HOWARD EPSTEIN: ALLIES’ REFUSAL TO BOMB THE CAMPS JUST GOT WORSE
Within the last week, shocking new information was revealed — that would have been even more shocking were it about the neglect of any people other than Jews — to the effect that the World War II Allies knew all about the Holocaust years earlier than the previously accepted date. Not only had they failed to bomb the camps in 1944, which was the previous complaint; now we know that they could have done so, but failed to do so, on any one of the 912 previous days, too. Before you completely exhaust your anger on that, prepare yourself for the story being an even more reprehensible one as regards those who might have impeded the German conveyor-belt of slaughter: I shall demonstrate that all claims about impracticability are more vacuous than the Clinton/Obama deals to prevent North Korea and Iran going nuclear. Utterly hollow.
In his just-published book: Human Rights After Hitler, author, Dan Plesch, demonstrates beyond peradventure that the major powers acted (but only verbally) on the mass murder of Jews over two years before it was previously thought they were aware of it. As may be seen in the image here, a charge-sheet was prepared against one Adolf Hitler, dated December 15, 1944, by the UN War Crimes Commission. You do not need to be a lawyer to know that the preparation of such a document is not the work of a few hours, days, weeks or months. It takes years. In this case, two-and-a-half.
The Rwandan Genocide
The Rwandan Genocide — the hacking to death by machete of a million Tutsi by the Hutu — took place, as we saw on real-time TV, between 1 January and 31 December 1994. The UN Security Council called on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, set up in November 1994, to complete its investigations by end of 2004, complete all trial activities by end of 2008, and complete all work in 2012. So, “to complete its investigations” took ten years. No effective intervention to stop the slaughter on the ground was attempted. (The French were there but typically blasé and ineffectual — not to say complicit.)
The Bosnian Genocide
In Srebrenica, Bosnia, on July 11 , 1995, more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and youths were murdered by Bosnian Serbs, who also indulged themselves in a campaign of ethnic cleansing of the Bosnian Muslims. On March 24, 2016, former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić was found guilty of genocide in Srebrenica, war crimes and crimes against humanity — 10 of the 11 eleven charges in total — and sentenced to 40 years’ imprisonment. The wheels of justice ground on and on — for 21 years.
The London Conference
The military response to the Serb-on-Bosnian genocide was swift.
On July 21, 1995, 16 nations met in London, to consider the horrifying events at Srebrenica, ten days earlier. NATO was authorised by the UN to carry out airstrikes partly in response to attacks on any of safe areas that had been declared in Bosnia, and large-scale NATO air strikes in response to future acts of Serb aggression. On August 30, 1995, NATO officially launched Operation Deliberate Force with large-scale bombing of Serb targets. The bombing lasted until September 20, 1995 and involved attacks on 338 individual targets. The military response had taken less than two months from the atrocity to the end of the bombing.
The WWII Allies on the other hand never got around to bombing the Germans (sorry, the Nazis) to stop the genocide of the Jews.
Standard Holocaust Information
The website of Yad Vashem (the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem) says that:
“information regarding mass murders of Jews began to reach the free world soon after these actions began in the Soviet Union in late June 1941, and the volume of such reports increased with time”.
The New Information
What Dan Plesch has done is to unearth material at the United Nations — not seen for around 70 years — which discloses the detail:
“as early as December 1942, the US, UK and Soviet governments were aware that at least two million Jews had been murdered and a further five million were at risk of being killed, and were preparing charges. Despite this, the Allied Powers did very little to try and rescue or provide sanctuary to those in mortal danger.” [emphasis added] (“Very little”? Some — you and I, for example — would say “nothing”.)
The Allies’ Responses
The Yad Vashem website also tells us that Churchill (like Roosevelt — their instincts were rarely wrong):
“… supported a proposal made by the Jewish Agency to bomb Auschwitz and the railroad tracks leading up to it. However, the British Air Ministry and the Foreign Office kept stalling in order to avoid bombing operations. The British government’s official reply to the Jewish Agency employed the phrase that “technical difficulties” made carrying out the operations impossible, meaning perhaps, that Auschwitz was not in the range of Allied bombers. In fact, by mid-1944, the Allied forces controlled European skies and definitely had the range to bomb Auschwitz and its railroad lines.”
