AUGUST 13, 1943
HYDE PARK, Thursday—I talked a little while yesterday morning with a representative from the group which is trying to formulate plans to save the Jewish people in Europe. Some people think of the Jewish people as a race. Others think of them purely as a religious group. But in Europe the hardships and persecution which they have had to endure for the past few years, have tended to bring them together in a group which identifies itself with every similar group, regardless whether the tie is religious or racial.
The Jews are like all the other people of the world. There are able people among them, there are courageous people among them, there are people of extraordinary intellectual ability along many lines. There are people of extraordinary integrity and people of great beauty and great charm.
On the other hand, largely because of environment and economic condition, there are people among them who cringe, who are dishonest, who try to take advantage of their neighbors, who are aggressive and unattractive. In other words, they are a cross section of the human race, just as is every other nationality and every other religious group.
But good or bad, they have suffered in Europe as has no other group. The percentage killed among them in the past few years far exceeds the losses among any of the United Nations in the battles which have been fought throughout the war.
Many of them, for generations, considered Germany, Poland, Roumania and France their country and permanent home. This same thing might happen to any other group, if enough people ganged up against it and decided on persecution. It seems to me that it is the part of common sense for the world as a whole to protest in its own interest against wholesale persecution, because none of us by ourselves would be strong enough to stand against a big enough group which decided to treat us in the same way. We may have our individual likes and dislikes, but this is a question which far transcends prejudices or inclinations.
It means the right of survival of human beings and their right to grow and improve. You and I may be hated by our neighbors, but if we know about it we try to change the things within us which brought it about. That is the way civilized people develop. Murder and annihilation are never a satisfactory answer, for the few who escape grow up more bitter against their persecutors and a day of reckoning always comes, which is what the story of Moses in the bulrushes teaches us.
I do not know what we can do to save the Jews in Europe and to find them homes, but I know that we will be the sufferers if we let great wrongs occur without exerting ourselves to correct them.