Book Tells Hoover's Role in Jewish History
Apr 20, 2012A book co-authored by Dr. Sonja Wentling, associate professor of history, sheds new light on President Herbert Hoover’s support of Jews as Europe recovered from World War I.
"Herbert Hoover and the Jews: The Origins of the 'Jewish Vote' and Bipartisan Support for Israel" was released April 19 – the same day as Yom Ha'shoah, a day commemorating Holocaust victims.
The book details surprising documentation, such as Hoover’s bipartisan food relief campaign after World War I that saved millions of Europeans, including many East European Jews, from starvation.
"One of Hoover's biographer's surmises that Hoover saved over 80 million lives, more people than any other man in history," Wentling says.
Although many Holocaust accounts only mention Hoover's support of tighter immigration restrictions, Wentling and co-author Dr. Rafael Medoff found that Hoover challenged the Roosevelt administration by urging more Jewish refugee immigration to America in the 1930s. He also publicized Nazi atrocities against European Jewry and promoted the rescue of Jews from the Holocaust.
Readers may be surprised that Hoover was the first president confronted by the Palestinian conflict. He also played a key part in bipartisan support for Israel.
The authors also detail the complex history of the Jewish vote in the United States, which will likely be in the spotlight as the next presidential election approaches.
The book has gained attention of prominent politicians, including former Sens. Rudy Boschwitz and Tom Daschle, who wrote the forward to the book, and Sen. Joseph Lieberman.
"This book will help establish President Hoover's place as a courageous leader who stood up for decency at one of the darkest moments in history," Lieberman praised.
Wentling continues to unearth the stories of those whose lives were impacted by the harrowing events leading up to the Holocaust. Her next project will explore a little known "Romeo and Juliet love story" between a Christian boy and Jewish girl in the Ukraine after World War I that nearly led to an execrable pogrom in their city.
"They (Holocaust victims) have left their lives to us," she says. "It is up to us to defend and preserve their memory."