About Time: The History of the War Refugee Board

Rebecca Erbelding

Major Professor: Marion F. Deshmukh, PhD, Department of History and Art History

Committee Members: Martin J. Sherwin, Joseph W. Bendersky

Robinson Hall B, #333
April 24, 2015, 10:30 AM to 08:30 AM


President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the War Refugee Board (WRB) in January 1944 to formulate and effectuate plans for the relief and rescue of Jews and other persecuted minorities from the threat of Nazi atrocities (what we now know as the Holocaust). This dissertation is a chronological narrative history of the WRB and, by relying on primary source documentation, presents the agency’s work within the context of World War II and of the information and possibilities known to the WRB staff, most of whom were Treasury Department lawyers with little experience with relief work. As the War Refugee Board was the official response of the United States to Nazi genocide, this dissertation is meant to provide a reference work on the agency and to complicate overly simplistic assumptions on the topic of America and the Holocaust.