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


ACLS Fellowship Program



Named Award

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow named award


A thousand Jewish refugees fled Nazi Germany and settled in the Dominican Republic, then ruled by a brutal dictator, General Rafael Trujllo. This study is the story of that dictator, FDR and the fortunate emigres and their philanthropic sponsors, who combined to found an agricultural colony called Sosua. At a time when few other states would open their doors, Trujillo, intent on "whitening the race," welcomed Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Aryanism--ironically themselves the object of scorn in Europe because of their "racial" characteristics. While condemning totalitarianism in Europe, FDR lauded the dictator's initiative and a Jewish philanthropy invested millions of dollars in the settlement in hopes that a successful venture would persuade other Latin American states to admit Jews.