Auschwitz And The Allies The Gilbert Thesis

On the other hand, the effectiveness of bombing the tracks depended upon the ability of the bombers to hit their targets–something impossible to determine in advance–and the ability of the Germans to repair damaged track lines.

Likewise, with regard to a possible bombing of the gas chambers and crematoria, it was impossible to predict how successful Allied bombers would be in carrying out precision attacks on those targets. The proposal to send ground troops was the most radical.

Two days later, before Rosenheim heard back from Mc Cloy, he sent Aguda representative Meir Schenkelowski to Washington to promote the proposal in person. was already bombing German oil factories in the industrial section of Auschwitz. No documents have been found to indicate that the bombing requests reached President Roosevelt himself. On June 29, John Pehle relayed Harrison’s request to Assistant Secretary Mc Cloy.

Schenkelowski met with Secretary of State Cordell Hull, who declined to consider the proposal, suggesting that Schenkelowski speak with Secretary of War Henry Stimson instead. The war secretary responded that the area was a zone of Soviet responsibility and therefore a bombing decision was up to Moscow. On July 4, Mc Cloy responded to the Rosenheim and Harrison requests.

Almost certainly it would have involved casualties to the attacking forces, and for that reason was the proposal least likely to be accepted by Allied military commanders and political leaders.

Moreover, requesting an attack by ground troops played to one of American Jewish leaders’ worst fears: the accusation that Jews were willing to risk the lives of Allied soldiers for their own narrow interests.On June 18, 1944, Jacob Rosenheim, president of a New York-based Orthodox Jewish organization, Agudath Israel, wrote to the War Refugee Board, urging bombing of the railways.WRB director John Pehle relayed Rosenheim’s request to Assistant Secretary of War John Mc Cloy. officials known to have considered the bombing proposal. Minister to Switzerland, Leland Harrison, sent a telegram to Secretary Hull, recommending the bombing of railways leading to Auschwitz and giving precise locations of desired bombing targets.FDR created the WRB in response to intense pressure from members of Congress, Jewish activists, and his own Treasury Department.The administration gave the Board only minimal funding, and the State Department and War Department, which officially were required to cooperate with the Board, did so only infrequently at best.In early 1944, the president established a new government agency, the War Refugee Board, which in theory represented a new U. policy of aiding refugees even before the end of the war.But in reality, the Board was established against the administration’s wishes.Long before the first Jewish request for military intervention was made, senior officials of the War Department had decided that they would have nothing to do with aiding refugees.In response to the creation of the War Refugee Board, the War Department assured the British government (which was opposed to Allied intervention on behalf of the Jews): “It is not contemplated that units of the armed forces will be employed for the purpose of rescuing victims of enemy oppression unless such rescues are the direct result of military operations conducted with the objective of defeating the armed forces of the enemy.” Internal War Department memoranda the following month stated unequivocally that “the most effective relief which can be given victims of enemy persecution is to insure the speedy defeat of the Axis.” This attitude would govern the War Department’s response to Jewish requests in the months to follow.THE ROOSEVELT ADMINISTRATION’S POSITION In general, the Roosevelt administration was strongly opposed, as a matter of principle, to taking any special action to aid Jewish refugees.The administration’s declared policy, until early 1944, was “rescue through victory,” that is, rescue of Jews could be accomplished only through victory over the Germans on the battlefield.


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