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


  • Dorottya Halász University of Miskolc



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


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.

Author Biography

Dorottya Halász, University of Miskolc

Dorottya Halász is Assistant Professor of Modern World History at the University of Miskolc, Hungary, where she teaches courses on twentieth-century world history, fascism, the Holocaust, the Cold War, and American history. She earned her Ph.D. at Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, Texas in 2000. Her main research interests include Jewish and Holocaust history and also U.S. social history, with a special emphasis on the twentieth century. She has published on subjects pertaining to American social and diplomatic history as well as Jewish studies.






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