Evolution of the Alaska Development Plan
On August 21, 2017, the Alaska Jewish Museum officially opened its new exhibit, A Refuge in the Last Frontier: Evolution of the Alaska Development Plan. On the eve of World War II, Alaska became a beacon of hope for Jews still trapped inside the Third Reich. Attempts were made by the American government during the 1930’s and 40’s to put into place an immigration policy that would have allowed Jews trying to escape Nazi Germany to settle in Alaska. The failure of the Alaska Development Plan was merely a reflection of the climate in the United States at the time; the nation’s response to the refugee crisis was conflicted.
“It is a fantastic commentary on the inhumanity of our times that for thousands and thousands of people a piece of paper with a stamp on it is the difference between life and death.” Dorothy Thompson, American journalist (1938)
We were honored to have such distinguished speakers present at the opening as Governor Walker, former Mayor Berkowitz of Anchorage, Historian Steve Haycox, and Senator Lisa Murkowski, as well as our own Rabbi Greenberg and Curator Leslie Fried. The audience response was very emotional as letters from would-be Jewish immigrants requesting haven in the Territory were read aloud. The speeches of Ms. Fried, Professor Haycox and former Mayor Berkowitz can be accessed below.
Opening Speech by Former Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz
Professor Emeritus Stephen Haycox talks about Secretary of the Interior Ickes & the Alaska Development Plan
Opening Speech by Curator Leslie Fried