April 30, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The remarkable efforts of James Grover McDonald to call attention to the threat faced by European Jewry are explored in “Refugees and Rescue: The Diaries and Papers of James G. McDonald, 1933-1944.” McDonald personally interacted with many of the leading figures who shaped the events of World War II and the Holocaust – President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler, Mussolini, Cardinal Pacelli (the future Pope Pius XII) – and numerous others. He early on became convinced that the Nazi regime intended to destroy Europe’s Jews and worked tirelessly to relay these concerns to the highest levels of government.
“Refugees and Rescue” is published by Indiana University Press in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and is edited by Richard Breitman, Barbara McDonald Stewart—McDonald’s daughter—and Severin Hochberg. It is the second of a projected three volumes based on the collection of McDonald’s diaries and papers which were donated to the Museum in 2004 by his daughters Barbara McDonald Stewart and Janet Katherine Barrett.
“The writings of James Grover McDonald provide a unique, insider’s perspective on the Nazi regime and the American reaction to events of the time,” says Paul Shapiro, the Director of the Museum’s Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies. “The Museum’s archivists and researchers, after discovering these papers, worked with McDonald’s family to assemble his diaries and other personal papers into a special research collection at the Museum and publish these important volumes.”
McDonald’s personal papers and intensive exchanges of information and views with leading figures in the U.S. and abroad enable the editors to provide the detailed, sometimes day-to-day account of the critical 1935-1945 period. During much of this time, from 1938-1945, McDonald served as Chairman of the President’s Advisory Commission on Political Refugees.
The first volume, “Advocate for the Doomed: The Diaries and Papers of James G. McDonald, 1932-1935,” also published by Indiana University Press in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, was released in 2007. Copies of both books can be purchased at the Museum’s online Shop at www.ushmm.org.
Richard Breitman is a professor of history at American University and author of Official Secrets: What the Nazis Planned, What the British and Americans Knew. He is author (with Alan Kraut) of American Refugee Policy and European Jewry, 1933-1954, and editor of the journal Holocaust and Genocide Studies, published by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Barbara McDonald Stewart, daughter of James G. McDonald, has taught at George Mason University and is author of United States Government Policy on Refugees from Nazism, 1933-1940.
Severin Hochberg, a historian formerly at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, teaches at George Washington University.
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