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Immigration Policy in World War II | The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

1.9.15

Immigration Policy in World War II | The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History: [gilderlehrman.org] The Nazis operated six death camps in Eastern Europe between December 1941 and the end of 1944: Chelmno, Belzek, Majdanek, Treblinka, Sobibor, and Auschwitz. At Auschwitz in Poland, gas chambers and crematorium ovens killed 20,000 victims a day. Zyklon B crystals were injected into gas chambers by small openings in the ceiling or on the side. Altogether, 1.6 million people were killed at Auschwitz--1.3 million were Jews, and 300,000 were Polish Catholics, Gypsies, and Russian prisoners--and their ashes were dumped in surrounding ponds and fields. The ashes of about 100,000 people lie in a small pond near one of the crematories.

As early as June 1942, word reached the United States that the Nazis were planning the annihilation of the European Jews. A report smuggled from Poland to London described in detail the killing centers at Chelmno and the use of gas vans, and it estimated that 700,000 people had already been killed.

Anti-Semitism fueled by the Depression and by demagogues like the radio priest Charles Coughlin influenced immigration policy. In 1939 pollsters found that 53 percent of those interviewed agreed with the statement "Jews are different and should be restricted." Between 1933 and 1945 the United States took in only 132,000 Jewish refugees, only ten percent of the quota allowed by law.


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