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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.

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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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