The debate on the bombing of Auschwitz and the fear of a new Holocaust

In 1968, almost 24 years after the events, a different kind of research on the last days of the Third Reich was published. In While Six Million Died: A Chronicle of American Apathy, Arthur D. Morse renewed interest in the Holocaust by claiming that the United States had rejected, abandoned and was insensitive to the Jews of Europe, and that the Administration policies may have caused the death of innumerable individuals.


Morse’s account was only the first, and triggered much more scholarship and popular research that publicized what was until then an obscure and neglected aspect of the Holocaust: the knowledge that the US and Britain, as well as the Pope in Rome and Zionist organizations in Jerusalem, knew about the gassing of Jews in the extermination camps of Auschwitz well before the time this was thought to have been discovered; and, additionally, there were attempts to convince the Roosevelt administration to bomb the camp in order to destroy its facilities and save the lives of up to 1,000,000 Jews killed there prior to February 1945, and that those attempts failed. Over the next 37 years, dozens of essays, books, plays and motion pictures engaged in the controversy. Eminent historians joined the “pro bombing” or the “anti bombing”[1] camp.

Most of these writers agreed on the basic facts:  by 1942 – and only a few months after the camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau (Oswiecim-Brzibrizinski in Polish) started to operate on May 4[2]– the Roosevelt Administration already knew that Nazi Germany was exterminating the Jews of Europe. In early July 1944 the information that the camp killed by suffocation thousands of Jews, Gypsies, and others on a daily basis was confirmed and explicitly publicized in the American press, with plenty of detail: Execution halls at Auschwitz and Birkenau were said to be fake bathing establishments capable of exterminating 2,000 to 8,000 Jews daily”, said an AP dispatch.[3] As news brought by survivors and Jewish European leaders penetrated, calls increased for the US and Britain to bomb that camp in Southern Poland in order to dismantle its facilities and send a message to Hitler. But, arguing different reasons, some Jewish American leaders refrained from trying to convince FDR. The Pope remained mum and never condemned the persecution of the Jews. Other decision makers expressed direct opposition to the bombing. The President himself decided against the bombing, without debate or a study of the facts. The death trains continued transporting Jews to their final destiny. There was no bombing of Auschwitz , the most notorious symbol of the horror of genocide; even though USAF airplanes bombed an adjacent synthetic rubber factory and bombs fell by mistake on one of the crematoria. 

Auschwitz was the main place chosen by the Germans to perform the Final Solution, the extermination of the Jews. In the summer of 1941, Himmler, commander of the SS, summoned Auschwitz Kommandant Höss to Berlin and told him, ‘The Führer has ordered the Final Solution to the Jewish question. We, the SS, have to carry out this order…I have therefore chosen Auschwitz for this purpose.”[4] And so, its killing machine continued to function until October of 1944, when, because of the proximity of the Allied armies, it was dismantled and most of its occupants transferred by foot in a death caravan.

Who made the decision not to bomb Auschwitz ? Why? Was it because of stubborn insensitivity, embedded anti Semitic sentiment or animosity toward the Jews? Military impossibility? Strategic priorities? Not enough pressure, even mixed messages, from Jews themselves? Since 1968, many have answered these questions. But an analysis of the documents of the era of the feasibility and willingness to bomb Auschwitz or lack thereof rendered an inconclusive picture. There was insufficient evidence in the primary sources cited by the different authors to prove an ulterior motive.  Thus, more than a debate on the merits, the discussion turned into a debate on historiography preferences, and on moral concerns. Haskel Lookstein wrote: “The Final Solution may have been unstoppable by American Jewry, but it should have been unbearable for them. And it wasn’t.”[5] The lack of conclusive evidence on the bombing created a new question about the timing, motives, and nature of the research itself. The debate on this question could have started immediately after the war, but it took 23 years until the first volumes of research made their way to publication. Why the silence? And why was it that the question of the bombing of Auschwitz began to be researched, and accusations made, precisely in 1968, one year after the Six Day War, in the same year that both Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated, which was the zenith of the Vietnam War, and a time of vast social upheaval in Europe and the US?

To clarify the first question concerning its relevancy and the idea whether the decision to note bomb Auschwitz was: a calculated geopolitical decision, a reflection of a cultural set of values in which the lives of Jews was not a priority, or the real consequence of the necessities of war, –this paper makes use of primary sources from the period –diplomatic wires, letters to and from European Jewish leaders, media clippings – to gather the images and cultural artifacts used to illuminate the discussion that took place between the end of 1943 and the end of the war.

It then examines secondary sources –the research done beginning in 1968 and the fierce controversy that ensued– as a sort of primary source to illustrate the question of the timing and roots of this trend in scholarship. An attempt is made to compare and contrast the different arguments and unearth the cultural artifacts that determined the thinking of the writers. The methodology incorporates, almost eclectically, a political analysis, cultural history, chronicles and narrations of the era, and other resources.

Those proponents of the opinion that not bombing Auschwitz was a politically guided, biased decision, dissected all the practical arguments against the military operation and systematically refuted them, arguing that the operation was doable. By way of elimination, they showed this reasoning led to what they considered as the only alternative, that the decision was based on ideological grounds. They did this understanding ideology, as Hunt did, as “integrated and coherent system of symbols, values, and beliefs”[6] Ideology is also described as “an interrelated set of convictions or assumptions”[7] that work to simplify reality in order to enable possible active steps to deal with it, and finally, as a “framework” in which to deal with specific issues in a manner understandable to the public.[8] As such, ideologies are a guiding blueprint for action, an underlying, ever present policy guide, based on consensus among the members of the elite. But the mere existence of that consensus and even the fact that ideology can include the agreement of vast portions of the national population can render ideologies invisible or difficult to detect. Apparently this was the wall that the writers examining the motives for not bombing of Auschwitz had to scale, as they lacked material evidence and had to use cultural artifacts to make their case. The lack of those artifacts, the fact that cultural history research developed much later, and the need to relate to a memory, to a perception, all conspired to postpone the questioning of the FDR administration about the Holocaust.

On the other hand, those justifying the decision simply insisted that bombing Auschwitz was militarily impossible, and did not consider at all the possibility of an absence of political will. In consequence, it could be argued then that this was more a debate around the historiography schools and political ideology beginning in 1968 than around the facts. Ultimately, the scope, character, intensity, daring, controversy –in a word, the nature of the debate on the bombing of Auschwitz –were all determined by the historical circumstances setting the tone during the time of publication –beginning in 1968- that of a disagreement on the facts that occurred in 1944.

News of the killing

Evidence found in declassified documents published by the Foreign Office in 1995 led to the conclusion that the British and American authorities knew, by July 1942, that Germany was exterminating the Jews of Europe. On July 9,1942 , according to Rogers , the Polish Fortnightly Review, an organ for the Polish government in exile in London , reported on  a press conference at the Ministry of Information, where Minister Brendan Bracken declared that 700,000 Jews had been murdered in Poland : “the beginning of wholesale extermination of the Jews.”[9]

A month later, the Roosevelt Administration acknowledged that the atrocities “were not random acts of violence but part of a systematic Nazi plan”.[10] According to Friedman, by mid-1942 the Administration was even informed that Germany was stockpiling Zyklon B with the intention of using it to kill the Jews, but for almost two years it prevented the information to reach even FDR’s friend and the president of the American Jewish Congress, Rabbi Stephen Wise.[11] The information was also withheld from non governmental individuals, “supposedly to protect sources of information”, as Rogers states, “but probably to prevent a further outcry at the government’s inaction…”[12] Furthermore, a protest by world public opinion would have pressed the government to open the gates to Jewish immigration to Palestine, against the policy of the Mandate, and infuriate Arabs.

