July 19, 2012 – The cover story of the March-June 2012 double issue of The Shekel was inspired by Mel Wacks’ discovery of a 1953 Roosevelt Dime with the word “JEW” stamped over the portrait.
The 1953 Roosevelt Dime and “JEW” stamped over the portrait.
The article looks into President Roosevelt’s mixed record regarding Jews during World War II, concluding that FDR did relatively little to save European Jews from the Holocaust, but he garnered the enmity of anti-Semites when he chose many talented Jewish Americans for prominent roles in his government and was honored by Jewish organizations.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States. Portrait photograph made on the steps of St John’s Episcopal church after he had attended prayer services marking the ninth anniversary of this first inauguration. March 1942. © Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information Photograph Collection via Wikimedia Commons. / http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en.
Wacks quotes in part from “Whitewashing FDR’s Holocaust Record, An Analysis of Robert N. Rosen’s Saving the Jews: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Holocaust” by Dr. Rafael Medoff, Director, The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies: “FDR held 82 press conferences in 1933, and the subject of the persecution of the Jews arose only once, and not because Roosevelt raised it. It would be five years and another 348 presidential press conferences before anything about Jewish refugees would be mentioned again. Based on an earlier War Department decision to refrain from using military resources to aid refugees, in June 1944, the War Department turned down requests to bomb the railways to Auschwitz on the grounds that it would require ‘diversion of considerable air support essential to the success of our forces now engaged in decisive operations’.”
Wacks indicates that even today, anti-Semitic groups write things like the following on their hate web sites: “Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Communist Dictator,” followed by “If you went to a public place and started asking people, ‘Who was Franklin Delano Roosevelt?,’ what sort of answers do you think you would get? ‘Hmm, I’m not sure.’ ‘Who?’ ‘Ehh, the dude on the dime’.”
Some of these anti-Semitic web sites go as far as calling the President “Rosenvelt.” The author quotes the St. Petersburg Times that early in 1934 carried an interview with Chase S. Osborn, formerly Governor of Michigan, in which he referred to the “Jewish ancestry of the President, explaining how he is a descendant of the Rossocampo family expelled from Spain in 1620. Seeking safety in German, Holland and other countries, members of the family, he said, changed their name to Rosenberg, Rosenbaum, Rosenblum, Rosenvelt and Rosenthal. The Roosevelts in North Holland finally became Roosevelt.”
Wacks points out that the anti-Semites were also enraged about the many appointments of American Jews by FDR, like Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau Jr., Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, and trusted advisor Bernard Baruch.
The article pictures a medal presented to FDR by a Jewish organization on December 22, 1938 that caused outrage by the Nazis. On the front page of the December 23rd Bend (Oregon) Bulletin, the headline read: “Nazi Press Turning Guns Upon Roosevelt/Award of Jewish Medal Gives Signal.” And the opening paragraph relates: “The German press singled out the presentation of a Jewish medal to President Roosevelt today as the first Nazi reaction to a stinging rebuke given to Germany by the United States.”
Other articles in the March-June 2012 double issue of The Shekel include “Requiem for the Shekel” by Asher Schecter, tracing the history of the shekel denomination on Israel coins and paper money; “Author proposes audacious view” by Peter S. Horvitz, exploring the possible discovery of a seal of King David; a biographical sketch of Manfred Anson, designer of the iconic Statue of Liberty Menorah; “The Wonderful World of Judaic Elongated Coins” by Oded Paz; “Medals of the Great War” by Vladimir Bernshtam, medals issued by Russian Jews after the collapse of Soviet Union to remember the fallen; “Alpine Exodus” by Hans Loeschner, discussing Austrian anti-Semitic notgeld; and much more.
by courtesy of The Shekel Magazine.
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The Shekel is the bi-monthly magazine of The American Israel Numismatic Association.
In 1969 Mel Wacks has also founded the Jewish-American Hall of Fame.
This is an overview of Roosevelt’s presidency published by the White House.
Here you can listen to and watch Roosevelt’s declaration of war to Japan in his famous Pearl Harbor Address.
The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential library and museum is America’s first presidential library.