America has long been criticized for refusing to give harbor to the Jews during World War II as Hitler and the Nazis closed in. RESCUE BOARD tells the extraordinary unknown story of the War Refugee Board, FDR’s unpublicized effort late in the war to save the remaining Jews.
In January 1944, a young Treasury lawyer named John Pehle went to a meeting with the president to argue for the relief funds needed to help Jews escape Nazi territory. Pehle prevailed, and within days, FDR created the War Refugee Board, empowering it to rescue the victims of Nazi persecution, and put Pehle in charge.
Over the next twenty months, Pehle pulled together D.C. pencil pushers, international relief workers, smugglers, diplomats, millionaires, and rabble-rousers to run operations across four continents and a dozen countries. They tricked Nazis, forged identity papers, maneuvered food and medicine into concentration camps, recruited spies, leaked news stories, laundered money, negotiated ransoms, and funneled millions of dollars into Europe. Altogether, the War Refugee Board saved tens of thousands of lives.