Some years ago, I discovered and wrote favorably about Jay Winik's April 1865: The Month that Saved America.  With that in mind, I spotted a paperback edition of his 1944:  FDR and the Year That Changed History for Book Review No. 24.  There's a lot going on in 1944, including the advance of the Soviets into Greater Germany, the liberation of Rome, and the Normandy invasion.  There's also the Allies slowly discovering the industrial-scale murder of Jews and other enemies of the people, as word of Auschwitz II - Birkenau gets out.  By that time, most of the butchery had been accomplished, in smaller death camps closer to the Russian Front, as well as over pits throughout the bloodlands.

But the Jewish population of Hungary was still mostly dying of natural causes rather than state action at the beginning of 1944, the range of the air forces was increasing, and the industrial plants east of the Oder were coming in range.  Thus the possibility of military action to disrupt the machinery of deportation and murder for plunder existed.  What's instructive, though, might be the passages devoted to debate in the United States, in the United Kingdom and Canada, and among potential host countries for refugees.  If the authorities then viewed stateless Jews as security risks, what hope might stateless Moslems not being so explicitly viewed as social inferiors have of being admitted.

That appears to be Mr Winik's final word on the war won, the peace secured.  "Why does a beheading, a famine, or wholesale slaughter in one nation draw our attention and intervention, while we avert our gaze from another nation?  One has to wonder.  How much can be traced to our ambivalence in World War II? Could it be that our halting, tentative measures then have left later presidents feeling conflicted and uncertain?"

(Cross-posted to 50 Book Challenge.)

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