That August, the Polish consulate in New York received the “Sternbuch Telegram”, sent by two Swiss Jewish rescue activists (and brothers). “According to recently received authentic information, the German authorities have evacuated the last Ghetto in Warsaw , bestially murdering about one hundred thousand Jews… Do whatever you can to cause an American reaction to halt these persecutions.”[13] On November 13, 1942 , the Polish Government in the Exile received reports stating that “children under 13 are not accepted in the camps but murdered at once.”[14] A memorandum sent to Roosevelt on December 8, 1942, from Rabbi Perlzweig and a delegation of Jewish organizations, made crystal clear not only the intentions, decisions and acts of the Nazis, but their methods. “Concrete buildings on the former Russian frontiers are used by the Germans as gas chambers in which thousands of Jews have been put to death.”[15] Documents sent by Polish informants in or by the camps stated on March 4 1943 , that “520,000 Jews had been gassed in Auschwitz … and that no record was kept.”[16]

By 1944, the truth from Auschwitz became public. First, a report on the persecution of Christians in Poland by Jan Nowak, a courier for the Polish Underground Army reached Washington . It stated that “…almost the whole Jewish population has been systematically exterminated… some 3,000,000 Jews have been murdered either in the gas chambers of the concentration camps of Treblinka, Belzec, Chelm, Majdanek, and Oswiecim [Auschwitz] or by other methods.[17] All this happened despite obstinate attempts by both “the State Department and the Office of War Information to suppress reports of Germany ’s genocidal campaign”, according to Baron and Novick. [18] On March 24, 1944 , Roosevelt delivered his most wide and appealing statement from the oval office regarding the extermination of the Jews: “The wholesale, systematic murder of the Jews of Europe goes on unabated every hour,” he said. The speech was intended to create the perception of the existence of an American action to save the “hundreds of thousands of Jews, who while living under persecution have at least found a haven from death in Hungary and the Balkans, are now threatened with annihilation.”[19] The President promised to punish the perpetrators, asked for the help of Germans to get Jews to the borders and made a commitment to find “havens of refuge” for the survivors, but only as “military operations permit.” This declaration was not immediately followed by any action to open the gates of the country to refugees. When it happened, only 980 Jews were permitted to stay in a USAF abandoned base in New Jersey .

Another specific and crucial piece of information about the mass killings came in June 1944 from two escapees from Auschwitz , Slovak Jews Rudolf Vrba (Walter Rosenberg) and Alfred Wetzler. On July 5, 1944 , R.E. Shoenfeld, U.S. chargé of the Czech government in London , sent a summary of their 32-page report with Gerhart Riegner of the World Jewish Congress to Secretary of State Cordell Hull.[20] The document, later known as “The Auschwitz Protocol”, stated that

Since March, 1942 enormous transports of Jews have come to Oswieczim and Birkenau. A very small number of them have been sent to the labor camp, while an average of 90 percent of those who have come have been taken straight from the train and killed. These executions took place at the beginning in the forest of Birkenwald by gas suffocation in a special building constructed for the purpose. After the suffocation by gas the dead bodies were burnt. …According to careful calculations during the period from April, 1942, to April, 1944, from 1.5 to 1.75 million Jews were put to death by gas or in some other way, half of these being Polish Jews, other Jews from Holland, Greece, France, Belgium, Germany, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Norway, Lithuania, Austria and Jews of various other nationalities who were brought to Oswieczim from other camps in Poland.


This was not news. “The Allies did not need the Vrba-Wetzler report to learn about Auschwitz ”, wrote Walter Laqueur, who ventured that “If Professor Victor Klemperer”, a Jewish scholar living in isolation in German Dresden, knew about it in 1942, the Allied intelligence should have known about it too.[21] But this time, the knowledge of the truth in Auschwitz created a rallying cry from Jews and non-Jews to the American government “to do something”. In Palestine , David Ben Gurion, head of the Zionist Movement and until then opposed to bombing the camp because he thought that was just a labor camp, changed sides. Demands to bomb the crematoria and gas chambers in Auschwitz-Birkenau in southern Poland and the adjacent railroads in order to stop the killings were loud and clear.

In the period between the discovery of the Holocaust and the end of the war, the press played an important role in maintaining the silence. By the end of November, 1942, the State Department informed  Rabbi Stephen Wise of the extent of the ongoing slaughter, and allowed him to alert the world. But the news conference held by Wise in Washington , where he told the press that two million European Jews had already died, was barely reported. According to Wyman, only five of the nation’s 19 most important newspapers published this on the front page, but not as main news. Two did not publish it at all.[22] A few months later, a Gallup poll reported that only 47% of Americans believed that news of the systematic murdering of Jews was true. For 29% it was just a rumor; 24% had no opinion.[23]

As the killing intensified and expanded to Hungary , to where one million Jews from all over Europe had previously escaped, the appeals by Jews from Europe became more and more dramatic and expanded to include a demand to bomb the railways from Hungary to the extermination camps. On June 12, 1944 , a cable received by Agudas Israel World Organization in New York from Switzerland stated:

Since April, we are receiving despaired letters and cables about the deportation of the Jews from Hungary and Slovakia to Poland, which naturally means to death. Often, from 10 to 15 thousand people are deported daily. Altogether, about 300,000 persons have been deported so far. We have asked, in the American and British Legations for the bombardment of the given rail-hub points (Kashau-Pressov) but so far without results.

The cable begged: “Please intervene immediately with President Roosevelt, Churchill and eventually in Moscow , to bombard the given points as soon as possible, which alone could save these people.” Another voice, that of Benjamin Akzin from the World Refugee Board, urged on June 29, 1944 the bombing of Auschwitz and the adjacent camp of Birkenau:

“In view of the preeminent part evidently by these two extermination camps in the massacre of Jews; equipped to kill 125,000 people per month, it would seem that the destruction of their physical installations might appreciably slow down the systematic slaughter at least temporarily.”[24]

The letter enumerated the benefits from the bombing: 1. Slow down the slaughter; 2: “German authorities might not be in a position to devote themselves to the task of equipping new large-scale extermination centers”. 3: It is “a matter of principle, as the most tangible–and perhaps only tangible– evidence of the indignation aroused by the existence of these charnel-houses”.  4: “The destruction of the extermination camps would presumably cause many deaths among their personnel, certainly among the most ruthless and despicable of the Nazis.” 5: The camps are situated in the industrial region of Upper Silesia , near the important mining and manufacturing centers of Katowice and Chorzow which play an important part in the industrial armament of Germany . Therefore, the destruction of these camps could be achieved without deflecting aerial strength from an important zone of military objectives.

