Chronology of U.S. Diplomacy in the Holocaust


August 3, 1882
US Congress passes first immigration restriction law.  It is primarily aimed at excluding Chinese from the United States.  It also excludes “persons likely to become a public charge.”  Sec. 2: On examination of aliens disembarking in the US: “…and if on such examination there shall be found among such passengers any lunatic, idiot, or any person unable to take care of him or herself without becoming a public charge…such persons shall not be permitted to land.”

The Alien Contract Labor Law of 1885 forbids potential immigrants from arranging for jobs or employment in advance of their actual arrival in the US.

March 3, 1903
US immigration law enacted by Congress to deport individuals who are suspected of subversive acts committed in the US.  Supersedes Immigration Act of 1882.

February 20, 1907
Immigration Act of 1907 is enacted.  It contains the “likely to become a public charge” clause.

August 1914-November 1918
World War I.  Millions of soldiers die.  At the conclusion of World War I, many of the royal families of Europe are deposed.  First of many European oligarchies and “undemocratic democracies” are formed.

February 5, 1917
US Congress passes Comprehensive Immigration Act of 1917.  It restricts immigrants who are “likely to become public charges” (LPC).  A special provision of this law exempts “persons fleeing persecution because of religious faith” [Jews] from taking the mandatory literacy exam.  World War I virtually sweeps from American consciousness the old belief in unrestricted immigration.

October 1917
Russian Revolution, led by Vladimir Lenin.  Czar Nicholas III is swept from power.  The Russian Revolution inspires Communist movements throughout Western Europe, including Germany, Italy, France, Austria and Hungary.  In response, extreme right wing and nationalistic movements, many of a fascist nature, are created.

November 11, 1918
World War I ends.  More than 120,000 Americans are killed.  Many more are wounded.

League of Nations is founded.

The League of Nations establishes the Nansen organization to help refugees.  It issues an international passport for persecuted peoples.  This passport is recognized by 52 nations.

May 19, 1921
The First Johnson Act passed by Congress sets an immigration rate of 3% of the number of foreign-born in the United States as based on the census of 1910.  This sets an annual immigration rate of 357,805.  This act is strictly enforced.  This is the first quota act.

US Congress passes Immigration Restriction Act of 1924.  It severely limits immigration for Asians and Eastern Europeans.  Further, it does not distinguish between immigrants and refugees.  The US State Departments will use this law to restrict immigrant refugees during the war.

May 26, 1924
The Immigration Act of 1924, also called the Johnson-Reed Bill, the National Origins Act, signed into law, stipulates annual immigration cap at 164,667 persons, or 2% of each Caucasian nationality as determined by the census of 1890.  This act will still be in force in 1940-1941, with slight amendments.  US consuls in Europe are required to follow this law.  This is important because the decision to grant visas to aliens is placed in the hands of consular officers rather than immigration officers at US ports of entry.  Under Section 24, “The Commissioner General, with the approval of the Secretary of Labor, shall prescribe the rules and regulations for the enforcement of the provisions of this Act; but all such rules and regulations, insofar as they relate to the administration of this Act by consular officers, shall be prescribed by the Secretary of State on the recommendation of the Secretary of Labor.”

July 1, 1929
New US immigration quota is set at 153,714.  It sets an annual quota based on the census of 1920.  It severely limits immigration from southern and eastern Europe.  Immigration from Poland, Russia and Germany is greatly limited.  The Polish quota goes from 30,977 visas in 1921 to 6,524 in 1924.

October 1929
New York Stock Exchange fails.  Stock values dissolve overnight.  This event initiates a worldwide economic depression.  It will not end until 1939.  15,000,000 Americans are unemployed. 

September 8, 1930
US Immigration Law of 1917 is enforced by the Hoover administration to limit immigration to the US.  As a result of the depression, it strictly enforces the “likely to become a public charge” clause.  It directs consular officials “before issuing a visa…to pass judgment with particular care on whether the applicant may become a public charge and if the applicant cannot convince the officer that it is not probable, the visa will be refused.”  Immigrants must have funds and produce affidavits from relatives in the US.  The demand for visas drops by 75%.  241,000 immigrate to the United States in 1930.

Due to immigration laws, only 97,139 immigrate to the United States.

Due to legal restrictions, only 35,576 immigrate to the United States.

October 1932
President Hoover states, with regard to the decline in US immigration: “With the growth of democracy in foreign countries, political persecution has largely ceased.  There is no longer a necessity for the United States to provide an asylum for those persecuted because of conscience.”  Later in 1932, the American Federation of Labor states: “There is not a country in the world where there is not religious or political persecution.”

November 8, 1932
Franklin Delano Roosevelt elected President of the US by a landslide.

January 30, 1933
Adolf Hitler is appointed Chancellor of Germany by German President Paul von Hindenburg.

The Nazi party becomes the ruling party in Germany.

There are 525,000 German Jews, including those living in the Saar District.  German law defines Jews by race.  Under German law, there are 566,000 Jews.  Jews comprise less than one percent of the German population.

More than 52,000 Jews leave Germany in the first year of the Nazi government.  There are 37,000 German Jews traveling who remain abroad.

Jewish organizations worldwide attempt to have the Assembly of the League of Nations adopt protective measures to protect the rights of minorities being persecuted in Germany.  This effort is largely unsuccessful.  Later, the League initiates the Bernheim Petition, which partially protects the rights of German minorities in Upper Silesia.

Fifty concentration camps are built throughout Germany.  They include Dachau, Oranienburg, Esterwegen and Sachsenburg (Sachsenhausen).  These brutal camps are designed to house enemies of Nazism, Socialists and Jews.  In 1933, 25,000 people are sent to these camps.

There are 4,770,000 Jews in the United States.  Most live in urban areas of the northeast.  Most Jews support Franklin Roosevelt in his bid for President.  American Jews are sympathetic to the plight of German Jews.

Cyrus Adler, president of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), tries to persuade US Secretary of State to intervene on behalf of persecuted German Jews.

March 4, 1933
Franklin D. Roosevelt inaugurated as 32nd President of the United States.  Roosevelt appoints Cordell Hull as Secretary of State and Sumner Wells as Assistant Secretary of State.

March 27, 1933
The American Jewish Congress (AJC) organizes an anti-Nazi rally in New York City.  It protests the Nazi boycott of Jewish-owned businesses in Germany.

March 30, 1933
The American Committee in Religious Rights and Minorities sends a delegation to Germany to investigate the actions against Jews.  The committee consists of Catholic, Protestant and Jewish clergymen.

April 1, 1933
Nationwide boycott of Jewish shops and businesses in Germany.

May 26, 1933
1,200 US Protestant clergymen sign a manifesto protesting Nazi treatment of German Jews.

October 21, 1933
Germany withdraws from the League of Nations.

October 29, 1933
Jewish organizations meet in London to prepare to work with the High Commissioner for Refugees.

Worldwide boycott of German goods establishes a headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

US Secretary of State Cordell Hull waves police certificate requirement for immigrants coming from Nazi Germany.  This is intended to protect immigrants from reprisals from the Nazi government.

December 1934
The US Attorney General issues a ruling that the Secretary of Labor can issue a visa if prospective immigrants post a financial bond in advance of issuing of the document.

The National Coordinating Committee (predecessor to the National Refugee Service) is founded to coordinate private rescue efforts.  It is created on the recommendation of the US State Department.

September 15, 1935
Anti-Jewish laws known as “Nuremberg Laws” are enacted in Germany.  These include the Law Respecting Reich Citizenship and the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor.  Jews are no longer considered German citizens.  Soon, hundreds of additional edicts are enacted.

International reaction to the Nuremberg Laws is almost universally negative.

December 27, 1935
James MacDonald, High Commissioner for Refugees of the League of Nations, issues a scathing report and resigns in protest over the failure of the League to help Jews.  MacDonald is concerned about the complete indifference to the plight of refugees worldwide.

The US State Department is ordered to revoke the Hoover Executive Order of 1930 and institute a more liberal policy of the “likely to become a public charge” clause.  This is in response to the ever-mounting refugee crisis in Europe.

April 1936
League of Nations calls for a conference on the refugee crisis.  US Secretary of State Cordell Hull advises Roosevelt that the US should not participate.

April 26, 1936
Nazis enact Property Registration Act, which states that assets for immigrants over 5,000DM are subject to confiscation.

July 16-18, 1936
The outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. 

Hiram “Harry” Bingham, IV assigned to the US consulate in Marseilles, France.  He is vice consul in charge of the visa section.

January 6, 1937
Roosevelt renews US Neutrality Act.  It specifically forbids the shipment of arms for use in the Civil War in Spain.

January 20, 1937
Roosevelt is inaugurated for a second term as US President.

Between 1938 and 1941, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) helps rescue 30,000 European Jews.  Most of them are brought to the port cities of Lisbon and Milan. 

The Jewish community initiates a worldwide boycott of German products and services to protest the treatment of German and Austrian Jews.  The US Jewish community is divided over this issue.

US Ambassador to Germany William E. Dodd formally protests treatment of Jews in Germany.  He protests the confiscation of Jewish property and other civil rights violations.  He sends numerous reports to the State Department, many of which are ignored.

Between April and December 1938, 30% of Austrian Jews (50,000 individuals) escape.

March 13, 1938
Anschluss (annexation of Austria).  Austria becomes a province of the German Greater Reich and is renamed Austmark.  Vienna loses its status as a capital and becomes a provincial administrative seat.  All antisemitic decrees imposed on German Jews are immediately applied in Austria.  Nearly 200,000 Austrian Jews come under Hitler’s control.

As a result of the Anschluss, the Roosevelt administration combines both the German and Austrian quotas together.

April 14, 1938
Rescue and relief organizations meet to “undertake a preliminary consideration of the most effective manner in which private individuals and organizations within the United States can cooperate with this government in the work to be undertaken by the International Committee which will be shortly created to facilitate the emigration of political refugees from Austria and Germany.”  This committee becomes the Presidential Advisory Committee on Political Refugees (PACPR).

May 1938
The German Nuremberg Laws, which forcibly segregate Jews in Germany and deprive them of citizenship and the means of livelihood, are officially enforced in Austria. More than 200,000 Austrian Jews will be persecuted under these laws, according to German records.

2,000 Jewish leaders in Austria are arrested from a pre-prepared list and are sent to Dachau in four transports.

To force emigration, the families of Jews arrested and deported to concentration camps are told that proof of immediate emigration would secure their release. German Property Transfer Office actively confiscates Jewish property, businesses and bank accounts.

May 7, 1938
Myron C. Taylor is appointed head of the US delegation at the conference at Evian, France.  The delegation also includes George Warren, Robert Pell and George Brandt.

May 16, 1938
The President’s Advisory Committee on Political Refugees (PACPR) meets at the US State Department and appoints James G. MacDonald as Chairman and Samuel Cavert as its Secretary.

June 2, 1938
US Ambassador to Germany Hugh R. Wilson (Dodd’s successor) suggests blocking German money held in the Allied Property Custodian’s Office.  This recommendation is to force the Nazi government to ameliorate its antisemitic laws.  Secretary of State Hull rejects Wilson’s proposal.

