tv David Nasaw The Last Million CSPAN January 15, 2021 4:13pm-5:12pm EST
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watch tv on c-span2. ♪♪ >> good afternoon. welcome to, the author of the new book, the last billing. those of us in the family from the institution as a special election for the through david's work, we come to know andrew carnegie and all his humanity and complexities and one lesson from the book that stuck with me
and has animated by and that is, as david would put it, carnegie top optimism not entirely equipped. for all about beauty in the world, progress based on reason and you can do spirit is possible the idea seems to be going in this opportunity to say thank you. in addition, his previous books include prize-winning biographies of joseph kennedy and william randolph. return to david's latest book, not one person but 1 million persons emerged realized, yet alive april 1945. the last 1 million to take us into the heart of europe during and after world war ii.
he describes the movement of millions of people among shifting borders of that war is a document. he described life at the creases. feelings of people displaced by world war ii, most known for those in time concentration camps and migrant laborers, forced laborers, political business. when the war ended, many, if not most displaced persons returned home. as the title suggests, millions did not. this book tells the story for a new home. thanks for joining us. to kick off, i have a simple question, how did you come to this story? how did you see the last 1
million is a singular story to be told? >> it had a lot to do the book post and i learned not to take a common sense of historical evidence as necessarily useful. sometimes only partially truthful. much clearer before with peace treaties and hostilities, even with this going on. civilians displaced by war continues undated in the cases of the last 1 million, three to
five years remaining in germany behind barbed wire. three to five years after. >> let's talk about the 1 million who remained. he talk about the 1 million into germany. could you give us a bit of information about who these people were to went willingly? >> they are for the different streams into germany during the war. the largest in the ukraine, these were young men and women who grab from the homes, forced onto trucks and trains into germany. hitler and it's the only
possible way for the millions of soldiers and to replace them with enslaved laborers from the east. a group to arrive in 1841 and arrived to the end of the war. they are moving up in the last million. in 1945, parts of ukraine and these were men, women and children, men and women who had in one way or another, collaborate with authorities. sometimes collaboration was working at a post office overseen by officials.
a lot of times it meant serving around it and in some cases, it meant to any. the army was soon to arrive in the state in the ukraine. citizens who could not abide soviet combination, aged away into germany. a third group for the jewish, the work came to an end, hitler and the german officials realized it didn't want to be discovered number one. number two, they needed more
labor at home in the beginning and the decision was made to relocate those who survived labor camps in poland and relocate them, the death march into germany with a little work to death most of them from the underground mind, these are the three groups that make up the last million. the journey into germany are different, so too would be the experiences in germany. >> little bit after in europe 1945, can you give us a bit of a feel for what it's like what choices are these people doing.
>> there's no way to comprehend devastation in germany that they found when they left the workplaces and concentration camps for. they were the allies, shipped to assembly centers and started up a nationality and behind barbed wire. united nations relief and rehabilitation administration but supplied by the army, medical supply shelters, they built it and took care of them. what happens was in germany, in
the years following the day, there were little nontheists, jewish settlements. in the beginning, allies decided they would separate out by nationality. they did not recognize they were jews. they were miscellaneous. they were with non-jewish poles. in many instances, the jewish survivors found themselves in the same camp as those in the concentration laborers. that ended july and august when they were in their own camps.
this was transitional, they would soon be allowed to go home. they believed world war iii was coming rapidly and americans and british would liberate ukraine, the soviets. they could go home again. the jews knew they could never go home, they had no place in europe. they tried in the beginning to convince themselves and others could return to poland and the jewish community. it was the only place on earth they soon recognized where they would be welcome, palestine. the british did everything they possibly could under the mandate
the jews out. >> i want to stop here for a second to talk about those who couldn't go home understood that but at one time, it's made to not force this, individuals of choice whether they would on a little bit about that. >> one of the things i realized as i did my research work begins almost immediately. the cold war, the beginning, the soviets ran their allies used in europe, the soviet dominated eastern europe. they demanded every person and those years before, every person should go home.
they had to go home. they didn't know they said no, people had to write to choose their own citizenship and whether they wanted to go home or not. especially, there was a.of paranoia after there was a great work after world war i, they tried the regime and they believe that the real possibility after world war ii and with the allies were doing was creating an army of anti-soviet, anti-communist initiatives that would be available to spread anti-soviet propaganda and war to begin world war iii.
>> you mentioned in passing the establishment of these international institutions that deal with this problem. first we have united nations relief and rehabilitation authorities and then the ir zero, international refugee organization and an amazing passage in your book, page 258 beginning chapter 17 where you talk about organizations and their names that he got a mission of being humane institutions to provide literally believe for this human suffering and yet they turn it into something else, utilitarian implement agencies, if you will.
talk about those institutions and how they are set up. >> franklin roosevelt in this book and others, something of a hero. he understood in 1943, it would be an enormous problem in the only way to stop the refugee problem was international cooperation and he is instrumental, this is 1943. the united nations, he gets the nations of the world to join. the understanding is that it will be an agency that takes care of the immediate need for refugees and provides passage for them.
the last million, that doesn't happen. they demanded they be sent home or made to survive on their own in germany. the americans and british continue to support these people in camps for a year, year end a half until it's clear they're not going home. the americans and british, the establishment of the new organization, they without them. each task is to resettle the last million and it was late 1947, extraordinary bazaar meat market set up.
it's a displaced persons camp and all members of the international refugee organization, dozens of latin american nations, canada, australia, they recruited into the camp to find workers to take jobs that will they can't find anybody else to take. it begins with the british, it is the labor shortage and they can't get anybody to work there. what do they do? they going to the camps and
recruit women in the beginning and then decide we need help in the minds, let's bring in african men and then they run out, they go to estonians and ukrainians and the canadians need railroad workers and people in forestry so the international refugee organization becomes recruitment organization. it tries to look after the well for a ghost there but the shots are being called by the government doing it, not the international organization. >> so there's sort of a hierarchy and the resettlement process. some of that is on race and
perception or maybe utilitarian functions. >> it is a combination. the australian prime minister makes it clear the recruiting team goes. why? they are white, protestant, reliably anti-communist, they only arrive in germany at the end of the war and they were relatively healthy. they hadn't suffered the same, the jewish survived of the labored, they were hard workers. no country on earth wanted the jews.
they didn't want the jews for a variety of reasons. it was misconception, they regarded the jews as unwilling to do hard manual labor as scoundrels and worse yet, the operative so from 1947 to 48, as the ukrainians and estonians resettle, the only way for the jews to get out was illegal immigration, to palestine. the british tried to stop them,
they couldn't do it. twenty, 30,000 misplaced jews make their way into israel. they have another series and put them behind barbed wire but for the jews, getting out of germany even into another displaced persons camps were more profitable. >> so many questions about this. i want to ask you about truman as it relates to this story. the way i am reading it in the narrative, he's willing to confront the british to say you need to open up palestine. it's a painful process but confronts the british and they
get there in that direction. not willing to confront the u.s. opening up, is that fair? >> truman believed in the beginning with this naïve optimism, the state department says don't go that. he confronts churchill and open up palestine and he is that if you want this, need to rebuild your nation, help me out here, i've got lots of jewish voters i need to support is the unitarian in the right thing to do. then there's a further argument which is tragic, he said to the
british, since you don't have to worry the way you did before the he said 6 million jews were killed so the european jews aren't overwhelmed palestine. not talking millions, if a couple hundred thousand. the british will not budge. , if you carry this much, take them into the u.s. truman is much smarter about these policies and british policies he can't do that, he says that's the of the european jews, the misunderstanding of what has happened to them such that congress will never allow them into the country.
>> was another question, the scene of the book that comes together, it goes back to the camps themselves were exactly that the situation is dire and people are suffering businesses with eisenhower and tells them to clean up and particularly the jewish and make the point the ability men will clean it up today read that right? is i romanticizing eisenhower a little bit and let us most recent event we see the treatment of these people in the u.s. authority? >> truman and eisenhower amount
of euros in the left. truman the beginning is there goes say is identifiable early on but the pain in the beginning, you got to realize it was nobody knew how to jews no one knew the condition how many out of the there is a sense that department has been used for voted everybody else and we can't single out the jews. the jewish organization in the
u.s. and britain said jews have suffered more than any other group they need special treatment. american state department and nation said no, the british said absolutely not. the jews will be treated like everyone else they were treated like everyone else and suffering was intense. finally in july, two months after the war was over, truman sentenced the finding mission led by dean harrison and the university of pennsylvania, he sent harrison who was now that you, send them to visit the camps. harrison comes back with a
report and says we are treated just as fast as the germans did. truman read this report and says eisenhower, who got to take eisenhower goes to work. >> you mentioned before the cold war aspect of this, could you say a bit more about the soviet interest in this situation? how does this look from moscow as they look at this problem? how does it drift into the beginning stages of the cold war from the east? >> the soviets know that large numbers corroborate and from the
east, belarus, ukraine made their way into germany. many who throw away their uniform and all that they had find their way to the displaced persons. in these displaced person camp, they have factory workers and the soviet know and yugoslavs know that they are there and they want them to be brought to justice number one.
number two, they know it was a cauldron of anti-communist in these camps and it will affect the future direction of europe and the world that having these dedicated, anti-communist anti- soviets in the world is going to cause them hardship. the third and maybe the most important reason, the soviets yugoslavs have extraordinary task to rebuild the nation. they get every flavor they can including the members of the last who are in germany rather than returning to poland to
rebuild the devastated country. >> it takes a while don't remember exactly when it happened but there is a bill passed in the u.s. congress resettlement and refugees in the u.s. labor this is a big question and i'm sure everyone will feel this when they are reading the book, why does in the united states, you could talk about the other countries as well to do more to sort out the war criminals, collaborators, the nazis and others as they begin to issue these resettlement in the u.s. >> they felt the american and canadian didn't have their
collaborators out because they didn't know how to do it. doing my research, i discovered that wasn't the case in every displaced person camp, there was a historical commission. in poland, the surviving jews immediately established their mission. in austria, the most famous jewish hunters set up a commission, they take testimony from a displaced person. they have them in the camps of the displaced person. they should be tried. no one cares and one reason is that the memories are
obliterated by the use of gold worth. it's been defeated u.s. the fascist been defeated, they are not coming back. the danger of moving forward is from the cold war the notion, the totalitarianism and stalin is a latter-day hitler, the soviet of the same as the germans and we've got to turn to fight the other almost immediately and this so what some of them were collaborators or anti- soviet so what? anti-communist and we need them
now. let's move forward. happens everywhere. there is a story i tell that stays with me, a group of minors in england who discovered the left wing, it doesn't really matter. they discover the displaced person or working with them and they threatened to go on strike you when it gets back to the government, labor government says soldiers will keep them of their minds and we will put them in jobs where they don't have to take off their shirt. in 1950 -- 1951, the americans
changed their regulation to let in members. it's because the country was built to congress set by this cold war hysteria. >> as i was reading, and that in the context of its time in the early 40s and 50s, there does seem to be toward the end of the book, this wave may be in the 1980s, maybe as time goes by, like 30 years later, it becomes more well known there is is wave in all these things, i think of it during these years,
it is a time in a way in this. , i am curious how you read that. the kind of bubbles up. >> it bubbles up in the u.s. 50% accused people accused. there is this residue and nobody listens for 30 years. many of the 70s, journalists who some are jewish and some are not, look again at what's going on and there begins to be weeks in the ins. they leased to reporters congresswoman elizabeth new
