Chapter 3:
Washington and New York

The Rubber Crisis of 1942

The military situation of the Allied powers in 1942 was superficially a desperate one. After the winter of 1941-1942, the German armies continued their advance across Russia. The destruction of most of the American Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, had made the Pacific a virtual Japanese lake. America was suddenly faced with a problem that was, for her, a strange one: lack of a crucial raw material without which no war effort appeared possible. Japan controlled what had been the source of ninety per cent of America's rubber, Malaya and the East Indies, and the source of the other ten per cent, Central and South America, was hopelessly inadequate.[113]

The manner in which America extricated herself from this grave situation will go down as one of the great ironies of history. America, one would expect, could not resolve this problem because nobody in America had thought in terms of "autarky."

Standard Oil of New Jersey had the essentials of the I. G. Farben Buna rubber process. This was on account of a series of agreements between the two companies, commencing in 1927, covering technical cooperation and mutual licensing arrangements. Standard was quite interested in Buna rubber because it could also be made (more easily) from oil.

The cooperation continued, with the consent of the German government, right up to the outbreak of war and even, to some extent, after the outbreak of war. The American side benefited hugely from these arrangements, but the German side got almost nothing out of them.[114]

The outbreak of war in September 1939 between Germany on the one hand and England and France on the other threw these arrangements between Farben and Standard into a certain amount of legal confusion, which need not be explored here. Farben wished to clarify the confusion, and so a meeting was arranged at the Hague on September 22, at which certain legal arrangements were made. Standard official Frank A. Howard was puzzled by all of this:[115]

"I could not escape the conviction, however, that the Germans themselves were the only people who could profit from a military standpoint by leaving the relations between Standard and the I. G. in the situation into which the war had thrown them."

The arrangements that had been made at the Hague soon proved to be inadequate, so it was decided in the spring of 1940 that another meeting was necessary. Howard saw another motivation for an additional meeting:

"[...] we intended also to ask them to supply some of their detailed designs of manufacturing equipment and technique for Buna. We hoped that I. G. might obtain permission of its government to sell to us the plans for the Buna polymerization plants they had erected in Germany under the government program."

These hopes were dashed at the conference between Standard and Farben which finally took place in Basle, Switzerland, in mid-April 1940 during the German occupation of Norway, which signaled the end of the Sitzkrieg. The new political conditions arising from the German realization that the situation was a serious one brought about at the conference the effective termination of the relations between Farben and Standard. Naturally, Standard got nowhere with its proposals to buy plant designs. However, as Howard explains:

"One other point was very much on our minds. We wanted to make sure, if possible, that the Germans had not, since the outbreak of the war in Europe, made any radical change in their Buna manufacturing processes or formulas. Direct questions were out of order, since the I. G. men could not discuss any phase of Germany's industrial war effort. But during the settlements of patent transfers and discussions of license definitions needed to implement the Hague agreement, we obtained sufficient data to feel sure that all of the fundamentals of the Buna operation had remained unchanged. This conclusion was later fully confirmed."

This was the "last direct contact Standard had with the Germans on Buna rubber."[116]

All American knowledge of the Buna processes, which made the American war effort possible, came from these relationships with I. G. Farben, and this is accepted fact in the rubber industry.[117] Nevertheless, Standard later came under some rather stupid criticism and even later legal action on account of them.[118]

The sudden unavailability in 1942 of a source of rubber set off a major political crisis in the United States. There had been a Buna program in existence since mid-1940, when the Rubber Reserve Corporation had been created within the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. This agency, headed by Jesse H. Jones, supervised the stockpiling of reserve crude rubber and also sponsored the construction of Buna plants, which started in 1941. However, nobody in authority had foreseen the complete loss of the Far East rubber, so the synthetic rubber program had been modest in scope. Consequently, in 1942 there was almost no practical experience with large scale use of the Farben processes.

The emergency had been realized immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor, because three days later, the U.S. government banned the sale of new automobile tires for civilian purposes. General rationing of rubber followed quickly. Early in 1942 it became realized that, if there was to be any American war effort, a gigantic synthetic rubber industry would have to be created in record time. The apparently dismal prospects for such an achievement were the cause of some amount of panic, and naturally, scapegoats were sought. Jesse Jones was a favorite target, and his claim that 300,000 tons of synthetic rubber would be produced in 1943 and 600,000 tons in 1944 was jeered at (U.S. rubber consumption in 1940 was 648,500 tons). Standard Oil also came in for outrageously unfair abuse by people who interpreted the Farben-Standard agreements as a conspiracy to retard synthetic rubber development in the U.S. Harry S. Truman, chairman of a Senate committee, which investigated war production problems, first became prominent in connection with the rubber crisis of 1942.

The crisis also set off internal political conflicts. The big oil interests had a long lead in the production of Buna-S, but the farm bloc was dominant in Congress. Now, Buna can be made not only from coal and oil, but also from alcohol, an agricultural product. Foreseeing the birth of a major new industry, the farm interests started arguing in favor of making Buna from alcohol (the most expensive method). They cited the fact that the Russians, also long active in the synthetic rubber field, started from alcohol. They also produced a Polish refugee who was supposed to have made some revolutionary invention in connection with making Buna from alcohol.

There was another political bloc tied up with South American interests, which proposed subsidies for plantations. There was also a small farm bloc which pressed for more extensive planting of the guayule plant in the southwest. The effect of these internal political battles was to generate massive confusion and retard the progress of the existing U.S. Buna program.

The rubber crisis filled the press in 1942 and was, in fact, the major crisis the U.S. faced in connection with the war. There was constant lamenting that Germany was well ahead of the U.S. and that the U.S. lacked the vital experience with the processes that the Germans possessed. Methods being used in Germany were cited in connection with discussing the prospects of the U.S. program.[119]

The farm bloc's battle against what it called the "oily interests" achieved a temporary major success in July 1942, when the Congress passed the weird "Rubber Supply Act of 1942." The Act would have established a new agency for rubber production, entirely under the control of Congress and outside the domain of the War Production Board, the Army, the Navy, or any executive agency of the Government. Of course, the Act also specified that the rubber was to be made from grain alcohol. President Roosevelt vetoed this bill on August 6 and announced the appointment of a committee to study the rubber problem and make some recommendations in regard to the organization of an American synthetic rubber program: "probably the most widely acclaimed action on the domestic front in the history of the war program." The members of the committee were Dr. James D. Conant, President of Harvard, Dr. Karl T. Compton, President of MIT, and the financier and political leader Bernard M. Baruch, who served as Chairman. The committee is normally referred to as the Baruch Committee.[120]

These three men were chosen partially because they were not considered connected with any specific interests in the conflict, and also because of their expertise. The appointment of Baruch as chairman of such a technically oriented group may seem peculiar at first, but this is not the case. Besides being a man of diverse talents and important financial, industrial, and political connections, he had chaired the War Industries Board during World War I. Moreover, for a period of more than thirty years, he had been interested in industrial ventures involving rubber and had independently inventoried, with war requirements in mind, American rubber stocks in the spring of 1941. As a consequence, he had gotten into fights with various people, mainly Jesse H. Jones. In addition, unlike the usual chairman of a "name" Washington ad hoc committee, Baruch threw all his energy into the work of the Committee. His assistant Sam Lubell also was put to work on the Committee's assignment. Even after the issuing of the final report, Baruch maintained interest: Howard reports that Baruch later expressed a wish to speak to the Standard people and that a meeting was accordingly held, at which the major technical-economic problems were discussed.[121]

The work of the Baruch Committee was completed with remarkable speed and the final report was issued on September 10, 1942; the best explanation for this speed would appear to be Baruch's independent prior involvement in the problem.

We must attempt to see this problem as the Committee must have seen it in 1942. Primarily, it was a political problem requiring the reconciliation of the various interests contending for the synthetic rubber business. Thus, the final report of the Committee recommended the creation of a capacity to produce 100,000,000 gallons of additional grain alcohol per year. A second problem involved the lack of practical American experience with the Buna processes. Technical specifications were at hand, but there existed many questions on many details and quite a few alternative versions of the processes.

Thus, in order to accelerate the American synthetic rubber program, the Baruch Committee saw a need to learn as much as possible of the experiences of others. It made a specific recommendation that an immediate effort be made to learn the experiences of the Russians in the production of synthetic rubber and make use of them in the American program (Jesse Jones had been charged with overlooking this possibility). The effort was made but yielded no results of any value.[122] Under such conditions it is necessary to assume that somebody in America looked into new developments in Germany in as close detail as possible at the time, and the new German development in rubber in 1942 was Auschwitz, the site of the most advanced developments in Buna rubber at that time.

Auschwitz of Great Interest to Americans

The point to be made in our discussion of the American rubber crisis of 1942 is that American intelligence must have known what was going on at Auschwitz in that year.

Clearly, it would be delightful if we could learn exactly what U.S. military intelligence knew about events in and around Germany during the war. However, intelligence agencies are notoriously reluctant to release such information, even many years after the events in question. With respect to World War II intelligence operations, a few sensational episodes are known, but on the whole, the content of Allied intelligence information has not been divulged. The intelligence relative to Auschwitz will be a long, long time in being made public, if it is ever made public.

In attempting to estimate, therefore, what information was possessed by Allied intelligence agencies, one must proceed very much on the basis of common sense. The difficulty is that my common sense may differ very much from another's, and that agreement on such matters may be most difficult to arrive at. Now, my common sense tells me that, quite apart from the rubber crisis, Allied intelligence would have known, in mid-1942, what was happening at the largest German concentration camp. If additionally, as every version of the extermination legend asserts, there had been anything as outré as a program of systematic extermination of Jews at Auschwitz in the summer of 1942, then my common sense tells me that it is a certainty that U.S. military intelligence would have known about it.

If another's common sense does not lead him to the same conclusion, it is very doubtful that the disagreement could be settled by discussion. However, with Auschwitz we have the fact that it was of interest not only as a large concentration camp (and also, if the extermination claims were correct, an extermination camp), but also as the site of the most advanced developments in synthetic rubber. In 1942, no location in the German Reich was of greater interest, and no industrial operations of greater strategic importance. Therefore, if one wishes to claim that U.S. (or the closely related British) intelligence did not know what was happening at Auschwitz in the summer of 1942, then I am afraid that one must logically claim the complete ignorance and incompetence of these intelligence agencies.

Auschwitz was of the greatest interest to the U.S. in mid-1942 on account of its enormous technological significance. Above we saw Howard's great interest, in 1940, in any information about possible new developments that could be obtained directly or inferred indirectly. A similar interest on the part of the Americans in 1942 must be assumed. It is a certainty that intelligence had developed the basic facts about the industry at Auschwitz: a plant for hydrogenation and other chemical processes aimed at producing gasoline and rubber. It has been seen that each one of the German Buna rubber plants employed processes differing in important details from the others and that the Auschwitz processes were to be the beneficiary of accumulated experiences with several different versions. We are thus justified in assuming, on account of the peculiar urgency of the rubber problem and the peculiar position of Auschwitz relative to this urgency, that the intelligence had gone into unusual detail in regard to Auschwitz, probably going over every inch via aerial photographic intelligence, and that the assembled information was available to various people in the U.S. The information probably included many details not greatly relevant to the rubber problem, such as the employment of prisoner and POW labor at Auschwitz.

Although concealment of information has been the rule in the area of military intelligence, we can nevertheless assume that the means of gathering intelligence data on Auschwitz included more or less conventional methods: exploitation of contacts with commercial representatives of Farben who were stationed in neutral countries (Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Sweden, Switzerland), aerial photographic intelligence (aircraft used for such purposes may always have longer ranges than bombers on account of their lack of armaments), general knowledge of German industrial and economic matters, spies and informers in German industry and in the German government (e.g. Admiral Canaris), and informers in the employ of advantageously situated neutral organizations (such as the Swiss and Swedish diplomatic corps and also firms doing business in Germany). Although all of these means no doubt played a role, photographic intelligence was probably particularly important; the technology of photographic intelligence had attained a respectable level in 1942 so that a "you are there" effect was possible in blown-up aerial photos of even heavily defended positions. There were other channels of information, whose nature and existence are of some particular importance here and which will be discussed in due course.

Not being sufficiently acquainted with the technical problems that were associated with Buna at the time, we have no idea what information the Americans might have been after and how it could be inferred from the intelligence data, any more than we have an understanding of what questions were on the minds of the Standard people at the Basle meeting and how partial answers could be inferred from the legal ritual that took place at that meeting. We can, however, offer one possibility by way of example without any claim that such was the specific case.

We have seen that the first German Buna plant at Schkopau employed a carbide-acetylene-butadiene process and that at the Hüls plant the process was hydrocarbons-acetylene-butadiene. The new plant at Ludwigshafen, nearing completion when the Baruch Committee was meeting, had reverted to making the acetylene from carbide and had modernized the acetylene to butadiene stage. Because either a carbide or a hydrocarbons process was potentially applicable to the processes to be employed in the U.S. (which could have started from oil or grain alcohol), it was no doubt of great interest whether Auschwitz was to employ a carbide process (as was the case), suggesting abandonment of the hydrocarbons version on the basis of the Hüls experience, or was to employ a hydrocarbons or other process, suggesting failure to make a commitment to carbide processes.

Moreover, the carbide vs. hydrocarbons question could probably be answered on the basis of aerial intelligence, if necessary.

What was the ultimate value, in terms of the problems the Americans faced, of the detailed information about contemporary German Buna developments, which, we feel certain, they examined closely approximately in middle-late 1942? Perhaps none, as was the case with most categories of information; it is just that you don't miss a bet in the sort of situation in which the Americans found themselves regarding rubber in 1942.

Consideration of technical matters has been necessary here because it was in a technical context that Auschwitz first became prominent in Washington. However, it is not the technical matters that have been our objective here but simply the fact of prominence, or heavy exposure, in U.S. inner circles in the summer of 1942; this is the only point relevant to our subject. We have no direct evidence of this, but we have reviewed reasons why such exposure may be assumed. It remains to show that events at Auschwitz at this time were such as to suggest an "extermination factory" charge to those in the inner political circles, who were alert to the appearance of semi-factual bases for atrocity stories. The events at Auschwitz in late 1942 - early 1943 will be covered in a second context in the next chapter and hence are not annotated here.

The eeriest aspect that Auschwitz must have presented while the Baruch Committee was meeting was that of the site of a ghost factory; starting around August 1, the Buna plant had been closed. There was no activity to be seen except possibly an occasional watchman. This must have excited great curiosity and no doubt special steps were taken to find out what was going on.

Our ugly old friend typhus was at Auschwitz; an epidemic had shut down the Buna plant for two months, so that work did not resume until late September. By this time, the number of dead must have been a few thousand, although there is a large degree of uncertainty here. The German policy was to cremate the bodies of camp inmates who died, but the epidemic caught the Auschwitz authorities with inadequate crematory facilities. There was a small crematory at Auschwitz I, but more extensive facilities at Birkenau, plans for which existed in January 1942, were still under construction in 1942, and the first complete new unit, consisting of fifteen conventional crematory muffles, was not available until March 1943. It appears that many of the victims of the epidemic were immediately cremated in pits, but it is possible that many were buried, at least temporarily. That the Germans were constructing crematories at Birkenau was probably evident to continued Allied surveillance (which we assume existed) in the autumn of 1942. The buildings housing the Birkenau ovens had certain halls, rooms, or cellars, which the accusations say were the "gas chambers."

Several books offer versions of Fig. 7, which is claimed to be a photograph of gassed victims about to be burned in pits, taken by an Auschwitz inmate in 1944.[123] We have no way of knowing when, where, or by whom it was taken. However, such scenes were common at Auschwitz in 1942, when the camp presumably attained some prominence in Allied intelligence. Indeed, the poor quality of the picture caused some initial speculation on my part that it is an aerial intelligence photograph; the low angle does not rule out the possibility because such angles were frequently attained even with highly defended positions.[124] Also, the versions I examined in the various books do not have the border material which tends to support the claim that it was taken on the ground. Our Fig. 7 is reproduced from a print obtained in 1973 from the museum operated by the Polish government at Auschwitz, and there remain a number of mysteries concerning it. The version reproduced here is the only one, so far as I know, that is not obviously falsified to some extent.[125] However, such an observation does not settle the matter because of the strange fact that the falsified (or, at least, retouched) versions display more apparently genuine background detail (e.g. the fence and trees).

In any case, Birkenau was, in a very real sense, a "death camp;" dead, dying and sick people were sent there and, after the crematories were built, the dead were disposed of in them. If one is to claim an "extermination camp" when there is none, what better choice is there but a "death camp"?

While the preceding adequately suggests how the Auschwitz lie originated, it is not relevant to the circumstances, under which the more general extermination legend originated. The claims of exterminations of Jews have their origin not in Allied intelligence information but in the operations of the World Jewish Congress, whose leaders were at first either unconcerned with, or uninformed about, the facts pertaining to Auschwitz.

In this connection one must reject two possible fallacious expectations. The first is that Allied propaganda would strive to maximize Auschwitz propaganda after it was realized that the propaganda possibilities were excellent. The second is that the claims made in the Allied propaganda relative to Auschwitz would be almost completely devoid of real fact.

The second fallacious expectation is that American propaganda relative to Auschwitz would be almost free of fact. We have indicated already that this should not be expected. Washington had excellent and accurate information about Auschwitz, as it had about all important phases of German industrial activity, and it has been remarked above that the real facts about Birkenau seemed to invite distortion of interpretation.

