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Roosevelt Pledges American People Will Hold Nazis Responsible for Atrocities Against Jews

July 22, 1942
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The American people will hold “to strict accountability” the Nazi authorities who are attempting to exterminate the Jews of Europe, President Roosevelt declared in a message read tonight to thousands of persons who crowded into Madison Square Garden here to attend the mass-demonstration against Hitler atrocities, called by the American Jewish Congress, the B’nai B’rith and the Jewish Labor Committee.

The President’s message, which was addressed to Dr. Stephen S. Wise, president of the Congress, stated:

“Americans who love justice and hate oppression will hail the solemn commemoration in Madison Square Garden as an expression of the determination of the Jewish people to make every sacrifice for victory over the Axis powers. Citizens, regardless of religious allegiance, will share in the sorrow of our Jewish fellow citizens over the savagery of the Nazis against their helpless victims. The Nazis will not succeed in exterminating their victims any more than they will succeed in enslaving mankind. The American people not only sympathize with all victims of Nazi crimes but will hold the perpetrators of these crimes to strict accountability in a day of reckoning which will surely come.

“I express the confident hope that the Atlantic Charter and the just world order to be made possible by the triumph of the United Nations will bring the Jews and oppressed people in all lands the four freedoms which Christian and Jewish teachings have largely inspired.”


After hearing addresses by a distinguished group of Jewish and Christian leaders, the meeting adopted a proclamation citing the fact that of all the persecuted peoples the Jews have borne the brunt of the Nazis’ wrath and requesting that the leaders of the United Nations take immediate action to impress upon the Nazi leaders that reprisals will be exacted for the persecution of innocent civilian populations in occupied nations.

Pledging that the Jewish people will never allow itself to be exterminated, the proclamation states: “To the, democratic civilized world, we turn and ask: Do you not see what is being done to a great historic people? Let your voice of wrath and condemnation be heard, that the enslaved and tortured may know that you stand by them in this hour of titanic tragedy. To the leadership of the United Nations we solemnly appeal to take public cognizance of the Jewish tragedy in Europe and to give expression to their determination that on the day of reckoning the Nazis will be called to account for their deeds of torture, plunder, arson and murder.”

The proclamation hails the anti-Nazi resistance which is growing throughout Europe and “the sacred flame of hope burning in the ghettos.” It affirms further that “as the representatives of the organized masses of the Jewish community of America, we here pledge ourselves to make every sacrifice to support the United Nations in their struggle for freedom and human decency against totalitarianism and darkness.”

Discussing the grave dangers that threaten Palestine, the proclamation, finally, expressed the hope that the United Nations “will enable the Jewish community of Palestine to defend itself in order that the Jews of Palestine be not exposed to the same fate which has overwhelmed millions of our fellow-Jews in Europe.”


A message from Maurice Wertheim, president of the American Jewish Committee, expressing the Committee’s resolve that “we shall not permit the world to forget these crimes so that the perpetrators may be brought to answer for them,” was sent to the meeting. The message read:

“The American Jewish Committee joins with the Jewish organizations assembled in solemn demonstration tonight to condemn the barbarous mass-murders of civilian populations by the Nazis. Hundreds of thousands of defenseless Jews – men, women and children – have been and are being murdered in violation of all laws of modern warfare by the Nazis, who openly proclaim their intention to destroy the Jews throughout Europe. We join in mourning for the destruction of the innocent and helpless victims of Nazi terror, and at the same time highly resolve that we shall not permit the world to forget these crimes so that the perpetrators may be brought to answer for them before the bar of civilization.

“The Jews of America, shoulder to shoulder with their fellow Americans, have joined in a common dedication to the task of ending this reign of tyranny, so that the dignity of man may be restored and so that the four freedoms, so eloquently set forth by our President in the Atlantic Charter, may be achieved for all peoples.

“In keeping with its tradition the American Jewish Committee will continue to cooperate with other Jewish organizations to use all means within its power to protect the civil and religious rights of Jews against oppression and tyranny.”

Among those who addressed the meeting were: Governor Herbert H. Lehman of New York; Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia of New York; Bishop Francis J. McConnell of New York; William Green, President of the American Federation of Labor; John Green, International President, the Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America, C.I.O.; Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, of Massachusetts; Dr. Stephen S. Wise, President of the American Jewish Congress, who presided; Adolf Held, President of the Jewish Labor Committee; Frank Goldman, of Lowell, Massachusetts, Vice-President of the B’nai B’rith; Dr. Samuel Margoshes, Editor of The Day; Joseph Weinberg, President of the Workmen’s Circle; and Louis Segal, Secretary of the Jewish National Workers’ Alliance.

Messages condemning the mass-murders of Europe’s Jews were received at the demonstration from the following: Hon. Leighton McCarthy, Canadian Minister to the United States; George Theunis, Ambassador Extraordinary of Belgium; W. Munthe de Morgenstierne, Ambassador of Norway; Adrien Tixier, head of the Fighting French delegation in the United States; Count Sforsa, former foreign minister of Italy; Raymond Gram Swing; Dr. A. Loudon, Netherlands Ambassador; Vladimir S. Hurban, Czechoslovak Minister; Constantin Foftitch, Yugoslav Minister; Jan Ciechanowski, Polish Ambassador; F.X. Switlik, president of the Polish American Council, and other diplomats.

(Additional details of the meeting will appear in tomorrow’s JTA Bulletin)

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