Did The Western World Do Enough For The Jews In The Holocaust?

"When they came for the gypsies, I did not speak, for I am not a gypsy.
When they came for the Jews, I did not speak, because I wasn’t a Jew.
When they came for the Catholics, I did not speak, for I am not a
Catholic.
And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak."
-On the Wall at the Holocaust Museum in Washington

It is impossible to learn about the Holocaust and the Second
World War without the question of how it possibly could have happened
arising, and along with that question comes another. The question of
whether or not the Western World did enough to help the Jews in Europe.
What was their reaction to the campaign of systematic persecution,
robbery and murder the Third Reich inflicted upon the Jewish people?
During the time leading up to the outbreak of World War II, the
Western Press consistently carried numerous reports of the German’s
anti-Jewish policies and their purposeful victimization of the Jews
living in Nazi Germany as well as the annexed territories. The general
public cannot claim that they did not know what was going on, that they
were uninformed. Whether or not they chose to believe it however, is a
completely different story. The public were indeed outraged in many of
the cases but the governments of the major European democracies felt
that it was not for them to intervene for they felt that the Jewish
problem classified as an internal affair within a sovereign state. The
truth behind this is simply that the governments were anxious to
establish cordial relations with Germany and didn’t want to cause any
hostility. Thus they stood idly by and remained silent as Hitler went
from denying the Jews of their civil rights to denying them of their
means of earning their daily bread.
As much as they wanted to remain neutral, the countries of the
Western World were finally forced to take a stand on the issue of
emigration of Jews from the Reich who were seeking refuge. The United
States maintained strict immigration quotas which severely limited the
number of Central and Eastern Europeans admitted to the country each
year. Even under such extreme circumstances, the US insisted on adhering
to these policies and refused to modify them even slightly. Great
Britain proved to be merciless as they blocked entry into Palestine and
limited the amount of entry permits. The states that had the ability to
absorb the immigrants such as Australia, Canada and most countries of
South America, accepted agricultural workers but denied entry to
professionals, merchants and skilled artisans. There were actually
protests in the US and Britain organized against the admission of
immigrant doctors.
The President of the United States initiated the Evian
Conference in 1938 in an attempt to find a means that would aid
emigrants from Germany and Austria and enable their absorption
elsewhere. Thirty-two countries sent delegates with hopes that a
solution would be found however, it quickly became clear to all that the
even the great powers who had initiated the conference were not willing
to take any significant steps towards accepting the refugees. Despite
the speeches and the appeals, no one country was willing to commit
themselves to practical measures, the smaller countries following the
example of the larger ones. An international committee was set up in
London for refugee affairs but it lacked funding as well as a place
towards where they could direct the refugees. It is evident here that it
is not a lack of knowledge that something had to be done, but rather an
unwillingness that prevented the Western World from helping the Jews.
Words are just that, mere words, unless they are put into action. As a
result, the Evian Conference is regarded as a complete failure.
Once the war began, the comprehensive information regarding the
conditions in Germany that the Western World had at one time been
provided with, ceased. Still, news of the Einsatzgruppen ’s activities
and the mass killings in the death camps found its way to the west. Up
until the middle of the year 1942, the general tendency was to regard
the consistent persecution of the Jews as just one part of