Chapter 11:

"The First Lady and Others Step In"


Quotes from the film:

  In the film ER“I met with Secretary Hull and Assistant Secretary Long. I expressed my concern that these Belgian refugees will be in grave danger if they are sent back on that ship." 

        ~ First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt

“Eleanor Roosevelt always said, “Courage can be as contagious as fear.” 

~ Blanche Wiesen Cook
Author of Eleanor Roosevelt, Vol. I, II & III

Conversation Starters:

  • Eleanor Roosevelt formed the US Committee for the Care of European Children a few months before the SS Quanza came to the US.

    • What was the committee's purpose and do you feel it was successful.

  • Why was Franklin Delano Rosevelt worried about being seen as too "pro Jewish?"


  • Rabbi Stephen S. Wise was on the President's Committee for Political Refugees. What did this committee do?

  • Is Patrick Murphy Malin with the US State Department a hero? Why or why not?

  • Why did the Assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long not want to help these refugees? 

  • Duke Rosenberg was 14 years old when he and his mother went to visit refugees on the SS Quanza when they were docked in Norfolk, VA.  He said, "After four months of being homeless with no permanent place to stay, to me as a 14-year-old I was happy to help somebody."

    • Why do you think Duke was happy to help? 

    • What do you think would it be like to be homeless and without a country for 4 months?

    • What did Duke mean by “There but for the grace of God go I.”?

Dig a little deeper...

  • In February 1939, the Wagner-Rogers Bill would have permitted the entry of 20,000 German refugee children, ages 14 and under, into the United States over the course of two years.

    • How did Eleanor Roosevelt feel about this bill?

    • What was the outcome of this bill and why?

Dig even deeper...​​

  • What is the difference between isolationism and intervention?

  • Did the majority of Americans support easing restrictive immigration laws to assist the hundreds of thousands of Jews attempting to flee Europe? Why do you think they felt as they did?

  • How does this debate over isolationism and intervention reflect why the US didn't enter the war until 1941?

What can I do?

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