The Jew Who Defeated Hitler

The Jew Who Defeated Hitler

Henry Morgenthau Jr., FDR, and How We Won the War

Peter Moreira

Prometheus Books, Amherst, New York, 2014, 296 pages

Book Review published on: January 19, 2017

In The Jew Who Defeated Hitler: Henry Morgenthau Jr., FDR, and How We Won the War, Peter Moreira tells of the contributions Henry Morgenthau Jr. and the United States Treasury Department made toward winning the Second World War. The title of the book is a bit exaggerated because no single person defeated Hitler, but what cannot be denied is the crucial role Morgenthau played in the Allies’ winning the war. The defeat of the Axis Powers in World War II was the most expensive human undertaking ever attempted, and Morgenthau, while largely behind the scenes, was the individual who helped finance the war and establish many of the initiatives that helped raise so much money for both the United States and the other allied countries.

Moreira uses a wide selection of primary and secondary sources consisting of previously published books, diary entries, letters, international and domestic financial reports, and Morgenthau’s personal papers while secretary of the treasury. Highlights include his descriptions about the multiple war-bond campaigns held in the United States, Morgenthau’s involvement in the lend-lease program, the War Refugee Board, and the Bretton Woods Conference. Moreira brings to life Henry Morgenthau Jr. and the important representatives within the Treasury Department in detail and vividly accounts for their efforts in financing World War II. Moreira is also quick to point out some of Morgenthau’s flaws, particularly his insecurities and routine jealousy of other important leaders within Franklin D. Roosevelt’s cabinet.

The friendship between Morgenthau and Roosevelt is written superbly and makes you appreciate the behind-the-scenes impact that Morgenthau had within American policy and diplomacy during the twelve years he was secretary of the treasury. He showed great leadership and organizational skills and artfully picked the right talent to work in the Treasury Department. Due to the amount of respect and confidence Roosevelt had in Morgenthau, he was often assigned tasks not within his duty description or area of influence, which brought Morgenthau undue stress and criticism among some of his peer competitors wanting the same influence on the president.

The Jew Who Defeated Hitler is tailored toward any reader interested in the economic requirements of defeating the Axis powers in World War II, and it focuses primarily on the strategic level of warfare. This book is recommended to any member of the security community who wants to understand how global finances, economic industries, or coalition partners can greatly hinder or improve successful military operations. Some of the fundamental lessons learned within this book are the importance of peer-to-peer teamwork, leadership, and organization within large bureaucracies.

Book Review written by: Maj. Matthew Prescott, U.S. Army, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas