A new editorial this weekend at JTA.org, an unaffiliated, nonprofit news service serving the Jewish community, wrote that former Utah Sen. William H. King, a returned missionary and graduate of BYU, went against Franklin Roosevelt and other members of his political party in proposing and supporting bills that would have made it easier for Jews to emigrate to America in the years leading up to World War II.
In 1940, for example, King supported a bill that would have opened up Alaska to immigration to Jews because the territory was in need of economic development. Roosevelt, according to the editorial, opposed the bill. King also supported a bill to increase the numbers of Jews allowed into the United States via immigration.
The fascinating, generous op-ed argues that King's efforts might have saved diarist Anne Frank, whose family requested permission to immigrate but were turned away. Frank, of course, died in a concentration camp in the closing days of World War II after years of hiding.
The editorial's author, Rafael Medoff, writes that while many people are focused on posthumous efforts to baptize Frank — something offensive to Jews — the efforts to save her life, and others like her, by this Mormon politician are worth remembering.
He says, "It is especially worth recalling that when the issue was not saving Anne Frank's soul but saving her life, the most powerful Mormon political figure in America did what he could at a time when too few were willing to do anything at all."
You can read this insightful article here.
Lane Williams teaches journalism and communication at BYU-Idaho. He is a former journalist whose scholarly interests include Mormon portrayals in the media, media and religion, and religion and politics.