Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington | Lillian & Albert Small Jewish Museum

Programs: Summer 2013 Book Talks

FDR and the Jews book coverDr. Allan Lichtman
FDR and the Jews

On Thursday, June 27, 2013. Dr. Allan Lichtman spoke about his latest book, FDR and the Jews, which he co-authored with Richard Breitman. Drawing upon extensive new research, this book offers a portrait of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt that contrasts with prevailing views about his priorities during World War II. Dr. Lichtman also guest lectured during the Society's April Holocaust Remembrance event commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Ben Hecht pageant, We Will Never Die.

Exerpt of Dr. Lichtman's reflective essay on
FDR and the Jews:

My co-author Richard Breitman and I wrote FDR and the Jews because scholarship is typically polarized between lauding FDR as the savior of the Jews and condemning him as a bystander or worse to the Holocaust. We sought to study FDR's entire life and career and to avoid writing history backwards from what we know today.

The real story of FDR and the Jews is how a humane but pragmatic president navigated competing priorities during the Great Depression, foreign policy crises, and World War II. We do not whitewash FDR. "For most of his presidency Roosevelt did little to aid the imperiled Jews of Germany and Europe," we wrote. Still, FDR was not monolithic and, at times acted decisively to rescue Jews, often withstanding contrary pressures. Overall, FDR was far better for the Jews than his isolationist political opposition at home or any other world leader of his time.

Download entire essay.

Dr.Allan Lichtman headshotDr. Allan Lichtman is a Professor of History at American University. An expert in modern American history and quantitative methods, he is an authority on factors influencing U.S. presidential elections.