Neil Rolde to be guest speaker talking about War Refugee Board in New York City

Neil Rolde, photo by Ramona du Houx

Neil Rolde, photo by Ramona du Houx

by Ramona du Houx in Maine Insights
Neil Rolde will be the guest speaker at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) in New York City on October 19, at the New York Westin Hotel, 212 East 42nd Street.

Rolde is working on a new book about the War Refugee Board (WRB) following his successful biography of Breckinridge Long, the man who restricted Jews fleeing Germany in WWII.

“I will be speaking to one of the committees of the Joint Distribution Committee. This Jewish organization was formed in 1914 to rescue European Jews caught in the Great War. In World War II, they were the largest contributors to the War Refugee Board, about which I am writing a history,” said author/statesman Neil Rolde. “I am using their voluminous archives in New York City.”

JDC is a Jewish relief organization that offers aid to the many Jewish populations in central and eastern Europe as well as the Middle East through a network of social and community assistance programs. With the rise of Hitler’s Nazi regime, JDC supported efforts that enabled 110,000 Jews to leave Germany prior to 1939.

Neil chose to write a book about the WRB because so much of his research for his Long biography led him to the WRB.

“In my reading about World War II, I would occasionally come upon mention of the War Refugee Board (WRB). In researching my biography of Breckinridge Long, the villain of restrictions on European Jews trying to flee for their lives, the WRB was cited. In the Library of Congress, there were volumes and volumes of research material on the WRB. So I decided to write a fill scale history of the WRB, since there did not seem to be one,” said Neil. “It will be part of a trilogy beginning with the Breckinridge Long book, and ending with an as yet untitled volume on the natural progression from Breckinridge Long to the War Refugee Board to the creation of Israel.”

Breckinridge Long: American Eichmann??? An Enquiry into the Character of the Man Who Denied Visas to the Jews by Neil Rolde was published by Maine’s Polar Bear & Company.

More about Breckinridge Long: American Eichmann??? An Enquiry into the Character of the Man Who Denied Visas to the Jews :

During the Holocaust, while the Nazis were exterminating thousands of Jews daily, the U.S. State Department official in charge of matters concerning all European refugees was Breckinridge Long. He was known as an extreme nativist, who was suspicious of Eastern Europeans. He feared more immigrants would spoil existing cultural values and bring with them communist ideals.

“He’s an example of the banality of evil,” said Rolde. “I wanted to highlight his own accounts of his life written in all his diaries, and the times in which he lived, to give people a comprehensive look into his character.”

Rolde’s exposé answers the central question: why didn’t the United States of America help save the lives of more Holocaust refugees during WWII? Long committed atrocities by finding avenues to continually limit refugee quota numbers but he didn’t do it alone.

Rolde also described an atmosphere in America generated by a portion of society that supported Long’s nativist views. Important people like Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh were openly sympathetic to the Nazi cause, and let the press know their allegiances before America joined the war.

Rolde’s books are always extensively researched. Neil has won awards for his books from the Maine Historical Society, the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, and the Maine Humanities Council.

A list of Neil Rolde’s books:

• Real Political Tales: Short Stories by a Veteran Politician

• Breckenridge Long: An American: An American Eichmann??? An Enquiry into the Character of the Man who Denied Visas to the Jews

• Continental Liar from the State of Maine: James G. Blaine

• Unsettled Past, Unsettled Future: The Story of Maine Indians

• The Interrupted Forest A History of Maine’s Wildlands

• Maine A Narrative History

• Maine Downeast and Different an Illustrated History

• An illustrated history of Maine

• Your Money or Your Health: America’s Cruel, Bureaucratic, and Horrendously Expensive Health Care System How It Got That Way and What to Do About

• Rio Grande Do Norte: The Story of Maine’s Partner State in Brazil What It’s Like, What Its past Has Been, and What Are Its Ties to Maine

• The Baxters of Maine: Downeast Visionaries

• So You Think You Know Maine

• Maine in the World: Stories of Some of Those from Here Who Went Away

• O. Murray Carr: A Novel

• Sir William Pepperrell of Colonial New England

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