July 6-15, 1938
Representatives from 32 countries and 39 private organizations, 21 of which are Jewish, meet at Evian, France, to discuss international refugee policies.  All of the participating countries refuse to help or let in more Jewish refugees.  The US does nothing to help refugees.  There is a saying among Jews in Europe: “The world is made up of two types of countries: the kind where Jews could not live and the kind where Jews could not enter.”  The lack of support for Jewish refugees signals to Hitler that the world is unconcerned with Jewish refugees.

The US State Department declares, “No country would be expected to make any changes in its immigration legislation.”

As an outcome of the Evian Conference, an Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees is established to help refugees.  It is headed by Lord Winterton and George Rublee.  It is, however, highly ineffectual and fails to help Jews who are leaving Germany to take their assets with them.

Ira Hirschmann, an American Jew acting as a private citizen, attends the Evian conference and witnesses its futility.  He travels to Vienna and underwrites many dozens of affidavits for Jewish refugees.  After returning to the United States, he becomes Chairman of the Board of the University in Exile.

November 1938
President Roosevelt meets with State Department officials to discuss the refugee crisis.  State Department issues directive to US consuls to issue fewer visas.

November 9-10, 1938
Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass): anti-Jewish pogrom in Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland.  Thousands of Jews are beaten, hundreds killed; 200 synagogues set fire and destroyed; 7,500 Jewish shops looted; 171 Jewish homes destroyed; 30,000 German, Austrian and Sudeten Jews sent to concentration camps (Dachau, Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen), 15,000 from Austria.  680 men and women commit suicide in Austria.

The US Ambassador to Germany Hugh Wilson sends an extensive report about the Kristallnacht pogrom to the US State Department.  Wilson recommends that strong diplomatic action be taken against Germany for the persecution of Jews.

Many Jews are released from the Dachau, Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen concentration camps with proof of emigration, diplomatic exit visas and promises to leave Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia.  Many diplomats work to help Jews gain release from the German and Austrian camps.  Among the more notable US diplomats are: Chargé Alexander Kirk and Consul General Raymond Geist of the US consulate in Berlin.

The American Friends’ Service Committee (AFSC), founded by the Society of Friends, or Quakers, establishes a refugee division in New York City.  Its purpose is to help German and Austrian Jewish refugees.  The AFSC works closely with the Jewish relief agencies, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the Hebrew Immigration Aid and Sheltering Society (HIAS).  It will also work with the Oeuvre de Secours Aux Enfants (children’s rescue mission) in the rescue of Jews and Jewish children in Paris, Marseilles, Lisbon and Madrid.

November 14, 1938
Assistant Secretary of State George Messersmith suggests to Secretary of State Hull that the US recall Hugh Wilson, Ambassador to Germany, as a response to “this wholesale inhumanity.”

November 15, 1938
Roosevelt orders labor department to extend visitors’ visas to the US by six months.

November 17, 1938
The British ambassador to the United States in Washington meets with the Undersecretary of State, Sumner Wells, and offers to allow 32,500 German Jews to come to Great Britain.  Wells refuses the offer.

November 18, 1938
In response to the Kristallnacht persecution of Jews, Roosevelt recalls the US Ambassador to Germany, High Wilson, back to Washington “for consulation.”

President Roosevelt announces visitors’ visas for approximately 15,000 refugees will be extended.  This is in response to the Kristallnacht pogroms.

December 1938
American consul general in Berlin, Raymond Hermann Geist, warns the Assistant Secretary of State that the US should take measures to rescue Jews who will be condemned to death by the Nazis.

The United States Committee for the Care of European Children (USC), led by Clarence Pickett, of the American Friends’ Service Committee (Quakers), organizes a drive to save the Jewish children in Europe.

December 16, 1938
US Commissioner of the Philippines Paul V. McNutt submits proposal to FDR to resettle between 2,000 and 5,000 European refugees in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao.

December 27, 1938
Presidential Executive Order 8029 is signed into law.  It requires certain documents to be submitted for immigration to the US.  This is later superseded by Executive Order 8430, signed on June 4, 1940.

US Vice Consul Stephen B. Vaughan stationed in Breslau, Germany, issues more than 700 visas to German Jews who escape to the Philippines for the duration of the war.  Philippine President Emanuel Quezon agrees to grant Jews asylum in the Philippine commonwealth.

Between 1933 and 1939, 14,000 anti-Jewish laws are passed in Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia.

78,000 Jews leave Germany.

100,000 Jews leave Austria by May 1939.  113,824 Jews remain.

Jewish groups in the US are pessimistic about the plight of German and Austrian Jews, but few of these organizations realize the extreme danger the Jews will face in the near future.  The Jewish community in the US cannot agree on a unified or effective plan to help German and Austrian Jews.

The United Jewish Appeal (UJA) is established to raise money for overseas agencies outside of Palestine.  This funds refugee rescue and relief efforts of the American Joint Distribution Committee and the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society.

300,000 Germans, 90% of them Jewish, apply for visas to the United States.

US admits only 90,000 immigrants in 1939. 

60 anti-alien proposals are introduced into the US Congress in 1939.  These proposed laws are supported by so-called patriotic and nativist organizations.  American public opinion polls indicate that opinion against changing immigration laws to favor refugees goes from 67% in 1938 to 83% in 1939.

Laurence A. Steinhardt is appointed US Ambassador to the Soviet Union.  This is one of the most sensitive assignments in the US Department of State.  Steinhardt is one of the rare Jewish senior diplomats in the US Foreign Service.  Although Steinhardt has been involved in Zionist movements since the 1920s, he is at first unreceptive to helping Jewish refugees.

February 9, 1939
The Wagner-Rogers bill is introduced into the US Congress.  It proposes to allow 10,000 refugee children under 15 years of age to be admitted to the US in 1939-1940.  The Nonsectarian Committee for German Refugee Children lobbies for this legislation.  They propose that refugee children be taken care of with private money and assistance.  The bill is supported by Eleanor Roosevelt, Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, Frances Perkins, Francis Biddle, and former US President Herbert Hoover.  Due to anti-refugee feelings and pressure groups, the bill is stalled and eventually put aside.

April 15, 1939
President Roosevelt requests Hitler to respect the independence and sovereignty of 31 independent European nations.  Hitler soon mocks this request in a speech at the Reichstag.

May 1939
US Consul General in Berlin Raymond Hermann Geist sends warning to the US Secretary of State that Jews are in danger.  Geist has been issuing visas to help Germany Jews escape Germany.

Fall 1939
Roosevelt calls Congress into special session, urges repeal of the arms embargo mandated by the Neutrality Act of 1937.

September 1, 1939
Germany invades Poland.  World War II begins. 

State Department establishes Regulation 810.  It establishes a Special Division “to handle special problems arising out of the disturbed conditions in Europe” (War Problems Division).

September 3, 1939
In response to the German invasion of Poland, France, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand officially declare war on Germany.

September 6, 1939
State Department Order #813 appoints Breckinridge Long Special Assistant in the Department of State in charge of Special War Problems Division.

October 1939
US Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes submits a proposal to US President Roosevelt to allow European Jews to immigrate to the Territory of Alaska or the Virgin Islands.  Ickes is sympathetic to the plight of Jewish refugees. Roosevelt tentatively agrees to these plans, but severely limits the quota of Jews to Alaska.  These plans are never implemented.

October 16, 1939
The Intergovernmental Committee meets in Washington to discuss the refugee crisis.  FDR calls for a major plan to resettle Jewish refugees from Europe into a “supplemental national home.” A number of major proposals are submitted to Roosevelt.  Because of Roosevelt’s indifference and lack of attention, no plan is adopted.

November 1939
US passes the Neutrality Act of 1939.  US repeals arms embargo.

November 4, 1939
Roosevelt signs bill enabling belligerent nations to purchase war material from the US on a cash and carry basis.  Due to the British Naval blockade, only Britain and France are able to purchase materials.

December 1939
FDR appoints his friend Myron C. Taylor as personal representative to the Vatican.  Roosevelt hopes to move the Vatican toward the rescue of refugees.

January 1940
President Roosevelt appoints Breckinridge Long as Assistant Secretary of State for Special Problems.  Long supervises 23 of the 42 divisions of the State Department.  Among his duties is overseeing the visa section, civilian internees, overseas relief, prisoners of war, immigration and refugee policies.  From the outset of his appointment, Long is opposed to helping refugees escape Nazi Germany and its occupied territories.  Long claims that refugees entering the country pose a major security risk for the United States.  This, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.  Long and his associates in the State Department implement anti-Jewish immigration policies.  This policy lasts until the creation of the War Refugee Board in January 1944.  Further, Long exploits divisions among American Jewish groups.  He states in his diary, “there is no cohesion, nor any sympathetic collaboration—rather rivalry, jealousy and antagonism…” 

Roosevelt submits a list of 200 people to the State Department to be given special consideration, i.e., emergency visas.

Numerous refugee committees are established in the US.  These committees represent refugee scholars, writers, artists, musicians, physicians, labor leaders etc.

Among these groups are the Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton and the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Scholars (University in Exile).  Eventually, hundreds of intellectuals will be placed in universities, colleges, and other institutions throughout the US.  Besides Jewish committees, numerous other groups are established, representing Protestants, Catholics, Spanish loyalists from the Spanish Civil War, political, social and labor groups.

January 29, 1940
State Department Order #835 appoints Breckinridge Long as Assistant Secretary of State for Administration.

February 1940
The Alaskan Development Bill is introduced into the US Congress as a possible refuge for German, Austrian and Czech Jews.  It is introduced by Senator William H. King and congressman Frank Havenner.  It is strongly supported by US Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes.  It is opposed by Assistant US Secretary of State Sumner Wells.  The proposal is also opposed by government representatives and special interest groups in Alaska.  FDR opposes the idea and the bill never gets out of committee.

February 16 and 23, 1940
Assistant Secretary of State Adolph A. Berle, Jr., tries to persuade US Secretary of State Cordell Hull to protest treatment of Jews in Poland.  This request is based on a report by the Chargé in Warsaw, Alexander Kirk.  Berle sates: “We should register a protest.  We did so during the far less significant, though more dramatic, riots of a year ago November; and I see no reason why we should not make our feelings known regarding a policy of seemingly calculated cruelty which is beginning to be apparent now.”  The protest is ultimately quashed by Breckinridge Long.

February 17, 1940
Reorganization of the Visa Division of the US State Department.  Visa division responsibility is to “ensure the uniformity of procedures and a uniform interpretation of the immigration laws and regulations by our consular officers throughout the world.  General instructions affecting the administration of immigration laws originate in the Visa Division in cooperation, in appropriate instances, with other divisions of the Department and with the Department of Labor.”  Note: Chief of the Visa Division, Avra Warren, attends legislative committee meetings regarding proposed legislation regarding immigration.

April 1940
Roosevelt vetoes the Starnes Bill (HR 6724), which called for deportation of refugee aliens from the US.

April-May 1940
New administrative policy on the issuing of visas: “the consular officer may desire to have the documents submitted by such persons include evidence to show not only that the sponsors are financially able to support the applicants but that their interest in the applicants and their plans for the latter are such that the sponsors will in all probability assume the obligation of supporting the intending immigrants for an indefinite period of time.”

May 10, 1940
Germany invades the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.  136 German divisions participate in the invasion.  Germans enforce anti-Jewish measures in each area.  In the wake of the German invasions, more than 8 million persons are displaced all over Europe.

May 12, 1940
Germany invades France.

May 20, 1940
Concentration camp established at Auschwitz, Poland.  It will become the largest and deadliest death camp in the Nazi system.  More than 1.2 million Jews, and tens of thousands of others, will be systematically murdered there.

June 1940
Marshal Pétain is installed as head of state with Pierre Laval his Vice President of the Council of Ministers.  Pétain is granted executive powers under the armistice agreement and the French National Assembly is merely a “rubber stamp.” 

US embassies and consulates in Nazi-occupied Europe (Germany, Austria, France, Holland, Belgium, Czechoslovakia and Luxembourg) are ordered to begin closing.  US embassy in Paris will be moved to a new headquarters in Vichy.

Visa regulations for refugees are severely tightened.  A refugee must now be able to prove that they can return to the country of their origin from which they are fleeing.  This is, in most cases, impossible because they are subject to arrest in their home country.  Further, visa waiting periods are significantly lengthened.

Breckenridge Long’s Special Problems Division of the State Department is pressured by these organizations to help refugees.  He writes disparagingly of this pressure: “There is a constant pressure from Congressional and organized groups in this country to have us proceed on behalf of non-Americans….  So far, I’ve been able to resist the pressure.”

Emergency Rescue Committee (ERC) is established in the US under the leadership of Frank Kingdon.  It is established to coordinate various US rescue efforts.  Eleanor Roosevelt agrees to lobby on behalf of this organization.

After the surrender of France, a US Gallup Poll shows that 58% of Americans are willing to admit French and British children to the US during the war.

James Grover McDonald complained that certain refugees, particularly those with political affiliations, such as labor leaders, Spanish nationalists and intellectuals, were targeted for stricter screening regulations by the State Department. 

James G. McDonald and Joseph Chamberlain, of the umbrella group, the National Refugee Service, offer to pay the expenses of refugee children while in the United States.  They ask that children be admitted outside the normal immigration quotas.

Long writes in his diary in 1940, “The list of Rabbis has been closed and the list of labor leaders has been closed and now it remains for the President’s Committee to be curbed.” 

Many rescue advocates are well aware of Long’s obstructionism.  Whether it is antisemitism or unjustified paranoia based on security concerns, there are numerous complaints.  Long is aware of this criticism by both refugee advocates and Jewish community leaders.  In his diary, Long writes: “[James Grover] McDonald…has developed a very definite and violent antagonism to me, he thinks I have been non-cooperative and obstructive…”

June 4, 1940
The US Immigration and Naturalization Service is transferred from the Department of Labor to the Justice Department, ostensibly for reasons of national security.

Breckinridge Long writes in his diary:  “Still engaged in preparation of papers, consultations with Justice and Labor and arranging final draft executive orders and telegrams to restrict the granting of visas and to stop up the holes of unauthorized immigrants into the United States.  Provided the President signs the Executive Order we will dispatch a long telegram which will tighten up our Consular examinations of persons requesting visas all along the line…”

June 5, 1940
Executive Order #8430 signed into law.  It remains in effect until June 3, 1941.  It supersedes Executive Order #8029 of December 1938.  Part I, Sec. 1: Nonimmigrant aliens must present unexpired passports or “travel documents showing their origin and identity” and “valid passport visas.”  Part II, Sec. 1: “Alien immigrants must present unexpired passports from country to which they owe allegiance and valid immigration visas granted by consular officers.  Part VI:  The Secretary of State and the department head charged with the administration of the immigration laws are hereby authorized to make such rules and regulations, not inconsistent with this order, as may be deemed necessary for carrying out the provisions of this order and the statues mentioned herein.”

The Secretary of State sends a cable to diplomatic and consular officers: “In view of the international situation, it is essential that all aliens seeking admission into the United States, including both immigrants and nonimmigrants be examined with the greatest care.  Effective immediately, all applications for…nonimmigration visas, transit certificates and limited entry certificates, except as hereinafter specified, shall be executed in triplicate on Form 257, under oath administered by the Consul.”

June 14, 1940
The President’s Advisory Committee on Political Refugees (PACPR) submits list of 600 refugees to be issued special emergency visas.

June 21, 1940
The Bloom-Van Nuys Immigration Law is passed and takes effect on July 1.  Assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long lobbies for this bill.  It was meant to encourage US consuls stationed in Europe to deny entry to the US by refugees based on the possibility that they could endanger public safety.  This law is intended to prevent refugees from receiving visas.  A clause in this law called the “close relative clause,” denies visas to people who have relatives in Nazi-occupied territories.  Almost all refugees have close relatives in their home countries.  This restrictive clause sends a clear message to US embassies and consulates that help to refugees is to be restricted and discouraged.  This act imposes upon immigrants five complicated levels of visa application review.  This complicated review is designed to take power away from local consuls to make independent decisions regarding the suitability of the immigrant to enter the US.  Decisions by diplomats often have to be reviewed by the Department of State, Navy and Army intelligence, the Department of Justice, and the FBI.  Refugees denied visas have long, complicated appeals processes.  The process often takes up to five months to process applications.  More than one half of visa applications are rejected by the US State Department.  The entire visa application process is so cumbersome and bureaucratic that only 121 visas out of 985 are approved by September 1941.  The strict provisions of the Bloom-Van Nuys Act are not rescinded until May 1945.  For the rest of the war, only a small fraction of US immigration quotas for German, Austrian, French and other European refugees will be filled. 

Long further imposes on diplomats and consuls the regulation that potential refugees must obtain exit visas from the countries they are leaving, to include Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Southern France, before they can obtain an entry visa to the US.  By mid-1940, these exit visas from Nazi government are extremely difficult to obtain.  Long understands that these regulations will tie up refugees in elaborate rules and regulations of government red tape, stating: “We can delay and effectively stop for a temporary period of indefinite length the number of immigrants into the United States.  We could do this by simply advising our consuls to put every obstacle in the way and to resort to various administrative advices which would postpone and postpone the granting of visas.”

James McDonald, of the President’s Advisory Committee on Political Refugees (PACPR) is outraged by the Bloom-Van Nuys Act: “The so-called relative rule should be cancelled or substantially modified.  Our experience with refugees has convinced us that it is unnecessary, illogical, ill-adapted to the purposes claimed for it, and cruelly burdensome on the refugees affected by it.”

A number of US diplomats independently subvert the intention of the Bloom-Van Nuys Act and provide visas to a number of Jewish refugees without fully complying with regulatory requirements and the waiting period.

June 22, 1940
France surrenders to Germany.  The French sign an armistice with Germany; in Article 19 of this document, the French agree to “surrender on demand” all persons named by the German authorities in France.  France is divided into two zones.  The French Army is limited to 125,000 officers and soldiers in metropolitan France.

Approximately 350,000 Jews reside in France at the time of the German invasion.  They constitute less than one percent of the total population of France, which is 45 million.  France becomes the largest population center for Jews in Western Europe. 

France is divided into two zones.  The northern zone is administered by German military forces.  The south, called the “Free Zone,” is established in the resort town of Vichy.  The Nazi military occupation forces control about two thirds of France.

June 27, 1940
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and influential refugee advocates, including Thomas Mann and Joseph Chamberlain, influence the President to authorize the issuance of emergency visas to notable Jewish artists, labor leaders and other refugees in France who are endangered.  As a result, the National Coordinating Committee for Aid to Refugees draws up a list of prominent refugees to receive temporary emergency visas to the US.  In all, the names of 3,286 individuals of “superior intellectual attainment, of indomitable spirit, experienced and vigorous support of the precepts of liberal government, and who are in danger of persecution or death at the hands of autocracies.”  This rescue project is undermined by Assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long and senior State Department officials in Washington.  The State Department cuts the list down and slows the processing of temporary emergency visas.  By December 19, 1940, only 238 emergency visas are issued by the State Department.  When the rescue effort is ended in January 1941, only 1,236 emergency visas will have been issued.  The refusal of Long and his deputies to approve and expedite these visas leads to complaints among members of PACPR.

June 28, 1940
US Congress passes the Alien Registration Act of 1940.  It requires registration and fingerprinting of all resident aliens above 14 years of age.

June 29, 1940
Cable from the Secretary of State to diplomatic and consular officers: “All applications for immigration visas must be examined with extreme care during the present period of emergency no such visa should be issued if there is any doubt whatsoever concerning the alien.  Although a drastic reduction in the number of quota and nonquota immigration visas will result therefrom and quotas against which there is a heavy demand will be underissued, it is essential to take every precaution at this time to safeguard the best interests of the United States.”

July 1940
US Vice Consul in Marseilles, Hiram “Harry” Bingham IV, liberally issued visas to many Jews who had come to the US consulate in Marseilles.  In addition, Bingham worked secretly with a number of rescue and relief agencies in the Marseilles area.  Bingham conducts inspection tours of conditions in the French concentration camps and reports his findings to these groups.  German writer Lion Feuchtwanger is hiding in Bingham’s house in Marseilles.  Bingham tells Feuchtwanger “all about the work that emigrants are making for him.  He is always tired and exhausted.”

July 8, 1940
Eleanor Roosevelt writes Varian Fry explaining that she is trying to get the President to get cooperation of South American countries to accept refugees.

July 10, 1940
America First committee is established in the United States.  This is an isolationist group that lobbies to keep America out of the war.  There are strongly antisemitic elements to this organization.

August 1940
American private citizen Varian Fry, appointed by the Emergency Rescue Committee (ERC), arrives in Marseilles, France.  He is empowered to save artists, writers, composers and other intellectuals who are on Hitler’s arrest lists.  Fry and his volunteers make contact with numerous foreign consular officials who issue him hundreds of legal and extra-legal visas and other documents to help Jews escape the Nazis.  These diplomats include US Vice-Consul Hiram “Harry” Bingham.  Fry and his associates organize escape routes over the Pyrenees mountains for refugees.  Hans and Lisa Fittko are among his most able guides.  The Fry group will rescue an estimated 2,500 persons.

August 4, 1940
European writer Lion Feuchtwanger is still being hidden at Vice Consul Bingham’s home in Marseilles.

August 5, 1940
One thousand one hundred thirty seven applications are submitted to the State Department between August 5 and December 18, 1940.  Of these, only 238 are granted.  About this, the editor of The Nation magazine Freda Kirshway states: “The State Department does not refuse visas, it merely sets up a line of obstructions stretching from Washington to Lisbon to Shanghai.”

Nativist, isolationist and xenophobic groups and other elements are a constant source of lobbying against the liberalizing of federal legislation to promote rescue of refugees.  These have a significant impact on Congressmen and Senators in Washington.  More than 60 anti-alien legislative proposals are introduced into the Congress.  One proposal, HR 9999, proposes “that every alien in the US shall be forthwith deported.

August 9, 1940
Acting Secretary of State Sumner Welles signs Departmental order #870.  Functions of the Visa Divisions: “To have general charge, within the scope of the authority of the Department of State, of the administration of the Immigration laws and regulations,” and “To initiate the policy action of the Department and to advise the Secretary of State in respect to problems arising from the measures necessary for the strengthening of the national defense; and to supervise the carrying out of these policies,” and “To maintain liaison with other Departments and Agencies of this Government and with Committees of the Congress concerned with entry and expulsion of aliens.”

August 27, 1940
The US Congress amends US Neutrality Act with the enactment of the Hennings Bill.  It permits rescue and refugee ships to evacuate and bring refugee children under 16 years old from war zones, including France and Portugal, to the United States.  4,200 children and 1,100 adults come to the US by the fall of 1940 under this provision.

September 1940
Bingham writes to his wife regarding issuing visas: “Hectic day…at least 100 callers—and many visas to give.”

September 6, 1940
US Minister in Portugal Herbert C. Pell, in cable to the Secretary of State, expresses concern that the Departmental Order of July 26, 1940 is “resulting in visas being granted in many cases to the least desirable element.” Requests that instruction of July 26 be modified [to make it more restrictive] and that consuls be instructed to act in accordance with provisions outlined in telegrams of June 5, and June 29.  Pell cautions that certain aliens, not necessarily the most desirable, are receiving priority because they have been able “through organizations in the United States to have their names put on special lists for favorable consideration.”  Pell states that “It is openly and frequently said that the Consulate can be overruled by anyone able to use influence in the United States and it is suggested that this influence is purchased.”

September 11, 1940
The Quanza, a Jewish refugee ship chartered out of Lisbon with nearly 300 refugees, is granted temporary asylum in Virginia.  Many of these refugees have received visas from the Mexican ambassador Castillo in Lisbon.  Eleanor Roosevelt intercedes on behalf of these refugees.

September 12, 1940
New review procedure for refugee artists and intellectuals seeking visas and entry to the United States in the summer of 1940.  The names of these refugees are submitted to the President’s Advisory Committee on Political Refugees (PACPR).  If PACPR approves an individual, the information is forwarded to the Department of Justice and to the Department of State.  The consuls are then instructed as follows.  On exit permits:  “Consuls have been informed that they may furnish the applicants with notifications regarding their status as of possible assistance to them in applying for exit permits and for transit visas…”  “It has been the general practice of consular officers, before issuing visas to applicants in countries which require exit permits, to ask that permission to depart be first obtained in order to avoid embarrassment which might be caused through the issuance of visas to applicants who should not be permitted by their governments to depart.”  The US should “avoid any possible charge of implication in attempts of aliens to evade the laws of their countries with which this country maintains friendly relations.”  However, “a distinction may be drawn between cases of citizens and non-citizens, especially in the occupied areas of France, and consular officers in France have already been informed by telegraph that in view of the representations which have been made that citizens who are not nationals of the country may find it of assistance in making arrangements to proceed on their journeys, to obtain their visas, such visas may be issued without first requiring the applicants to obtain exit permits, it being understood in such cases that the applicants will have the full responsibility for making the necessary arrangements to proceed on their journeys.”

September 18, 1940
Breckinridge Long writes in his diary: “A number of developments in our procedure in granting visas in [excess] of the quota have troubled me recently…”  Long goes on to discuss how he wishes to take the power to grant visas away from the President’s Advisory Committee on Political Refugees (PACPR).  “I layed [sic] it before the Secretary [of State Cordell Hull], and he authorized me to present the whole matter to the attention of the President.  I did this today in the form of a letter which reviewed the situation and asked his consent to change the procedure, which would place in our Consuls abroad rather than in the President’s Committee in New York the final determination as to whether the person was entitled to entry into the United States…And now it remains for the President’s Committee to be curbed in its activities so that the laws again can operate in their normal course.  I have felt that the procedure of extending visas to persons in the categories indicated was a perfectly legitimate practice provided the bars were not thrown down to the extent that the categories were expanded and a lot of person admitted to the United States in contravention of the law.  I have been very careful to limit the authorization of visas to the end that the law be observed, and in my opinion a departure from this practice would be in effect to render the immigration laws nugatory.”

September 19, 1940
Cable from Secretary of State to certain diplomatic and consular officers (Lisbon, London, Moscow, Stockholm, Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Casablanca, Oporto, Zurich): “To correct any misunderstanding regarding visa work, all visa applications should be carefully examined and if any doubt exists regarding alien’s activities in the past and possible activities in the United States which might be inimical to the United States, action in the case should be suspended and the alien should be requested to present clear evidence to establish essential facts.”

September 24, 1940
Long writes in his diary: “A long session this evening with James G. McDonald and his man Warren and Welles.  McDonald is very wroth at the limitation upon the activities of his Committee, which were set out in a letter sent to him by the Secretary.  He looks upon me as an obstructionist and was very bitter and somewhat denunciatory.  There were a few warm words between us, but it straightened out.  He said he wanted to see the President, and I said I hoped he would and would lay the whole matter before him.”

September 27, 1940
Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis alliance is signed.

First antisemitic German law (Verordnung) is enacted in the occupied zone of France.  It defines Jews by race and requires Jews to register with the police in the French prefects.

September 28, 1940
Lion Feuchtwanger thanks US Vice Consul Harry Bingham for helping him escape from Vichy.

October 1940
Jews of Warsaw are ordered into a ghetto.  In mid-November, the ghetto is sealed.

October 3, 1940
Statute des Juifs, a set of Nuremberg-style anti-Jewish laws, is passed by the French Vichy government.  Law removes many civil rights for Jews in France.

Breckinridge Long meets with President Roosevelt and convinces him to implement a policy that will let local US consuls make the final decision regarding visas to be issued to refugees.  Long does this because he believes most US consulates will deny visas on the issue of a possible threat by the refugee to “national security.”  He states in his diary, “About noon I had a long satisfactory conversation with the President on the subject of refugees.  McDonald, Chairman of the President’s Advisory Committee on Refugees, has developed a very definite and violent antagonism to me.  He thinks I have been non-cooperative and obstructive and has given evidence of his personal animosity.  In a recent conversation in Mr. Welles’ office he indicated that he had a superlative ego and a vindictive mentality added to his disregard, to put it lightly, of me.”  He goes on to say: “I found that [Roosevelt] was 100% in accord with my ideas.”

Rescue leaders such as Myron C. Taylor, James Grover McDonald and Stephen Wise find it very difficult meeting with the President to advocate rescue.

October 4, 1940
Vichy government is empowered to arrest and imprison Jews in concentration camps in the southern unoccupied zone in France.  31 of these camps are established throughout France.  Eventually, more than 50,000 Jews will be interned in these French-administered camps.  4,000 Jews will die from the poor health conditions in the camps.  Eventually, these will become centers for deportation to the death camps in Poland.

October 8, 1940
James G. McDonald and representatives of rescue groups meet with FDR to complain that Undersecretary Breckinridge Long and the US State Department are unjustly using security as a reason to block legitimate rescue of needy refugees.  McDonald states: “[I] cannot believe, that those without visas present threats to the national interest.”  Specifically, McDonald criticizes US consuls in Europe.  FDR takes no action on this.  567 names are submitted to the State Department in August and September, yet only 40 visas are issued.

James McDonald states that refugees, despite reaching Portugal, “are still refused visas.  To close this last avenue of escape is to condemn many scientists, scholars, writers, labor leaders and other refugees to further sacrifices for their belief in democracy and to bring to an end our tradition of hospitality to the politically oppressed.  The original arrangements were wisely and soundly planned.  Their purpose is still to be achieved.”  Breckinridge Long defends his policies using the security issue as a rationale.  After the complaint by McDonald, Long states: “In view of reports indicating that Nazi and other totalitarian agents are endeavoring to enter the United States in the guise of refugees, it has been considered essential in the national interest to scrutinize all applications carefully.”  Reports by the FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover state that there was negligible entry of foreign agents into the United States during World War II. 

November 1940
Roosevelt elected to an unprecedented third term as US President.  Democrats retain a majority in the Senate and House of Representatives.

New and more complicated screening procedures for approving visas to refugees are implemented by the State Department.  The procedure involves a review of visa applicants not only by the State Department, but also by the Justice Department, the FBI and US Military and Naval Intelligence.  This system requires that if a diplomat or consul in the field rejects an applicant for any reason, the visa would have to be approved by these various government departments.  The visa process is slowed to a trickle.

November 11, 1940
An article appears in the New Republic magazine exposing terrible conditions in the French concentration camp Le Vernet.  They call it the “French Dachau.”

November 13, 1940
Avra Warren, head of the Visa Division of the US State Department, serving under Breckinridge Long, criticizes and vetoes plan to permit 12,000 German Jews residing in Portugal safe refuge in the US Virgin Islands.

November 18, 1940
Varian Fry writes to US Secretary of State Cordell Hull regarding the plight of refugees in southern France:  “Deprived of all hope of diplomatic or consular intervention in their behalf, hundreds of these new stateless are confined in the concentration camps of France and Spain, with little or no prospect of obtaining their release.  I am sure that you are only too well aware what such confinement means…” Fry pleads on behalf of the refugees: “Is this not an occasion for the United States and the other nations of the Western Hemisphere to take extraordinary measures?  Cannot the Government of the United States intervene in behalf at least of those upon whom it has seen fit to confer its visas, so that they may be released from the concentration camps, be granted French sortie visas and Spanish and Portuguese transit visas, and then be able to proceed on their way to liberty and the opportunity to rebuild their shattered lives?”

November 30, 1940
H. Freeman Matthews, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim, US embassy, Vichy France, wrote a report about Varian Fry.  In one instance, when Fry was denied introduction to French officials, Matthews writes: “Mr. Fry became extremely belligerent when he received this response and stated that the Foreign Service had treated him in the most unfriendly fashion and that he intended to make a full report to the Department of State.  He added that certain persons at the Consulate General at Marseille had been spreading malicious stories about him to the effect that he was to be expelled from France…Upon his return to Marseille, Mr. Fry called on Mr. Fullerton in order to make further complaints about the treatment he had received at the hands of the Consulate General at Marseille.  When Mr. Fullerton pointed out to him that he had in his files letters from Mr. Fry stating that Dr. Bohn was associated with him, and that he also had evidence in his files indicating that Mr. Fry had employed two former members of an American ambulance corps to assist refugees in leaving France without the necessary exit visas, Mr. Fry became most conciliatory…”

December 1940
Myron Taylor, a friend of Roosevelt, is appointed Special US Envoy to the Vatican (Holy See) to elicit help from the Vatican for refugees.

US Justice Department rules that all refugees coming to the United States are protected by the Constitution with all rights guaranteed to citizens.

US Congressman Samuel Dickstein introduces new bill to utilize Alaska as a refugee haven.  The bill dies in subcommittee.

Roosevelt announces Lend-Lease policy to furnish Allies with ships and armaments.  This is the beginning of the end of US isolation.

The United States, a non-belligerent in the war, has a more rigid screening procedure for refugees than does Britain, who had been fighting for two years.  As a result of the US State Department’s interference and antisemitic policies, many European Jews are unable to obtain refuge in the United States.  In the crucial year of 1941, only 47% of quota for German-Austrian immigration to the United States is filled.

US Minister to Romania Franklin Mott Gunther, stationed in Bucharest, reports to the State Department about the murder of Jews by the fascist Horia Sim Iron Guard.

The New Republic magazine writes a series of articles in 1941 calling for an inquiry into antisemitism in the US State Department.  The article categorically states that there is “widespread antisemitism in the Foreign Service.”

January 1941
State Department communication with consulates in the field, Foreign Service Regulations, ch. XXII: “Visas for aliens” sec. 1: “Officers of the Foreign Service, except consular agents, shall familiarize themselves with the existing laws on the subject of immigration and visas and with the rules and regulations established thereunder by the Attorney General, the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization, or other officials acting in the name of the President, and they shall perform the duties prescribed therein for them.”  This law reminds diplomats in the field that they must strictly adhere to the regulations.

