine. Altogether, they saved tens of thousands of lives.
In Rescue Board, US Holocaust Memorial Museum scholar Rebecca Erbelding uses unrivaled access to archival materials and fresh interviews with survivors to tell the dramatic unknown story of America's last-ditch effort to save the Jews of Europe.
©2018 Rebecca Erbelding (P)2018 Random House Audio
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Critic Reviews

"In early 1944, after years of indifference to the fate of European Jews, the U.S. government took the astonishing step of creating an agency whose only purpose was to save the lives of Jews not yet swallowed up by the Holocaust. With her magisterial research, Rebecca Erbelding brilliantly brings to life the gripping, little-known story of this transformative moment in American history and the crusading young government lawyers who made it happen." (Lynne Olson, New York Times best-selling author of Last Hope Island)
"It wasn’t until late in World War II that the Roosevelt Administration finally made a concerted effort to save thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe - after millions had already perished. In Rescue Board, Erbelding has produced a richly detailed, highly nuanced account of this little known chapter in history. This is an invaluable addition to the literature of the Holocaust." (Andrew Nagorski, author of The Nazi Hunters and Hitlerland)
"A landmark achievement, Rescue Board is the first history of the War Refugee Board, America’s official initiative to rescue Europe’s Jews during the Holocaust. Meticulously researched and poignantly narrated, Rescue Board analyzes policies and practices while never losing sight of the human beings involved: the officials who sought to help and the victims in desperate need. Top-notch history: original and riveting." (Debórah Dwork, founding director of the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Clark University, and author of Flight from the Reich: Refugee Jews 1933-1946)
"Engagingly written, Rescue Board homes in on the individuals who managed to save the lives of tens of thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied countries. A must read for anyone concerned with the refugee crises of World War II and today." (Marion Kaplan, author of Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany)
"Erbelding’s account - both infuriating and inspiring - reveals a disturbingly timely history of the tragically last-minute but not entirely vain efforts of an unlikely band of government bureaucrats to rescue the remnants of European Jewry. This important book, taut as a thriller and historically authoritative, deepens our understanding of the American response to the Holocaust as well as the excruciating obstacles and crucial opportunities confronting citizens committed to saving victims of war and genocide." (Atina Grossmann, author of Jews, Germans, and Allies: Close Encounters in Occupied Germany)
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