The 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn
Chabad.org writes about the recent death of 94-year-old Rabbi Mordechai Fisher, one of the first students of a Chabad yeshiva in America:
Mordechai Hakohen (or Mottel, as he was known) Fisher was born Nov. 7, 1919, in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn to Chaim and Taibel Fisher. His father, a tailor, was a religious Jew, though not a Chassid.
A spiritually sensitive young man, Fisher was influenced by Rabbi Yisroel Jacobson, a Chabad Chassid who had attracted a cadre of Jewish American-raised youngsters who were drawn to the Chabad Chassidic teachings and lifestyle.…
In the summer of 1939, Fisher and five other students sailed across the Atlantic to the Chabad-Lubavitch yeshivah in Otwock, Poland. There, they could be close to their spiritual leader, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe—Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, of righteous memory—and would be able to take part in listening to his scholarly discourses on Chabad philosophy, something they had heard much about from Jacobson.
But their time in Poland was short-lived; the Germans invaded the nation on Sept. 1. With the help of a representative of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the students made their way to Riga, Latvia, and from there to Sweden and then to the United States.…
What Chabad does not tell you is that the parents of those five boys wrote the 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe Yop\sef Yitzchok Schneersohn with their fears that war was about to break out in Europe. Schneersohn responded by promising these parents that there would be no war.
Only days after their sons arrived in Ottwack, Poland (a suburb of Warsaw) to Chabad's international headquarters and yeshiva, the German's attacked. The yeshiva students watched in horror as the Jewish orphanage across the street suffered a direct hit from a German bomb. They say bodies and body parts of little Jewish children fly through the air.
Schneersohn abandoned his students and went into hiding.
Some students escaped with Fisher's group, some went to Shanghai with the Mir Yeshiva, and others were killed in Europe.
Jacobson, whose missionary activity lured Fisher to Chabad, chair the US Chabad-Lubavitch effort to rescue Schneersohn from the Nazis. He would appeal to an ex-Lubavitcher attorney for help. That attorney insisted Jacobson hire a Washington, DC attorney named Rhode. Rhode took the job and negotiated a deal with the US Government to save Schneersohn.
When resuced, Schneersohn asked the US to go into Poland and get his silver, his household goods and his books – but he never asked then to save another Jew, even though he already knew of Nazi anti-Jewish massacres and war crimes.
His two remaining daughters in Europe were both no longer fully observant and their husbands were either no longer hasidic or barely so.
His daughter Sheina and her husband Mendel died in a Nazi death camp.
His daughter Chaya Mushka and her husband Menachem Mendel eventually took one of the last passenger ships out of Europe. He later became the 7th Lubavitcher Rebbe; his wife Chaya Mushka remained only moderately observant at best.
Yosef Yitzhak Schneersohn, the 6th Rebbe, saved by the US wrote president Roosevelt several times during the war but never asked him to save Jews, or bomb rail lines to Auschwitz, or anything at all to specifically help Jews or other targeted people.
Jacobson and his Chabad-Lubavitch committee owed Rhode, who stopped almost all of his other work to arrange Schneersohn's rescue, $5,000 – just over $83,000 in today's money.
Rhode at one point wrote Jacobson telling him that it was getting cold, his wife was pregnant and he really needed the money Jacobson and Chabad owed to keep the heat and lights on.
Jacobson and Chabad didn't pay.
But they had the money.
Instead of paying Rhode with it they used it to build up the infastructure around Schneersohn.
Schneersohn – who left the Va'ad Hatzolah Orthododx and haredi rescue committee when it refused to give him and his proposed rescues special treatment – opened his own rescue committee but basically saved almost no one, in large part because no Lubavitcher hasidim knew how to arrange these rescues and no one could go to Rhode for help because Chabad-Lubavitch had essentially stolen $5,000 from him.
Schneersohn soon gave up on the idea of rescue, doubled down on rhetoric blaming non-Orthodox and insufficiently Orthodox Jews for the war and the Holocaust, and used the rescue money he collected to build the Chabad-Lubavitch synagogue and yeshiva in the basement of 770 Eastern Parkway.
Schneersohn was a vehement anti-Zionist who also opposed Jews leaving Europe no matter where they went.
He repeatedly urged Jews to stay in Poland.
Most of those Jews were murdered by the Nazis.