Personal Experience at a Political Event: A Visit to the Dallas Holocaust Museum

For my political event I went to the Holocaust museum in Dallas. I argue that my political event relates to American politics through foreign policy. America during the 19th century was isolated from the rest of the world and had little involvement in the Holocaust. As a means of tightening security immigration into America was extremely limited. Foreign policy played a key role.

I discovered that the Holocaust occurred on a much grander scale geographically than I realized. In addition to Germany countries such as France, Italy, Poland, and Austria were affected. I watched videos of survivors and saw graphic pictures. Key events were highlighted for visitors and evidence like clothes and letters were displayed. The horrors of the Holocaust became real during my visit.

My experience relates well to the topic of isolationism. During the 19th century America was predominately isolationist. We kept out of foreign affairs at this time because Europe and America were so far apart geographically, and we didn’t see the need of interaction. We had the mindset of being the most powerful country. We agreed that the best way to maintain national security was by “remaining aloof from international power struggles” (Ginsberg, e alt. 714). We were isolationist till the 20th century and after the Cold War (Silvia). The Holocaust was occurring through the 1930s and 1940s and the majority of citizens in the United States had no idea that this event was happening.

The museum displayed multiple videos and newspapers that demonstrated what little interaction that America had with Germany. One paper stated that “the American government tried to hide evidence about the Holocaust while it was going on” (Holocaust Museum, Dallas). Our government did not want to be involved with any foreign affairs at the time. We became very restrictive on who we would let into America. An example of this was shown on one of the videos, that said the American government restricted immigration so that the Jews could not flee their country and be free in America. Huge documents and legal forms were made just so it was harder to get in. The Jews received no help for a long time and millions died.

A group of Jews tried to come to America on the ship St. Louis. It was full of Jewish Refugees that were seeking to leave Germany and the majority of them wanted to go to America. They sent letters and asked President Roosevelt if they could be let in, but he never responded. They were told by the State department that they must wait on a list and be qualified for a Visa (Holocaust Memorial Museum International). Since most of the refugees were not able to meet these requirements the ship was sent back to Europe. This story makes you realize how little America did to help the Jews while they were seeking safety and going through the horrific events under Adolf Hitler.

America did not want to get involved in foreign policy, and we achieved that by being isolated, refusing immigration entry, and not informing our own citizens on what events were occurring around the world. This claim that America was isolated further backs up my argument that America did not want to be involved with foreign policy. It is hard to believe in that in the early stages of the Holocaust we as a country would not acknowledge it. Slowly America began to realize that the Jewish people needed help.

The museum presented many examples of how America and other countries began to acknowledge the Holocaust and what they did to try and help the Jewish people. They discussed the Bermuda Conference. They described the Bermuda conference as reflecting on the public opinion about the Holocaust. This conference was held in 1943 between the United States and Great Britain, to discuss what to do with the Jewish refugees during World War 2 (Jewish Virtual Library). Neither side was willing to negotiate and come up with a solution. Once the allies planned what they going to do, they realized it was too late to save all the Jews. The conference did nothing to support or help the Jewish refugees. The allies feared that if they intervened it would slow the war effort, and ultimately the conference was a reflection of the ally’s effort.

Afterwards Roosevelt made an executive order to create the War Refugee board. The board was created to help save Jews that were under Nazi persecution. He established this board in 1944 and it helped rescue over 10,000 Jews (Gross). By creating this board, it allowed “American diplomats worldwide to enforce all polices set forth in the Executive Order” (Holocaust Memorial Museum International). As a result of this board, the United States became more open and less isolated as a country. Due to American involvement at the end of the Holocaust we started interacting with other countries and establishing foreign policy.

As I learned about this event at the museum it honestly took me by surprise. In class we learned about foreign policy and how it is seen in the world today. I never thought about foreign policy during the Holocaust and how it was implemented. While the United States government did intervene, it was on our own time and when it most benefited our country.

As we look at today’s foreign policy, our government is not as involved as we used to be. Currently President Trump’s agenda is running on isolationism. Trump has recently pulled out of many international foreign affairs for example the Paris Climate accords (Silvia). Since he has pulled out of the climate accords, China and Russia have recently joined. Those two countries have never had any interest in the Climate accords, but they decided to join and make a statement. Our president and his administration have also made immigration harder (Silvia). They are working to send undocumented people back to their country.

I believe that this separates families and puts children at risk. We have also pulled out of the TPP (Trans Pacific Continent), this trade agreement is extremely important to our country and was used under the Obama administration (Taylor). The trade deal is with eleven other countries, and when we pulled out it put a strain on trade and I believe it was not the best foreign policy call for our country. As Trump pulls out of these alliances, trade deals, and becomes stricter on immigration it leads to an isolationist agenda. This reflects what the United states government looked like in the 19th century. We wanted to be the most powerful country. America has moved from a multilateralism system under the Obama administration to an isolationist system under Trump (Silvia). Our foreign policy has changed drastically in the past decade, but we can see how it also reflects the past.

From my experience at my political event I can see how a chain of events shaped our foreign policy and how we run our government. The holocaust museum in Dallas changed my perspective on this horrific event and made me question the United States lack of involvement in the Holocaust. I argue that my political event still relates to American politics through foreign policy. We can see how this is reflected through history. America wanted to stay out of foreign affairs and wanted to do things on their own time. One quote from the Holocaust museum that resonates with me is “The American policy was the abandonment of the Jews” (Holocaust Museum, Dallas). I hope we have learned from our past and that this event will never be forgotten.