To the Editor:

Fritz Stern's "Lessons from German History" (May/June 2005) contains a statement that lends itself to possible misunderstanding. Stern describes the United States as "the country that gave haven to German-speaking refugees in the 1930s."

It is true that the United States gave haven to some German-speaking refugees, but certainly not to the majority of those who sought refuge. Between 1933, the year that Adolf Hitler took power in Berlin, and 1939, the year of the outbreak of World War II, an estimated 300,000 Germans, the vast majority of them Jews, applied for entry visas to the United States. About 90,000 people were lucky enough to receive them. The fate of the rest varied. Some were able to find sanctuary, principally in China, Latin America, British-ruled Palestine, and the United Kingdom. Others, however, trapped in continental Europe, were deported to the death camps as the Nazis overran one country after another.


Executive Director, American Jewish Committee