Seconds often make the difference between life and death and new technology makes the difference…
“We should have bombed it.”
With those five words, President Bush helped shatter one of the most enduring myths of the Holocaust – the notion that U.S. forces were unable to reach and destroy Auschwitz.
On his visit to Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial on January 11, the president viewed an enlargement of an aerial reconnaissance photograph of Auschwitz that was taken in the spring of 1944. Mr. Bush then turned to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and remarked, “We should have bombed it.”
But was “should have” necessarily the same as “could have”?
For many years after World War II, the popular assumption in the United States was that the answer to that question was negative. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was the hero who guided his country out of the Great Depression and led it to the verge of victory in the war, only to die in office. With his reputation as a humanitarian, it was assumed that he must have done whatever was feasible to save Jews from the Holocaust.
Three decades later, the truth about the bombing issue was finally revealed. In 1978, David S. Wyman, a Harvard-trained scholar – and, incidentally, a Christian – authored a groundbreaking essay in Commentary magazine titled “Why Auschwitz Was Never Bombed.”
Wyman was the first historian to examine the internal records of the U.S. War Department to determine the real reasons behind the administration’s refusal to bomb Auschwitz. He was also the first to reveal the incredible fact that U.S. bombers did repeatedly strike the Auschwitz area – but not in order to stop the mass murder of Jews.
The aerial reconnaissance photo that President Bush viewed exists because U.S. planes flew directly over Auschwitz in the spring of 1944, taking surveillance photos in preparation for bombing. Not for bombing the gas chambers or crematoria – rather, for bombing German oil factories nearby, some of them fewer than five miles away.
The Roosevelt administration knew about the mass murder going on in Auschwitz, and even possessed diagrams of the camp that were prepared by two escapees. But when Jewish organizations asked the War Department to order the bombing of the camp or the railways leading to it, the requests were rejected. U.S. officials claimed such raids were “impracticable” because they would require “considerable diversion” of planes needed for the war effort.
But in fact, with U.S. bombers already flying over Auschwitz to attack the oil factories, no “diversion” would have been necessary to hit the gas chambers or railway lines. The planes were already there.
There are those who question whether such a bombing have made a difference – after all, by the time the U.S. had the ability to reach Auschwitz, in the spring of 1944, the war was nearly over and most of the Six Million were already dead. But it is important to remember that during the same period that U.S. bombers were flying over Auschwitz, more than 400,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to the death camp.
Even after the Hungarian deportations ended, approximately 150,000 more Jews were gassed in Auschwitz. Bombing the railways on which they were transported, or the gas chambers in which they were murdered, could have saved many lives.
As Prof. Wyman explained in his 1984 bestseller The Abandonment of the Jews, the U.S. refusal to bomb Auschwitz was part of a broader policy by the Roosevelt administration to refrain from taking action to rescue Jews from the Nazis or provide havens for them. The U.S. did not want to deal with the burden of caring for large numbers of refugees. And its ally, Great Britain, would not open the doors to Palestine to the Jews, for fear of angering Arab opinion. The result was that the Allies turned away from one of history’s most compelling moral challenges.
President Bush joins a growing list of American leaders who have acknowledged that the U.S. should have bombed Auschwitz.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, visiting Yad Vashem on February 16, 1977, “showed particular interest in a letter written by a deputy U.S. defense secretary stating that he would not allow the bombing of Auschwitz which had been called for to save the concentration camp inmates. ‘Even my country didn’t act,’ Vance said with emotion.”
About the Author: Dr. Rafael Medoff is founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, in Washington, D.C., and author of 14 books about the Holocaust, Zionism, and American Jewish history. His latest book is 'FDR and the Holocaust: A Breach of Faith,' available from Amazon.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
Iran stands unopposed by the “international community” and is racing to assert regional dominance.
If some Israeli cops got a Jewish education & learned to love Jews, Israel would be a better place
No where in the world is there the level of intervention by foreign countries as exists in Israel.
Obama is the latest incarnation of our ancient enemies who arise every generation with a new face
Why do Jews, then, sometimes feel more intensely about Polish anti-Semitism than they do about German anti-Semitism?
The president is unwilling to cede any of what he considers his exclusive powers in the area of foreign policy and has struggled mightily to keep the Senate away from any role in the kind of deal to be negotiated.
Jews thank Hashem at every step. We thank Him for our most basic physical existence. We thank Hashem for every step, for every breath, for every aspect of our elevation from the dust.
Jewish settlement of the land and the resulting employment opportunities drew the Arabs to Palestine
Mon. May 11, 2015@5 PM, history’s largest Shofar blowing will occur outside the UJA-Fed. Building
Looking to fight supporters of terrorism? Just boycott Qatari owned Al Jazeera
Israeli history now has its version of “Dewey Defeats Truman” with headlines from 2 anti-Bibi papers
The long ordeal of the Armenian Orphan Rug, held hostage to fears of angering Turkey, has finally ended. Or has it?
Carter developed a fondness for Arafat believing “they were both ordained to be peacemakers by God”
With generous support from the Egyptian Jewish community, the exiled family built a new life for itself in the Mafruza and Gabbari refugee camps near Alexandria.
While grateful not to be returned to Germany, the passengers understood they were still in the middle of a danger zone.
These “Jewish Amazons” were living proof of the failure of the enemies of the Jewish people.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/george-bush-george-mcgovern-and-the-failure-to-bomb-auschwitz/2008/01/16/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: