Last week in this space I called the roll of nations that did their best to save the lives of Jews during World War II. That list included allies of Nazi Germany, namely Italy, Spain, Albania and even Japan!
In that column I pointed out that we Jews have been more diligent in remembering who our enemies have been than who risked their lives to try to save us. In seeking to correct that imbalance, I noted that the best friends we Jews have ever had are the American Christians. I stated that if it weren’t for the American Christians there would be no state of Israel, and there’d be no Jew alive except those who could successfully masquerade as belonging to a different religion. I recognized that assertion needed some explanation, and here it is.
The overwhelming majority of Jews who have heard me deliver this message over the last 40 years were pleased to learn that what sounded at first like a shocking exaggeration was utterly logical. Is there any doubt that if Hitler had won the war, global extermination of Jews would follow? America gets credit for winning World War II against Japan but not against Nazi Germany. That honor belongs to the Soviet Union! The Soviets suffered the loss of over 20 million soldiers and civilians, and yet manufactured and deployed more than twice the number of tanks than the Germans’ Panzers and Tigers. Those Soviet tanks smashed and destroyed the German armies on Soviet territory, liberating their nation, and went on to take Berlin. It pains a democracy to give thanks to a dreadful totalitarian dictatorship like Soviet Russia, but such gratitude is nonetheless warranted in this case.
America, however, was the “swing vote” in World War II. When the Japanese bombed America into that war in December 1941, Britain and Russia were like two elephants dangling over a cliff with their tails tied to the same daisy. Britain had been forced to evacuate its troops from the European continent at the French port of Dunkirk. Nazi forces were massing near the gates of Leningrad, Moscow and Stalingrad, awaiting the spring thaw that would green-light Hitler’s conquest of a country the size of the moon. Rommel’s German Afrika Korps was preparing to dart through the desert to take Cairo, Alexandria and the Suez Canal. America’s entry as an ally, with millions of troops and a vast un-bombable industrial base stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific, changed all that. Less than four years later the war was won, and Hitler’s dream of a world without Jews was ended.
So, the USA’s entry into the war turned imminent defeat into eventual victory. And the U.S. military was 97 percent non-Jewish because the U. S. population was 97 percent non-Jewish!
Sometimes, not too often, a disgruntled Jewish reader or listener will take me aside and say, “You’re giving the American Christians too much credit. They didn’t go to war against Hitler to save the Jews.” At which point I explain, “I never said they did. I said, ‘If it weren’t for the American Christians, there would be no state of Israel, nor any Jew alive except for those who could successfully pose as an adherent of some other religion.'”
I’d be lying, however, if I denied that I send many heartfuls of gratitude to Heaven, praising and thanking those American Christians who went to war uncomplainingly to destroy the worst enemy we Jews have faced since Haman in ancient Persia (today’s Iran).
Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor? If Hitler had given up his hatred of Jews and treated them as patriotic Germans, he almost certainly would have been the first to acquire the atom bomb!