Tropical Zion: General Trujillo, FDR, and the Jews of Sosúa

Tropical Zion: General Trujillo, FDR, and the Jews of Sosúa

by Allen Wells
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0822344076

ISBN-13: 9780822344070

Pub. Date: 01/12/2009

Publisher: Duke University Press Books

Seven hundred and fifty Jewish refugees fled Nazi Germany and founded the agricultural settlement of Sosúa in the Dominican Republic, then ruled by one of Latin America’s most repressive dictators, General Rafael Trujillo. In Tropical Zion, Allen Wells, a distinguished historian and the son of a Sosúa settler, tells the compelling story

Overview

Seven hundred and fifty Jewish refugees fled Nazi Germany and founded the agricultural settlement of Sosúa in the Dominican Republic, then ruled by one of Latin America’s most repressive dictators, General Rafael Trujillo. In Tropical Zion, Allen Wells, a distinguished historian and the son of a Sosúa settler, tells the compelling story of General Trujillo, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and those fortunate pioneers who founded a successful employee-owned dairy cooperative on the north shore of the island.

Why did a dictator admit these desperate refugees when so few nations would accept those fleeing fascism? Eager to mollify international critics after his army had massacred 15,000 unarmed Haitians, Trujillo sent representatives to Évian, France, in July, 1938 for a conference on refugees from Nazism. Proposed by FDR to deflect criticism from his administration’s restrictive immigration policies, the Évian Conference proved an abject failure. The Dominican Republic was the only nation that agreed to open its doors. Obsessed with stemming the tide of Haitian migration across his nation’s border, the opportunistic Trujillo sought to “whiten” the Dominican populace, welcoming Jewish refugees who were themselves subject to racist scorn in Europe.

The Roosevelt administration sanctioned the Sosúa colony. Since the United States did not accept Jewish refugees in significant numbers, it encouraged Latin America to do so. That prodding, paired with FDR’s overriding preoccupation with fighting fascism, strengthened U.S. relations with Latin American dictatorships for decades to come. Meanwhile, as Jewish organizations worked to get Jews out of Europe, discussions about the fate of worldwide Jewry exposed fault lines between Zionists and Non-Zionists. Throughout his discussion of these broad dynamics, Wells weaves vivid narratives about the founding of Sosúa, the original settlers and their families, and the life of the unconventional beach-front colony.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780822344070
Publisher:
Duke University Press Books
Publication date:
01/12/2009
Series:
American Encounters/Global Interactions
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
480
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.20(d)

Table of Contents

Abbreviations ix

Prologue xi

Part One: The Refugees' Plight

1. "Our Ethnic Problem" 3

2. Think Big 28

3. Jewish Farmers 44

Part Two: Converging Interests

4. "The Eyes of the World Are on the Dominican Republic" 69

5. One Good Turn 91

6. Lives in the Balance 105

7. Playing God 127

Part Three: Growing Pains

8. First Impressions 151

9. Flawed Vision 176

10. Containment 198

11. Trial and Error 219

Part Four: Middle Age

12. The Man Who Saved Souls 243

13. A "Splendid President" 266

14. Golden Years 281

15. "The Beginning of the End" 299

16. Ravages of Aging 314

Epilogue 339

Acknowledgments 355

Notes 359

Bibliography 409

Index 437

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