The US Holocaust Memorial Museum

The author's otherwise admirable description of the recently opened United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, in the article "Holocaust Memorials Send a Harsh Message: Never Forget," April 26, unwittingly reiterates a historical distortion of the German Jewish response to Nazi oppression and violence in the years 1933-1938. During this period, the author writes, "Some 40,000 Jews found sanctuary in the US, only a fraction of those who tried to come."

Sadly, most of the 525,000 German Jews elected to remain in the Third Reich after 1933, regarding emigration as too radical a step. They did so for a variety of reasons - centuries-old ties to Germany, uncertainty about Nazi Jewish policy, previous experience of anti-Semitism, old age, and inertia. True, countries such as the US kept barriers to immigration in place during the Depression years, and anti-Semitic bias was widespread in the State Department.

But equally true, the great majority of German Jews made no serious effort to leave Germany until after the Kristallnacht pogrom of Nov. 9-10, 1938. By then, fearful of a mass exodus, most nations had tightened their visa requirements, and the Jews had virtually nowhere to go. John V. H. Dippel, Piermont, N.Y.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please fax letters to (617) 450-2317 or address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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