Students learn how journalism and public opinion shaped policy decisions during World War II with a case study on the 1939 refugee bill and debate.By David Klevan, education outreach specialist at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and NewseumED staff
By late 1938, Nazi policies had resulted in a massive refugee crisis, as Jews and other threatened groups attempted to flee the German Reich. During the spring and summer of 1939, intense debate raged in Congress and the press about legislation that — over the course of two years — would have allowed 20,000 refugee children (ages 14 and under) from the Greater German Reich into the United States outside of America’s restrictive immigration quotas. To inform their understanding of how journalism and public opinion shape policy decisions, have students analyze newspaper coverage of the Wagner-Rogers bill and the debate surrounding it.