Similar requests to attack Auschwitz were made by some American Jews, notably Henry Morgenthau, then Secretary of the Treasury, who demanded that the State Department not be responsible for the Jews anymore, prompting the creation of the War Refugee Board. Finally, as Baron contended that in November 1944, “much to the dismay of the State Department… the WRB published an account of the systematic gassings at Auschwitz ”.[25]

A bitter debate ensued inside the Jewish community. Wise refrained from acting, maintaining by his beliefs that a rapid end to the war was the best answer. Other Jewish activists like Peter Bergson led a public opinion campaign to spread the word on the extermination and the need to open the gates for to the refugees. Bergson (née Hillel Kook), an envoy from the Zionist organization Betar, published full-page ads in The New York Times and other major newspapers, publicizing the fact of the killings.  He also arranged for author Ben Hecht to write a memorial pageant, which was presented at Madison Square Garden on March 9, 1943 , and then in other cities. In it, actor Paul Muni said: “There are four million Jews surviving in Europe . The Germans have promised to deliver to the world by the end of the year, a Christmas package of four million dead Jews.”[26] In response, Jewish leaders tried to have Bergson deported back to Palestine , where he would have been imprisoned by the British government. Jewish activists working to increase awareness in the US of the ongoing Holocaust in Europe assembled an Emergency Committee, with Herbert Hoover, William Randolph Hearst and Harold Ickes as honorary chairmen. They ran full page advertisements in the main newspapers, including one in The New York Times headed: “They are driven to death daily but they can be saved.”[27]

But Wise and Nahum Goldman, then president of the Jewish World Congress, actively lobbied against any intervention. The American Jewish Committee (AJC), the oldest civil rights organization in the country (founded 1906), “favored restrained tactics such as quiet diplomacy with the German government.”[28] Their fear was that any intervention on behalf of non-American Jews would be interpreted as un-American by the public, used to justify further limitations on the immigration quota fulfillment, and worse, spread the fire of anti-Semitism inside America .

According to Peck, “ Roosevelt might have responded more boldly to Nazi persecutions of Jews had their existed a political incentive. American Jews failed to provide one.”[29] This fragmentation led Breckinridge Long, assistant secretary of State, to say that “The Jewish organizations are all divided and in controversies of their own, there is neither adhesion nor any sympathetic collaboration, rather rivalry, jealously and antagonism”.[30] Long used between 1940 and 1944 these disagreements to justify limiting the immigration of Jewish refugees from Europe to much below the quota.

No bombing of Auschwitz

Aware that “most Americans held the Jews in Europe at least partially to blame for their own predicament”[31], the Administration chose not to bomb Auschwitz . The public rationale for the refusal was that “all victims of Axis brutality… would be saved through a quick and decisive Allied victory.”[32] The best way to save Jews was to win the European war as quickly as possible. Besides, it was official U.S. policy, and a known Department of Defense demand, to use military resources only for direct efforts in the battleground. Bombing the camps might have only briefly stopped the slaughter, the administration said, before the Nazis rebuilt the camps and the railroads. That could have taken them just a few hours, or at most a few days. They could use other swift and brutal means of killing Jews, like the mass shootings that liquidated a million Jews prior to the gas chambers being operatives in 1943. This idea was reinforced in an interview -after his release from the Spandau prison and before his death in 1981- with Israeli historian Shlomo Aronson, Hitler’s Minister of Armament Albert Speer exclaimed that should the gas chambers be destroyed, “Hitler would have hit the roof… He would have ordered the return to mass shooting. And immediately, as a matter of top priority.”[33]

Furthermore, bombing Auschwitz would have killed Jewish inmates: “I am perfectly confident that General [Carl] Spaatz [then commander of the US Strategic Air Forces in Europe] would have resisted any proposal that we kill the Jewish inmates in order temporarily to put an Auschwitz out of operation”, said later Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell, then an intelligence officer.[34] A bombardment would have occupied so many forces that would have prevented other operations, like the bombing of the Gestapo headquarters in Denmark , which saves many lives, “some of them Jews.”[35] Finally, in a novel approach, it would have been illegal under international law, and certainly morally dubious, according to the Hague Convention of 1907, Article 25 which prohibits attacks of buildings “which are undefended.”[36]

In private, Breckinridge Long even expressed suspicion that Gestapo agents might be operating in the country disguised as “rescue agitators,”[37] thus trying to implicate Bergson and others as Nazis in disguise. Also in private, concern was voiced that any bombing of the camps would bring to reprisals against American and British prisoners of war. The official response was written by Thomas Handy, Assistant Chief of Staff, War Department, on June 26, 1944:

The War Department is of the opinion that the suggested air operation is impracticable for the reason that it could be executed only by diversion of considerable air support essential to the success of our forces now engaged in decisive operations… The War Department fully appreciates the humanitarian importance of the suggested operation. However, after due consideration of the problem, it is considered that the most effective relief to victims of enemy persecution is the early defeat of the Axis, an undertaking to which we must devote every resource at our disposal. [38]


The opposition to the bombing was led by Long, Handy, and undersecretary of War John McCloy. For years it was thought that McCloy, married to a German and having worked with Germany as a Wall Street lawyer between 1916 and 1933, was the one who made the final decision not to try and save the Jews. He was “at best been excoriated for his bullheaded concentration on traditional military targets; at worst he has been attacked for callous indifference to the murder of the Jews.”[39] After the war, McCloy repeatedly affirmed that he never talked with FDR about bombing Auschwitz , and so he told author Morton Mintz in 1983. Based in part on his accounts, Wyman in “The Abandonment of the Jews” concluded the same year that Roosevelt was not made privy to the decision.

But in 2002, Michael Beschloss revealed that it was Roosevelt himself who made the decision not to bomb Auschwitz , totally motivated by political calculations and not having received any military study of feasibility (there was one, done by the British Air Force in 1943) input on the contrary from American Jewry.  “We may conclude” –stated Beschloss- that the man who ultimately refused to bomb Auschwitz may not have been John McCloy, but Franklin Roosevelt.”[40] According to Beschloss, in 1986 McCloy was interviewed by Henry Morgenthau III, the son of the then Secretary of the Treasure, “who was researching a family memoir”. In the interview, McCloy

“told Morgenthau that of course he had personally raised with FDR the possibility of bombing Auschwitz. McCloy said, “I remember talking one time with Mr. Roosevelt about it, and he was irate. He said, ‘Why, the idea!… They’ll only move it down the road a little way.’ ” McCloy recalled that the president “made it very clear” to him that bombing Auschwitz “wouldn’t have done any good.” According to McCloy, Roosevelt told him that bombing Auschwitz would be “provocative” to the Nazis and he wouldn’t “have anything to do” with the idea. McCloy said that FDR warned him that Americans would be accused of “bombing these innocent people” at Auschwitz, adding, “We’ll be accused of participating in this horrible business!”

 FDR’s reasons—a repetition of those harbored by other officials—had nothing to do with military considerations, because he understood that regardless of those difficulties, if the topic had been a high political priority, Auschwitz would have been bombed. Destroying Auschwitz was never a priority at all. There is not one exhibit in the Roosevelt Library about this issue. In his radio appearances, “FDR did not mention the Holocaust. Shockingly disengaged from the struggle to rescue Jewish refugees from Hitler.”[41]

On its face, there is not enough evidence presented in the debate to conclude why Auschwitz was not bombarded. There is insufficient evidence in the primary sources cited by the different authors to prove an ulterior motive. Moreover, there is an unusual aspect to the question: why there was an expectation that the U.S. will bomb? Why was there an assumption that the U.S. will commit to a moral obligation? There was such expectation because during and after the war a myth was disseminated, that “the United States, as a boundless well of democracy and freedom always outstretching its arms to those seeking refuge, entered the war to in part fulfill that pledge” (of saving the Jews of Europe) That became, wrote Culbertson, “one of the most imbedded myths in post-war America”.[42] 

The argument that the US military would not engage in helping civilians pales when considering the February 18, 1944 attack on Amiens prison, the August 1st, 1943 raid on the oil refineries in Ploesti, Rumania, the attack of April 11, 1944, against the Dutch Population Registry in The Hague; and the attacks against the Gestapo headquarters in Aarhus, Denmark, on October 31, 1944; December, 31, 1944, Oslo, Norway, and on March 21, 1945 in Copenhagen, Denmark, as well as the avoidance of bombing a German city because it housed important artistic treasures. In August 1944, Allied forces tried to help the Polish insurgency against the Germans, despite objections by the Soviets, who stood by while the Nazis decimated the non-communist Poles. Those forces were volunteers, and “one in every six of the airplanes failed to return.”[43]

As for the assertion that the bombing shouldn’t be conducted for fear of killing innocent Jewish inmates, those implicated were surely free from those concerns: “We were no longer afraid of death”, wrote Elie Wiesel about the bombing at the camp of Buna-Monowitz where he and his father were confined, “at any rate, not that death. Every bomb filled us with joy and gave us new confidence in life”.[44] Kitchens—himself an “anti bombing” historian—counted a maximum of 3,000 possible Jewish inmates dead “under adverse circumstances”[45], much less than one day of killings that continued without interruption.

Ultimately, also, the decision fit into the mold used by Michael Hunt to describe the three pillars of American foreign policy since 1790: that the country was bound to a destiny of national greatness, that racial hierarchy should be maintained with a white, Anglo Saxon elite at the core of power, and that social changes from abroad should be avoided at all costs.[46]   Roosevelt decision reflected these pillars. It considered as the most important task winning the war at all cost to ensure the nation’s greatness and as the sole priority; it acted so that a group not fully accepted as white will be severely limited, and it took into account a possible agreement with Germany to pact with it against a Soviet Union that was perceived as revolutionary. There were few moral considerations of the sort that filled the imagery of Americans to the rescue of the free world.

Roots of the debate

The debate that started in 1968 among historians developed from a discovery and subsequent rejection of American policies toward the Jews to the willingness and feasibility of the bombing of Auschwitz . Why wasn’t Auschwitz bombed? Was it military impossibility? Or was it a “callous” act of insensitivity, political calculation, or even sheer “anti-Semitic” sentiments amongst some in the highest echelons of the Administration?

Beginning in 1968, a series of essays –“starting with While Six Million Died: a Chronicle of American Apathy, by Arthur Morse, began thus to open the question. They differed from previous research of the Holocaust in that theirs was not only an effort to retrieve the relevant facts about what happened, but to understand the memory of the events, how accurately they reflected the facts, and the cultural, political and ideological explanations of the differences. As such, the research could begin to defy the sacred cows of America ’s magnanimity in its victorious parade of liberation, and shatter conventions.[47]

Morse was not a scholar, but “a distinguished journalist”, whose other work focused on experimental education. The publication reflected by then an increasing trend in popular literature to unveil historical mysteries and criticize common assumptions. The book was well received. Dorothy B. Hughes, an American mystery writer, wrote in the Los Angeles Times that Morse, “whose honors include Sigma Delta Chi’s public service award, and the Sherwood and Peabody awards for television documentaries”…“must certainly garner even higher honors for this chronicle”.[48] Morse attributed the failure to help Jewish refugees during the war to the anti-Semitism of officials at the State Department, but did not specifically mention the bombing of Auschwitz .[49] His work was followed by a number of writers for whom the topic of the non bombardment of Auschwitz was increasingly central. Almost simultaneously, essays by James Kitchens, Robert Rockaway, Robert Levy and others, started to make the counterargument of the impossibility of the bombardment. Their line of thinking was that its impossibility was so compelling and convincing that the question of a politically guided, biased decision was made naturally irrelevant, mooted, and they did not bother to explore it.

In 1969, David Wyman published the first of several books on the topic, expanding the accusation of indifference to the whole Roosevelt administration in Paper Walls: America and the Refugee Crises, 1938-1941. In analyzing the scarce reaction of the American public in general and the media in particular to the news of persecutions, killings and atrocities beginning in 1938, Wyman’s account was critical in shattering the self indulged picture of a highly moral America coming to the rescue of the downtrodden of Europe, and in revealing the images and cultural identity that transformed into a policy of double standards: an idealized claim for love of liberty, a reality of harsh policies. “America First” was the real norm. This was expressed in the incident of the German vessel St. Louis, which on June, 1939 tried to unload its 900 Jewish refugees in Havana, and then in the whole Caribbean and Florida, only to be rejected by orders of American authorities as these people were not eligible to enter. The ship went back to Europe, where most of its passengers ended in concentration camps.

Henry Feingold, a historian of American Jewry, Director of the Jewish Resource Center at Baruch College and Professor of History at Baruch College and The Graduate Center, CUNY, explained in The Politics of Rescue: The Roosevelt Administration and the Holocaust 1938-1945 (1970) that FDR’s inaction was a combination that included, together with anti-Semitism in the government, real security concerns. Feingold exposed the inactivity of the Administration vis a vis the Holocaust as the inevitable conclusion of a process of avoiding solidarity with the Jews. Even if Roosevelt , together with Breckinridge Long, were in his view the main culprits, they reflected a bureaucracy that was, as Leutze stated in his review, either “selfish, confused, or simply unconcerned.”[50]

Three years later, in 1973, the year of the Yom Kippur war, Saul Friedman published No Haven for the Oppressed: United States Policy toward Jewish Refugees, 1938-1945, which according to Rockaway stated that it was “their concept of national self interest” what “motivated governmental leaders and led them to do less than they could for the Jewish refugees.”[51] Friedman’s account, according to Von Klemperer, was passionate, tinted with “emotion, accusation, and aspersion.”[52] Then, Wyman published another important text, with a “previously unpublished interview with Peter Bergson”, on the main event that divided the American Jewish community.[53] Bergson accused with acrimony the behavior of fellow Jews. It could be argued that the publication of the internecine controversy reflected the increasing internal debate around the policies of Israel in the Middle East at the time of publication. 

