In two recent columns, on November 16 and December 21, J.J. Goldberg has written of the Senate coalition that consisted of Southern Democrats and conservative Republicans from the prairie and mountain states that blocked efforts to admit Jewish refugees in the 1930s and 1940s. He ignores, however, the actual men who were responsible for these policies.
There was nothing either conservative Republican or southern Democratic about Breckinridge Long, the State Department official charged with dealing with European refugee matters at the time. A Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate, drafted speeches for Woodrow Wilson and had been appointed ambassador to Italy by Franklin Roosevelt, he worked relentlessly and often conspiratorially to ensure that as few Jews as possible were able to escape Germany.
And, of course, there was nothing conservative Republican or southern Democratic about Roosevelt himself, who, as president, made the ultimate decisions and, more often than not, followed the advice of appointees like Long.