A new deal for refugees : the promise and reality of Oswego, 1944-1945 / Sharon R. Lowenstein
Includes bibliographical references (p. 345-359)
One thousand, predominantly Jewish, Nazi victims spent eighteen months during 1944-46 in a refugee camp that FDR established at Fort Ontario in Oswego, New York. Two groups, Peter Bergson's Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe, and Henry Morgenthau, Jr.'s "Treasury Boys," lobbied to place rescue above politics and postpone questions of permanent settlement in favor of establishing temporary havens, needed to persuade neutral European countries to open their borders to fleeing refugees. The Emergency Refugee Shelter in Oswego represented the sole achievement of a War Refugee Board proposal for unlimited temporary havens in the United States, a proposal meant to persuade Britain to open Palestine for similar camps. This is a diplomatic, political, and social history. Part I traces the fate of the temporary havens proposal through the Roosevelt Administration and reveals the schism that briefly opened in Anglo-American refugee policy during the first half of 1944. Part II profiles the Oswego internees, examines the character of their American internment, which was supervised by the War Relocation Authority, the agency which administered the Japanese Relocation Centers, and studies the impact of the American camp on its refugee residents. Part II discusses public and private efforts to repudiate the conditions under which FDR brought them to America, efforts to gain their release on internment-at-large and to grant them immigration status. They obtained the latter under the Truman Directive. This dissertation is based primarily on government records in the National Archives, the Morgenthau and War Refugee Board collections in the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Fort Ontario records at Columbia University, and Foreign Office material in the Public Records Office outside London. Of secondary importance were the National Refugee Service papers in the American Jewish Historical Society and the NRS and Joseph P. Chamberlain papers at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. Collections in the Library of Congress, Harry S. Truman Library, and University of Virginia were also consulted, as were private organizations' archives, newspapers, and secondary works. Former refugees and officials throughout the country granted me interviews and shared their private records.
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