Josiah DuBois, born in Camden, New Jersey in 1912, was raised in Woodbury, New Jersey. He displayed exceptional academic abilities and went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania, where he pursued his education in law. After completing his studies, DuBois established himself as a distinguished attorney.
During World War II, DuBois served as the Assistant General Counsel in the U.S. Treasury Department, specifically working with Foreign Funds Control. In this role, he collaborated with the U.S. State Department on matters related to releasing funds for refugee relief. It was during his tenure in the Treasury Department that DuBois came across disturbing information about the mass murder of Jewish people, known as the Holocaust or Shoah, by the Nazis and their collaborators.
DuBois discovered that officials within the State Department were obstructing efforts to rescue the Jewish population. He became deeply outraged by the content of cables dealing with the Nazi “Final Solution” and the decision to ignore the messages. DuBois took it upon himself to document and expose the suppression of evidence regarding the mass murder of Jews. He brought this matter to the attention of the Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau.
Aware that the State Department had knowledge of the plight of Europe’s Jews and their chances for rescue, but was failing to take action, DuBois wrote a memorandum titled “On The Acquiescence of This Government in the Murder of the Jews.” In the memorandum, he warned that he would present the information to the press and the public unless President Franklin Roosevelt established a commission to aid in the rescue of Jews.
As a result of DuBois’ actions, President Roosevelt created a rescue agency known as the War Refugee Board (WRB), and DuBois was appointed as its General Counsel. The WRB achieved significant accomplishments, including sending Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg to Hungary, where he saved the lives of approximately 100,000 Jews. The WRB also worked to encourage Monsignor Angelo Roncalli (later Pope John XXIII) in his efforts to rescue Jewish children and Hungarian Jews. Additionally, the WRB created a safe haven for 1,000 Jewish refugees at Fort Ontario in Oswego, New York.
From its creation in January 1944 through May 1945, the War Refugee Board rescued approximately 200,000 lives. However, by the time the WRB was established, four million Jews had already been murdered, and it is estimated that a total of six million Jews were killed by the end of the war in May 1945.
Following the war, Josiah DuBois played a significant role as an attorney in the post-war Nuremberg Trials. He served as a major prosecutor of the chemical giant I.G. Farben, which was found guilty of exploiting slave labor.
Josiah DuBois passed away in 1983, leaving behind a legacy of courage and dedication to justice and human rights.
How did a 30-year-old attorney in the U.S. Treasury Department, a Protestant with no particular interest in Jewish affairs, come to play a central role in the rescue of more than 200,000 Jews from the Holocaust?
Josiah DuBois, Jr was born in Camden and was a direct influence to President Roosevelt’s creation of the War Refugee Board which helped save 200,000 lives.