January 23, 1941
Communication from Adolf A. Berle to Eliot B. Coulter regarding inconsistencies among European consulates regarding documentation required to assure aliens will not become public charges.  Berle expresses concern that some consuls interpret the “likely to become a public charge” clause too strictly.  This memo is written after it becomes known to the Visa Division that the Marseille consulate had developed a 13 point questionnaire which it issued to sponsors who gave affidavits for aliens not closely related to them, ostensibly in order to assure sponsor’s sincere willingness to support the alien.

February 4, 1941
Avra Warren, head of the Visa Division of the US State Department, rejects rescue plan to settle Jewish refugees in the US territory of Alaska.  He states “Nearly all of them belong to a particular race.”

February 7, 1941
Undersecretary of State Breckinridge Long writes to Mr. Adolf Berle, also of the State Department: “From time to time, some of our consuls, as is natural with any group of human beings with different reactions, have given different interpretations to the Department’s instructions.  We have communicated with them directly by cablegram and by telephone in order to bring them in line with the Department’s policy.  Our consulates in Germany, Switzerland, unoccupied France, and Portugal have been painstakingly supervised in this respect and are conforming to the pattern of the Department’s instructions. The requirements of the immigration law are specific.  Irrespective of what the Department might desire, our policies are necessarily bound by the law in force.”

February 12, 1941
Lena Fishman, Secretary of the Emergency Rescue Committee in Marseille, writes to Varian Fry on her way out of Europe from Lisbon: “P.S. I did get that time my immig. visa and was home at 10.45. It was really swell of Mr. Bingham. I shall send him some red ribbons for it since they seem to have difficulties in getting them.”

February 22, 1941
In a cable, Fry states: “…American consul refusing to issue visas until passage is bought and proof presented.”

March 6, 1941
Hiram Bingham writes Martha Sharp, of the Unitarian Service Committee.  [Martha and Waitsill Sharp were active in saving Jews in Southern France and have recently been honored by Yad Vashem as Righteous among the Nations.  Bingham was known to have worked closely with the Sharps.]  Bingham is acknowledging a letter of commendation: “It was awfully good of you to get your committee to write to the Department of State at Washington about me and the others of our staff here.  I certainly appreciate your thoughtfulness tremendously and am most grateful.  Anything I may have done was a pleasure particularly where you personally were concerned and it is always cheering and helpful to have some one take the trouble to put in a good word of approval and encouragement.  Mr. Dexter’s beautifully expressed remarks were most generous and naturally reflected the whole hearted way that you devoted yourself to your work here.  You certainly are to be congratulated on the efficient way in which you succeeded in getting your party out of France and through Spain in the face of a million difficulties.  We are as busy as ever but now have some additional help to meet the waiting crowds.  I’ve been separated from my family now for nine months, and as you can well understand, am more homesick than ever.”

March 7, 1941
Varian Fry, representing the ERC, writes to the US embassy in Vichy: “I should like to call your attention to a curious difference between the various American Consulates in France as regards the question of German/Austrian quota numbers.  As you perhaps know, this quota is now open at Marseille.  That is to say, the Consulate here has obtained from the Consulate at Berlin a considerable supply of quota numbers and is granting immigration visas under the combined German/Austrian quota without any delay at all.  On the other hand, it appears that the Consulates at Nice and at Lyon are still unable to grant immigration visas under the German/Austrian quota to anyone who is not registered on or before September 1938.  Many of our ‘protégés,’ who live in the Nice or Lyon consular districts, have been told that they will have to wait at least a year before they can obtain immigration visas under the German/Austrian quota.”  This indicates that under Bingham’s supervision, more visas were being issued at the Marseille consulate than in other consulates in France.  Bingham was working closely, and secretly, with Varian Fry, Frank Bohn and other rescue agencies.

March 15, 1941
Noted European Jewish artist Marc Chagall writes a letter of thanks to Hiram Bingham.  They become lifelong friends.

April 10, 1941
Varian Fry writes Senator Robert Wagner in Washington, DC, to complain about two consuls in France.  He is complaining about Mr. Felix Cole, the consul in Algiers, and Mr. Clark Husted, the vice consul in Lyon.  Fry states: “I feel that they reveal very clearly a regrettable but undeniable attitude of prejudice on the part of these two members of our Foreign Service…Mr. Cole and Mr. Husted both appear to assume that the fact that a person is of the Jewish faith makes it very much less likely that he will be able to reach the United States, than if he were of another faith.  Since it is in my opinion contrary to the facts, this attitude appears to me to constitute an unwarranted prejudice on the part of these two officials…I may say that the Marseille consulate does not share this attitude and it is perhaps significant that the Marseille consulate has had a far larger experience than our consulates at Algiers and Lyon in recent months.”

April 19, 1941
Varian Fry writes to Senator Robert Wagner:  “To what I have written you in my letter of April 10th, I should like to add that the American Consulates at Lyon, Nice, and Algiers were, according to my latest information, refusing to consider applications for immigration visas under the combined German-Austrian quota which were not made before September 1938.  At the Consulate at Marseille, on the other hand, prior registration is no longer necessary.  In other words, the German-Austrian quota is open at Marseille, but in effect closed at Lyon, Nice and Algiers.  This not only results in an unfair distinction against persons of German and Austrian birth residing in the Lyon, Nice and Algiers consular districts, but also imposes upon our hard-working consular staff at Marseille an even greater burden than they would normally have to carry.  As you know, it is very difficult for foreigners living in France to obtain permits to travel.  Thus many persons of German or Austrian birth who have the misfortune to be living in the Lyon, Nice or Algiers consular districts, are unable to change their residence to the Marseille consular district and must resign themselves to an indefinite wait for their immigration visas, though those persons, who by pure luck happen to be living in the Marseille consular district, receive their immigration visas immediately.”

May 1941
As a result of Germany’s invasion of Greece and Yugoslavia, Roosevelt declares a national emergency.  The declaration will enable the US Congress to pass extraordinary legislation.

May 7, 1941
Consul Hiram Bingham notified he is being transferred out of Marseilles.

Fry writes in his diary:  “Wednesday, May 7. Harry Bingham told me this morning that he has just received instructions to go to Lisbon. He is closing his house and packing his things. His going will be a great loss to the refugees, and may seriously cripple our work. He has been the one man at the Consulate who had always seemed to understand that his job now is not to apply the rules rigidly but to save lives whenever he could without actually violating United States law. Without his help, much of what we have done we could [not] have done. Especially since the opening of the Martinique route, he has worked very hard, minimizing formalities and always showing a sympathetic attitude towards candidates for immigration. His behavior has always been in sharp contrast to that of most other American Consuls in France. I hate to think what it is going to be like here after he has gone."

Spring 1941
Hiram Bingham transferred from his post in Marseilles, France.  He is eventually sent to Buenos Aires, Argentina.  While in Argentina, Bingham reports on the activities of pro-Nazi groups and infiltrators.  The State Department refuses to act on his recommendations and he resigns from the State Department in protest.

June 1941
US State Department closes German consulates in the United States.  It bans pro-Nazi propaganda in the US.

US Congress passes Russell Bill, which permits US diplomats and consults in Europe to deny visas to refugees who, in their opinion, would “endanger the public safety of the United States.”  Breckinridge Long, who lobbied for this bill, did it to keep State Department diplomats in check.

Head of the Justice Department Francis Biddle asserts the right of the Justice Department to rule in favor of refugees in certain visa cases.  This removes some power from Breckinridge Long at the State Department.

June 2, 1941
Ambassador to the Polish government-in-exile, stationed in Washington, Jan Ciechanowski, delivers report to Cordell Hull outlining the murder of Jews in Poland.

Breckinridge Long cancels efforts to save Jewish students and rabbis trapped in Europe.  Long cancels efforts due to security concerns.

June 5, 1941
US State Department institutes additional policies discouraging help for refugees from German occupied countries.  It requires consuls in Europe to submit visa applications to Washington for review of those applicants who have “close relatives” in Nazi-occupied territories.  Since most of these applicants in fact have relatives, this slows down their visa applications.  This law applies to immigrants from Germany, Austria, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, occupied France, Poland and the Balkans.  The “close relative” clause states: “…the fact that a relative of the first degree of consanguinity, with whom the applicant had maintained close family ties [father, mother, brother, sister, wife, children], remains abroad in any country or territory under the control of a country whose form of government is opposed to the form of government of the United States may be considered with other evidence that the ties between such relative and the applicant would make the entry of the applicant prejudicial to the public safety or inimical to the interests of the United States.”

In addition to the above, all refugees are required to get the endorsement of two US sponsors.  One sponsor must vouch for the financial solvency of the refugee and the other to attest to their moral qualifications.  Under these regulations, refugees are forced to go through three separate review committees: a primary committee, an independent visa review committee, and if the application is denied a Board of Appeals. An elaborate visa application is then filled out in sextuplicate and distributed to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the FBI, Military and Naval Intelligence, and the State Department.  It takes 3-6 weeks to process the forms.  As a result, the application process falls 4-5 months behind schedule for each applicant.  Applicants are divided between “friendly aliens” (not escaping from Nazi-occupied countries) and “enemy aliens” (escaping from Germany, Austria, Romania, Bulgaria or Hungary).  Applicants who are rejected have to wait six months to reapply for a visa.  They are not told the reason that their visa was turned down.  If the applicant clears all these hurdles, the local consulate is cabled by Washington and the visa can be approved at the discretion of the consul if the immigration quota is not yet filled.  The refugee must on their own obtain exit visas to leave the country from which they are escaping.  They must also obtain transportation to the point of departure and, ultimately, to the United States.  The visa process is time-sensitive.  If the refugee cannot secure paperwork from the foreign government and transportation, his US visa application could be cancelled and the whole process started over.

These regulations immediately trap 3,000 refugees in Lisbon bound for the United States.  Many thousands more are trapped in Germany and Nazi-occupied areas.

June 11, 1941
Telegram to US Secretary of State from Consul General Fullerton (Bingham’s supervisor) at the US consulate in Marseille:  “Would it be possible and appropriate for the Department to convey to the Emergency Rescue Committee and Foreign Policy Association for whom he is understood still to be acting in Unoccupied France my strong recommendation that they endeavor to induce Varian Fry, whose position here is under existing circumstances increasingly dangerous, to return to the United States.  The police authorities in Marseille have recently warned me that steps would eventually and possibly soon be taken against Fry and stated that the only reason for his immunity from expulsion or arrest up to this time has been the reluctance of the French Government to take any measures against an American citizen which might arouse further criticism of France in the American press.  In view of the recent turn in events the force of this latter consideration has greatly diminished.”  Fullerton expresses anger at Fry and tries to have him removed from France and even have him removed by the ERC.  This shows Fullerton’s disdain for Fry, who has been working secretly with Hiram Bingham.

June 20, 1941
Act denying aliens who would endanger the public safety admission to the US: “whenever any American diplomatic or consular officer knows or has reason to believe that any alien seeks to enter the United States for the purpose of engaging in activities which will endanger the public safety of the United States, he shall refuse to issue to such alien any immigration visa, passport visa, transit certificate, or other document entitling such alien to present himself for admission to the Untied States.”

June 22, 1941
Breaking the non-aggression pact of 1939, Hitler orders the German army to invade the Soviet Union.  The plan is called “Operation Barbarossa.”  Germany is now fighting a two-front war.

Following the German army, Nazi Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing squads) begin mass murder of Jews, civilian and Communist leaders.  More than one and a half million people are murdered by the Einsatzgruppen.