In May of 1978, Wyman published in Commentary “Why Auschwitz was Never Bombed”, claiming that the camp could have been destroyed. Roger Williams added in “Why Wasn’t Auschwitz Bombed” in November of that year in Commonweal a direct accusation on the motives of the decision makers. Williams, then Senior Editor of The Saturday Review of Literature, subtitled his article “An American Moral Tragedy”, a good reflection of the focus of his analysis.[54] In 1981 Martin Gilbert published the book Auschwitz and the Allies, also claiming that the camp “could and should have been bombed,” even though he did not find evidence of knowledge by the Administration until July of 1944, because the evidence was only unveiled in 1995, with the declassification of crucial Foreign Office papers.[55] Gilbert, a biographer of Churchill, was even cautious in his approach. In his timeline, the Allies learned about Auschwitz in 1944; they refrained from action because of initial ignorance, or because they learned about events “long after they had taken place”, or because those were months of “maximum German superiority and corresponding Allied military weakness,”  and the “Germans pursued a policy of deliberate, and frequently effective deception.” But all these would not stand when the deception “began to fail”. Then “it was not German policy but Allied skepticism and disbelief” the motor of inaction.[56] This line of thought was repeated in Morton Mintz’s –a veteran reporter and now freelancer- “Why Didn’t We Bomb Auschwitz ” in the Washington Post in 1983. Finally, the most cited work on the topic was Wyman’s 1984 The Abandonment of the Jews, which relates the bombing of the Camp with the American policies to restrict the immigration of refugees, the Palestinian question and American political confrontations. Of all authors, Wyman was the most assertive and bold when criticizing the Administration: “The American State Department and the British Foreign Office had no intention of rescuing large numbers of European Jews,” and “FDR’s indifference… emerges as the worst failure of his presidency.”[57]

The publications continued and a new phase of research started. The Holocaust, and specifically the failure of bombing Auschwitz , shifted back and forth from academia into popular culture, and into the mind frame of policymakers.

Who were these authors? Most were Jews who were close to the American Jewish experience of the Holocaust, and close witnesses of that alleged inaction of the press, the intra Jewish controversy, the silencing of the Holocaust memory during the first years of Israel’s existence and the revival of the memory of the Holocaust during the period prior to the Six Day War in 1967.

The memory of Auschwitz was used once again when NATO bombed Kosovo in 1996. One of the justifications given to the public by President Clinton was the willfulness to avoid another non bombing of Auschwitz . As Steinweiss stated in yet additional research on the topic, “both the proponents and the opponents of intervention invoked the Holocaust precedent, drawing very different conclusions about its applicability to Bosnia and Kosovo.”[58]

After 1994 and 1995, many secret documents were made available to the public by the British Foreign Office. Using those and papers from the Polish government in the exile, Barbara Rogers wrote a 1999 master’s thesis that points to the early knowledge of the Nazi plan “to exterminate all the Jews in Europe”, placing it in the beginning of 1942, even before the starting of operations for Auschwitz. In 2000, Neufeld and Berebaum edited a book that constitutes a very good source for documents concerning the efforts to have Auschwitz bombed.[59]  Neufeld was the National Air and Space Museum ’s curator for World War II history, and had access to documents like the aerial photographs of Birkenau studied in 1979 by CIA analysts Dino Brugioni and Robert Poirier.[60]

The debate even expanded into Israel about the role played by the Zionist authorities in Jerusalem prior to the establishment of the independent state, in the failure to mount an effective public opinion campaign to inform about the gassing of Jews in Auschwitz and to plead with the Allies for destruction of the facilities. In 1993, Tom Segev, a historian of the Zionist establishment, published “The Seventh Million”, in which he argued that David Ben Gurion, who later became Israel ’s first prime minister, “did not… pressure the Allies to save European Jews from the death camps.”[61] Segev argued that the young Jewish settlement in Palestine focused on the arguments for the creation of an independent state and expected that the Allies will, out of compassion for the Jewish catastrophe, grant a Jewish state. In 1996, Teveth, criticizing the “Jewish revisionism” of Segev, retorted that Ben Gurion and the other Zionist leaders did all they could to save Jewish lives, but their efforts were thwarted by the British determination to stop Jewish emigration to Palestine in order to placate their Arab allies. Zionists in Israel had little or no military capabilities by then.[62]

A common denominator for the majority of the researchers, as Neufeld argues, is their presumption that “if the full scope of what was happening at Auschwitz had been known, something would have been done”.[63] But from that point of agreement they differ. On one end of the debate, some argued—following Walter Laqueur’s (who lived in Israel between 1938 and 1953 under the name Zeev Yisraeli) for a differentiation between “knowledge” and “information”[64] —, that somehow, the dots did not connect. The photographs of the camp, and the testimony of the “Auschwitz Protocols” were there, but the whole picture was not comprehended. Another trend argued that the bombing would not have had any effect. Others flatly accused the Allies of willingly and with full conscience leaving the Jews to die before liberation. Yet another line of reasoning stated that “far more could have been saved if the door had been opened wide to Jewish refugees in the 1930,”[65] an assessment which could turn the whole debate on Auschwitz moot.

The logical procedure of those who argued that FDR’s decision was motivated by insensibility to the fate of the Jews or direct anti Semitism was then to prove that bombing Auschwitz was possible, rebutting all claims to the contrary. If all reasons alleged for not bombing Auschwitz were eliminated, the only remaining possible reason was a lack of priority due to negative feelings harbored about Jews. Probably, they had to use this flawed process because of the absence of solid evidence for a negative decision. They had to rely on cultural evidence, which is at the very best circumstantial:

The rebuttal for these publications came from a military point of view rather than from a political justification. Richard Foregger, an amateur historian, was the first to publish such an analysis in Aerospace Historian: “The Bombing of Auschwitz”. Foregger wrote in 1987 in Aerospace Historian a technical account to demonstrate four points: heavy bombers were not accurate enough to bomb Auschwitz; the intelligence available was less than what was necessary to bomb the camp; the German defense in the area was too strong to attempt the bombing, and railway bombings –such as the ones suggested to block the deportation of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz- were not effective.[66] In another essay, also Foregger contended that the maps of Auschwitz could not be used to bomb the camps, because “they were inaccurate for the Birkenau camp, where the killings were taking place, and also for the Auschwitz base camp; neither the camps nor the gas chambers and crematoria installations could be located with these maps.”[67]

Milt Groban, an Air Force radar navigator-bombardier as “one of the first” to question “both the technical feasibility of bombing and Wyman’s damning critique of the Roosevelt administration for its inaction.”[68] Groban also insisted that even without gas chambers the killings would have continued under different methods, such as mass shooting, which was the technique of extermination used before gassing.[69]

Kitchens published in 1994 his essay on the feasibility of the bombing, concluding that it was not possible, and that the knowledge of that was what prompted the Administrations to reject all demands. “…The effective use of air power against Auschwitz is a chimera having little to do with War Department policies, indifference, military ineptitude, or negative ethnic attitudes.”[70] Using maps of the area, and showing knowledge of different airplanes capabilities and limitations, Kitchens made a case for the difficulties a raid on Auschwitz would have faced. Among other topics, he criticized the lack of accuracy in the depiction of the camp by Vrba and Wetzler, but ignores the fact that other descriptions and sketches were in the hands of the Allies by that time, mainly aerial photographs. Another “anti bombardment” proponent, nuclear engineer Richard H. Levy, added a different angle: that even Jewish leaders did not fully support the bombing.[71] 

How could the argument that the Administration had the ability, but didn’t bomb the camp, be cemented? “Pro bombing” writers faced a seemingly daunting series of problems to decipher the code of Auschwitz . Documents were scarce: even today there is no record of a high level discussion on the topic, and few on military evaluations. They were investigating an event that did not happen, a non-event, so they were confined to a similar methodology: demonstration by way of elimination. There was also reluctance among historians to counter the arguments of Wyman in “The Abandonment of the Jews” out of a resistance to engage in a “counterfactual, ‘what if’ history”.[72] There is common sense in the reasoning that a “What if” debate ceases to be History, as History is the account of what happened, and turns into the realm of Political Science, or further, Science Fiction.

