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FDR and the Jews

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt is consistently ranked among the top presidents by presidential scholars for his keen stewardship through the Great Depression and his wartime leadership during the Second World War. And yet during his administration, the Nazi Regime in Germany waged a campaign of mass murder with impunity. How do we reconcile the first image of Roosevelt, bold and resolute, with his inaction against the Nazi genocide of the Jews of Europe? This is the central question of FDR and the Jews, by Richard Breitman and Allan J. Lichtman, history professors at American University. The book is hailed for its nuanced argument that Roosevelt “was neither a hero of the Jews nor a bystander to the Nazis’ persecution and then annihilation of the Jews. No simple or monolithic characterization of this complex president fits the historical record.”

Richard Breitman received his B.A. and M.A. from Yale University and his Ph.D. from Harvard University. He is either the author or co-author of ten books and many articles in German history, U.S. history, and the Holocaust. His most recent previous work was Hitler's Shadow: Nazi War Criminals, U.S. Intelligence, and the Cold War, co-authored with Norman J.W. Goda. He is best known for The Architect of Genocide: Himmler and the Final Solution (Knopf 1991) and Official Secrets: What the Nazis Planned, What the British and Americans Knew (Hill and Wang, 1998), a finalist for National Jewish Book Award.

Previously, Professor Breitman directed of historical research for the Nazi War Criminal Records and Imperial Japanese Records Interagency Working Group, which helped to bring about declassification of more than eight million pages of U.S. government records under a 1998 law. He is also an editor of the scholarly journal entitled Holocaust and Genocide Studies. At American University, he teaches courses in modern European history.