web analytics
January 27, 2015 / 7 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

‘I Saw The American Planes Flying Near Auschwitz’


On a hot August morning in 1944, the Jews imprisoned in the Nazi slave labor camp known as Hasag Pelcery, less than fifty miles from Auschwitz, suddenly heard a roaring sound in the sky above.

“I looked up and saw something unbelievable,” Sigmund Rolat, 79, recalled last week. “American planes, right above us. It seemed like a miracle.” Rolat and his fellow prisoners cheered.

But for the prisoners of Hasag Pelcery, and for the Jews in the nearby Auschwitz death camp, no miracle was at hand. The American planes were on their way to bomb German oil factories, some of them less than five miles from the gas chambers and crematoria – yet they were never sent to strike the mass murder-machinery or the railways leading into Auschwitz.

The reasons behind the Allies’ refusal to attack the death camps will be discussed at “The Failure to Bomb Auschwitz: History, Politics, Controversy,” a one-day conference sponsored by the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, to be held Sunday, September 13, at Fordham University Law School, 140 West 62 St., Manhattan.

(Editor’s note: readers interested in attending can call 202-434-8994 to register.)

Rolat today is a prominent businessman and philanthropist in Manhattan who is the moving force behind the forthcoming Museum of the History of the Jews of Poland and leader of the World Society of Czestochowa Jews.

In 1943, at age 13, he and other Jewish children were about to be taken to the Czestochowa cemetery to be executed by the Nazis, when the Polish director of a local munitions factory singled them for work in the plant. One of the other children was a little girl named Marysia Kozak; today her son, David Miliband, is England’s foreign secretary.

Rolat, Kozak and the others were taken to Hasag Pelcery, the largest of three Czestochowa factories used by the Germans. Yisrael Meir Lau, later Israel’s chief rabbi and today the chairman of Yad Vashem, was a prisoner in the nearby Hasag Warta, which manufactured steel products for the German war effort.

Rolat and the other slave laborers lived in crude barracks guarded by Ukrainians.

“If you didn’t move fast enough, they beat you,” he recalled. “If you said the wrong thing, they beat you. If they had any excuse at all, they beat you.”

Every day was a nightmare of violence and degradation. The last thing the prisoners expected to see were American planes overheard.

The next morning, 4,000 miles away, a front-page article in The New York Times matter-of-factly reported that a major Allied air offensive against German oil factories was underway, with the latest targets including “the former Vacuum Oil Company refinery at Czestochowa and the I.G. Farbenindustrie synthetic oil and rubber plant at Oswiecim.…” Oswiecim is the Polish name for Auschwitz.

Five years ago, Rolat tried to shed some light on the Allies’ failure to bomb Auschwitz – with the help of former U.S. senator and 1972 Democratic presidential nominee George S. McGovern. When the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies learned that McGovern had been one of the pilots in the American planes that flew near Auschwitz in 1944, Rolat, a member of the Institute’s board, traveled to South Dakota to speak with him in person about it.

He was accompanied by Stuart Erdheim, director of “They Looked Away,” a documentary about the U.S. failure to bomb Auschwitz, and Chaim Hecht, an Israel Television producer and radio talk show host who was working on a TV segment called “One Flight for Us,” about the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

In World War II, McGovern flew a B-24 “Liberator” plane as part of the 455th Bomb Group. Their targets included the oil plants at Monowitz, an industrial section of Auschwitz.

“There is no question we should have attempted…to go after Auschwitz,” McGovern told Rolat. “There was a pretty good chance we could have blasted those rail lines off the face of the earth, which would have interrupted the flow of people to those death chambers, and we had a pretty good chance of knocking out those gas ovens.”

McGovern was an ardent admirer of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, but in his meeting with Rolat, he did not mince words about FDR’s response to the Holocaust.

“Franklin Roosevelt was a great man and he was my political hero,” he said. “But I think he made two great mistakes in World War Two.” One was the internment of Japanese-Americans; the other was the decision “not to go after Auschwitz…. God forgive us for that tragic miscalculation.”

George McGovern and Sigmund Rolat come from different worlds, but they were both eyewitnesses – one in the skies above, one on the ground below – to the tragic reality of American planes coming within striking distance of Auschwitz, yet never receiving the orders to attack it.

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.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

4 Responses to “‘I Saw The American Planes Flying Near Auschwitz’”

  1. Tarek Saba says:

    Always victim’s.

  2. This is not new information. And there were many raids into Germany and elsewhere, and none targeted the tracks to the camps, etc. Tarek, now you are the victims and we’ll show them the same sympathy as the Christians showed us.

  3. This is not new information. And there were many raids into Germany and elsewhere, and none targeted the tracks to the camps, etc. Tarek, now you are the victims and we’ll show them the same sympathy as the Christians showed us.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
The IAF reportedly hit a Syrian military target in Damascus around midnight.
IDF Retaliates Against Syrian Military Targets, Sets Off Rocket Alarms on the Golan
Latest Indepth Stories
Is "the word is the thing"? Abbas sits behind "Palestine" sign at the United Nations.

Desperate people take what they can, seizing opportunity to advance their main goal; the Arabs don’t

obama-connecticut-school-shooting-275x206

There was a glaring void in the President’s State of the Union speech: Israel.

Baby

Let’s focus not on becoming an ATM for that little bundle of joy, but on what you can save in taxes.

.Voting in the Likud Primaries

Since the passing of the Governance bill legislation on March 11, 2014, new alignments have become to appear in Israeli politics.

Israel has some wild places left; places to reflect and think, to get lost, to try to find ourselves

The British government assured Anglo-Jewry that it is attacking the rising levels of anti-Semitism.

Obama’s Syrian policy failures created the current situation in the Golan Heights.

Our journey begins by attempting to see things differently, only then can we be open to change.

Despite Western ‘Conventional Wisdom&PC,’ the Arab/Israeli conflict was never about the Palestinians

Confrontation & accountability, proven techniques, might also help dealing with religious terrorists

In fact, wherever you see soldiers in Paris today, you pretty much know you’re near Jewish site

Inspired by the Perek Shira pasuk for “small non-kosher animals” we named the bunny “Rebbetzin Tova”

The abuse following publication proved a cautionary tale: no one followed in Peters’s footsteps

Plainly, there is no guiding hand dictating choices across the board.

How many sites that tell you to check your politics at the door have 10,000 likes?

More Articles from Dr. Rafael Medoff
Charley Levine

Prominent Jewish leaders acknowledged that their predecessors had mistreated the Bergson Group.

Armenian Orphan Rug

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.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

Sulzberger, one of the most famous “religious Jews” who opposed Zionism did not change his mind even after the Holocaust.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/i-saw-the-american-planes-flying-near-auschwitz/2009/08/26/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: