In 1937, Kurt Klein emigrated to the United States from Germany to escape the growing discrimination against Jews that had become a terrible fact of life following Hitler’s rise to power. Klein worked hard to establish himself so that he could obtain safe passage for his parents out of Germany. But, like other American Jews, he struggled with State Department red tape and indifference as he sought to rescue his family.
Americans were becoming aware of the stories coming out of Europe about a campaign to force Jews out of Germany and about the horrors of Kristallnacht in 1938. But American society had political, economic, and social problems of its own, including serious unemployment brought on by the Depression and long-standing--and rising--anti-Semitism. Over 100 anti-Semitic organizations blanketed the U.S. with propaganda, businesses refused to hire Jews, and certain hotels and clubs proudly proclaimed themselves ''Restricted.'' Even the government was not immune from anti-Semitic sentiments.
America and the Holocaust paints a troubling picture of the U.S. during a period beset by anti-Semitism. It reveals a government that not only delayed action but also suppressed information and blocked efforts that could have resulted in the rescue of hundreds of thousands of people, including the family of Kurt Klein.