“The United States Air Force could even have carried out the operation in conjunction with other war operations. The Auschwitz complex, which included a major industrial zone and armaments factories, was itself a military target. A specific military goal was to destroy the synthetic oil refinery in Auschwitz. The Germans had seven other such plants in the area, all within 45 miles of Auschwitz. From July – November 1944, more than 2,800 American planes bombed the oil factories – on their way, flying right over or along the railways leading up to Auschwitz. On August 20 and September 13, American bombers hit the industrial zone at Auschwitz itself, just five miles from the camp’s four gas chambers. The killing installations at Birkenau, however, were never bombed. Post-war experts on bombing disagree as to how feasible it would have been to bomb only the gas chambers. Some also point to fears at the time that such a raid would have been accompanied by the killing of many persons. Real and imagined obstacles notwithstanding, the fact that Auschwitz was not bombed to save Jewish lives shows that the Allies’ desire to help Jews was not nearly as strong as the Nazis’ desire to murder them.”
Yad Vashem further discloses that the official position of the US War Department (as opposed to Roosevelt and Churchill) was even more craven than that:-
The first of the requests made to the United States War Department was turned down in June 1944. War Department officials claimed that they would not allow the bombing of Auschwitz because it could only be done by using air support that was needed elsewhere for the war effort. Their decision, however, was not based on war strategies or analyses. The department never thoroughly investigated the possibility of bombing the camp, and never even consulted their air force commanders based in Italy, who were in the best possible position to strike. Instead, when the War Department authorities were first asked to consider bombing Auschwitz, they fell back on the secret policy their department had established months before: a policy of non-involvement in rescue actions. This policy was created in January 1944, after President Roosevelt had instituted the War Refugee Board. At the time, the President charged the US State, Treasury, and War departments with doing their utmost to further the rescue efforts. War Department officials feared this meant that military forces necessary elsewhere in the war would be taken away for the rescue effort. At a crucial point in the pursuit of victory, the War Department developed a blanket policy of non-involvement, in direct defiance of the president’s order—and when requests were made to bomb, the War Department kept rejecting them with the statement that it would “divert military power from essential war operations.” [emphasis added]
So we know from Dan Plesch’s book that arrangements could have been made over two years earlier to bomb the extermination camps not merely because:-
“[in] late December 1942, after the US, UK and others issued a public declaration about the Jewish slaughter, UK Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden told the British parliament: ‘The German authorities, not content with denying to persons of Jewish race in all the territories over which their barbarous rule extends, the most elementary human rights, are now carrying into effect Hitler’s oft-repeated intention to exterminate the Jewish people.’” [emphasis added]
but because they knew when they started to prepare the Hitler indictment that “at least two million Jews had been murdered and a further five million were at risk of being killed”.
The Diversion of Resources Argument
In case that is not enough to disgust you, think about this. All that verbiage about logistics -how they could not divert resources from the war effort…., could not reach the camps… and so on — looks not so much cynical as criminal when seen in the light of the efforts expended to bomb elsewhere in Europe.
As Robert Zubrin points out in Remembering Ploesti:
by November 1942, there were the twin victories of the Soviets at Stalingrad and of the British at El Alamein. Accordingly:
“the Germans lost their bids to seize either the oil fields of the Caucasus or those of the Middle East. The fuel resources of the Third Reich were thus drastically limited, with the principal supports being the synthetic-oil facilities at Leuna in central Germany and the Romanian oil fields at Ploesti. If these were knocked out, the Nazis would lose their ability to wage mechanized warfare, and their empire would be doomed to rapid collapse”
Zubrin describes how:
“on August 1, 1943, the U.S. Army Air Corps launched 177 B-24 Liberator bombers from airfields in Benghazi to hit the Romanian oil refineries [at Ploesti]” [emphasis added]
“on May 12, 1944, the Army Air Corps struck the Farben synthetic-fuel plants [at Leuna in central Germany] with a devastating 935-bomber attack. With that one raid, the German fuel position collapsed.” [emphasis added]
According to the US Public Broadcasting Service:
“By the early spring of 1943, four huge crematoria became fully operational at Auschwitz II (Birkenau). They housed eight gas chambers and forty-six ovens that could dispose of some 4,400 corpses per day. Trains would arrive at the camp and those most fit—approximately 10- 30 percent of the arrivals—would be selected for a work detail. The remaining prisoners were sent to the gas chambers.”
The gas chambers at Auschwitz stopped operating in January 1945. By then, according to the same source:
“a calculation that is both conservative and reliable indicates that at least 1.1 million people were gassed to death at Auschwitz—90 percent of them Jews.”
So that’s a million Jews (not that each and every one of the other lives was not as precious) snuffed out in under two years. Had the camps been bombed every three months, possibly 100,000 would have died — but the Germans would have got the message after the second quarterly raid.
