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1944: Desperate Acts
 pg. 509 
In English and Hebrew, this poster urges members of the Yishuv (the Jewish community in Palestine) to join the Jewish Brigade. From the start of the war, Jews in Palestine had joined the British Army. But news of the mass killings fueled a desire for a separate unit, serving under a Zionist standard, to fight the Axis forces in Europe.
Photo: Central Zionist Archives/United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo Archive
Ona Simaite was named "Righteous Among the Nations" by Yad Vashem. A librarian in Vilna, Lithuania, she regularly traveled into the city's Jewish ghetto, supposedly in search of unreturned library books. In reality she was taking food and other provisions to the ghetto's inhabitants, as well as helping the underground. Captured by the Nazis in 1944, she refused to surrender any information to her captors despite enduring horrific torture. Eventually the Nazis sent her to a camp in France, where the Allies liberated her.
Photo: Hoover Institution/United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo Archive
War Refugee Board

International efforts to rescue Europe's Jews improved with the January 1944 creation of the U.S. War Refugee Board (WRB). After hedging for more than a year, President Franklin Roosevelt finally responded to public pressure and ordered the establishment of the board. He told the WRB to take "all measures within its power to rescue the victims of enemy oppression in imminent danger of death."

Neither the president nor the State Department, however, was committed to the WRB, and they provided inadequate financial support for its activities. Most funding was solicited from private Jewish organizations.

Led by John Pehle (pictured), the War Refugee Board coordinated rescue efforts through a small number of operatives stationed overseas. Their rescue strategies included planning evacuations of Jews from Nazi-occupied areas; finding suitable relocation sites; preventing anticipated deportations; and mailing emergency supplies to prisoners in Nazi camps. In August 1944 the WRB succeeded in bringing 982 refugees from Italy, 874 Jewish, to safety in the United States. The WRB focused much of its work during 1944 on rescuing Hungarian Jews threatened by Nazi deportation as well as brutalization at the hands of Hungary's Arrow Cross. Despite valiant efforts, and saving probably more than 200,000 lives, the work of the WRB, in the estimation of its director, was still "too little, too late."
Photo: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo Archive

 January 10, 1944: Professor Victor Basch and his wife are executed near Lyons, France, as reprisal for the death of a French collaborator killed by French partisans.
 January 12, 1944: Frau Hanna Solf, the widow of Wilhelm Solf (former German ambassador to Tokyo) and her daughter, Lagi Gräfin von Ballestrem--both of them members of the anti-Nazi German Resistance--are arrested four months after attending a Resistance tea party that was infiltrated by a Gestapo informer.
 January 13, 1944: Two United States Treasury Department officials--Josiah DuBois and Randolph Paul--threaten to resign and make public the report on their investigation into the State Department's scandalous activities in regard to the Jews. The report is originally entitled "Report to the Secretary [of the Treasury] on the Acquiescence of This Government in the Murder of the Jews." The report indicts officials of the State Department for their "willful attempts to prevent action from being taken to rescue Jews from Hitler."
1944: Desperate Acts
 pg. 509 
The Holocaust Chronicle
© 2009 Publications International, Ltd.