Michael Dobbs: The Unwanted
America, Auschwitz, and a Village Caught in Between
Winner of the 2019 Jewish Book Club Award for Holocaust Studies, The Unwanted examines U.S. immigration policy under President Franklin D. Roosevelt through the prism of a small Jewish community on the edge of the Black Forest. It describes the quest for U.S. visas at a time when, according to journalist Dorothy Thompson, “a piece of paper with a stamp on it” was “the difference between life and death.” Battling formidable bureaucratic obstacles, some Kippenheim Jews make it to the United States while others perish in refugee camps in France and other countries. Many are murdered in Auschwitz, their applications for American visas still “pending.” Dobbs links their fate to the heated debates among U.S. officials over whether to admit refugees amid growing concerns about “fifth columnists” at a time when the American public was deeply isolationist, xenophobic and antisemitic. The Holocaust is a German story, first and foremost, but it has an American foreign policy dimension, meticulously explored in this book.
Michael Dobbs is an author and former journalist for The Washington Post. He has written six books, including The Unwanted. He won the 2019 National Jewish Book Award for Holocaust Studies.