There were to be no Fiddlers on no Roofs in the original Zionist paradise.
That is what I take away from David S Wyman and Rafael Medoff's book "A Race Against Death".
It is a collection of postwar interviews with key members of the still unknown Peter Bergson group (a medium sized organization run by Jews but including many Non-Jewish Americans) ---- and the only Jewish-run organization in North America who did anything effective to help, not hurt, the wartime Jews of Europe.
The reason you likely don't know any of this is because, the old adage to the contrary, until very recently the moral losers among North America's Jews wrote all the history books.
These moral losers were gradualist Zionists, Jews who believed that the solution to all the slights Jews got in the western European world and all the deadly pogroms that received in the eastern European world was a particular form of an sovereign Jewish nation in Palestine.
They did not believe in bold dramatic public actions to win Palestine by military force or by swaying world public opinion.
Instead as the Bergson Group's second in command, Samuel Merlin explains in the book, they thought a slow but steady stream of elite Jews --- young, fit, healthy, courageous, dedicated, entrepreneurial, socialist --- would gradually build up an economical vibrant Jewish community in British run but Arab majority populated Palestine and so control it in de facto fashion.
Chaim Weizmann, the head of the worldwide Zionists, told the British Peel commission in 1936 that he certainly didn't want six million Jews coming to Palestine all at once.
No, 'the old ones will pass, dust in a cruel world ---- only a branch will survive'.
This echoed Weizmann's earlier view of 1918 that if war forced all the miserable refugee Jews out of Eastern Europe and into Palestine,the Zion would be paradise will be swamped and the gradualist reformists could never set up a community worth having.
Eugenics , here code-named "selective immigration" by the socialist gradualist Zionists, was the key to understanding the minds of Weizmann and his American counterpart Samuel Wise and all of their generation born circa 1885.
They were well-off, westernized, secularized, Germany-oriented Jews.
The rural small town Jews of Eastern Europe, all those beards and Orthodox rituals, their determinedly backward ways, their poverty - they repulsed these gradualist Zionists, not as intensely as it did most Gentiles (let alone most anti-semites) but certainly a great deal.
Rescuing only 'the best' of them was always the gradualist Zionists' pre-war and wartime
Bergson and his crew were Zionists too, but willing to put that dream on the far far backburner when it became clear that Hitler was determined to kill all the Jews in Europe - starting with those backward East Europeans.
Bergson saw them all as individuals, as fellow humans, all worth saving, a concern to all humanity - Christian, agnostic and Jewish alike.
Bergson didn't want to rescue any of these Jews "to" (Zion or the West) he wanted to rescue them "from" Nazi death, leaving them to remain in situ in Eastern Europe.
He wanted the Allies to publicly warn the German public they'd mass gas bomb Germany if it didn't immediately stop mass gassing the Jews.
Berg pointedly asked why focus wartime Jewish efforts on a wonderful future postwar Zion when the Jews in the 1940s most interested in living there (the Jews of Eastern Europe) would all be dead ?
For me, Bergson's heroic motives and fevered actions were the actions of a man who grasped the full moral dimensions of all the pious western liberal democracy talk of "winning the war first".
Recall the western liberal democracies were - in the same breath - also refusing to put in a Second Front, at least not until the Nazis and Communists had warred each other to a pulp and the Nazis had solved the West's Eastern European Jewish Problem.
The mainstream Jewish organizations, led by Weizmann and Samuel Wise, bought into this scam - that was their number one sin.
But their number two sin was forgetting the millions dying overseas in their petty jealous anger over the (new) (poor) (small) foreign-led Bergson Group besting the moral worth of the rich big and well established American led Zionist organizations.
In all of this, Peter Bergson reminds me so much of Henry Dawson.
Dawson had never been involved in the researching the cure for invariably fatal SBE, the disease that made Rheumatic Fever the deadliest disease for school age kids in those days.
He had 'no skins in the game'.
But when he saw that penicillin had two unique attributes that made it likely to finally defeat SBE and suddenly leaped in with both feet, his early successes made the oldtimers in the SBE research field (Chester Keefer above all others) insanely jealous.
The response of Dr Keefer (the Samuel Wise of wartime penicillin) and others was to say that SBE was not a war priority and the penicillin for its patients would have to await the perfect world coming after the war was won first.
Knowing full well - just like Samuel Wise, FDR and Churchill had known about Europe's Jews - that the SBEs (like American Jew Charles Aronson) would be long dead before that wonderful day.
Jam Tomorrow for the dead Jews but never Jam Today for living Jews.
Bergson bucked them with all his might for three years - Dawson ditto for four years until he died worn out by his efforts.
Bergson lived a long filling life but the East European Jews died despite his all out efforts - Dawson died young but the SBEs lived thanks to his all out efforts.
I don't doubt Bergson would have readily exchanged his long life for Dawson's shorter life - if only he could see some of Dawson's success....