Indeed, the Allies’ air drops of supplies to the Polish Home Army rebels in Warsaw in August 1944 were carried out by volunteers, who agreed to undertake the missions despite the hazards of flying their planes to areas outside their normal range.
McGovern noted that he remained an ardent admirer of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
“Franklin Roosevelt was a great man and he was my political hero,” he said in the interview. “But I think he made two great mistakes in World War II.” One was the internment of Japanese Americans; the other was the decision “not to go after Auschwitz…. God forgive us for that tragic miscalculation.”
In contrast with his pacifist image, McGovern emphasized that for him, the central lesson of the U.S. failure to bomb Auschwitz was the need for “a determination that never again will we fail to exercise the full capacity of our strength in that direction.”
He added, “We should have gone all out [against Auschwitz], and we must never again permit genocide.”
Rafael Medoff is founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies and the author or editor of 15 books about the Holocaust and American Jewish history.