Henry Stimson (1867-1950) served as secretary of war under President Franklin D. Roosevelt from 1940 to 1945. He often opposed U.S. action to aid Europe’s Jews during the Holocaust.
Stimson justified withholding equal rights from Jewish residents of Allied-liberated North Africa in 1943, citing the need to appease local Arab sentiment. On those same grounds, he also opposed a 1944 Congressional resolution supporting Jewish statehood in Palestine, although he later withdrew his objections.
In June 1944, Secretary Stimson was approached by Agudath Israel representative Meir Schenkelowski, who urged the bombing of the railway lines over which Jews were being deported to Auschwitz. Stimson responded that the area was a zone of Soviet responsibility and therefore a bombing decision was up to Moscow. In fact, the U.S. was already bombing German oil factories in the industrial section of Auschwitz.
Some historians maintain that President Roosevelt insisted on giving Stimson a role in the War Refugee Board in order to curb aggressive rescue initiatives by Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau and the Board’s staff. Stimson did try to undermine the Board’s campaign to secure temporary haven for refugees in the United States. He tried to block the token group of 982 refugees that was admitted in August 1944, arguing that the refugees would dilute America’s “racial stock” and “would introduce into the United States many people who would with difficulty be assimilated into our own population and brought into conformity with our own institutions and traditions.”