Propaganda Versus Genocide: The United States War Refugee Board and the Hungarian Holocaust

Dorottya Halász

Abstract


In 1944 the Second World War had been raging for more than four long years, with the death toll among soldiers and civilians alike climbing. European Jews constituted a special group of the victims, a fact that leaders of the Allied powers failed to acknowledge. In January 1944 a major revision of previous government policy was brought about in the United States with the establishment of the War Refugee Board in Washington, promising an American commitment to the rescue of European war refugees, including Jews. In March of the same year the situation for Jewish inhabitants in Hungary turned dire as German forces occupied the country. For lack of any other instantly applicable way to influence Hungarian developments, leaders of the new American War Refugee Board decided to launch a propaganda campaign to fight the Nazis and their accomplices. This paper will examine the motivations of American policy makers in focusing on political propaganda measures during the first phase of the Hungarian Holocaust (March–July 1944), and it will describe the logic and workings of the campaign as a means to save Hungary’s Jewry in the last full year of the Second World War.

Keywords


American World War II propaganda, Hungarian Jews, War Refugee Board, genocide, Allied culpability

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5195/ahea.2012.66

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