February 23, 2017

Letters They Wouldn't Publish

December 24, 2002

Letters to the Editor
The Weekly Standard

Dear editor:

Alan S. Felzenberg (December 30/January 6) argues that President Roosevelt should have ordered the bombing of the Nazi death camps so as to "record the United States as firmly and irrevocably against genocide."  While such action by FDR would have indeed constituted an important moral declaration, there was an even more basic and compelling reason to bomb the death camps: it would have saved lives, at negligible cost to the Allies.

For my recent film, "They Looked Away," concerning the Allies and the question of bombing Auschwitz, I interviewed a number of American and British pilots who either flew reconnaissance missions in the vicinity of Auschwitz or took part in the bombing of German synthetic oil factories located in the Auschwitz complex, just a few miles from the gas chambers and crematoria. They were convinced that it was military feasible to carry out precision bombing of the gas chambers and crematoria that would probably would have posed minimal risk to the Jewish inmates of the camp.

Among those I interviewed was General Allison C. Brooks, who commanded an August 1944 raid by the 401st Bombardment Group on a V-weapons factory that was adjacent to the inmate barracks at the Buchenwald death camp.  Gen. Brooks recalled that "in the briefing on the Weimar mission, the intelligence officer stressed that there was presumed to be a concentration camp next to the factory and that we were to make every effort for precision bombing, right on the target and the confines of the target only." They successfully destroyed the targeted factories with virtually no damage to the adjacent barracks; the only civilian casualties workers in the factory whom the Nazis would not let return to their barracks when the raid began.

I also interviewed Holocaust survivors who recalled how they were literally jumping for joy when Allied planes began bombing the oil factories near the Auschwitz gas chambers.  They described it as "beautiful music from the sky," even though it endangered their lives, because the bombing might yet slow down the murder process.  As Elie Wiesel wrote in his memoir, Night:  "If a bomb had fallen on the blocks [the prisoner barracks], it alone would have claimed hundreds of victims on the spot. But we were no longer afraid of death; at any rate, not of that death.  Every bomb that exploded filled us with joy and gave us new confidence in life.  The raid lasted an hour.  If it could only have lasted ten times ten hours!" (p.71)


Stuart Erdheim

(Member, Arts & Letters Council, The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies)

(Return to top)


Compassion Fatigue on Darfur?
May 14, 2007

Yes, Let's Be Candid About the Mideast
March 19, 2007

Jimmy Carter's Jewish Problem
May 14, 2007

Brandeis and the White Paper
November 14, 2006

Iran and Germany
November 13, 2006

Rescue Was Possible
September 25, 2006

The Jews in Iran
September 13, 2006

The Failure to Bomb Auschwitz
September 3, 2006

Mel Gibson's Critics
August 28, 2006

Jo Davidson: Sculptor and Activist
July 31, 2006

Nazi War Criminals in Arab Countries
May 10, 2006

Israel and Auschwitz
May 9, 2006

William Safire and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
April 22, 2006

Suppressing Holocaust News
April 7, 2006

Betty Friedan and the Nazis
March 13, 2006

Civil Liberties, in Nazi Germany and the U.S.
February 17, 2006

Paul McCloskey and the Deniers
February 11, 2006

Holocaust Denial is Bigotry
February 3, 2006

Not Just "Following Orders"
January 30, 2006

Melvin Lasky and the Holocaust
January 23, 2006

Saudi Arabian Holocaust-Denial
December 15, 2005

Iranian Holocaust Denial
December 10, 2005

Anti-Semitism in Jordan
November 13, 2005

Culture of Hatred in Jordan

November 10, 2005

German Jewish Refugee Children

October 24, 2005

An Earlier Black-Jewish Alliance

October 21, 2005

Treatment of Illegal Aliens Not Similar to Holocaust

September 4, 2005

Hollywood and the Nazi Filmmaker

September 4, 2005

Patton's Antisemitism

August 14, 2005

Sudan, Congress, and the Holocaust

July 25, 2005

Harvard and the Nazis

June 29, 2005

The New York Times
and the Holocaust

June 27, 2005

Should the U.S. Have Bombed Auschwitz?

January 29, 2005

Bigotry and Culture

January 26, 2005

Susan Sontag and the Nazi Filmmaker

December 30, 2004

How Moss Hart Alerted America About the Holocaust

November 2, 2004

The Quotas That Kept Out the Refugees

October 22, 2004

Lindbergh and Antisemitism - Then and Now

September 26, 2004

Rationalizing Stalin's Pact with Hitler

September 20, 2004

Turning a Blind Eye to Hitler

September 20, 2004

Truman and the Holocaust
September 1, 2004

FDR and the Warsaw Uprising
August 7, 2004

More on the Nazi Olympics
July 18, 2004

Avery Brundage and the 1936 Olympics
July 07, 2004

Genocide, Then and Now
June 27, 2004

Sudan and the Holocaust

June 22, 2004

Why did the United States turn its back on the Jews of Europe?
June 18, 2004

A Boxer Who Fought for His People
June 17, 2004

A Voice for Rescue
June 11, 2004

Morris Brafman, Soviet Jewry, and the Holocaust

May 28, 2004

An Unsung Hero of the Struggle for Jewish Freedom

May 28, 2004

FDR & the Holocaust: New Evidence
April 23, 2004

Mel Gibson and the Holocaust
April 18, 2004

Was Rescue Possible?

April 11, 2004

A Play That Smashed Racism
April 3, 2004

Hitler's Filmmaker
March 20, 2004

New Biography Wrong About FDR
February 29, 2004

Mel Gibson's Holocaust Problem
February 27, 2004

A Principal Who Stood Up for a Principle
February 8, 2004

Truman's Antisemitism
February 6, 2004

Inappropriate Hitler Analogy
December 18, 2003

George Marshall, Racism, and the Holocaust
November 13, 2003

The Failure to Bomb Auschwitz
December 24, 2002