Rescue Board: The United States War Refugee Board and the Holocaust
Lecture in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day
Presenter: Dr. Rebecca Erbelding
January 27, 2021
In January 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt, responding to public and private pressure, created the War Refugee Board, a new government agency tasked with the rescue and relief of European Jews. The WRB’s young staff—almost all Treasury Department lawyers in their thirties—undertook extraordinary efforts to work through (and sometimes sidestep) bureaucracy to rescue Jews. They laundered money into Sweden, participated in ransom negotiations with Nazis, opened a refugee camp in upstate New York, sent rescuer Raoul Wallenberg to Budapest, helped 8,000 Jews escape to Palestine by boat, and approved $11 million in relief for Nazi-occupied Europe in the final year of the war. In doing so, they saved tens of thousands of lives.
Dr. Rebecca Erbelding discussed the United States War Refugee Board, which is the topic of her book “Rescue Board: The Untold Story of America’s Efforts to Save the Jews of Europe.”