Defenders of President Franklin Roosevelt’s response to the Holocaust were dealt a blow last week when a study by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum rejected a claim they have made regarding the U.S. failure to bomb Auschwitz.
Officials and supporters of the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute in Hyde Park, New York, have claimed for years that David Ben-Gurion opposed bombing Auschwitz, for fear of harming prisoners. Roosevelt supporters have made the claim to deflect criticism of FDR for the U.S. rejection of requests to bomb the death camp.
A newly-completed two-year study by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has concluded, however, that Ben-Gurion opposed bombing the camp only for several weeks when he believed it was a slave labor camp, and then reversed himself when he learned more about the true nature of Auschwitz.
Ben-Gurion’s Jewish Agency colleagues in Europe and the United States then repeatedly pressed Allied officials to bomb the camp.
“There is now broad agreement among Holocaust historians regarding the question of David Ben-Gurion’s position on bombing Auschwitz,” said Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, which had been urging the U.S. Holocaust Museum to review the subject in depth.
“Roosevelt’s apologists can no longer use Ben-Gurion to whitewash the Roosevelt administration’s refusal to bomb Auschwitz.”
The Wyman Insitute has issued a study of its own, “America’s Failure to Bomb Auschwitz: A New Consensus Among Historians,” which is available at www.WymanInstitute.org.
Among the Jewish leaders who called on the Allies to bomb Auschwitz in 1944 were World Zionist Organization president (and later president of Israel) Chaim Weizmann, senior Jewish Agency official (and later Israeli prime minister) Moshe Sharett, veteran Jewish leader Nahum Goldmann, and Palestine Labor Zionist leader (and future Israeli prime minister) Golda Meir.