What’s Wrong with Ken Burns’s New Holocaust Documentary + Free Book

Ken Burns’s documentary The U.S. and The Holocaust has not finished its run on PBS. Nevertheless, the content that has aired is biased toward both the United States and President Franklin Roosevelt.

The documentary states that the United States took in more Jewish refugees than any other sovereign nation during the Nazi era. As Dr. Rafael Medoff asked in his September 13, 2022 article in The Jerusalem Post, why didn’t Burns simply use the word country instead of sovereign nation? Because, though it was not a sovereign nation, Palestine let in more Jews than the U.S. Of course, if you’re not paying attention to the very careful wording, you might assume that the U.S. was more generous toward Jewish refugees than any other land. Interestingly, as Medoff notes, the statement is false even with the words “sovereign nation.” The Soviet Union, a sovereign nation, allowed more Jews in than the U.S.

The other major problem with the documentary is its favoritism towards FDR. Viewers are repeatedly told that there was nothing FDR could have done for the Jews because, well, insert excuse. Because Congress wouldn’t approve higher immigration quotas. Because even Jews close to FDR could not decide whether having him make a statement on Nazi atrocities would help or hurt Jews in Europe. Historian Deborah Lipstadt states that it was not as though FDR could have “snapped his fingers” and helped the Jews of Europe himself. After all, there was “plenty of blame to go around.”

Yet in 1944 FDR did the equivalent of snapping his fingers and helping Jews. He accomplished this by signing an executive order that created the War Refugee Board. The War Refugee Board had the power to “rescue the victims of enemy oppression who are in imminent danger of death.” As I explain in my book Passionate Crusaders, the WRB’s members provided physical rescue and humanitarian relief to thousands of persecuted people, though they were not all Jewish. Hard numbers are difficult to come by, but there is no question that if FDR had established the WRB earlier, more Jews would have survived the Holocaust.

As a result of my disagreements with Ken Burns’s documentary, I am making my book Passionate Crusaders FREE on Amazon Kindle from today, September 20th to September 24th.

Link to my book: https://amzn.to/1GDI2qq

Link to Dr. Medoff’s article: https://www.jpost.com/opinion/article-716987

Raoul Wallenberg and the Rescue of Jews During World War II

As a young man growing up in Sweden, Raoul Wallenberg couldn’t figure out what he wanted to do with his life. His family expected him to become a banker, but his grandfather also wanted him to travel Europe. Wallenberg thought traveling to foreign countries was exciting, so with his grandfather’s blessing he worked for a branch of the family’s bank in Haifa, Palestine. Since he arrived in Palestine during the 1930s, the boarding house where he stayed at night was filled with Jewish families who recently fled Germany. Adolf Hitler was in power and the Nazi party placed harsh penalties on the Jews, making it difficult for them to earn a living or even walk the streets without fear of being beaten.

 Traveling Europe after World War II

Bored with his work, Wallenberg left the bank. After World War II began, he met a Jewish businessman named Koloman Lauer from Hungary. Wallenberg’s home country stayed neutral during the war, but Hungary’s alliance with Germany made it impossible for native Jewish businessmen to travel in Europe. Instead, Lauer hired Wallenberg to travel on his behalf. Though Wallenberg enjoyed traveling, what he saw in Nazi-occupied territories like Hungary disturbed him. He encountered Nazis beating Jews in the streets and saw families rounded up and sent to so-called labor camps where they seemed to disappear. Wallenberg’s family was Jewish and he wanted to do something help, but he didn’t know what he could do.

 Wallenberg’s Assignment

Finally, in 1944, Wallenberg received the opportunity to aid Europe’s Jews. The United States had just formed the War Refugee Board, which was designed to provide rescue and relief programs for European Jews. The Board’s representative in Sweden needed a Swedish diplomat who could travel to Budapest, Hungary and rescue Jews there. Wallenberg’s boss mentioned his name to the WRB representative in Sweden, Iver Olsen. Olsen met with Wallenberg and warned him of the dangers of his mission. Wallenberg didn’t care about himself—he just wanted to do something to stop the Nazis.

 Efforts to Protect Hungarian Jews

When he arrived in Hungary, Wallenberg decided the best way to protect Jews was to provide them with Swedish identification badges. The badges proved that these Jews had ties to the neutral country of Sweden and therefore could not be deported by the Nazis. When Wallenberg ran out of official badges, he printed his own. Approximately 7,000 Hungarians received protective badges. Wallenberg also turned large houses in Budapest into Swedish safe houses and allowed Jewish people to live in them. Each house flew the Swedish flag, signifying neutral territory. The badges and safe houses all served the purpose of protecting Jews from deportation to concentration camps where Jews were killed. With the help of a Jewish staff, Wallenberg also worked on other projects, like setting up hospitals and soup kitchens for needy Jews.


Despite Wallenberg’s best efforts to protect Hungarian Jews, the Nazis sometimes tried to defy him. On one occasion, he returned to the safe houses and discovered German troops rounding up all the able-bodied Jewish men. When the German patrol refused to leave, Wallenberg said, “As long as I live, none will be taken out of here. First you will have to shoot me.” The Nazis decided against making an enemy out of Sweden by killing Wallenberg, so the patrol left. Unfortunately, they returned later to snatch a handful of Jews and placed them on a train bound for a concentration camp. Undaunted, Wallenberg sped away in his car and caught up with the train. He shouted for the Jews onboard to show their papers, and anyone with Swedish papers returned to the safe houses with him.

Results of Wallenberg’s Work

Wallenberg’s massive efforts helped save tens of thousands of Jews. Though Wallenberg mysteriously disappeared when the Soviet Army arrived in Budapest in 1945, he left a legacy of helping others even when the task endangered his life.