Slattery Report

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The Slattery Report, officially titled The Problem of Alaskan Development, was produced by the United States Department of the Interior under Secretary Harold L. Ickes in 1939–40. It was named after Undersecretary of the Interior Harry A. Slattery. The report, which dealt with Alaskan development through immigration, included a proposal to move European refugees, especially Jews from Nazi Germany and Austria, to four locations in Alaska, including Baranof Island and the Mat-Su Valley. Skagway, Petersburg and Seward were the only towns to endorse the proposal.

The report[edit]

In November 1938, two weeks after Kristallnacht, Ickes proposed the use of Alaska as a "haven for Jewish refugees from Germany and other areas in Europe where the Jews are subjected to oppressive restrictions." Resettlement in Alaska would allow the refugees to bypass normal immigration quotas, because Alaska was a territory and not a state. That summer Ickes had toured Alaska and met with local officials to discuss improving the local economy and bolstering security in a territory viewed as vulnerable to Japanese attack. Ickes thought European Jews might be the solution.[1][2]

In his proposal, Ickes pointed out that 200 families from the dustbowl had settled in Alaska's Matanuska Valley. The plan was introduced as a bill by Senator William King (Utah) and Democratic Representative Franck Havenner (California), both Democrats. The Alaska proposal won the support of theologian Paul Tillich, the Federal Council of Churches, and the American Friends Service Committee.

Response[edit]

The plan won little support from leaders of American Jewish people, with the exception of the Labor Zionists of America. Rabbi Stephen Wise, president of the American Jewish Congress, stated that adoption of the Alaska proposal would deliver "a wrong and hurtful impression ... that Jews are taking over some part of the country for settlement."[1]

Non-Jewish Americans also moved against the proposal, relying on anti-Jewish rhetoric and fear of the socialism that was commonly believed to be associated with European Jewish populations.[1][3]

The plan was dealt a severe blow when Franklin Roosevelt told Ickes that he insisted on limiting the number of refugees to 10,000 a year for five years, and with a further restriction that Jews not make up more than 10% of the refugees. Roosevelt never mentioned the Alaska proposal in public, and without his support the plan died.[1]

Fictional accounts[edit]

The Yiddish Policemen's Union is a 2007 alternate-history novel by Michael Chabon about a Jewish Yiddish-speaking territory in Sitka.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Raphael Medoff (November 15, 2007). "A Thanksgiving plan to save Europe’s Jews". Jewish Standard. Retrieved 2009-02-24. 
  2. ^ Tom Kizzia (May 19, 1999). "Sanctuary: Alaska, the Nazis, and the Jews". Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved 2007-11-25. 
  3. ^ Kizzia, Tom (16 May 1999). "Sanctuary: Alaska, the Nazis, and the Jews. Part 1, Beacon of Hope.". Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved 30 August 2009. 
  4. ^ "Novel involving Alaska Jewish colony is rooted in history," Tom Kizzia, Anchorage Daily News.