1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History
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**New York Times Bestseller**
Jay Winik brings to life in “gripping” detail (The New York Times Book Review) the year 1944, which determined the outcome of World War II and put more pressure than any other on an ailing yet determined President Roosevelt.
1944 was a year that could have stymied the Allies and cemented Hitler’s waning power. Instead, it saved those democracies—but with a fateful cost. Now, in a “complex history rendered with great color and sympathy” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), Jay Winik captures the epic images and extraordinary history “with cinematic force” (Time).
1944 witnessed a series of titanic events: FDR at the pinnacle of his wartime leadership as well as his reelection, the unprecedented D-Day invasion, the liberation of Paris, and the tumultuous conferences that finally shaped the coming peace. But millions of lives were at stake as President Roosevelt learned about Hitler’s Final Solution. Just as the Allies were landing in Normandy, the Nazis were accelerating the killing of millions of European Jews. Winik shows how escalating pressures fell on an infirm Roosevelt, who faced a momentous decision. Was winning the war the best way to rescue the Jews? Or would it get in the way of defeating Hitler? In a year when even the most audacious undertakings were within the world’s reach, one challenge—saving Europe’s Jews—seemed to remain beyond Roosevelt’s grasp.
“Compelling….This dramatic account highlights what too often has been glossed over—that as nobly as the Greatest Generation fought under FDR’s command, America could well have done more to thwart Nazi aggression” (The Boston Globe). Destined to take its place as one of the great works of World War II, 1944 is the first book to retell these events with moral clarity and a moving appreciation of the extraordinary actions of many extraordinary leaders.
Jews, as well as to run one of the most significant “listening posts” in Nazi-dominated Europe, particularly as fragmentary information about massacres began to trickle in. Actually, the World Jewish Congress was more fiction than fact. Founded in 1936 to protect the rights of Jews in Europe, and to “mobilize the democratic world against Nazi atrocities,” it had virtually no budget, no authority, and no diplomatic reach. It had a meager office in New York, and an equally meager one in London. It
all ego, Wise all superego. When Roosevelt took an uncertain stand regarding the Tammany Hall political machine in New York City during his bid for the presidency in 1932, a disappointed Wise refused to back him. A year later, however, the president won Wise over with his charm and his New Deal. From then on, Wise was under Roosevelt’s spell; and from then on, he never faltered in his support for the president. He called Roosevelt “boss,” but actually Roosevelt was his hero. “He re-won my
were safe because they have faith in Hungarian fairness.” The article went on to quote a neutral diplomat who was lamenting “the most abominable crimes” being perpetrated. Despite his affection for Hungary, he all but called for “Allied bombings of Budapest” to put an end to the barbarism. A few days later, the Times published another report, this time that the first group of Jews had been removed from the Hungarian countryside to “murder camps in Poland.” Roosevelt’s reaction? Although the
president, due to ill health, capitulated far too quickly on his pro-Zionist positions. There was no other business to transact, except for a family lunch with Winston Churchill in the shadows of the fabled Egyptian city of Alexandria. Soon to be on his own deathbed, Harry Hopkins was there, and like Roosevelt ailing (Hopkins died in 1946). Meanwhile, the president’s daughter joined Churchill and his children, Randolph and Sarah. Churchill later described Roosevelt as placid but frail, retaining
Department stated, “We must constantly bear in mind the most effective relief which can be given victims of enemy persecution is to ensure the speedy defeat of the Axis.” WAS THAT TRUE? IRONICALLY, this narrow focus on the battlefront was just what the Nazis were counting on as they prepared their death machine at Auschwitz to slaughter an unprecedented number of victims under the cloak of secrecy. Now, in May 1944, a crisis would come to a head: between the battlefield, with Operation Overlord