there is in the records, this to collaborators led into the country and because of the crusade of the journalists in a couple of other congressman, the question is reopened in the u.s., the u.s. begins to look again 30 years before, how do these people get into the u.s.? how many are still here what can we do about it? the canadians and australians begin to start the same process. by then it's too late. good girl years in the e-mail
states, there unpunished. >> i have a couple more questions. but i want to encourage those watching, if you have a question or comment, submit them in the chat function and get to the toward the end of the hour. i can't resist asking, a lot of people are thinking this. i want to avoid comparisons we are living in a world that, 80 million people in the world is a different way but i have to ask, spending all this time on the story and telling the story, what does it leave you with now as you look to the world today
blocks on the situation we find ourselves in? >> tragedy in the present-day situation. let me start with the most obvious. 1943, is about establishes national organization understands that it requires international cooperation. until the administration, united believed in the cooperation. having said that, the obligation of the united nations and the dissipating has been not to
resettle refugees shelter and see why with minimal medical assistance. in the 70 years, the end of the displaced person camps in germany, the sense has been the responsibility is to make sure not to allow them to lead meaningful lives through resettlement. this is tragedy is only going to get worse. in my the end, the only place
that displaced shoes resettle is in israel. i make the argument, truman supports the establishment in israel because he knows independent of germany, is an anti-communist coalition, he's got to get the jews out of germany. it can't be 250,000 jews in camps. the only place, he can't get them into the united states, it's israel. he supports the independent israel but where do they go? they are in world community
agricultural settlement. it is clear of palestinian by the army. they left voluntarily. israelis refused so the problem is that this place is so tragic displacement and while i didn't want to diminish in israel, the displacement is here. the displacement of the polishing in the third generation have one more
question, this question, i do not want make no in the optimal way that you include in the book, credible aftermath. to me, that sort of suggests an idea of regeneration or growth. i don't know, i guess the tragedy been leads to some redemption in some way or maybe it's just another one but before i let you go to the question, do you have a sense of redemption? you feel the cycle -- just kind of repeat itself?
>> let me tell two stories quickly. one that peter told me in his new book about the holocaust, it tells about to displaced persons when they arrive in israel and as they move in, they see the apartment fully furnished and realize it's there because the palestinians left. they look at it and think about this happening and they turn around and leave. the second story is a man and his wife who i talk about, he was 98 was 96. they met, they had known each
looks at me, he said i've had a good life he said he loves his wife, i love my children, he said i will forever think of him in america for finally letting me and. >> i want to make sure we have time for questions so i'll turn over to my colleagues and he is going to ask on behalf of those who have been writing in, i see chat lines leading up. over to you. >> okay. >> first question is from deborah rogers. can you speak about the survival spirit and how people were kept alive? >> it's an extraordinary story and i don't want to downplay it especially camps. surviving rhetoric, they
recognize that learning was luxury. it would not forget but the task was to resurrect judaism. they were clear about it. the polls in exile, the anti-communist will, it was their job, their task and mission to resurrect cultural naturalist, we keep them alive the spirit in me is not one of defeat for victimization but one of preparation for the next stage in their life which they hope the new would follow. >> things. this is from david kent.
a personal question. my father was a jewish refugee in 1930, interned in 191942 in australia and returned to england. he came to the u.s. in may 1948, became a displaced person because of photo was too small and already filled how it could keep calm displaced person. >> haven't talked about but there was a truman directive and truman he couldn't get the british to move, he said the german and austrian would be combined, number one and number two, he set up offices in and around his to provide visas
under the german or austrian citizenship in some way so a small number of german and austrian jews were allowed to enter before the displaced persons. a displaced person you and defined as those who had fought up against the germans. the germans and austrians were not displaced persons but under the truman directive, some of them were allowed to enter. >> next question is from grady jacobson from massachusetts. we are often taught as children in the u.s. the liberation of european news for germany were
major reasons allies thought in world war ii. the allies were not immediately concerned with the injustice perpetrated on the jewish pedal people and mistreated them as well is idea more of a failure of this curriculum? it is abundantly clear to me the war was not thought to save the jews. there is no evidence whatsoever they were to save the jews. as a matter of fact, roosevelt cabinet went out of their way to discount any word that americans were being sent over.
the war was fought for a variety of reasons but the rescue of the jews was never part of and if that is currently in the textbooks, then that is just wrong. when the war was over, commonsensical fear is that americans open their arms and pocketbooks, they had not saved during the war, died in the quarter remain in common sense view is again, welcome them. that was not the case. in the end, the quarter million displaced jews, only about 50000 came to the u.s. some of those who went to israel because there was no place else,
they came back to the u.s. but the number of displaced jews in the country was animal. >> this is one of the comments, not resettlement in the international law set up by the un hdr going home could lead to death. obligations in the countries from jews were forced in germany, even israel taking them. it wasn't until 1955 set israel went. >> yes israel in the beginning, they said we would take all the jews, they came from israel set up an organization for those who
had tuberculosis, were sick and bring them to israel. large number of jews in germany, those who had gone to israel found for couldn't live there because they were in a state of war and back to germany and there were groups of orthodox jews who remained in germany but for the most part, the israelis suspected the jews. there are questions about whether could have treated them better. they got to israel and there was some resistance to bring them into the country but israel did open it doors they have the obligation to take in as many jews as possible. >> this question goes back to something more specific. other any lessons we can learn
from civilians looking at the u.s. border of mexico? >> yes. let me start with two. there has to be a fact-based approach. we can't but, the jews were kept out because of this myth so the, we have to do everything we can to counter next work either with criminals on the ruins, gang members has to be a movement at the same time, communitarian concert at some of right
political differences have to open our hearts and souls and our mind to the crisis on the southern border and there's no sign that is being done with the current ministration. >> i can take it now. i wanted to make sure david had a chance to sum it up. i have a big question, we may have to have a separate conversation over lunch sometime about the history but you're talking about is your thing the work is and it blends into cold war, did you give any thought, counterfactual about things that
could have been done differently will be able to go back in time, seen cold war on the horizon, how this problem might have been addressed in a way that would have been more positive and perhaps less complications with the soviet. >> i think it would have been possible to cooperate with his and what the soviets wanted, they had a lot of structures. the soviets had eyewitnesses in the ukraine who knew who the war criminals were the americans cooperates with affiliate war criminals will have been found
and brought to justice. americans cooperate with affiliate trusts soviets and we were right to but you don't have to trust them, we did have to trust them entirely enter into some sort of cooperative relationship early on and as a result, they were taking these war criminals because they were communist which was possibly true the hostility between the soviet and american political and increase to fund management. >> we are right at the top of the hour so we have to adjourn this session. thank you very much for taking this time with us this is one of
those books where it is another life-changing experience for me. i look at the end of the war in a completely different way. thank you so much. we look forward to continue the conversation. >> thank you. this has been a terrific conversation. thank you very much. >> thank you for listening, everybody bye-bye. ♪♪ >> weeknights, we are featuring book tv programs as a preview what's available every weekend on c-span2. tonight, we feature current affairs, the new york times journalist reporting on a girl scout troop started for girls in the homes shelter. the speech censorship. most of my pictures her thoughts on identity writing style. 8:00 p.m. eastern.
enjoy book tv, this week and every weekend on c-span2. book tv on c-span2 has top nonfiction books and authors every weekend, saturday 9:00 a.m. eastern, heritage foundation senior fellow might consult on, about to change america which argues identity politics dividing america sunday 9:00 p.m. eastern on "afterwards", deputy chief of staff of former democratic senator, rate of about talking about his books kill switch, the rise of the modern senate and american democracy to feedback "wall street journal" congressional reporter, christina peterson. watch book tv this weekend on c-span2. ♪♪ >> i am delighted to welcome jenna, an accomplished author is