As vice president from 1941 to 1945, Henry A. Wallace (1888-1965) showed little interest in the plight of Europe’s Jews.
Palestine Zionist leader Rabbi Meyer Berlin, visiting Washington in February 1943, later reported that his “most disappointing” meeting was with Vice President Wallace. The vice president disagreed with Berlin’s statement that Europe’s Jews were “threatened with total extinction.” Wallace declined Berlin’s request that he endorse Jewish statehood, on the grounds that some American Jews were themselves against Zionism. In his diary, Wallace accused Berlin of having “a very poor sense of time and place.”
In his capacity as president of the U.S. senate, Wallace greeted the 400 rabbis who arrived at the Capitol at the beginning of their protest march on October 5, 1943. In his remarks, Time reported, Wallace “squirmed through a diplomatically minimum answer” to the rabbis’ plea for rescue. Wallace expressed “grief” at the plight of the Jews, but said nothing about rescue, concentrating instead on the need to win the war. Ironically, a senior official of the Bergson Group later recalled that the idea of a march in Washington was first suggested to them by Harold Young, an aide to Vice President Wallace.