Leaving Nero to Fiddle
The difference between Hitler’s two wars — that against the Allies, the USA, Britain and the Empire and the Soviets, and that against the Jews — is that no opposition was offered to the latter. Hitler continued (Nero-like, but that just emphasizes his madness, without providing us with any relief) to divert his resources in the defense of the Fatherland in order to pursue his Jewish War unimpeded.
According to Michael Berenbaum writing for Encyclopedia Britannica:
“Between May 15 and July 9, 1944, the Nazis deported some 438,000 Jews on 147 trains from Hungary to the death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau. To accommodate the newly arriving Hungarian Jews, the Nazis built a railroad spur directly into Auschwitz-Birkenau. Because the Nazis sent four of five arriving Jews directly to their death, the extermination camp was strained beyond capacity. The gas chambers were operating around the clock, and the crematoria were so overtaxed that bodies were burned in open fields with body fat fueling the flames. Any interruption in the killing process might have saved thousands of lives.”
Now, as to the alleged dilution of the allies’ war efforts consider the following. As Robert Zubrin tells us (as partly mentioned above):
“On August 1, 1943 [just after the gas chambers started to operate at full tilt] , the U.S. Army Air Corps launched 177 B-24 Liberator bombers from airfields in Benghazi to hit the Romanian oil refineries. … “only 89 of the Liberators made it home” [emphasis added].
So fully 50% of the planes were lost.
Holes in the Argument
Now consider this. The flight from Benghazi to Ploesti and back is around 2,000 miles. By October 1, 1943, the Allies were at Naples and the Germans were gone. The round trip flight from Naples to Auschwitz-Birkenau is 1,350 miles — one third less. Air defences around Auschwitz-Birkenau were insignificant as compared with those protecting the Rumanian oilfields. If the Americans had diverted 40 of their 177 Liberators, more than likely, fewer than 10 of them would have failed to return. Resources and lives would have been saved.
As for the May 12, 1944 attack on Germany (the 935-bomber raid), the US Eighth Air Force appears to have operated only out of the UK and liberated Europe. Distance to the camps, therefore, could not have been the problem.
Further, the British and the Americans meanwhile were able to devastate Hamburg at the end of July 1943 (with 787 British bombers and killing over 40,000 civilians), and Dresden on 13-15 February 1945 with 722 heavy bombers of the RAF, and 527 of the USAAF, dropping more than 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices on the city. The bombing and the resulting firestorm destroyed over 1,600 acres (6.5 km2) of the city centre. An estimated 25,000 civilians were killed.
Several conclusions are plain:
- Hitler diverted resources to annihilate the Jews but the Allies would not do so to save them.
- It was considered a much more constructive war aim for the Allies to create firestorms to suck the air out of German cities, and suffocate 65,000 German civilians, than to prevent Germans from suffocating a million Jews with Zyklon B. By comparison with Hamburg and Dresden, the matériel, the logistics and the cost were negligible. All that was required to save Jewish lives was the will. It was absent.
- As for the collateral damage of killing Jews within the camps (Sobibor was operational until October 1943, Treblinka until November 1943, Majdanek until July 1944 and Chełmno until January 1945) as an excuse for desisting, consider the level of collateral damage the Allies caused in France alone without turning a hair. Estimates vary but it seems unlikely that less than a quarter of a million French civilians died as a result of the war against their Nazi occupiers after D-Day June 6, 1944, and in the bombing and other raids before that. Accordingly, the argument against bombing the extermination camps — because of the collateral damage involved in killing Jews filing into gas chambers — is utterly inane.
- No one (other than Israel) will ever lift a finger to assist Jews — see, for example Evian, British Bomber Command and the US War Department. (If you think that Angela Merkel would have been as welcoming to the refugees had they been refuJews, that is where you and I will have to part company.) As in the Arab countries after May 1948, as at Entebbe as in Ethiopia, as for the brave refusenik- and later the merely starving-Russians (at the end of the Soviet Empire) and as may yet be the case in Europe — and down the road in the USA — the only insurance policy available for the Jews will be that written in Israel.
Coda: in my forthcoming book on Chaim Weizmann, I report that:
“in Darmstadt … for the first time [at the age of 18] he came across Jews who described themselves as ‘Germans of the Mosaic persuasion.’ If that expression, a self-deceptive product of German assimilation, was not shocking enough for the previously sheltered young man from the heim, he then had to contend with another novel experience: those same Jews insouciantly dismissed German anti-Semitism (which was as rife — though without the pogroms — as the Russian variety) as transient and inconsequential. Thus they sought to rationalise away the intellectual persecution all around them.”
As to what happened fifty years later, see above.
Let’s get real, folks: what went around will come around.
© Howard Epstein – April 2017
Howard Epstein’s book: Weizmann – The Indispensable Zionist will be published in August.