Visiting Auschwitz, Israeli officials cite U.S. failure to bomb death camp

The Auschwitz death camp. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

( The Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration's rejection of pleas to bomb Auschwitz was on the minds of several Israeli leaders during the recent visit by more than 50 Knesset members to the site of the former Nazi death camp.

"It always bothers me that the United States could have bombed [Auschwitz], could have made it their mission to stop the killing machine," Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett told reporters, according to Israel National News. "But out of tens of thousands of missions during the war, they did not make an attempt even once."

Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon noted that the U.S. "failed to bomb Auschwitz, and when they could have done it they said 'it's not part of the war effort.'" 

Prof. David Wyman revealed in his 1984 best-seller "The Abandonment of the Jews" that American planes repeatedly bombed German oil factories that were just a few miles from the Auschwitz gas chambers and crematoria. Among the foremost advocates of such a bombing was Benjamin Akzin, who at the time was a staff member of the U.S. government's War Refugee Board. Azkin (1904-1985) later became a distinguished academic and recipient of the 1967 Israel Prize.

Wyman cited documents showing that the Roosevelt administration refrained from actively helping to rescue Jews from the Holocaust because it feared that would increase the pressure to open America's doors to refugees.

Until recently, it was believed that Jewish groups' requests to bomb Auschwitz were all handled by lower-level U.S. officials and never reached President Franklin Roosevelt's inner circle. But Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies in Washington, DC, last year uncovered documents showing that Agudath Israel representative Meir Schenkolewski presented bombing requests directly to Secretary of State Cordell Hull and Secretary of War Henry Stimson in meetings with them in June 1944. The documents were published in Medoff's recent book, "FDR and the Holocaust: A Breach of Faith."

Posted on January 29, 2014 .