avrohom, a Chabad follower and frequent (and rude) commenter on this blog, continues to insist the 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe was a blameless tzaddik, a fount of perfection who never erred and who certainly never opposed Holocaust rescue.
Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.
…[T]he Rebbe [Joseph Isaac Schneersohn] of course wanted to escape Europe and had his movement employ every means, even approaching the Secretary of State, to get him out, but when he was here in the US, he did not approach those very same people to help rescue those who had to remain in Europe. However, he did approach those people in the government to rescue his library, which he did get out in 1941. Are books more important than people? Some of the books were secular like Dante's Inferno and books on Communism. This is a sad part of the history of the Rebbe. Also he started [publicly] condemning people who were organizing amazing rescue efforts like rabbis Kotler and Kalmanowitz of the Vad-Haatzala.
He claimed they and Reform and Kofrim Jews were causing the Holocaust with their non-Kosher ways. Yet, we see that Kotler and Kalmanowitz helped rescue up to 100,000 people with the War Refugee Board. The Rebbe felt they were unnecessarily compromising their religious integrity by meeting with politicians on the Sabbath and secular and reform leaders. So the Rebbe made mistakes and according to Chancellor or Yeshiva University, Norman Lamm, he committed blasphemy by claiming God was punishing the Jews for their sins with the Holocaust. He claims this is a desecration of God's name (Menachem Mendel Schneerson also said that saying such a thing is a desecration of God's name without mentioning his father-in-law). These facts and many more show how much Chabad does to ignore unpleasant facts about their history. They just claim that when people write such things, they are jealous of their movement, do not understand their people or on a political campaign to smear them. Very weak arguments and signs of inferiority complexes. So basically this story shows that instead of pointing fingers, we need to act and make a difference. Small minds blame others; big ones blame themselves and then seek out action to make the situation better.
What people wanted was a hero of the Jewish people fighting for their rights. Instead, the Rebbe just thought of himself and his movement and condemned others. He was not helping the problem, but creating more. He should have worked with Kotler and Kalmanowitz, or at least have tried to, instead of [publicly] condemning them and a host of others.
…Now to Kotler and Kalmanowitz--They took help from everywhere they could. Kotler was appalled by the Rebbe's focus on the Messiah and his spiritual campaign, especially throughout 1942-1943 when all energy should have been focused on rescuing lives. So, Kotler and Kalmanowitz would have gladly received help from the Rebbe, but such help never came from the Rebbe. He only condemned them for their un-kosher ways. For the record, I wanted to find the Rebbe acting like Kotler and Kalmanowitz. That would have been a beautiful conclusion to the story. Rabbi Weisfogel, who was Kalmanowitz's assistant, said of the Rebbe "He was a moral failure at this time to condemn us and the Jewish people as a whole for the Holocaust when he in turn did hardly anything except rescue his books and few [close] students' lives."
For the record, if I was a business man, as many Lubavitchers encouraged me to be, I would not have mentioned his dealings in the US after his rescue. As one Lubavitcher at 770 told me "If you do this, you will get thousands of dollars and go all over the Chabad world and give talks." Yes, I said, but that is not the truth. To this, he was silent.
And we also have one entire chapter of his book, Rescued From The Reich, that deals with the 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe's behavior once he reached America. (This is the part of the book Rigg meant when he wrote, "if I was a business man, as many Lubavitchers encouraged me to be, I would not have mentioned his dealings in the US after his rescue.") That behavior included telling people, both through his 'newspaper,' HaKriah v'HaKedushah, and through other writings that those people collecting money on Shabbos to save lives were wrong, were delaying the "redemption," were causing more Jews to die, etc. Those "people" doing that on Shabbos were the rabbis and laypeople of the Va'ad Hatzalah, and they rescued thousands of Jews.
The 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe started his own "Pidyon Shvuyim Fund" to compete with the Va'ad Hatzalah. What did Joseph Isaac Schneerson do with the money he raised? A large chunk of it went to open his Brooklyn yeshiva. Yes, that is correct – the 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe took money meant for rescue, meant to save Jews from the Holocaust, and instead opened a Brooklyn yeshiva with it.
And, if that is not enough, the 'Grand Rabbi' of Lubavitch started a 'moshiach campaign.' Why? Because he believed only the coming of the messiah would end the Holocaust and all efforts on the ground – like those of the Va'ad Hatzalah – would be futile.
The Va'ad Hatzalah's efforts led to the creation of the War Refugee Board. So, along with the thousands saved directly by the Va'ad Hatzalah, another 100,000 to 200,000 Jews were saved indirectly through the War Refugee Board. And, yes, the great 'tzaddik' of Lubavitch thought the War Refugee Board was a futile endeavor, as well.
And let us not forget that the great 'tzaddik' of Lubavitch was also an ardent anti-Zionist who urged Jews to stay in Europe. Here is a copy of the 5th Lubavitcher Rebbe's anti-Zionist letter circulated throughout Europe. His son, the future 6th rebbe, was head of the Lubavitch Yeshiva at that time. He fully endorsed his father's anti-Zionism and issued anti-Zionist tracts of his own. More on those sometime in the not too distant future.
UPDATE – In March 2005 I wrote the following:
When I spoke with Barry Gourary [the only grandchild of the 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe; the teenage Barry was rescued together with his grandfather, grandmother and his parents in the rescue described in Rigg's book] three months ago, I asked him about the Holocaust and his grandfather and father's reaction to it. Barry thought both did eveything possible to rescue Jews, although he had no proof or information to back up that belief. He told me his father backed Rebbe Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn's moshiach campaign – done in instead of rescue – because "my father was a chassid of my grandfather."
Barry was very precise in his answers: "I do not know." "I do not remember." "I do not think so." Or specific answers with specific details. His answers seemed completely credible and were given freely.
Sadly, the fact that his belief that the RAYATZ, etc. did everything they could to rescue Jews was nothing more than a belief – he had no facts, no documents, not even any stories to support it – says volumes about the failings of Lubavitch leadership during WW2.
One can also see that Chabad had no significant presence at the now-famous "Rabbis' March" on Washington. No senior Lubavitch rabbi attended. The march – created by Hillel Kook [a.k.a. Peter Bergson] and promoted by the Va'ad Hatzalah and Agudas HaRabbonim – brought the formation of the War Refugee Board which saved 200,000 Jews during the last years of the Holocaust.