Writers involved in this research generally tried first to find if the relevant information was in the hands of the State Department (and the Foreign Office) and declassify it. Then, they attacked and eliminated military concerns that would support a claim for insurmountable practical difficulties. At all times they linked the culture and political ideology of top officials to the decision. Rotter’s assumption that “the culture of those who make foreign policy is political culture, partly institutional in nature, partly the product of those who work in the State Department”[73] could have been used in this case as a departure point to establish a connection between the inaction, the lack of will, and a deliberate intention to withdraw action. It made sense, since this culturalist approach–either the way Rotter used it or in one of different variations– according to Buzzanco, “is perhaps the most widely used new methodology in diplomatic history.”[74]

The difficulties surrounding the debate about the bombing of Auschwitz showed the problems and challenges facing culturalist historians. Instead of the precise military data used by empirical historians, they just had indirect or circumstantial evidence. Sixty years after the Holocaust, there is still no primary document demonstrating that there was any official meeting of decision makers, in which, with all the information available, they rejected the idea of the bombing.

What changed by 1968

 Why did the wave of publications on bombing of Auschwitz wait until 1968? Because before that, there was a different memory of the Holocaust, which then shattered. That old memory was primarily American, “because the United States liberated some of the concentration camps on the Western Front and conducted war crimes trials that documented the Final Solution.”[75] It was an undifferentiated part of the World War II victory saga. It was a memory American-style, strife with stories of individual heroes like Anne Frank. There was a message of optimism and redemption carried there, all fitting the image of good neighbor, brother to the rescue, the United States .

But the memory of the Holocaust was rejected by then as a painful nuisance in the mind of the American public. “The Holocaust made scarcely any appearance in American public discourse and hardly more in Jewish public discourse –especially discourse directed to gentiles,” wrote Novick.[76]   According to Lawrence Baron, between the end of the war and 1960, there was a long period in which interest in the Holocaust was minimal.[77] “It was barely on the Jewish communital or theological agenda.” Why? According to Carey McWilliams, the fact that one quarter of all the Jews in the world died in the Holocaust, almost all of them European Jews just undermined the importance of that area for the Jewish people. “For all purposes, therefore, Europe has ceased to be a center of gravity in Jewish affairs”[78] The United States and Israel naturally assumed the hegemony of the Jewish agenda.

Before 1968, there was indeed extensive research on the Holocaust – Baron lists “a steady stream of wartime diaries and memoirs… between 1945 and 1960”, including “Olga Lengyel Five Chimneys (1947); The Diary of Anne Frank (1952 in America); Gerda Weissmann Klein, All But My Life (1957); Viktor Frankl, From Death-Camp to Existentialism (1959); Primo Levi, If This Is a Man (1959); Elie Wiesel, Night (1960)”.[79] But these writings focused on the crimes committed by the Germans. 1968 is when the Holocaust research in general, and later of Auschwitz in particular, turned to American leaders, press, and public as responsible for the extent of the catastrophe. The writers involved were applying new systems of values recently acquired that differentiated them from their predecessors.  They were living in a different political moment, one that allowed and called for that liberty of turning a daring, accusing, finger toward the Allies. “It should be obvious there is a pitfall here: in any such assessment there is great danger that the historian will apply to subjects the standards, value systems, and vantage points of the present, rather than those of the period being discussed”.[80] They lived in 1968, the year of youth revolution in Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Mexico City, Cordoba (Argentina), Los Angeles, when the hierarchies of the ages shattered; in the year of the Tet offensive, which created the perception of the first American first military defeat; in the year of political assassinations at home, with their anguishing doses of instability. Authority was no longer morally superior. Criticism of the powerful turned to be the norm.

In political economic terms, the 23 years between the end of the war and the beginning of the research on the non-bombing of Auschwitz corresponded to a period of transition: between the end of the destruction and the end of reconstruction. The year 1968 signaled the beginning of the end of an American hegemony built on the ruins of a devastated Germany and Japan , by an increasingly competition by those once defeated powers. Those years comprised the most dramatic stage of the Cold War. After 1945, surrounding the Holocaust there was an image of pity for the Jews and not much more. Even though there were defining moments that marked the passage from an immense American prestige into allowing for a strong critique of the Allies behavior, the transition must have been gradual: from fact gathering, mourning, and remembrance, to a search of cultural images of that memory, to a critical approach to the myth, to new findings and interpretations, to an open accusation against the Administration, to a finger pointing directed toward Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

This process was particularly patent in Western Germany and Israel . Contrary to the plan of secretary of the Treasure Henry Morgenthau to desindustrialize it, Truman preserved Germany as a buffer of capitalism against the expansion of the Soviet Union influence. Some of the mid range Nazi leaders were allowed to keep their posts. The industry leaders who mounted and benefited from slave based industries, like Kropp, were barely touched by the Nurenberg trials.  The image of a different, new Germany , had to be kept by “the West” to maintain an hostile approach toward the Soviet Union . Baron quotes Lipstadt as arguing that “American gentiles and Jews alike were swept up in the anticommunist hysteria of the era and feared that dredging up the Nazi past would tarnish the image of West Germany to the benefit of the Soviet Union .”[81] Harold Marcuse, in explaining the “revival of the Holocaust” in West Germany mentioned nine major internal events:[82] the “Anne Frank Wave” with the republication of her diary in 1955; Alain Resnais’s documentary Night and Fog in 1957; the trials of SS sergeants in 1958; a wave of anti Semitic vandalism in 1959; the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem in 1961; the trial of Auschwitz personnel in Frankfurt, from December 1963 to August 1965; the “Spiegel Affair” of 1962 with the resignation of Minister of Defense Franz-Josef Strauss; the substantial vote for the neo-Nazi party (NPD) in 1966, and in the same year, the parliamentary debate about extending the statute of limitations for mass murder committed during the Nazi era.”

In Israel there was a need to use the memory of the Holocaust as a justification for the establishment of the state, as a unifying motive for the Jewish people there and abroad,  and as a tool to carve better relations with the American administration. But several events beginning in the 1960’s had influence on the mind set of writers to prompt a change in their attitudes. In the Eichmann trial the prosecutor, Guideon Hausner , Israel ’s Attorney General, chose to indict the whole Nazi system rather than Eichmann’s superiors, Hitler and Himmler.[83] Precisely, Baron placed the forgetfulness of repression of the Holocaust era “between the end of World War II and the Eichmann trial.”[84] A particularly important reminder of the Holocaust occurred in 1967, during the period immediately previous to the Six Day War of June. This author remembers as a child the anguish and agony in that period, the widely accepted image of Nasser as a second Hitler and the fear of Israel ’s defeat as the looming of a second Genocide. While those images were used in unifying the country toward war, there were in many cases unprovoked by authorities and instinctive among the population of Holocaust survivors and their descendants.

