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1944 - FDR and the Year that Changed History

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  • 1944 - FDR and the Year that Changed History

    I'm about half way thru it and it's the public library's copy, it's an engaging read but a bit difficult at times, due to topic and content, focus. I think the following review excerpt best express things;
    FDR and the Year That Changed History
    By Jay Winik
    Illustrated. 639 pp. Simon & Schuster. $35.
    In 2001, Jay Winik scored a commercial and critical success with his best seller “April 1865,” a vivid account of the final month of the Civil War, which Winik convincingly argued was a crucial turning point in American history. Robert E. Lee and Ulys*ses S. Grant, among others, play major roles in “April 1865,” but Abraham Lincoln towers above all of them.

    In “1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History,” Winik has turned his attention to another president, war and pivotal moment. This time, his thesis is more difficult to decipher and less persuasive. Reading “1944,” I was reminded of “Where’s Waldo?,” the classic picture book series whose brightly colored illustrations challenge young readers to find the title character, hidden in huge crowds. Similarly, the key points in “1944” are surrounded by vast amounts of information about Franklin Roosevelt and World War II, much of it irrelevant to the main story. “Why this book?” I wrote on Page 78. A dozen or so pages later, the answer began to emerge.

    In the spring of 1944, as the Allies prepared for D-Day and the beginning of their final showdown with Germany, the Nazis embarked on an endgame of their own — finishing off the Jews of Europe. Having already killed some five million Jews, the Holocaust’s overseers worked overtime at Auschwitz to exterminate the last large Jewish population on the Continent — the 750,000 in Hungary.

    Two months before D-Day, two young Slovak Jews escaped from Auschwitz, determined to warn Roosevelt and the other Allied leaders about “the impending massacre . . . and rally the forces of rescue and rebellion.” Winik frames their escape as a race against time. Would their eyewitness report reach the Allies before all European Jews were annihilated? Would it prompt Roosevelt to expand his focus beyond the invasion of Europe and ultimate victory — and strive to save the Jews still alive?

    The president, already well aware of Auschwitz and the other Nazi extermination camps, failed to do so and thus missed his chance to claim what Winik calls his “Emancipation Proclamation moment.” In Winik’s view, Roosevelt should have emulated Lincoln, whose 1863 order freeing the slaves in Confederate states made abolition an explicit Union goal in winning the Civil War. In the same vein, Winik contends that Roosevelt should have imbued World War II with a higher moral purpose, making it not only a fight against the Axis but also “a war against the Final Solution.” He adds, “In 1944 he had his chances.”

    Such arguments sidestep certain realities, beginning with the emphasis on 1944 as a potentially pivotal year for Jewish rescue. By then, the opportunity to save a sizable percentage of Jews had long since vanished. ...
    TANSTAAFL = There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
    “War is merely the continuation of politics by other means” - von Clausewitz

  • #2
    "What are you doing to save the Jews?"

    "We're winning the war."
    Hyperwar: World War II on the World Wide Web
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    World War II Resources
    The best place in the world to "work".


    • #3
      ^ The majority of Europe's Jews had been Final Solutioned before D-Day occurred.
      TANSTAAFL = There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
      “War is merely the continuation of politics by other means” - von Clausewitz


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