Georgia's Response

Gulie Arad, author of America, Its Jews and the Rise of Nazism stated that the pre- World War II American-Jewish community had little self-confidence, a frustrated leadership, and only indirect avenues to political influence. This was especially true in the American South and particularly in Atlanta. The Atlanta community was still reacting to, and recovering from, the 1914 Leo Frank case. The remnant Jewish community had been beset by a number of misfortunes, including a revival of the Klan in the 1910s and 1920s and being considered scapegoats for communism and the onset of the Great Depression. Although there was concern about the plight of European Jews during the 1930s, Atlanta's Jewish community was not anxious to bring attention to Jewish issues in a political climate that was saturated with overt antisemitism. The economic problems of the period also meant that the primary concerns for most American Jews were achieving material and financial security for themselves and their families.

However, Atlanta's Jewish community was not completely apathetic during this time. Local organizations such the Atlanta Section of the National Council of Jewish Women and the Hebrew Orphans Home tried to help the unaccompanied minors who immigrated to Georgia. Individuals like Harold Hirsch tried to raise money to help the European Jews who had been reduced to penury by the Nazi regime.

When the war ended in 1945 and the full impact of the Holocaust became apparent, Atlanta’s Jewish community almost certainly wished it had done more. However, the individuals and organizations that worked tirelessly from 1933-1942 could feel proud of what was accomplished. Namely, the lives of the men, women, and children who benefited from their efforts, and were saved when so many others perished.