The Jew Who Defeated Hitler: Henry Morgenthau Jr., FDR, and How We Won the War
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President Franklin D. Roosevelt coined the slogan “The Arsenal of Democracy” to describe American might during the grim years of World War II. The man who financed that arsenal was his Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau Jr. This is the first book to focus on the wartime achievements of this unlikely hero—a dyslexic college dropout who turned himself into a forceful and efficient administrator and then exceeded even Roosevelt in his determination to defeat the Nazis.
Based on extensive research at the FDR Library in Hyde Park, NY, author Peter Moreira describes Morgenthau’s truly breathtaking accomplishments: He led the greatest financial program the world has ever seen, raising $310 billion (over $4.8 trillion in today’s dollars) to finance the war effort. This was largely done without the help of Wall Street by appealing to the patriotism of the average citizen through the sale of war bonds. In addition, he championed aid to Britain before America entered the war; initiated and oversaw the War Refugee Board, spearheading the rescue of 200,000 Jews from the Nazis; and became the architect of the 1944 Bretton Woods Conference, which produced the modern economic paradigm.
The book also chronicles Morgenthau’s many challenges, ranging from anti-Semitism to the postwar “Morgenthau Plan” that was his undoing.
This is a captivating story about an understated and often overlooked member of the Roosevelt cabinet who played a pivotal role in the American war effort to defeat the Nazis.
the country because agriculture could not support the current German population. “Well, that is not nearly as bad as sending them to gas chambers,” said Morgenthau, who proposed a committee made up of himself, Stimson, and Hull to draw up proposals for the president on a policy for postwar Germany.28 The German policy soon occupied more and more of the secretary’s time because he was involved in postwar planning, occupation currencies, and the efforts to help Jewish refugees. The refugee issue
Germany, which the secretary was more than eager to do. Soon after he started, the prime minister began to mutter under his breath about the problems and scowl at some of Morgenthau’s points. “After I finished my piece he turned loose on me the full flood of his rhetoric, sarcasm and violence,” Morgenthau dictated into his diary. “He looked on the Treasury Plan, he said, as he would on chaining himself to a dead German. He was slumped in his chair, his language biting, his flow incessant, his
9, 36, 40, 82, 279 Hyman, Harold, 274 Ickes, Harold, 18, 21, 93, 103, 116, 134, 137, 161 International Monetary Fund (IMF), 182, 236, 238, 240–42, 287 Israel, 290–91 Italy, 15, 20, 37–38, 67, 71, 77, 87, 123, 130, 140, 184, 192, 201, 211, 230–31, 248, 261 Morgenthau visits, 214–15 J. P. Morgan and Company, 55, 85, 108 Japan, 15, 17, 19, 34, 37–38, 46, 50, 54, 71, 77, 109, 134–37, 167, 171–72, 188, 248, 274, 286, 288 attack on Pearl Harbor, 169–73, 179, 282 occupation of China, 20, 46,
best pattern for social living.” He added that the need to preserve democracy was especially important for minorities, who can thrive and practice their religions and traditions within a democratic system.11 Morgenthau delivered this speech ten months before Franklin Roosevelt gave what became known as his Quarantine speech in Chicago, in which he called for a policy to “quarantine” aggressor states as an alternative to the neutrality so prevalent in the United States. By any measure, FDR’s
be about $18 billion in the coming year. The economic recovery was helping. Only three years earlier, they had struggled in vain to raise the national income to $80 billion, but now they had $100 billion to work with. FDR said the United States would spend half its national income on the war, or about $50 billion. “I feel I got him to change his attitude, namely, that he is going to set the mark for national defense, and whoever is in charge of supply is going to have to make good, rather than