As for the United States , Baron found three differentiated events to explain why it took 23 years for scholars and writers to investigate the topic of the bombing of Auschwitz : “the destruction of European Jewry was widely subsumed under the generic category of war casualties and crimes… American Jewry still sought integration into the melting pot and shied away from drawing attention to the ‘special treatment meted out to the Jews by the Third Reich”, and “the Soviet Union replaced Germany as the archenemy of the United States.”[85] By 1968 conditions changed; the victory of Israel in the war dispelled fears of a new catastrophe and strengthened a sense of safety, a basis from which it was possible to launch an inquiry into the matter, that remain almost as a taboo for all those years.

Wyman’s arguments were well received by the Jewish community, in part thanks to the decline of anti-Semitism in the United States , and “the rise of pro Israeli sentiment in American society.”[86] That meant that the fear and consciousness of a recurrence of anti-Semitism in the US felt by American Jewry was still rampant. That same fear helped to explain Stephen Wise’s attitude of refraining from begging Roosevelt to bomb the camps. But by 1978, the Holocaust ceased to be a Jewish exclusivity. Even national TV, NBC, aired the series “Holocaust” for millions between the 16 and 19 of April that year.


The wave of publications claiming the administration knew and refrained from trying to stop the Holocaust tried to find exactly that, clear evidence, but fell short of it. There was not enough evidence presented in the debate to explain why Auschwitz was not bombed. Those publications were by themselves a consequence of deep changes in the cultural and political images and identities of the American public. It could be assumed then that events and culture of 1968 and beyond came then as an important catalyst to the research. The awakening of the Auschwitz research can be explained as a part of the 1968 increase in intellectual critique. The crisis of values which by itself was the result of processes like the demise of American hegemony on one side and later, the debacle of the socialist experiment of the Soviet Union on the other, allowed for a deeper, more thorough and realistic analysis.

The debate was ignited in 1968 and peaked in the early 1980’s, at a time when the moral authority of the Administration was challenged by opposition to the Vietnam War.  The issues around the existence of Israel and the fears of a new Holocaust arose during the period leading up to the Six Day War; those leaders related to the events were no longer alive, or in power.

A last word, written in December, 2023

The last word is that the U:S. government could have ordered the bombing of Auschiwitz and did not. The reality is that it knew what was happening there. The truth is that in the most crucial moment for American Jewry, the pressure its leaders put on the government to bomb the death camp failed. American apathy existed. And the historical research around the topic has been partially an attempt to cover up, partially an attemp to banalize, and that it waited 23 years to start looking at the facts. But the facts are so terrible that the research is unable to contain them.

Sources and footnotes

[1] As defined by Neufeld’s introduction in “The Bombing of Auschwitz : Should the Allies Have Attempted it?” Edited by Michael J. Neufeld and Michael Berenbaum. 2000: St. Martin Press, New York . Published in Association with the United States Memorial Holocaust Museum .

[2] Martin Gilbert, Auschwitz and the Allies, (Michael Joseph, 1981), p. 15, quoted in Barbara Rogers. “British Intelligence and the Holocaust: ‘ Auschwitz and the Allies’ Re-examined. The Journal of Holocaust Education. Vol 8, No. 1, Summer 1999, pp. 89-106. According to the author, “Jews were killed in early gas chamber experiments in early 1941.”

[3] Norman H. Davis. “Jew Murders By Nazis Set At 1,715,000. Geneva Tells of Systematic Extermination in Two Silesian Camps”. Syracuse Herald Journal, New York , July 3, 1944 , p. 3. Accessed through, 5/15/2006 .

[4] The History Place Holocaust Timeline, at /timeline.html#roos, accessed 5/13/06 .

[5] Haskel Lookstein Were We Our Brother’s Keepers? The Public Response of American Jews to the Holocaust, 1938-1945, New York, 1985.

[6] Michael Hunt, Ideology and U.S. Foreign Policy. New Haven : Yale University Press, 1987. p. 12.

[7] Hunt, ix.

[8] Hunt, 16.

[9] Barbara Rogers, “ Auschwitz and the British”, History Today. Vol 49 No 10, October 1999.

[10] Sara E. Peck. “The Campaign for an American Response to the Nazi Holocaust, 1943-1945”. Journal of Contemporary History. Vol 15 (1980), 367-400, page 370.

[11] Saul S. Friedman, No Haven for the Oppressed: United States Policy toward Jewish Refugees, 1938-1945. Detroit , Mich. : Wayne State University Press, 1973, page 138, quoted by Rockaway, 116.

[12] Rogers , 97.

[13] Medoff, Rafael, “A Foolish Encroachment Upon the Allied High Command? American Jewish Perspectives on Requesting U.S. Military Intervention Against the Holocaust”, Modern Judaism 20 (2000): 299-314.

[14] Rogers , 96.

[15] Public Records Office, Foreign Office 371/34361, CM255, p. 11, in Rogers , 100.

[16] Rogers , 98.

[17] Rogers , 103.

[18] Baron, 64.

[19] “President Roosevelt’s Statement Condemning War Crimes” in The History Place. Holocaust Timeline. At, accessed 5/13/06 .

[20] Gerhart Riegner, Report on conditions in the Concentration Camps of Oswieczin and Birkenau, in

[21] Walter Laqueur, “ Auschwitz ”, in Neufeld and Berembaum, ed. The Bombing of Auschwitz . P 188.

[22] David S. Wyman, Abandonment of the Jews. America and The Holocaust 1941-1945.   New York : Phanteon Books, 1984, p. 61.
[23] The question was: “It is said that two million Jews have been killed in Europe since the war began. Do you think this is true or just a rumor?” David S. Wyman, “Jewish Disunity in the Darkest Hour: A Lesson from 1943”, in The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies Bulletin, January 2003,, accessed 6/2/06.

[24] Benjamin Akzin, War Refugee Board, to Lawrence S. Lesser, War Refugee Board, June 29 1944 , urging the bombing of Auschwitz and Birkenau.

[25] Baron, 64.

[26] A short movie from the pageant can be seen at the site of the United States Memorial Holocaust Museum , at,

[27] Peck, 377.

[28] Peck, 369.

[29] Peck, 381.

[30] Long to Hull Memorandum, 27 October 1943 , PSGP 3:61.

[31] Saul S. Friedman, No Haven for the Oppressed: United States Policy toward Jewish Refugees, 1938-1945. Detroit , Mich. : Wayne State University Press, 1973, page 46, quoted by Robert A. Rockaway. The Roosevelt Administration, The Holocaust, and The Jewish Refugees. Reviews in American History, March 1975, page 114.

[32] Peck, 370.

[33] Shlomo Aronson, Jew’s Wars, Manuscript, chapter 5, pp. 57-58, facilitated to Neufeld, p. 281.

[34] Oral History Interview with Lewis F. Powell dated 26 February 1985 , USAFHRC K239 0512-1754, quoted by Kitchens, 263.

[35] Kitchens, 261.

[36] Kitchens, 264.

[37] Peck, 379.

[38] Thomas Handy, Assistant Chief of Staff, War Department, to Director, Civil Affairs Division, June 26, 1944 , conveying the Operations Division’s conclusion that bombing the deportation railways is “impracticable,” in Kitchens, 265.