July 1, 1941
New regulations by the State Department centralize alien visa control at the US Department of State.  Applications for visas are required to be submitted to the State Department before they are referred to the consuls in the field.  “As cases will be considered and action taken by the consuls under the law strictly according to the facts of the cases, special consideration may not be accorded and should not be requested.”

July 15, 1941
US consulates in Nazi occupied Europe are closed.  These include consulates in Germany, Austria, France, Holland, Luxembourg and Belgium.  Escape routes from these areas are cut off from legal emigration.

July 17, 1941
Israel Goldstein, president of the Synagogue Council of America, sends Cordell Hull a report on the murder of Jews in Poland and Russia.

July 21, 1941
Secretary of State Hull is sent a report on the murder of Jews in Poland and the Soviet Union that was received by Herschel V. Johnson, US Ambassador to Sweden.

July 28, 1941
Former US diplomat Alfred Wagg publishes a series of articles in the New Republic magazine highly critical of the visa policy of the US State Department.  He accuses the State Department of widespread antisemitism and anti-refugee sentiments in the US Foreign Service.

August 1941
A HICEM Report of August-September, 1941 [The Hebrew Immigration Aid Society] CDJC, CDXIV-39, recorded that 30 or 40 American entry visas were issued daily, [from the US Consulate in Marseille].

August 6, 1941
American Friends’ Service Committee (Quakers) sends report to the State Department that Jews in Vichy France are being sent to Nazi-occupied Poland “where conditions of life are such that few can survive.”

August 8, 1941
Americans Roswell McClelland and Dr. Donald Lowrie lobby Vichy leader Philippe Pétain to save Jews.

August 14, 1941
Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill sign Atlantic Charter.  This is an eight point document declaring joint US and British peace aims.

August 15, 1941
German government stops issuing exit visas to Jews.

August 27, 1941
Breckinridge Long meets with FDR to reinforce Long’s negative views on issuing visas to refugees.  In his diary, Long claims FDR is in agreement with this restrictive policy.

September 1941
US Representative Emanuel Celler introduces a bill into the US House of Representatives that calls for letting refugees from France enter the US.  Celler’s bill dies in committee.

September 1, 1941
Hugh Fullerton, the Consul General in Marseille, writes memo regarding Varian Fry.  He states: “Fry, as we all know, is a dirty skunk and I am more and more convinced that he is a communist—evidence of which I will probably be able eventually to wire over.  He cares little or nothing for the committee over which he presides or the refugees whom he is pretending to protect.”  This memo conveys Fullerton’s extreme antipathy to Fry’s activities on behalf of refugees in Marseille.

September 2, 1941
Francis Biddle and James G. McDonald convince FDR to liberalize the “close relative clause” and the visa policy for refugees.  In a small way, this helps refugees in their appeals process.  The rate of visa rejection is lowered by 15%.

Rabbi Wise contacts US State Department with information about the Nazis’ plan to murder European Jews.  The State Department advises Wise to remain silent until the information is verified.

October 1941
Only 4,800 visa applications out of 9,500 have been approved by the US State Department for refugees.  The US State Department and Department of Justice disagree on refugee visa policy and security issues.

October 15, 1941
Varian Fry writes to his replacement at the ERC, Daniel Bénédite.  He is referring to a previous letter that was sent to him by Bénédite regarding the consulates in southern France.  “I am distressed to learn that the Consulates are putting one more obstacle in the path of the poor refugees and I am writing New York to ask them to try to get the State Department to authorize the Consuls to request quota numbers before asking for fixed reservations.  I gather from letters and telephone calls from New York and copies of the New Republic, which I have been able to buy here, as well as from the conversation with Dr. Joy last night that all decent people are now thoroughly disgusted with the State Department’s visa policy.  The source of the trouble appears to be Mr. Avra Warren, Head of the visa section.  Dr. Joy told me that when Mr. Warren was here last autumn, he boasted that, though the State Department had sent him to simplify visa procedure and hasten the issue of visas to hard-pressed refugees, he had been able to do just the opposite.  The New Republic writes that the smell which seeps out of his office at the State Department nauseates all decent Americans.  Dr. Joy says he thinks we can hope for no great improvement in the State Department visa policy as long as Warren remains head of the Visa Section.  The task of getting him removed is one of several similar tasks which I expect to tackle as soon as I get back.  I think the time has come to let loose at the State Department, and not only for its visa policy.”

November 12, 1941
Franklin Mott Gunther, the US Minister in Bucharest, Romania, sends Roosevelt and Secretary of State Cordell Hull a detailed report describing the atrocities committed by the Iron Guard in Romania against Jews.  Gunther will continue to send reports regarding the deportation of Jews.  The State Department’s Eastern European Division replies to Gunther that “endorsing of such a plan is likely to bring about new pressure for an asylum in the Western Hemisphere…We are not ready to handle the whole Jewish problem.”  Nothing was done on Gunther’s reports or proposals.

November 22, 1941
Bingham writes a confidential memorandum to Mr. Reed regarding the Nazi influx into South America at the end of the war.  His memorandum is largely ignored.

November 24, 1941
State Department confirms to Rabbi Wise that Nazi Germany is, in fact, planning to murder all the Jews of Europe.  Wise holds press conference.

November 25, 1941
Varian Fry writes to Daniel Bénédite from New York City.  He states: “It is also growing harder and harder to get money for our work.  It was never a very popular appeal, the idea of bringing foreigners over in time of war.  There is an exaggerated zenophobia [sic] in all countries in war time: today not even the ‘experts’ in the Department of State seem able to distinguish between friend and foe.”  Fry continues about the visa situation: “The visa situation is despairing.  The requirement of two affidavits of support is alone enough to make it almost impossible to get visas for people who have no rich and close relatives here.  Then the Department grants visas with record speed to Italian princes and the like but holds up those of refugees for months.  I am afraid that there is a situation in Washington similar to that which prevailed at the Faubourg St. Germain not so long ago.  You know what I mean, I guess.  I am writing an article about it, and will send you a copy, when it appears.  One might almost say that the State Department has become America’s open scandal.  Everybody talks about, but nobody does anything about, this extraordinary situation.  And yet wars have been lost by Trojan Horses within the gates.”  Fry comments on Consul General Hugh Fullerton at the Marseille consulate: “I have been told here that all our troubles are to be laid at the doorstep of a certain H--h F-------n.  [Donald] Lowrie considers him to be one of his best friends.  Actually, of course, H.F. has said numerous nasty things behind his back. But that is the practice of H.F.”

December 1941
The US Congress authorizes $10 billion of lend-lease assistance to the Allies.

December 7, 1941
Japanese Imperial Navy attacks US forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

December 8, 1941
The United States, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand declare war on Japan.

By the end of December 1941, the Nazis have murdered more than one million Jews.

December 10, 1941
The United States declares war on Germany and Italy.  The vast majority of the war effort will be directed at winning the war against Germany.

December 24, 1941
Varian Fry writes from his home in New York City to his replacement in Marseille, Daniel Bénédite.  He is complaining about Dr. Frank Kingdon, head of the ERC in New York City, and of Fry’s relationship with the US State Department.  “Three weeks ago Dr. Kingdon told me that he had been forced, reluctantly, to the conclusion that the State Department would grant no more visas to our protégés as long as I remained associated with the committee.  The Department is sore as a boil at me because I refused to return to the United States a year ago last September, when they brought pressure on me to come back.  So he said I would have to take a leave of absence, and that we would examine the situation again later, to see whether I could go back to the committee or not.”

January 1942
US Ambassador Laurence A. Steinhardt is transferred from Moscow to Ankara, Turkey.  From this posting, Ambassador Steinhardt becomes extremely active in helping Jews and other refugees escape from Eastern Europe.  Turkey becomes a natural area of refuge and an escape route for Jews from Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary.

January 20, 1942
Wannsee Conference in Berlin: Heydrich outlines plan to murder Europe’s Jews.

January 27, 1942
President Roosevelt, in a private conversation with Leo Crowley, Wartime Alien Property Custodian, states: “Leo, you know this is a Protestant country, and the Catholics and the Jews are here on sufferance.  It is up to both of you [Crowley and Henry Morgenthau, a Jew and Secretary of the Treasury] to go along with anything that I want at this time.”

February 1942
FDR signs executive order 9066, forcing Japanese Americans to be relocated from their homes on the West Coast.

February 2, 1942
Varian Fry writes from his home in New York City to his replacement in Marseille, Daniel Bénédite.  “The visa situation becomes more and more despairing every day.  It has now boiled down to a question of wire-pulling, as we say in America.  In other words, about the only way to get a visa for anybody now is to get some very important, influential person to bring pressure on the State Department for it.  All the Modern Art cases are being held up for no reason under the sun, so far as anybody can see, and the Modern Art people are scurrying around trying to get somebody like Ambassador Bullitt or Mrs. Secretary Perkins, to speak to Sumner Welles about them.  But Ambassador Bullitt and Mrs. Secretary Perkins are naturally extremely busy and it is very hard to get at them.  It’s rather like the atmosphere at the court of Louis XIV, isn’t it?  If only you can get the ear of someone who has the ear of le Roi Soleil, perhaps you can get the favor you want.  Otherwise, there is no hope at all.  I often wonder how the boys in the Visa Division put in their days.  Sharpening pencils, I suppose, which they then chew until they need sharpening again.”  Fry continues: “I doubt whether there will be more than extremely rare exceptions to the rule that no more visas are to be given to ‘enemy aliens’—if, in fact, there are any exceptions at all.”

February 15, 1942
First transport of Jews murdered at Auschwitz using prussic acid (Zyklon B) poison gas.

March 1942
Acting on FDR’s executive order, the US government forces the removal of 120,000 Japanese Americans from the West Coast and interns them in ten camps in the country’s interior.  They are kept there until the end of the war.  Canada and Peru follow the US policy and intern their Japanese populations.

April 2, 1942
Varian Fry writes from his home in New York City to Daniel Bénédite in Marseille.  Fry is referring to the visas for Helen and Ulrich Hessel: “Their visa applications were submitted to the State Department about the 10th of March.  It will take some four to six months to get a decision at the present rate.”  This case illustrates how long it takes to get a visa cleared through normal channels at the State Department.

May 28, 1942
Varian Fry writes from his home in New York City to Daniel Bénédite in Marseille.  Fry is writing about the visa situation.  “Alas, the visa outlook is growing darker and darker every day.  You know that Cuban visas have been stopped, and even those already granted to so-called ‘enemy aliens’ have been cancelled…The United States continues to grant visas, but so slowly and after such long delays that one goes almost frantic waiting for them.  There seems to be absolutely nothing to do to speed up a case even when it is a very urgent and important one.”

June 1942
In Marseilles, the Emergency Rescue Committee is forced to close by French officials for their activities in helping refugees.  The ERC continues to operate secretly.

August 1942
H. Pinkney Tuck, the US Chargé d’Affaires in Vichy France, discusses with Pierre Laval the deportation of Jews.  In a letter to the US Secretary of State, he writes, “It is evident from Laval’s attitude that he had never interest nor sympathy in the fate of the Jews who he callously remarked were already too numerous in France.”

August 1, 1942
Gerhardt Riegner, representative of the World Jewish Congress stationed in Geneva, Switzerland, learns from a top German industrialist, Eduard Schulte, that Nazi Germany is planning to murder Jews using poisonous prussic acid gas (Zyklon B).

August 3, 1942
The Nimes Committee in southern France and the Quakers, led by Lindsey Nobel, meet with Pierre Laval to plead humanity and to protect Jews.  Laval turns them away.

August 4, 1942
Tracy Strong, of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in France, meets with Marshal Pétain and informs him of the adverse publicity regarding the deportation of Jews and how it affects American public opinion.

August 6, 1942
The Quakers in France meet with US Chargé d’Affaires in Vichy H. Pinkney Tuck and inform him about their meeting with Pierre Laval.  They indicate that Laval stated that “these foreign Jews had always been a problem in France and that the French government was glad that a change in German attitude towards them gave France an opportunity to get rid of them.”

August 8, 1942
Gerhardt Riegner cables Rabbi Stephen S. Wise in New York and Sydney Silverman in London regarding Nazi implementation of a plan to murder European Jewry.  Riegner hopes that this report will initiate a worldwide mass rescue effort to save Jews.  Most of Europe’s Jews are still alive.  The US State Department delays delivery of the cable to Wise. 

This information is sent to the State Department by US diplomat Howard Elting, Jr., who is stationed at the US Embassy in Bern, Switzerland.

August 13, 1942
Members of the President’s Advisory Committee on Political Refugees (PACPR) plead with Undersecretary of State Wells to save Jewish children in Vichy France.  One thousand visas are authorized.

August 26, 1942
Anthony J. Drexel Biddle, Jr., the US Ambassador to several European governments in exile, forwards a report written by Ernest Frischer, a member of the Czechoslovakian State Council, to the US State Department.  It outlines the murder of Jews in central Europe.  Frischer’s report stresses that the Jews are being singled out for total destruction by the Nazis.

August 27 and 31, 1942
US Consul Paul Chapin Squire, stationed at the embassy in Bern, Switzerland, forwards a report to the US State Department by Dr. Donald A. Lowrie representing the YMCA in Geneva.  Lowrie describes the deportation of Jews from southern France.  He concludes that the deportation would eventually lead to their murder.

August 30, 1942
The US State Department authorizes the United States Committee for the Care of European Children (USC) to evacuate 5,000 Jewish children from southern France.  The invasion of North Africa by Allied forces on November 8, 1942, prevents the rescue.

September 11, 1942
US Chargé d’Affaires in Vichy France Pinkney Tuck obtains 1,000 blank US entry visas for Jewish children trapped in southern France.  He eventually gets permission from US Secretary of State Cordell Hull to obtain a total of 5,000 visas to the US.  Pierre Laval, reacting to German pressure, rescinds the offer to release the Jewish children.  The rescue efforts fail.

September 26, 1942
Myron Taylor, the US representative to the Holy See, writes to Cardinal Maglione asking him to reply to Taylor’s earlier communications regarding reports of the murder of Jews.  In Taylor’s note, he reports stories of the deportation of Jews from Germany, Belgium, Holland, France, Lithuania and Slovakia.

Leland Harrison, the US Minister to Switzerland stationed in Bern, informs the US State Department about the deportation of Polish Jews.  He states that between 5,000 and 10,000 Jews in Warsaw are being collected in “lots” and shipped east, “their whereabouts and fate unknown.”

September 28, 1942
Gerhardt Riegner gives US Consul Paul Squire in Geneva two sets of documents outlining the murder of Jews in Eastern Europe.  The first was prepared by an anti-Nazi German industrialist, Edward Schulte.  The second is an eyewitness account, by a Jew in Warsaw, of the deportation of the Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto.  The report states that Jews are being murdered.  These reports are forwarded to US Secretary of State Cordell Hull.

As a result of these reports, US Undersecretary of State Sumner Wells asks Minister Leland Harrison, in Bern, to submit additional reports verifying the reports of the extermination of Jews.

October 22, 1942
Gerhardt Riegner submits a summary report to US Minister in Bern, Leland Harrison, regarding the Nazi murder of Jews.  It states, “four million Jews are on the verge of complete annihilation by a deliberate policy consisting of starvation, the ghetto system, slave labor, deportation under inhuman conditions and organized mass murder by shooting, poisoning and other methods.  This policy of total destruction has been repeatedly proclaimed by Hitler and is now being carried out.”  Riegner pleads for urgent rescue efforts to save Jews in Hungary, France, Romania, Italy and Bulgaria.  On October 24, Harrison submits these reports to the US State Department.  Harrison continues to investigate information and passes it along to the State Department.  Harrison is in sympathy with Riegner and the plight of Jews in Europe.

US consul Paul Squire continues to collect material regarding the murder of Jews in Europe.  He receives reliable information from eyewitness sources, including Red Cross officials.

November 1942
US breaks off diplomatic relations with Vichy France.

US Secretary of State Sumner Wells meets with Dr. Stephen Wise regarding the reports from the Swiss embassy in Bern.  He confirms the accuracy of the reports and tells Dr. Wise, “I regret to tell you that these [reports] confirm and justify your deepest fears.”

President Roosevelt announces that the US will propose the establishment of a war crimes commission to collect information on the acts of war criminals and to establish criteria for punishment of the perpetrators after the war.  The US Ambassador to Britain, John G. Winant, is asked to prepare information regarding the proposed war crimes commission.  He collects additional reports and information about Nazi war crimes.  Winant receives more than 200 appeals demanding support for the creation of this commission and in support of actions on behalf of Jews.  The US State Department delays issuing its recommendations.

November 8, 1942
The Allied armies land in Algeria and Morocco, in North Africa.  The invasion is called Operation Torch.  The landing guarantees the safety of 117,000 Algerian Jews.

November 9, 1942
The German and Italian armies occupy Tunisia in reaction to the Allied invasion of North Africa.  Italian occupying officials will protect Jews in Tunisia.

December 8, 1942
Stephen Wise and a Jewish delegation meet with President Roosevelt in the White House.  They give the President a document entitled Blueprint for Extermination.  It is a detailed analysis of the murder of millions of Jews.  The President expresses profound shock.

December 13, 1942
Propaganda Minister in Nazi Germany, Josef Goebbels, enters in his diary, “The question of Jewish persecution in Europe is being given top news priority by the English and the Americans…At bottom, however, I believe both the English and the Americans are happy that we are exterminating the Jewish riff raff.”  He also complains about Italy’s halfhearted persecution of its Jews.

December 17, 1942
The United States, Great Britain, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Yugoslavia, and the French government in exile make a joint declaration of condemnation against the murder of European Jews.  They declare their intention to prosecute Nazi war criminals after the war.  This declaration makes headlines around the world.  Thousands of letters are sent to the US State Department and the British Foreign Ministry at Whitehall regarding this declaration.

Hundreds of thousands of Jews are murdered in the gas chambers of Treblinka, near Warsaw.  250,000 Jews are murdered in Sobibor’s gas chambers.  On November 3, 1943, 42,000 Jews are rounded up and shot in the Lublin district of Poland.  The code name for this operation is Erntefest, which means harvest festival.  In 1943, more than 500,000 Jews are murdered in Nazi-occupied Europe.

Only 5,000 Jews are admitted to the United States in 1943, yet 200,000 German and Italian prisoners of war are shipped to the United States.

American Ira Hirschmann becomes involved with the rescue organization, the Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe.

January 21, 1943
Gerhardt Riegner provides additional information about the murder of Jews to Minister Harrison at the US Embassy in Bern, Switzerland.  He reports that 6,000 Jews are being killed every day in Poland.  He further reports on the 130,000 Romanian Jews who had been forcibly deported to Transnistria in 1941.  Sixty thousand Jews had already been murdered, and the rest were being starved.

January 27, 1943
Leland Harrison, US Ambassador to Switzerland, submits a report on the murder of Jews in Europe.

February 10, 1043
US Ambassador to Switzerland Leland Harrison is sent a message from the US State Department not to communicate with private citizens regarding reports of atrocities against Jews.  This is sent despite the US and British pledges to help Jews and punish war criminals.

February 12, 1943
The New York Times reports, “The Romanian government has communicated to United Nations officials that it is prepared to cooperate in the transferring of 70,000 Romanian Jews from Transnistria to any refuge selected by the Allies, according to neutral sources.  This proposal, which was made in specific terms, suggests the refugees would be moved in Romanian ships which would be permitted to display the insignia of the Vatican to ensure safe passage.”  The Allies fail to respond to this offer.

February 26, 1943
H. Shoemaker, the former US Ambassador to Bulgaria, makes a broadcast appeal to the Bulgarian people to resist the impending deportation of Jews.

March 1943
The Hebrew Immigration Aid Society releases a report that shows that only 228,964 visas, fewer than half of the 460,000 visas available, were issued by the US State Department.

The US State Department blocks the rescue of 70,000 Jews from France and Romania by refusing to transfer money to support a plan worked out by the World Jewish Congress.  Funds are blocked in Swiss bank accounts until the end of the war.  Agents of the Treasury Department discover this intentional delaying of the transfer of money.  They determine that this is being done by Breckinridge Long and other officials at the State Department.  A report on these activities is eventually submitted to Henry Morgenthau, Secretary of the Treasury.  Morgenthau submits this report to President Roosevelt, which eventually leads to the creation of the War Refugee Board.

March 1, 1943
A massive rally in support of the rescue of Jews is held in Madison Square Garden.  The rally is sponsored by the Church Peace Union, the AFofL/CIO, and many other groups.  37,000 people attend the rally.

March 9, 1943
The US passes the Barkley Resolution, which strongly advocates for the punishment of Nazis for war crimes.  The US House of Representatives passes a similar resolution on March 18.

March 27, 1943
Rabbi Wise receives information regarding the mass murder of Jews in Treblinka.  He calls on presidential envoy Myron Taylor with a proposal to establish a rescue group.

March 28, 1943
Jewish Congressional delegation and committee meet with FDR to protest State Department’s sabotaging of rescue efforts by its complicated screening procedure for visa applicants.  FDR does nothing.

April 1943
US Ambassador to Turkey Laurence Steinhardt is instrumental in getting Turkey to accept nearly 30,000 Balkan Jews, including many from Romania, for temporary refuge and transit for Palestine.

April 10, 1943
Spanish officials give approval for American relief organizations to operate in Spain.  These relief organizations have offices in the US embassy and funds for rescue efforts are provided by the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

April 19-30, 1943
Bermuda Conference: British and American representatives meet in Bermuda to discuss rescue options, but fail to come up with any significant possibilities.  The US has guaranteed the failure of this conference by significantly limiting any realistic or significant actions that could aid in the rescue of Jews.  The conferees declare “it would be unfair to put nationals who profess the Jewish faith on a priority list for relief.”

April 20, 1943
Gerhardt Riegner proposes the rescue of 100,000 Jews in Romania and France.  This requires the transfer of rescue and relief money from Jewish relief agencies to Romania.  The US State Department effectively delays and blocks the transfer of this money for many months.

May 7, 1943
Deputy Head of the US Visa Section of the State Department Robert Alexander suggests in a memo that Jews in the United States are “in league with Hitler” and are hampering the US war effort.

Cordell Hull writes FDR, “The unknown cost of moving an undetermined number of persons from an undisclosed place to an unknown destination, a scheme advocated by certain pressure groups, is, of course, out of the question.”

May 19, 1943
President Roosevelt writes Secretary of State Hull rejecting the idea of using North Africa as a safe refuge for Jews.  Roosevelt says: “That would be extremely unwise.”

August 14-24, 1943
The Quadrant Conference between Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill is held in Quebec, Canada.  Churchill and Roosevelt agree to defeat Germany before Japan and aim for an invasion of France in May 1944.

October 6, 1943
400 US Orthodox rabbis gather at the White House to present Roosevelt with a petition advocating creation of a rescue agency for Jews.  Though his schedule is free, Roosevelt will not meet with them.

November 9, 1943
US Senator Guy Gillette, along with Congressmen Will Rogers, Jr., and Joseph Baldwin, introduces a resolution to establish a presidential commission “of diplomatic, economic, and military experts to formulate and effectuate a plan of action to save the surviving Jewish people of Europe.”  The resolution becomes the basis for the War Refugee Board, which will be created in January 1944.

November 10, 1943
Roosevelt proposes establishing refugee camps in North Africa and southern Europe.  State Department and US military commanders quash the plan.

November 24, 1943
Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau drafts a letter to the Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, objecting to the State Department’s slow approval of the transfer of funds for the rescue of Jews in France and Romania.

November 26, 1943
Breckinridge Long continues his campaign against Jewish immigration to the United States.  He gives misleading testimony about immigration before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  Long intentionally exaggerates the number of refugees admitted to the country.  Long claims that 547,775 refugees have entered the country.  Yet, between December 1941 and the end of the war, only 163,843 Jewish refugees are admitted to the US and they comprise only 5.9% of the US quota available for Axis-controlled countries.

Jewish groups and refugee advocates sharply criticize Long for his gross exaggeration of the number of refugees entering the country.  They also criticize the State Department’s restrictive immigration policy and regulations.

Breckinridge Long also testifies before a Congressional committee that there is inadequate shipping to take Jewish refugees from Europe to the United States.  Yet, by this time, more than 200,000 prisoner’s of war are shipped to the US.  By the end of the war, 435,400 POWs are sent from Europe to the US. 

December 1943
By the end of 1943, 28 countries are at war with Germany.  Not one country, including the United States and Great Britain, is actively involved in the rescue of Jews.

Two agents from the Treasury Department discover the State Department’s cable telegrams suppressing information about the murder of Jews in Europe.  The cables are sent to Secretary of the Treasure Morgenthau, who is infuriated.  Morgenthau and Treasury agents draft a document outlining the failure of the State Department to help Jews.

December 20, 1943
US Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau and his assistant, John Pehle, meet with US Secretary of State Cordell Hull and his assistant, Breckinridge Long.  Morgenthau complains about the State Department’s almost complete non-cooperation in approving the transfer of funds to be used for the rescue of Jews.  Morgenthau assigns Randolph Paul, General Counsel of the Treasury Department, to prepare a background paper documenting the eight month delay in granting World Jewish Congress representative Gerhardt Riegner the license to transfer money.  Josiah E. DuBois, Jr., prepares the paper with John Pehle and the Foreign Funds Control Division.  Pehle and DuBois investigate the State Department’s inaction on this and other matters, and they prepare a document entitled Report to the Secretary on the Acquiescence of This Government in the Murder of Jews.  It is signed by Randolph Paul.  The full report is never published.

December 23, 1943
Gerhardt Riegner is finally given a license to transfer funds from Jewish agencies for the relief and rescue of the Jews of Romania and France.  This is eight months after Riegner first requested permission from the US State Department to do so.

In 1944, more than 600,000 European Jews will be murdered.

Early in 1944, US Ambassador Laurence Steinhardt manages to have the Turkish government intercede on behalf of ten thousand Turkish Jews living in France.  Steinhardt uses his good relationship with Turkish foreign minister Noman Menenencioglu in helping to untangle bureaucratic rules that prevented Jews from passing through Turkey as an escape route.  Hirschmann and Steinhardt are able to get Turkish official in charge of visas, Kemel Aziz Payman, to liberalize some of the Turkish immigration laws.  The World Jewish Congress estimates that by the end of the 1944, 14,164 Jews escaped through Turkey.  Many more, however, entered Turkey illegally through Romania.

Consul General Rives Childs, head of the US legation in Tangier, Morocco, makes connections with the Spanish authorities in Madrid and Morocco and helps save more than 1,200 Jews.  He persuades Spanish authorities to issue visas to Jewish refugees and to provide access to Spanish safe houses until they can emigrate.  Childs works with Jewish relief agencies and Mrs. Renee Reichmann.

January 16, 1944
US Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau and Treasury Department officials meet with President Roosevelt and present to him a report on the State Department’s suppression of information on the murder of the Jews of Europe.  In his report, renamed Personal Report to the President, Morgenthau states that the State Department:
Utterly failed to prevent the extermination of Jews in German-controlled Europe…
Hid their gross procrastination behind such window dressing as “intergovernmental organizations to survey the whole refugee problem…”
“The matter of rescuing the Jews from extermination is a trust too great to remain in the hands of men who are indifferent, callous, perhaps even hostile.”

January 22, 1944
British and US Allied forces land at Anzio, Italy, southeast of Rome.  The invasion beachhead is sealed off by German forces.

President Roosevelt establishes the War Refugee Board (WRB) in response to the report by Morgenthau and the Treasury Department regarding the failure of the US State Department to take significant action to protect Jews from mass murder.  The WRB is put under the administration of Henry Morgenthau and the Treasury Department.  It is charged with “taking all measures within its power to rescue the victims of enemy oppression who are in imminent danger of death.”  John Pehle, of the Treasury Department, is appointed Director of the WRB.  He has 30 employees.  The US government appropriates one million dollars for the operation of this new agency.  The vast majority of funds for operating the WRB will come from Jewish rescue and relief agencies, including the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Hebrew Immigration Aid and Sheltering Society (HIAS).

Raoul Wallenberg is later selected for a mission representing the War Refugee Board to protect Hungarian Jews from deportation.

Key staff of the War Refugee Board include Josiah E. DuBois, Jr., and Randolph Paul (headquarters), Ira Hirschmann (Turkey), Roswell McClelland (Switzerland), Iver Olson (Sweden), Leonard Ackermann (North Africa and Italy).

In joint operations between the World Jewish Congress, the Joint Distribution Committee, and the War Refugee Board, between October 1943 and October 1944, 1,350 children and adolescents escaped to Switzerland, 770 children reached Spain with 200 parents, 700 children were hidden in Vichy France along with 4,000-5,000 adults.  During this period, Lisbon was a center of false papers, including baptismal certificates, birth certificates and legitimate and illegitimate passports, visas and affidavits.  By the end of the war, hundreds of thousands of Jews and other refugees escaped through Lisbon.

Statistics will later indicate that the War Refugee Board was successful in saving as many as 200,000 Jews in Eastern Europe.

February 1944
Ira Hirschmann, appointed a War Refugee Board representative, is assigned to Ankara, Turkey.  He works closely with Ambassador Steinhardt in the rescue of thousands of Jews.  Hirschmann effectively streamlines the procedure by which refugees escape through Turkey.  Hirschmann actively publicizes the Turkish rescue operation and Steinhardt’s role in it.  In addition, Hirschmann negotiates with the Romanian ambassador in Turkey, Alexander Cretzianu, for the rescue and rehabilitation of 48,000 Jewish survivors of concentration camps in Transnistria.

February 2, 1944
The WRB proposes that the US State Department urge Spain to remove restrictions on refugees entering its territory.  The US ambassador to Spain refuses to implement the plan.

Robert Alexander, Deputy Head of the State Department Visas Section, opposes combining unused immigration quotas for refugee Jews.  He calls the proposal “jackpot for the Jews.”

March 1944
Representatives of the War Refugee Board convince leadership in Romania to evacuate 48,000 Jews from Transnistria to keep them out of the hands of German forces.

March 19, 1944
Germany occupies Hungary and immediately implements anti-Jewish decrees; places the Hungarian government at the disposal of Adolf Eichmann, architect of the Final Solution. 

March 24, 1944
President Roosevelt sends a stern warning to Hungarian officials against harming the Jews.

Spring 1944
Swedish government accepts 160 Jewish refugees from Finland.

The Visas Section of the US State Department is transferred from Long to Adolph Berle.  Under Berle, visa policies are relaxed.

April 1944
Ira Hirschmann’s activities with Steinhardt to rescue Eastern European Jews appear in major news articles throughout the world.  This publicity helps the War Refugee Board promote its future rescue activities.

US Gallup Poll indicates that 70% of Americans approve of establishing refugee camps in the US.

May 1944
The US War Refugee Board establishes its first refugee camp in North Africa.

May 15-July 9, 1944
More than 438,000 Hungarian Jews from the countryside are deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where most of them are murdered on arrival.  It takes 148 trains to carry them there.

June 4, 1944
The 5th US Army, commanded by General Mark Clark, liberates Rome.

June 6, 1944
D-Day: Operation Overlord is launched.  Allied invasion at Normandy, in northwestern France, opens second front.  Seven Allied divisions attack in the largest amphibious operation in history.  The invasion involves more than 4,000 ships and 1,000 transport planes.

June 27, 1944
US government issues warning to Hungarian government and people regarding treatment of Hungarian Jews.

June 29, 1944
US War Department refuses request to bomb Auschwitz.  The request is denied on the grounds that it would ostensibly divert resources needed in order to win the war.  It is later discovered that US Air Force bombing raids routinely flew over the Auschwitz death camp.

July 1944
The War Refugee Board convinces Romanian officials to allow Hungarian refugees to flee to Romania from Hungary.

The War Refugee Board organizes the establishment of a temporary safe haven for more than 1,000 Jewish refugees.  It is established in an old Army base in Oswego, New York.

July 9, 1944
Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg arrives in Budapest.  He is employed by the War Refugee Board of the US Treasury Department.  His mission is to save as many Jews as possible.

August 24-25, 1944
Paris is liberated by Allied forces.  The French forces, led by de Gaulle, lead the victory procession.

October 14, 1944
War Refugee Board hears rumors of Jews being concentrated outside of Budapest for deportation.  The WRB warns the Arrow Cross, “None who participate in these acts of savagery shall go unpunished…All who share the guilt shall share the punishment.”

November 1944
Roosevelt elected President of the US for a fourth term.

Varian Fry publishes his autobiography, Surrender on Demand.  In the book, Fry gives Vice Consul Harry Bingham much credit for helping save refugees.  He presents Bingham with a copy of his book, inscribed: “To Harry Bingham, my partner in the ‘crime’ of saving human lives.”  Fry and Bingham remain lifelong friends.

April 12, 1945
US President Franklin Roosevelt dies.  Harry Truman becomes the new President.

May 8, 1945
Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day): German General Alfred Jodl surrenders at Eisenhower’s headquarters, the end of the Third Reich.

July 1, 1945
The State Department removes strict screening procedures for refugees.  It reverts to prewar regulations.

June 27, 2002
American Foreign Service Association posthumously awards Hiram Bingham with the Constructive Dissent award.  His citation reads: “His actions violated the State Department anti-refugee policy… [and showed] his willingness to put humanity before his career….”  The award was presented by Secretary of State Colin Powell.

June 2002
Hiram Bingham is honored in the Foreign Service Journal with a cover story: “Harry Bingham: Beyond the Call of Duty.”

December 2004
Yad Vashem recognizes Hiram Bingham IV with a Letter of Commendation for his actions in issuing visas to save Jews in Marseilles, 1940-1941.