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Professor David Nasaw – The Last Million


Professor emeritus, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., History, CUNY Graduate Center.

2013 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Biography.   

New York Historical Society’s American History Book Prize.

Bancroft Prize for History.


Selected works

  • The Last Million, Europe’s Displaced Persons from World War to Cold War.

  • The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy.

  • The Chief: The Life of William Randolph.

  • Andrew Carnegie.

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Episode #1

Q: Professor David Nasaw – The Last Million – Intro


  • US Historian, American Jew, New Yorker

  • Biographer of Joseph Kennedy

  • Student of post-World War 2

  • Million Refugees in Germany after the war

  • Non-Jews & Jews

Episode #2

Q: What was the International Refugee Organization?


  • Initially refugees under UN – repatriation

  • Roosevelt set up IRO to resettle the refugees

  • Many resettled except for Jews

  • Blatant anti-Semitism by Western countries

Episode #3

Q: DP Camps – Jewish survivors placed with Nazi murderers?!


  • Absurdity of history

  • Refugees were divided by last country of residence

  • Jews were placed in same camps as their murderers!

  • Truman representative issues independent report

Episode #4

Q: Did the USA play a positive role?


  • Truman knows congress won’t pass immigration law for Jews

  • Needs a solution to get Jews out of Germany

  • Strategy of pressuring British

  • Attempt to get UN to act

Episode #5

Q:  What was the role of the military?


  • Military by and large ignored the Jews

  • Small number of active Jewish soldiers /chaplains

  • Eisenhower was sympathetic; directed officers to help Jews

  • General Patten was a viscious anti-Semite

Episode #6

Q: Where were the American Jewish organizations?


  • Basically shied away from these issues

  • American Jewish Committee – too timid

Episode #7

Q: Where did the 250K Jewish refugees end up?


  • 155,000 go to Israel

  • 50,000 United States

  • Significant numbers to Canada

  • Smaller numbers to Australia, South Africa, South America

Episode #8

Q: Is the world better equipped to handle refugee issues?


  • In 1943 Roosevelt recognizes future mass scale refugee problems

  • Global issue demanding a coordinated international response

  • USA has held back in organizing international coalition for refugees

Full Interview - Professor David Nasaw

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