[39] Michael Beschloss, The Conquerors: Roosevelt, Truman and the Destruction of Hitler’s Germany 1941-1945 New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002, p 63.

[40] Michael Beschloss, “FDR’s Auschwitz Secret”,  Newsweek, October 14, 2002

[41] Martin Gilbert, Auschwitz and the Allies. A Devastating Account of How the Allies Reponded to the News of Hitler’s Mass Murder. New York : Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1981, p. ix.

[42] Katherine E. Culbertson. “American Wartime Indifference to the Plight of the European Jews”. Hanover College . Department of History. In, accessed 5/29/06 . 

[43] Gilbert, 299.

[44] Elie Wiesel, Night, New York : Bantam, 1987, quoted in Michael J. Neufeld, ed. The Bombing of Auschwitz: Should the Allies Have Attempted it?, St. Martin ’s Press, New York , page x.

[45] Kitchens, 254.

[46] Hunt, 91.

[47] Henry L. Feingold. Book review of While America Watches: Televising the Holocaust, by Jeffrey Shandler. New York : Oxford University Press, 1999. 316 pp, in Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies  Vol 19, No 4, Summer 2001, pp. 157-159

[48] Dorothy B. Hughes. “Hitler’s Crimes and Silent Thunder”. Los Angeles Times, March 3, 1968 , p. D39.

[49] James H. Kitchens III, The Bombing of Auschwitz Re-examined, The Journal of Military History 58 (April 1994) page 235.

[50] James R. Leutze, Review of The Politics of Rescue: The Roosevelt Administration and the Holocaust, 1938-1945 by Henry L. Feingold The Journal of American History, Vol. 58, No. 1 (Jun., 1971), pp. 216-217.

[51] Robert A. Rockaway. The Roosevelt Administration, The Holocaust, and The Jewish Refugees. Reviews in American History, March 1975, page 113.

[52] Klemens von Klemperer, Review of No Haven for the Oppressed: United States Policy toward Jewish Refugees, 1938-1945 by Saul S. Friedman, The Journal of Modern History Vol. 47, No. 4 (Dec., 1975), pp. 734-735.

[53] David S. Wyman. “The Bergson Group, America , and the Holocaust: A Previously Unpublished Interview with Hillel Kook/Peter Bergson.” American Jewish History, Vol. 89, No.1, March 2001, pp. 3-34

[54] Roger M. Williams, “Why Wasn’t Auschwitz Bombed? An American Moral Tragedy,” Commonweal Vol 105 ( 24 November 1978 ): 746-51, quoted by Kitchens, 236.

[55] Kitchens, 236.

[56] Gilbert, viii.

[57] Wyman, xiv-xvi.

[58] Alan E. Steinweis. “The Auschwitz Analogy: Holocaust Memory and American Debates over Intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s” Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Vol. 19, No. 2, Fall 2005, pp. 276-289.

[59] “The Bombing of Auschwitz : Should the Allies Have Attempted it?” Edited by Michael J. Neufeld and Michael Berenbaum. 2000: St. Martin Press, New York . Published in Association with the United States Memorial Holocaust Museum .

[60] Dino A. Brugioni and Robert G. Poirer The Holocaust Revisited: A Retrospective Analysis of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Extermination Complex. In, accessed 5/22/06.

[61] Mark Weber, Kent State University Library, Ohio , Editorial Review of Shavtai Teveth’s “Ben Gurion and the Holocaust”, in, accessed 5/22/06 .

[62] The research and debate continued. In 2005, Max Paul Friedman of the Florida State University stated that a group of prominent Jews were held at the camp of Bergen-Belsen by the Nazis with the purpose of exchanging them for Germans from Latin America . The exchange failed, in part, because it was undermined by British and American intelligence for fear of helping the Reich’s war effort and, added Friedman, of having “spies” among the rescued Jews. Max Paul Friedman. “The U.S. State Department and the Failure to Rescue: New Evidence on the Missed Opportunity at Bergen-Belsen .”  Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Vol 19, No. 1, Spring 2005, pp. 26-50.

[63] Neufeld and Berenbaum, Preface, p. xii.

[64] Walter Laqueur, “ Auschwitz ”, in Neufeld and Berembaum, ed. The Bombing of Auschwitz . Pp. 186-192.

[65] Neufeld, 3.

[66] Foregger, Richard, “Technical Analysis of Methods to Bomb the Gas Chambers at Auschwitz ,”

Holocaust and Genocide Studies 5:4 (1990): 403-421.

[67] Richard Foregger, “Two Sketch Maps of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Extermination Camps”, The Journal of Military History, Vol. 59, No. 4 (Oct., 1995), pp. 687-696

[68] Michael J. Neufeld. “Introduction to the Controversy”. In Neufeld, 11.

[69] Milton Groban, “Letter to the Editor”, Commentary 66 (July 1978) p. 10-11.

[70] Kitchens, 245.

[71] Richard H. Levy, “The Bombing of Auschwitz Revisited: A Critical Analysis,” Holocaust and Genocide Studies, (Winter 1996), pp. 267-98

[72] Neufeld, 4.

[73] Andrew J. Rotter. “Christians, Muslims, and Hindus: Religion and U.S.-South Asian Relations, 1947-1954”. Diplomatic History, Vol 24, No. 4 (Fall 2000) pp. 591-613.

[74] Robert Buzzanco. “Where’s the Beef? Culture without Power in the Study of U.S. Foreign Relations”. Diplomatic History, Vol 24, No. 4 (Fall 2000) pp. 623-632.

[75] Baron, 79.

[76] Peter Novick, The Holocaust in American Life. Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1999, p. 103.

[77] Lawrence Baron. “The Holocaust and American Public Memory, 1945-1960”. Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Vol. 17, No. 1, Spring 2003, pp. 62-88.

[78] Carey McWilliams, A Mask for Privilege: Anti-Semitism in America. Boston : Little, Brown and Company, 1948, p. ix. In Baron, 71.

[79] Baron, 75.

[80] Michael Narrus in Neufeld, 9.

[81] Deborah E. Lipstadt, “ America and the Memory of the Holocaust,” Modern Judaism 16:3 (1996), p. 195, in Baron, 68.

[82] Harold Marcuse. “The Revival of Holocaust Awareness in Israel , West Germany , and the United States .” In 1968 The World Transformed. Carole Fink, Philipp Gassert, and Detlef Junker, eds. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1998. pp 421-438.

[83] Later, Hausner became the leader of a moderate, pro-business party in an Israel dominated by Labor organizations, until he retired. Years later, by 1987, I was assigned by a foreign publication to investigate rumors that Hausner himself was one of three executioners of Eichmann –only one pressed the fatal button- but he, who was 83, refused to cooperate.

[84] Baron, 62-63.

[85] Baron, 64.

[86] Neufeld, 3. </



  • Founder and co-editor of Latino Los Angeles. Editor Emeritus of La Opinion, former Editor-in-Chief. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is a journalist, columnist, blogger, poet, novelist, and short story writer. Was the editorial director of Huffington Post Voces. Editor-in-chief of the weekly Tiempo in Israel. Is the father of three grown children and lives with Celia and with Rosie, Almendra and Yinyit in Los Angeles.

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