If, as is claimed here, there was no German extermination program, but certain propagandists in the U.S. wished the acceptance of the thesis that there was, it would have been a most serious blunder for the propagandists to give maximum emphasis to Auschwitz or any other place as an alleged extermination camp, for this would amount to making a charge that the Germans could answer. If high U.S. officials, such as Roosevelt or his cabinet members, had made specific remarks about exterminations, naming sites where exterminations were taking place under circumstances where their remarks received the wide publicity normally given to public statements by officials of their rank, then both the Germans and the Allies would have been put on the spot on the question, and the truth would not have been long in coming out. On the contrary, as we shall see in Chapter 5, the first period, in which there was a persistence of references to Auschwitz as an extermination camp, appearing even under obscure circumstances, was immediately after D-Day (June 6, 1944), when nobody was paying any attention to such stories. Later in the summer of 1944, the emphasis shifted to the Lublin camp, which the Russians had just captured. The first reference to emerge from a U.S. government source that was high enough so that it could not be ignored, and which charged exterminations at Auschwitz, came in late November 1944, after the exterminations are supposed to have been terminated.[126] Otherwise, people such as Roosevelt and Churchill and their ministers spoke only in very general moralistic terms about exterminations. It is only if one believed there actually were exterminations taking place at Auschwitz, and one wanted to stop them, that one would have made a specific charge concerning Auschwitz, to which the Germans would have felt obliged to respond. No such challenge ever materialized. Despite the fact that in all versions of the extermination legend the Auschwitz exterminations had certainly started by the late summer of 1942, and despite the fact that U.S. military intelligence must have known whatever it was that was going on at Auschwitz at that time, no specific extermination charges came from any high source until much later.

The First 'Extermination' Claims and Washington

The first "inside" events relative to the extermination propaganda were in the context of a conflict involving the U.S. State and Treasury Departments and the World Jewish Congress (and American Jewish Congress), headed by Rabbi Stephen S. Wise. The prominent characters in the story are Treasury Secretary Morgenthau, later the nominal author of the notorious "Morgenthau Plan" for the despoliation of Germany, Secretary of State Cordell Hull and Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles, who were mildly reluctant to be carried along by the propaganda, and Assistant Secretary of State J. Breckenridge Long, who was very resistant to the propaganda. Also involved are the World Jewish Congress representatives in Switzerland, Gerhard Riegner and Professor Paul Guggenheim, who transmitted stories of supposedly European origin to Wise or to other persons in the U.S., notably to the State Department through the U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland, Leland Harrison, or through the U.S. Consul in Geneva, Paul C. Squire. The principal work that has set forth the events surrounding the birth of the extermination legend is Arthur D. Morse's While Six Million Died, a book which is supplemented to some extent by Henry L. Feingold's The Politics of Rescue. Additional material had been contributed by post-war accounts given by Morgenthau, historians J. M. Blum and Anthony Kubek (in interpreting Morgenthau's papers, the latter for the U.S. Senate publication Morgenthau Diary), historian F. L. Israel (in summarizing the papers of J. Breckenridge Long), and J. DuBois, who was at first Chief Counsel of the Treasury's Foreign Funds Control, involved in these matters chiefly in connection with efforts to extend assistance to refugees.[127]

The first extermination claim appears to have been made by the London section of the World Jewish Congress in June 1942. It was claimed that one million Jews had been killed in some undesignated and unlocated "vast slaughterhouse for Jews" which had been established in Eastern Europe. The only attempt to provide evidence for this claim was a remark that the Polish government in exile in London had received confirming information. The allegation was carried in the New York Times in a story that will be reviewed below.

The evidence for this London claim was obviously too flimsy to serve as effective propaganda, so an effort was made to improve matters slightly. On August 8, 1942, Riegner and Guggenheim approached the U.S. Consulate in Geneva, which had been cooperating with the World Jewish Congress to the extent of allowing it to use diplomatic channels for messages, with a story that some anonymous German industrialist had informed them that he had learned of a decision to kill all non-Soviet Jews under German control. Discussions, which the industrialist had overheard, were being held in the Führer's Headquarters regarding the methods to be employed. One method under discussion was gassing with Prussic acid (hydrogen cyanide gas) after the Jews had been concentrated at camps in Eastern Europe. This story was forwarded to Washington by the Consulate via U.S. diplomatic channels and to London via British diplomatic channels. The "industrialist" has remained anonymous to this day.

When the U.S. State Department received the message, it was evaluated and it was decided that:

"[...] it does not appear advisable in view of the [...] fantastic nature of the allegations and the impossibility of our being of any assistance if such action were taken, to transmit the information to Dr. Wise as suggested."

The message was accordingly suppressed, but Wise learned of its contents anyway. It is said that he learned from London, but it is also possible that he had composed the message in the first place and learned of its transmission and suppression through his various connections.

Wise immediately contacted Welles, who had approved the decision to suppress, in order to protest the State Department's handling of the matter. Welles replied that the "information" was somewhat too unsubstantiated to be taken seriously and that some confirmation should be obtained before any public announcement was made. Welles then instructed the U.S. representative in the Vatican to attempt to check the allegations with Vatican sources. At that time, almost nobody in Washington pretended to take these claims seriously, and even President Roosevelt assured Justice Felix Frankfurter that the Jews who had been deported to the East were merely being used to help build fortifications.

In September 1942, two anonymous persons showed up in Geneva claiming to have escaped from German controlled areas. They reported the extermination of Polish Jews and the utilization of the Jewish corpses for the manufacture of fertilizer. This was forwarded to Washington through diplomatic channels, and again an attempt was made to get confirmation by the Vatican (which had thus far ignored the first request for confirmation). At about the same time, Wise had received a message from a World Jewish Congress official in Europe reporting on the "manufacture of soap and artificial fertilizer" from Jewish corpses.

In late September 1942, Riegner came forward with two new documents. The first had, he said, been prepared by an (anonymous, naturally) officer attached to the German High Command and had reached Riegner through several intermediaries. The anonymous officer claimed that there were at least two factories in existence which were manufacturing soap, glue, and lubricants from Jewish corpses and that it had been determined that each Jewish corpse was worth 50 Reichmarks. The second document consisted of two coded letters that had, it was said, been written by a Swiss Jew resident in Warsaw. The anonymous Jew reported wholesale exterminations of Warsaw Jews deported to the East. All of these messages were forwarded to Washington and then filed.

In passing we should note the resemblance of such claims to World War I propaganda and the appalling lack of originality and creativity on the part of the World Jewish Congress. It scarcely requires remarking that the soap and glue factories were a very transient propaganda phenomenon and that the only similar charges made at Nuremberg were made by the Russians. These charges were largely ignored even then, and nobody, to my knowledge, has since come forward with the locations of these factories, the identities of the persons who managed them, or similar information. Reitlinger does not claim the existence of such factories, and Hilberg (page 624) does not believe they existed.

On October 10, the Vatican finally informed the U.S. representatives that it had been unable to confirm the many reports it had heard of severe measures against the Jews.

On October 22, Riegner met with Ambassador Harrison and presented him with more of the same sort of "evidence," this time reporting "information" provided by yet another anonymous German informant (whose name, however, is said to have been presented to Harrison in a sealed envelope and to have been kept secret from everybody but the Office of Strategic Services, OSS) and also an anonymous official of the International Red Cross. Harrison forwarded this material to Washington, but also wrote two personal letters to Welles in late October, claiming that he knew the name of the German industrialist and also claiming that the anonymous Red Cross official was Carl Jacob Burckhardt, the distinguished Voltaire-Goethe scholar who was prominent in the International Red Cross during the war. He enclosed an affidavit that Guggenheim had deposed before Squire on October 29, in which Guggenheim claimed that he had obtained from an anonymous German informant information confirming Riegner's claims. The anonymous German informant had gotten his information from an anonymous official of the German Foreign Ministry and from an anonymous official of the German Ministry of War. Moreover, an anonymous Swiss informant, resident in Belgrade, had also given information to Guggenheim supporting the claims.

In order to confirm the claims, Squire arranged an interview with Burckhardt, which took place in Geneva on November 7. On November 9, Squire communicated to Harrison his memorandum on the interview, in which he had recorded that Burckhardt's information was that Hitler had signed an order that before the end of 1942 Germany must be free of all Jews. Squire's account of the interview explains:[128]

"I then asked him whether the word extermination, or its equivalent, was employed, to which he replied that the words must be Juden-frei (free of Jews) were utilized. He then made it clear that since there is no place to send these Jews and since the territory must be cleared of this race, it is obvious what the net result would be."

This, the report of an ambiguous remark, made by an imperfectly informed Swiss citizen, reported by an intermediary who was friendly to the World Jewish Congress and eager to discover a sinister interpretation to such facts as were available, is as solid as this "evidence" ever got. To my knowledge, Burckhardt never spoke out publicly, during or after the war, in connection with these matters. He answered some written questions, which were put to him by Kaltenbrunner's defense during the IMT trial, but these questions relating to Kaltenbrunner's efforts to permit the Red Cross to enter the German camps toward the end of the war were not relevant to our subject. Nobody asked Burckhardt about exterminations.[129]

Late in November 1942, the State Department received "information" from an anonymous Vatican source consisting of a three page description, in French, of events allegedly transpiring in Poland. The document is unsigned, and the only sort of endorsement is a handwritten notation, "from Mr. F. at Vatican City," which appears in an unknown hand on the first page. The document reports, inter alia:[130]

"Farms for the breeding of human beings are being organized to which women and girls are brought for the purpose of being made mothers of children who are then taken from them to be raised in Nazi establishments. [...] Mass execution of Jews continues. [...] They are killed by poison gas in chambers especially prepared for that purpose (often in railway cars) and by machine gun fire, following which the dead and the dying are both covered with earth. [...] Reports are being circulated to the effect that the Germans are making use of their corpses in plants manufacturing chemical products (soap making factories)."

During the late summer and autumn of 1942, Wise had continuously campaigned for the Allied governments to take a public position directly condemning the alleged exterminations of Jews in Europe. On December 8, 1942, Wise led a delegation to the White House and presented to President Roosevelt a twenty-page document entitled Blue Print for Extermination, which was based on the sort of "information" we have reviewed. Related Jewish pressures finally brought capitulation to Wise on the mythical exterminations, and on December 17, 1942, the Allies, led by Washington, issued a statement condemning the exterminations. A related statement, released two days later, claimed exterminations at Belzec and at Chelmno, but Auschwitz was not mentioned (the relevant news stories are reviewed below).

Despite this public declaration, the group headed by J. Breckenridge Long continued to resist the propaganda. On January 19, 1943, Riegner gave Harrison the "information" that "in one place in Poland 6,000 Jews are killed daily." On January 21, Harrison communicated this material to the State Department and also to certain unspecified "private Jewish agencies," apparently meaning Wise. The message was merely filed, and the Department made no public mention of it. For a time, the private Jewish agencies were also silent about the message. On February 10, Long's group took a further step in suppression of such propaganda. In a message signed by Welles (who is said to have not read the message) and with particular reference to Harrison's cable of January 21, it instructed Harrison:

"in the future, reports submitted to you for transmission to private persons in the United States should not be accepted unless extraordinary circumstances make such action advisable. It is felt that by sending such private messages which circumvent neutral countries' censorship we risk the possibility that neutral countries might find it necessary to take steps to curtail or abolish our official secret means of communication."

Finally, on February 14, the New York Times published the story (see below). For explanation of the delay of four weeks in publishing the story, despite its being received by "private Jewish agencies" on January 21, and despite the evident policy of publishing the unsupported claims of such agencies, we can only conjecture that certain unknown persons were hoping that the State Department, given the precedent of the declaration of December 17, would release the "information" so as to confer a greater credibility than would have been granted to the story as it eventually appeared: a claim indistinguishable in terms of authority from the average sort of atrocity claim.

The Treasury (which, because of Morgenthau's long crusade against Germany, had repeatedly interfered in the conduct of foreign affairs since at least 1936[131]) was soon to come into conflict with State over this suppression. A second and more substantial basis for conflict between the two Departments was also established in February 1943. It was learned that the Romanian government was prepared to transfer 70,000 Jews to Palestine on Romanian ships bearing Vatican insignia (it is unlikely that the Romanians really cared where the Jews were sent, so I assume that the Palestine destination must have been somehow specified by the Zionists involved in the formulation of the proposals). An important condition was specified by "officials who were in charge in Romania of Jewish interests." A cost of 250 pounds (about $1200) per capita was specified. There were other difficulties. The British policy at the time was not to antagonize the Arabs, especially in view of the potentially catastrophic consequences of an Arab uprising in wartime, and thus the British at first refused to consider the admission of so many Jews to Palestine. The British took the position that, if such Jews were to be taken out of Europe, the U.S. should provide camps in North Africa for them. In addition, both the British Foreign Office and the U.S. State Department took the position that there would inevitably be spies in such a large group of people, that the logistical problems involved in transporting and accommodating such numbers were formidable, and that the money demanded might fall into the hands of the enemy (who valued Allied currency for various purposes). The Treasury was eager to get into the business of aiding Jewish refugees, and thus, it sought to overcome such objections. By July 1943, there was said to be bribe money demanded for the Romanian Jews, $170,000, and the Treasury and the World Jewish Congress proposed that Romanian Jewish businessmen could produce the bribe money, if they could be reimbursed after the war with money to be held in escrow in Switzerland. However, the British objections to admitting Jews to Palestine stood, and efforts to circumvent them by proposing other destinations for the Jews ran into the opposition of various candidate countries and also into U.S. immigration laws.

The State Department, especially J. Breckenridge Long and associates, considered all the talk about "exterminations" to be just wartime propaganda in the same spirit as the stories invented during World War I. They were, after all, continually considering proposals to move these exterminated people out of Europe. As late as January 1944, the Department was taking steps to encourage Jews to leave Poland for Hungary. Long wrote that one danger in supporting the proposals of Wise was that it "may lend color to the charges of Hitler that we are fighting this war on account of and at the instigation and direction of our Jewish citizens." State considered the whole project pointless and, indeed, in conflict with the requirements of an optimum war effort. Long wrote that:

"Wise always assumes such a sanctimonious air and pleads for the 'intellectuals and brave spirits, refugees from the tortures of the dictators' or words to that effect. Of course only an infinitesimal fraction of the immigrants are of that category - and some are certainly German agents. [...] I did not allude to the Navemar - en route from Lisbon to Havana and New York - a freight boat, passenger accommodations for 15 and 1200 poor Jews above and below decks with no sanitary arrangements, no service, no kitchen facilities, at from $700 to $1500 apiece, 4 dead before reaching Bermuda, 6 hospitalized there, 1 of which died, victims of the greed of their fellows - not of Germany or the United States policy. The vessel is a menace to the health of any port where it stops and a shame to the human greed which makes it possible. But I did not allude to it in reply to Rabbi Wise. Each one of these men hates me. I am to them the embodiment of a nemesis. They each and all believe every person, everywhere, has a right to come to the United States. I believe nobody, anywhere has a right to enter the United States unless the United States desires."

The State Department either procrastinated on the matter or actively sabotaged the proposed project. At the end of the summer of 1943, it was learned that 6,000 Jewish children could be taken out of France, and this possibility got involved in the problem.

The people from the Treasury and the World Jewish Congress kept pressing for the proposed projects and continually asserted, with apparent complete seriousness, that the only alternative was the death of the people in question at the hands of Hitler. It was even openly charged that the failure to approve the projects was "acquiescence of this Government in the murder of the Jews." Pressure was also put on the British by various people. Long had become a whipping boy both publicly and within government circles, and he wrote bitterly that

"the Jewish agitation depends on attacking some individual. Otherwise they would have no publicity. So for the time being I am the bull's eye."

As a result of this campaign, Wise and Morgenthau achieved a breakthrough in December 1943, when arrangements were finally made for the evacuation of Romanian Jews and money was put into a Swiss account controlled by Riegner and the U.S. Treasury. Moreover, in December 1943, Romania put out peace feelers and was assured it would be treated well if it treated its Jews well; Romania immediately decided to repatriate Jews it had resettled by the Sea of Azov in Russia.

This Morgenthau victory had been achieved at a December 20 meeting of Hull, Long, Morgenthau, and John Pehle, chief of the Treasury's Foreign Funds Control. Morgenthau had evidently decided on a showdown with State over the entire matter, for at that meeting he casually requested a copy of the complete text of the February 10 message from Welles to Harrison (the suppression instruction). The State Department complied, but deleted the reference to Harrison's message of January 21, thereby causing the message of February 10 to appear utterly routine. In thus editing the message, State was obviously unaware that the complete contents of this correspondence had already been leaked to DuBois in the Treasury by Donald Hiss of the State Department (brother of Alger Hiss and later identified in Bentley-Chambers testimony as a Communist, although he denied it), who had acquired copies of the messages only with great difficulty and, in complying with DuBois' request, nevertheless cautioned the latter that the messages were "none of Treasury's business" and that Hiss could lose his job for the leak.[132]

When Morgenthau received the edited message, he knew that he had another weapon to use against Long and associates, and thus, he brought on a collision by charging editing of the message and demanding to see the unedited files, which were produced shortly later, exposing State's clumsy attempt at concealment. The State Department people were now very much on the defensive, and further examination of the State Department files (which the Treasury was now in a position to insist on) revealed that, in response to a request by Wise, Welles had cabled Harrison in April to meet with Riegner and transmit new information that Riegner was supposed to have obtained. The confused Harrison did as requested (Riegner's information had to do with proposals to assist Jewish refugees in France and Romania) and also remarked to Welles that such material should not be subjected to the restriction imposed by the February 10 message.

Morgenthau was victorious in the State-Treasury collision; Roosevelt, drawn into the issue, sided with him by establishing in January 1944 the so-called War Refugee Board consisting of Morgenthau, Hull, and Secretary of War Stimson. However, the executive director was "Morgenthau's fair haired boy," John Pehle, and Josiah DuBois was the general counsel. It was thus Morgenthau's Board. The WRB naturally acquired the powers that had been held by the three Government Departments that were involved in the proposed projects for taking Jews out of Europe. Thus, the State Department became committed to appointing special attachés with diplomatic status on the recommendation of the Board (the UNRRA - United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration - set up the previous November, was to have a similar function but only after the war ended).[133]

In order to completely grasp the nature of its development and its import in terms of our subject, we should go beyond noting the obvious fact that the WRB was to serve, to a great extent, simply as an instrument of the World Jewish Congress and other Zionist organizations. The Communist apparatus was also through one of the directors involved, for the person to whom Morgenthau had delegated all of the Treasury's powers in the areas relevant to the WRB was Harry Dexter White, later exposed as a Soviet agent. White became a member of Morgenthau's inner circle in the spring of 1938. A week after Pearl Harbor, Morgenthau announced that "on and after this date, Mr. Harry D. White, Assistant to the Secretary, will assume full responsibility for all matters with which the Treasury Department has to deal having a bearing on foreign relations [...]." The extreme generality of the wording of this order, especially the phrase "having a bearing on," were to create grand opportunities for White in the years ahead. In early 1943, Morgenthau amplified White's responsibilities:

"Effective this date, I would like you to take supervision over and assume full responsibility for Treasury's participation in all economic and financial matters [...] in connection with the operations of the Army and Navy and the civilian affairs in the foreign areas in which our Armed Forces are operating or are likely to operate. This will, of course, include general liaison with the State Department, Army and Navy, and other departments or agencies and representatives of foreign governments on these matters."

White, who became an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in early 1945, took full advantage of these powers, especially in connection with occupation policy in Germany. It is also evident that, because the WRB was to a large degree an arm of the Treasury, its operations fell into White's domain. It is also worth remarking that the general counsel of the WRB, DuBois, was "closely associated" with the Communist agent William L. Ullmann and was also a witness of White's will.[134]

Long had mixed and, as it developed, prescient thoughts about the implications of these developments:

"[...] it will be only a few more days now before I relinquish jurisdiction in connection with refugees and let somebody else have the fun. And it has been a heavy responsibility - domestic as well as foreign, because there are 5 million Jews in the country, of whom 4 million are concentrated in and around New York City. And we have no Arab or Moslem population, but we do have increasingly important commercial interests - principally oil - in the Moslem countries. In addition our ally England has hardly any Jewish citizenship but a very large political interest in the Near East. So our policy is increasingly based in part - a large part - on a domestic situation, while England's is based entirely on a foreign affairs base - and the two are hard to reconcile [...] it is good news for me [...] this ensures me staying out. What they can do that I have not done I cannot imagine."

Long miscalculated on the last point, for the WRB eventually did a considerable amount of Jew relocation, and its acts on behalf of refugees are of great importance in this book and are discussed in Chapter 7. In the final weeks of the war, it also aided concentration camp inmates through the Red Cross.[135] As an instrument of Wise and other Zionists, the WRB also did considerable propagandizing,[136] and its most consequential propaganda achievement was a booklet, German Extermination Camps: Auschwitz and Birkenau, Executive Office of the President, Washington, November 1944. The booklet is hereafter referred to as the WRB report.

The WRB report constituted the formal birth of the "official" thesis of exterminations via gas chamber at Auschwitz. In it all of the essentials and many of the details of the later Auschwitz hoax are found. The Nuremberg charges grew out of the WRB report. There does not seem to have been any particularly strong reaction, one way or the other, to the WRB report at the time that it was issued. However, an American journalist, Oswald F. Schuette, wrote a critical letter to Stimson (one of the signers of the report), but Schuette did not get a satisfactory reply.[137]

Of course, the WRB report failed to change the opinions of the State Department people who had scoffed at the extermination propaganda from the very beginning. In private with DuBois, they were blunt in their opinion of the WRB report:

"Stuff like this has been coming from Bern ever since 1942. [...] Don't forget, this is a Jew telling about the Jews. [...] This is just a campaign by that Jew Morgenthau and his Jewish assistants."

The WRB report was said to have been transmitted from Bern to Washington. The report will be discussed in depth after we have surveyed a key part of the wartime propaganda in its public aspect. First, however, we should point out that some otherwise keen observers misinterpret the role of Auschwitz in the extermination legend. The distinguished American journalist and historian Harry Elmer Barnes wrote in 1967 that the extermination[138]

"[...] camps were first presented as those in Germany, such as Dachau, Belsen, Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen, and Dora, but it was demonstrated that there had been no systematic extermination in those camps. Attention was then moved on to Auschwitz, Treblinka, Belzec, Chelmno, Jonowska, Tarnow, Ravensbruck, Mauthausen, Brezeznia, and Birkenau, which does not exhaust the list that appears to have been extended as needed."

The basis for Barnes' misunderstanding, of course, is that at the end of the war the mass media, for the sake of sensation mongering, did indeed seize on the scenes found in the German camps as proof of exterminations, and it is also true, as we indicated in the previous chapter, that these scenes have served as the mass propaganda "proof" of exterminations. However, our analysis shows that Auschwitz had been carefully chosen in 1944 as the core for the extermination hoax. This point will be supported by material to be reviewed below and also in Chapters 4 and 5. By publishing the WRB report in November 1944, Washington committed itself to a specific form of the hoax. That form was maintained in the trials in Nuremberg, and even today, the form of the hoax does not differ in any significant respect from the WRB report.

After his WRB victory, Morgenthau busied himself with other things, particularly with the policies to be followed in occupied Germany. He found that existing plans actually paid regard to the Hague and Geneva Conventions, to which the United States was signatory, and which prohibited such things as the seizure of private personal property of no military significance, the detaining of POWs long after the end of hostilities, and the needless imposition of starvation rations. He therefore campaigned for the harsher policies, which later became known as the Morgenthau Plan and of which many were actually adopted and put into practice. David Marcus in the CAD sponsored Morgenthau's objectives there and kept him informed about his opponents. Colonel Bernard Bernstein, long associated with Morgenthau, performed a similar function for him at Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF) in London. Baruch also helped out.[139]

The First 'Extermination' Claims and New York

The thesis of this book is that the story of Jewish extermination in World War II is a propaganda hoax. Obviously, therefore, we must examine the origins of the hoax in wartime propaganda. We have already discussed many of the "inside" aspects, and the public aspects remain to be examined.

The enormity of the task plus the "controversial" nature of the subject seem to have discouraged a thorough study of the propaganda. There have been studies of special aspects. John T. Flynn, in While You Slept, surveyed the propaganda in respect to communist and pro-communist influences, especially in regard to Asia. James J. Martin made a study of the manner, in which the American media treated the Soviet Union, the negotiated peace question, and the Allied terror bombings during the war.

It is out of the question to survey all of the atrocity and extermination propaganda pertaining to the European theater in World War II. Here we may economize on the magnitude of the survey to be undertaken by noting that we are interested only in the Jewish extermination question and only in what important people were doing. We will therefore find that examination of stories concerning alleged Jewish extermination that appeared in the New York Times, spring 1942 through 1943, together with a summary of 1944 propaganda, which will be presented in Chapter 5, is all that is required to get a satisfactory conception of the propaganda. Therefore, we start here with spring 1942 stories.

Concurrent commentary will be made. In many cases there is a story involved - allegedly originating in Europe - claiming mass killings, and the matters of particular interest in such cases are the source of the story, the location of the alleged killings, and the method of killing allegedly employed. It should also be kept in mind that the post-war extermination legend claims only three varieties of mass exterminations: gassing at six sites in Poland, "gasmobiles " in Russia, and mass shootings in Russia.

"Reports Nazi Slaughter Of Jews

April 6, 1942, p. 2 Kuibyshev, Russia, April 5 (AP) - The Anti-Fascist Jewish Committee reported today that the Germans have killed 86,000 Jews in and around Minsk, 25,000 at Odessa and 'tens of thousands' in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. In Estonia, the report said, the entire Jewish population numbering 4,500 was wiped out."

"Nazis Blame Jews For Big Bombings

June 13, 1942 Berlin, June 12 (From German broadcast recorded by the United Press in New York) - Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels said tonight that Germany would carry out a mass 'extermination' of Jews in reprisal for the Allied air bombings of German cities which, he acknowledged, have caused heavy damage.

Dr. Goebbels, in an article in the publication The Reich, said the Jews would be exterminated throughout Europe 'and perhaps even beyond Europe' in retaliation against the heavy air assaults."

Goebbels' remark was directed against the Jewish controlled press, which he regarded as largely responsible for the propaganda atmosphere which made the terror bombings possible. His remark in Das Reich was:

"In this war the Jews are playing their most criminal game, and they will have to pay for that with the extermination (Ausrottung) of their race in Europe and perhaps far beyond. They are not to be taken seriously in this conflict, because they represent neither British nor American, but exclusively Jewish interests."

Now this is indeed an extermination threat, because the primary meaning of the term "Ausrottung" is "extermination" (the English "uprooting," to which the word is related etymologically, is only a secondary meaning). Similar totally public utterances were also made occasionally by Hitler. Examples are "the result of this war will be the destruction of Jewry," and "it will not be the Aryan peoples that will be annihilated but it will be Jewry."[140]

In reaction to this, one should observe that (a) extreme statements were a pervasive feature of Nazi oratory and rhetoric, (b) the extermination mythologists find it necessary to claim that the exterminations were carried out in the most extreme secrecy, which makes it somewhat untenable to take such occasional references in the public declarations of Nazi leaders as evidence of exterminations, (c) it is necessary to fully grasp the specific circumstances of the Goebbels remark, i.e. it was a reaction to Allied terror bombings, (d) people can say heated things in wartime, and bloodthirsty statements were made by supposedly responsible people on both sides during the war, and (e) it is often the case that a complete understanding of context is necessary when interpreting the specific meaning of a reference to "extermination" or "annihilation" (or, in German, "Ausrottung," "Vernichtung," respectively). Moreover, the German word for "Jewry," das Judentum, is ambiguous in meaning. Let each of these five points be examined in order.

(a) It is well known that Nazi oratory and rhetoric tended to have a provocatively inflammatory character whose origins go well back into the days when the Nazis were a minor party in Weimar Germany. It appears that this was a result of a deliberate and studied policy, for in 1931 Hitler explained the reasons for it in a private interview:[141]

"What some madman of an editor writes in my own press is of no interest to me. [...] We can achieve something only by fanaticism. If this fanaticism horrifies the bourgeoisie, so much the better. Solely by this fanaticism, which refuses any compromise, do we gain our contact with the masses."

Put more simply, he often found that he could get attention by making wild statements.

Naturally, all of the Nazi leaders, especially Goebbels, were infected with this attitude to some degree. It is true that, after the Nazis came to power and assumed responsibility for ruling Germany, their public declarations became much more moderated in tone, but the tendency never entirely departed from them, and of course the war and the problem of attempting to reach public opinion in the Allied countries revived the feature somewhat. Under the circumstances, it is actually remarkable that Hitler and Goebbels only rarely made such declarations.

(b) We shall see in following chapters that the extermination mythologists are forced to take the position that the Nazis went to extremes to preserve the secrecy of their killing program of continental scope and did in fact preserve this secrecy to a most remarkable extent. What is known of the behavior of European Jews during those days, for example, despite the claims of some individual authors and the indubitable fact that there were all sorts of rumors current, shows that the Jews were not conscious of any extermination program. When they were told to pack up for transport, they did just that, and went without resistance. On p. 140 we shall note Theresienstadt Jews volunteering for transport to Auschwitz as late as August 1944, for the Jews at Theresienstadt knew nothing of any extermination program at Auschwitz or anywhere else. On p. 262 we shall note that the Nazis were allegedly even unwilling to commit anything to confidential documents for, we are told, 'the drafting of circumspect minutes was one of the major arts of Hitler's Reich.' Because this is the case put forward by the extermination mythologists, then it is not merely that occurrences of the sort of remarks under consideration do not support their case; the problem becomes that of explaining such occurrences.

(c) The Goebbels remark should be seen for what it was: a professional propagandist's reaction to the Allied bombings, which obsessed German policy in various ways from May 1940 on. Because the facts in this connection, although well established, are not well known, they are very briefly summarized here, but in order to avoid an inexcusably long digression, the summary is indeed brief. The reader interested in more thorough treatment is referred to Veale and to Colby.[142]

At the outbreak of war in 1939, German air doctrine viewed the bomber as a form of artillery and thus a weapon to be used in support of ordinary ground operations. It was in this connection that the well-publicized bombings of Warsaw in 1939 and Rotterdam in May 1940 took place: only after these cities had actually become the scenes of military operations and the laws of siege applied. "Strategic bombing," as we understand the term, played no role in German combat operations (although of course it had been and was under study by German military planners).

This was not the case in Britain, however, for at the time that the Germans were using their bombers as artillery in the Netherlands, the British made the "splendid decision" to bomb German civilian targets, knowing perfectly well that Hitler had no intention or wish to engage in warfare of this sort (Hitler, indeed, did not want war with Britain at all).

There was a moderate amount of German bombing of targets in England during the early summer of 1940, but only specifically military targets were attacked, even while such cities as Hamburg and Bremen were undergoing general attack. It was only after three months of this, and with the greatest reluctance, that Hitler felt himself forced to reply in kind, and in this way the well publicized "Blitz" hoax was established. The British people were not permitted to find out that their government could have stopped the German raids at any time merely by stopping the raids on Germany.

The British raids on Germany, while of no military significance in 1940, had put the German government on the spot in German popular opinion, because the German people naturally thought that their government should be able to do something about them. The only reason the Germans adopted retaliatory bombing was as a last resort. In announcing the policy, Hitler declared in a Sportpalast speech of September 4, 1940:[143]

"If the British Air force drops two or three or four thousand kilograms of bombs, we will drop a hundred and fifty, a hundred and eighty, two hundred thousand, three hundred thousand, four hundred thousand kilograms and more in a single night."

This was a gross exaggeration of his capabilities relative to the British, for his bombers were designed for support of troops and not for the "strategic bombing," for which the British bombers were equipped, although at the time Germany's bombers were numerically superior to the British. Nevertheless, violent words are cheap, and after the Luftwaffe, which was never more than a nuisance for the Allied bombing operations, violent words (sometimes coupled with promises of secret new weapons) were about all Hitler and Goebbels were able to come up with in 1940 or at any subsequent time to oppose the bombings. It is in this context that the Goebbels remark should be grasped.

(d) There were bloodthirsty remarks made on both sides during the war. In the U.S. there were many examples of wild views earnestly put forward by apparently civilized persons, which were received with apparently thoughtful reactions of approval by equally respected persons. Because there were so many such people, it will suffice to remark only on Clifton Fadiman, the well known author and critic who, at the time, was the book review editor of the New Yorker weekly magazine.

Fadiman was the principal luminary of the Writers War Board, a semi-official government agency that did volunteer writing for government agencies in connection with the war. The Board was chaired by Rex Stout. The thesis that Fadiman and Stout carried to the writers' community in 1942 was that writings on the war should seek "to generate an active hate against all Germans and not merely against Nazi leaders." This generated some heated controversy, and writers and observers took sides in what became a debate hot enough for Fadiman to declare that he knew of "only one way to make a German understand and that's to kill them and even then I think they don't understand."

These were not isolated outbursts, for Fadiman welcomed the opportunity to set down his views on Germans in a more organized context through his column in the New Yorker. In April 1942, he had found the juvenile concept he needed in a book by de Sales, The Making of Tomorrow. Taking for granted the reader's concurrence that the Nazis were at least the worst scourge to come along in centuries, he wrote that de Sales'

"argument is simply that the present Nazi onslaught is not in the least the evil handiwork of a group of gangsters but rather the final and perfect expression of the most profound instincts of the German people. 'Hitler is the incarnation of forces greater than himself. The heresy he preaches is two thousand years old.' What is the heresy? It is nothing more or less than a rebellion against Western civilization. Mr. de Sales traces five such German rebellions, beginning with Arminius. At first you are inclined to be skeptical of the author's grand indictment - his anti-Germanism may conceivably stem from his French ancestry - but as you follow his argument it becomes more and more cogent and the true proportions of this war emerge with great clarity."

His reviews of books on the war expressed the historical concept that he had found in de Sales' nonsense. Scoffing at Howard K. Smith's claim that "If we can offer (the Germans) a real alternative to extermination, the nation, though it may not succumb to actual revolution, will fall into our hands," Fadiman wrote:

"The world has been appeasing the Germans ever since their human wolf packs broke out of their forest lairs in the time of Arminius. The result is a Europe on the verge of suicide."

This was followed by his obvious approval of "Hemingway's extraordinary [...] suggestion that 'the only ultimate settlement' with the Nazis is to sterilize them. He means just that, in a surgical sense." Of course, Fadiman also saw no distinction between Nazis and other Germans and ridiculed Dorothy Thompson's "passionate argument" for such a distinction as well as her conviction "that our postwar efforts must be directed toward the construction of a European federation of states, with Germany, under democratic leadership, occupying a leading position." Although Fadiman never advocated the killing of all or most Germans, at least not in so many words, this was the clear sense of his declarations. After all, what else can be done with "wolf packs who broke out of their forest lairs," who are now trying to enslave the rest of the world, and who "understand" only if you "kill them" and must not be given "a real alternative to extermination?"[144]

Clifton Fadiman was only a very prominent and semi-official example of a "school of thought" that existed among leaders of opinion in the U.S. during the war. James J. Martin and Benjamin Colby have published longer studies of Allied propaganda based on hatred of all Germans, the latter presenting a particularly thorough study of the Writers War Board.

The climate of wartime opinion in Britain, of course, was about the same and, on account of England's earlier entry into the war, of longer standing. In reacting to Hitler's Berlin Sportpalast speech on the initiation of German air raids on British cities (quoted above), the London Daily Herald gloated that Hitler had made "a frantic effort to reassure his raid-harassed people" who "are in an extremely nervous condition and stay awake even when there is no alarm." The same issue of the Herald goes on to present the recommendations of the Reverend C. W. Whipp, vicar of St. Augustine's Leicester:

"The orders ought to be, 'wipe them out,' and to this end I would concentrate all our science towards discovering a new and far more terrific explosive.

These German devils (that is the only word one can use) come over our cities and turn their machine-guns on women and children.

Well, all I hope is that the RAF will grow stronger and stronger and go over and smash Germany to smithereens.

A Minister of the Gospel, perhaps, ought not to indulge in sentiments like these.

I go further, and I say quite frankly that if I could I would wipe Germany off the map.

They are an evil race and have been a curse in Europe for centuries.

There can be no peace until Hitler and all those who believe in him are sent to hell which is their place of origin and their final home."

The Herald remarked that Whipp "has aroused considerable local controversy," so it is evident that in Britain, as in the U.S., there were many people who kept their heads despite the Fadiman types.

The peculiar ad hoc philosophy of history enunciated by de Sales and promoted by Clifton Fadiman also made its apparently independent appearance in England. An article by Reginald Hargreaves in the June 1941 issue of the respected journal National Review (not to be confused with the National Review that was founded in the U.S. in 1955) proposed as a war aim (as distinct from an unavoidable consequence of the war) that "at least three million Nazi soldiers (be) put permanently out of action," it being:

"[...] an absolutely vital prerequisite to the laying down of arms that a sufficient number of the present-day corrupted, brutalized and delirious young dervishes of Nazidom should be left dead upon the field."

The necessity for this arose from the consideration that:

"[...] throughout her whole history Germany has shown herself as utterly uncivilized and worthy of nothing but detestation and disgust. From the very beginning the behavior of the Teutonic peoples had qualified them for the role of pariahs - the outcast mad dogs of Europe. [...] Our real war aim must be, not only military triumph in the field, but the reduction of the German people to such a shrunken and delimited condition that never again will they be in such a position to 'start anything' to the detriment of generations yet to come. Our conflict, despite mushy affirmations to the contrary, is with the German people; a race so savage, so predatory, so unscrupulous and so utterly uncivilized that their elimination as a major power is the only hope for a world that has no choice but to take the surgeon's knife and cut out this cankerous growth from its body-politic, thoroughly, relentlessly, once and for all."

Such declarations seem even more extraordinary when one considers that they came from a nation noted for understatement.

The point of this discussion is not that there had grown up any consensus in the U.S. and Britain that all Germans are by nature monsters and should be killed or at least sterilized. Everybody would agree that no such consensus existed (and even the extermination mythologists would agree, I think, that no consensus favoring extermination of the Jews existed in Germany). Moreover, as we all realize, the genocidal policies advocated or implied by many leaders of opinion in the U.S. and Britain were not, in their literal form, within the bounds of the possible; the American and British people would never have permitted such deeds to be done in their names. The point is that during the heat of wartime the most extraordinary things were said. For the most part (unfortunately, one can only say for the most part) such lunacies were not realized in events, but they were expressed nevertheless.

Murderous things were said on both sides, and in my opinion and dim recollection of the times, the rhetoric in the U.S. (especially in regard to the Japanese) seems to me to have been more violent than anything that now seems to have been current in Germany during the war, although such a comparison is difficult and perhaps should not be attempted in regard to degree, on account of the very different roles played by "public opinion" and by the statements of political leaders in the two political systems involved.

On the Axis side, one should also note that Fascist Italy had various anti-Jewish laws that were however very mild in application and certainly never approached murder. Nevertheless, the anti-Jewish rhetoric in the Fascist press was at least as violent as anything generated in Germany, and assuming the New York Times (October 22, 1941) reported accurately, it even advocated that all Italian Jews be "annihilated as a danger to the internal front," because "this is the moment to do away with half-way measures."

(e) A final point is that one must use some common sense and a feeling for the context in interpreting references to "extermination" and "annihilation" properly. In the American Civil War, many wanted Lincoln to "annihilate" the South, and it is not inaccurate English to say that Lincoln did just that, but it was understood, then as now, that the killing of all Southerners was not contemplated.

Naturally, the same observation may be made in connection with public declarations of Nazi leaders, but there is an additional point to be made in this connection. Very often the Jews were referred to via the German word das Judentum, one of whose correct translations is "Jewry," but which can also mean "Judaism" or even "Jewishness" or "the idea of Jewishness." Thus, a Hitler reference to "die Vernichtung des Judentums," if lifted out of context and interpreted in a purely literal way, can be interpreted as meaning the killing of all Jews, but it can also be interpreted as meaning the destruction of Jewish influence and power, which is what the politician Hitler actually meant by such a remark, although it is true that he could have chosen his words more carefully. Alfred Rosenberg made specific reference to this ambiguity in his IMT testimony, where he argued that "die Ausrottung des Judentums," a term he had used on occasion, was not a reference to killing in the context in which Rosenberg had used it.

The lengthy digression made necessary by Goebbels' "Ausrottung" remark being concluded, we return to the survey of stories in The New York Times for 1942-1943.

June 14, 1942, p. 1: "258 Jews Reported Slain In Berlin For Bomb Plot At Anti-Red Exhibit

by George Axelsson - by telephone to the New York Times Stockholm, Sweden, June 13. At the Gross Lichterfelde Barracks in the western suburbs of Berlin 258 Jews were put to death by the SS on May 28, and their families deported, in retaliation for an alleged Jewish plot to blow up the anti-Bolshevist 'Soviet Paradise' exhibition at the Lustgarten. [...] If there were any bombs, they evidently were discovered before they had time to explode. [...] The SS wanted the executions to be published. [...] Instead [...] leaders of the Jewish colony were called in.

Observers are inclined to see a link between the Berlin executions and the massacre at Lidice, in Czechoslovakia, after the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich."

June 30, 1942, p. 7: "1,000,000 Jews Slain By Nazis, Report Says

London, June 29 (UP) [...] spokesmen for the World Jewish Congress charged today.

They said Nazis had established a 'vast slaughterhouse for Jews' in Eastern Europe. [...] A report to the Congress said that Jews, deported en masse to Central Poland from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and the Netherlands were being shot by firing squads at the rate of 1,000 daily.

Information received by the Polish Government in London confirmed that the Nazis had executed 'several hundred thousand' Jews in Poland."

No such "slaughterhouse" where executions were by "firing squad" is claimed today. As noted above, this was the start of the World Jewish Congress' campaign of extermination propaganda. It is quite possible that this first story was inspired by Goebbels' then recent "Ausrottung" remark.

July 22, 1942, p. 1: "Nazi Punishment Seen By Roosevelt

[...] President Roosevelt declared last night in a message read to 20,000 persons at Madison Square Garden [...]

President's Message

'The White House

'Washington

'July 17, 1942

'Dear Dr. Wise:

'[...] Citizens [...] will share in the sorrow of our Jewish fellow-citizens over the savagery of the Nazis against their helpless victims. The Nazis will not succeed in exterminating their victims any more than they will succeed in enslaving mankind.

The American people [...] will hold the perpetrators of these crimes to strict accountability in a day of reckoning which will surely come. [...]'

Text of Churchill Message

'[...] you will recall that on Oct. 25 last, both President Roosevelt and I expressed the horror felt [...] at Nazi butcheries and terrorism and our resolve to place retribution for these crimes among the major purposes of this war. [...]'"

Such vague statements of the wartime leaders, while devoid of any specific charges, carried more weight among the public than any of the more specific stories that the leaders may have seemed, by their statements, to be endorsing. We shall see that the specific claims of the time, at least for several months, did not very much resemble the claims made at the later trials. Nevertheless, the politics of the situation, as perceived by Roosevelt and Churchill, made it opportune for them to "go along," at least to the extent of making vague public statements supporting the propaganda.

September 3, 1942, p. 5: "50,000 Jews Dying In Nazi Fortress

London, Sept. 2 (UP) - Fifty thousand Jews from Germany and Czechoslovakia have been thrown into the fortress at Terezin and several thousand who are ill or charged with 'criminal' acts are in underground dungeons where they are 'dying like flies' a Czech Government spokesman said tonight.

'All hope for them has been abandoned,' the spokesman said. [...] The spokesman said the Germans had launched a campaign to exterminate Jews from the protectorate and that of 40,000 Jews formerly in Prague only 15,000 remain. Pilsen and Bruenn have been cleared of Jews, he said, many of them being sent to Terezin, largest concentration camp in Nazi-controlled Europe.

A European observer said the Germans planned to exterminate the Jews not only in Europe, but throughout the world. He declared the Nazis had executed 2,000,000 Jews in the past three years [...]."

The only truth in this story lies in the fact that the death rate of Jews was rather high at Terezin (Theresienstadt) due to the German policy of sending all Reich Jews over 65 there. Another category at Theresienstadt was the "privileged" Jews - the war veterans - especially those with high decorations. There were other Jews, many of whom were eventually moved out, but if they suffered, it was not at Theresienstadt. The place was visited by the Red Cross in June 1944, and the resulting favorable report angered the World Jewish Congress.[145] There will be more to be said about Theresienstadt in subsequent chapters. While it was not the "largest concentration camp in Nazi-controlled Europe," it nevertheless plays an important role here.

September 5, 1942, p. 3: "US Rebukes Vichy On Deporting Jews

Washington, Sept. 4 - The State Department has made the 'most vigorous representations possible' to the French Government through the American Embassy in Vichy over the mass deportation of Jews from unoccupied France, it was announced today by the American Jewish Committee.

The protest followed representations by four Jewish organizations, and the action was communicated to them in a letter by Sumner Welles, Under-Secretary of State. [...] Mr. Welles said: 'I have received your communication of Aug. 27, 1942, enclosing a letter [...] in regard to the mass deportation of Jewish refugees from unoccupied France.

'I am in complete agreement with the statements made concerning this tragic situation, which provides a new shock to the public opinion of the civilized world. It is deeply regretted that these measures should be taken in a country traditionally noted for adherence to the principles of equality, freedom and tolerance.

'The American Embassy at Vichy [...] has made the most vigorous representations possible to the highest authorities at Vichy [...].'

[...] The letter of the four organizations to the Secretary of State follows:

'On behalf of the organizations we represent [...] the undersigned respectfully request our government to transmit to the government of France a solemn protest against the action taken recently by that government to turn thousands of refugees over to the agents of the Nazi government for deportation to Poland and to other Nazi-occupied regions in Eastern Europe.

'Reports reaching us [...stating] that the government of France is permitting the [...] deportation by the Nazis of Jewish refugees who have been interned in a number of camps in the south of France. This action began about Aug. 8, when a total of 3,600 men, women and children were rounded up, loaded on trains and sent off without any word regarding their destination.

'The reports agree that these 3,600 were the first contingent of a total of 10,000 Jewish refugees which the French government has agreed to deport to eastern territories [...]

'[...] Mass deportations of Jews from Germany and from territories under German occupation have been going on ever since the conquest of Poland. In accordance with the announced policy of the Nazis to exterminate the Jews of Europe, hundreds of thousands of these innocent men, women and children have been killed in brutal mass murders. The rest are being herded in ghettos in Eastern Europe under indescribably wretched conditions, as a result of which tens of thousands have succumbed to starvation and pestilence.'"

We should only note at this point that even the four Jewish organizations are not completely secure in claiming exterminations, because they allow themselves an "out" by referring to those being "herded in ghettos." Welles' reply, while "in complete agreement" with the letter, avoids direct endorsement of the extermination claim.

November 24, 1942, p. 10: "Hebrew Papers Mourn

JERUSALEM, Nov. 23 (UP) - The Hebrew press appeared today with black borders around reports of mass murders of Jews in Poland. The reports, received by the Jewish Agency, asserted that systematic annihilation of the Jewish population was being carried out by a special German 'destruction commission' [...] on the former frontier between German and Russian Poland, thousands were thrown into the Bug river and drowned."

December 13, 1942, p. 21: "Tardy War Report Held Aid To Faith

[...] Rabbi Israel Goldstein declared: 'Authenticated reports point to 2,000,000 Jews who have already been slain by all manner of satanic barbarism, and plans for the total extermination of all Jews upon whom the Nazis can lay their hands. The slaughter of a third of the Jewish population in Hitler's domain and the threatened slaughter of all is a holocaust without parallel.'"

December 18, 1942, p. 1: "11 Allies Condemn Nazi War On Jews

Special to the New York Times Washington, Dec. 17 - A joint declaration by members of the United Nations was issued today condemning Germany's 'bestial policy of cold-blooded extermination' of Jews [...]. The declaration was issued simultaneously through the State Department here, and in London. [...]

Text of Declaration

'[...] From all the occupied countries Jews are being transported in conditions of appalling horror and brutality to Eastern Europe. In Poland, which has been made the principal Nazi slaughterhouse, the ghettos established by the German invader are being systematically emptied of all Jews except a few highly skilled workers required for war industries. None of those taken away are ever heard of again. The able-bodied are slowly worked to death in labor camps. The infirm are left to die of exposure and starvation or are deliberately massacred in mass executions. The number of victims of these bloody cruelties is reckoned in many hundreds of thousands of entirely innocent men, women and children.'"

This was the beginning of the State Department involvement in the extermination legend, and that it came from such a seemingly official source was the basis for special comment in the Times editorial of the same day:

December 18, 1942, p. 26: "Hitler's Terror

Despite all that has been written about Nazi persecution of the Jews, the facts in the joint statement issued yesterday in Washington, London and Moscow in the name of the United Nations will come as a shock to all civilized people who have preserved a modicum of human decency. For this statement is not an outcry of the victims themselves to which many thought it possible to close their ears on the ground that it might be a special plea, subject to doubt. It is the official statement of their own governments, based on officially established facts. [...]"

Clearly, it was believed that atrocity claims apparently coming from the State Department were more credible than claims coming from such groups as the World Jewish Congress, which is no doubt what is meant by the "victims themselves." However, we have seen that Wise was also behind the "joint declaration." The December 17 statement marked the start of U.S. and British government complicity in the extermination legend. The German government did not see the event as laden with import, and von Stumm of the Foreign Office's press section flippantly explained to the neutral press that the Allied declaration was for the purpose of helping the Christmas sales of the Jewish department stores of New York and London.[146]

December 20, 1942, p. 23: "Allies Describe Outrages On Jews

What is happening to the 5,000,000 Jews of German-held Europe, all of whom face extermination, is described in a statement released yesterday by the United Nations Information Office. [...]

[...] Novel methods of mass execution by shooting and lethal gas are cited in the main body of the report, which states that this destruction of the Jews is not 'isolated in one country but is continent-wide. Early in December 1942 the State Department in Washington gave some figures showing that the number of Jewish victims deported and perished since 1939 in Axis-controlled Europe now reached the appalling figure of 2,000,000 and that 5,000,000 were in danger of extermination. [...]

The document concludes:

'The means employed in deporting from the ghetto all those who survive murders and shooting in the street exceeds all imagination. In particular, children, old people and those too weak for work are murdered. Actual data concerning the fate of the deportees is not at hand, but the news is available - irrefutable news - that places of execution have been organized at Chelmno and Belzec, where those who survive shootings are murdered en masse by means of electrocution and lethal gas.'"

The alleged electrocutions at Belzec appeared a few times in the propaganda and will be discussed again on p. 183. They are one of the versions of exterminations that were quickly forgotten about after the end of the war. Nevertheless, we can see, at this point, a clear tendency of the propaganda to resemble the claims which have become the fixed features of the legend, the gas chambers and the approximate 6,000,000 killed during the course of the war. We will have more to say a bit later on the origin of the six million figure.

December 28, 1942, p. 21: "Demand Jews Be Saved

Albany, Dec 27 (AP) - Dr. Wise, president of the American Jewish Congress and the World Jewish Congress [... urged] formulation of an Allied program to halt the Nazi slaughter of civilians."

Jan. 8, 1943, p. 8: "93 Choose Suicide Before Nazi Shame

Ninety-three Jewish girls and young Jewish women, the pupils and the teacher of a Beth Jacob School of Warsaw, Poland, chose mass suicide to escape being forced into prostitution by German soldiers, according to a letter from the teacher, made public yesterday by Rabbi Seth Jung of the Jewish Center of New York City."

February 7, 1943, VI, p. 16: "In The Valley Of Death

[magazine article by Sholem Asch...] gas chambers and blood poisoning stations which are established in the outlying countryside, where steam shovels prepare community graves for the victims."

February 14, 1943, p. 37: "Tyranny Of Nazis Shown

Warsaw is being subjected to a deliberate Nazi pattern of death, disease, starvation, economic slavery and wholesale elimination of population, the Office of War Information states in a twenty-four page pamphlet, 'Tale of a City,' published today.

Declaring that Warsaw has been the testing ground for Nazi plans of world conquest [...]

'[...] there is no way of telling at this time exactly how many Poles have been murdered by the Nazis in Warsaw.' The execution spot is now Palmiry, near Warsaw, where mass shootings occur either at dawn or during the night."

February 14, 1943, p. 37: "Execution 'Speed-up' Seen

Mass executions of Jews in Poland on an accelerated tempo was reported by European representatives of the World Jewish Congress in a communication made public by Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, president of the American Jewish Congress.

In one place in Poland 6,000 Jews are killed daily, according to the report, dated Jan. 19. Jews left in Poland are now confined in fifty-five ghettos, some in the large towns and some in the smaller towns that have been transformed into ghettos."

This was the propaganda story involved in the conflict between State and Treasury. As noted in connection with the remarks on the Times editorial of December 18, if this story had managed to emerge from the State Department, greater credibility would, apparently, have been attached to it. Unfortunately for the propaganda inventors at the time, they had to settle for Rabbi Wise as ostensible source.

February 16, 1943, p. 7: "Nazis Shift 30,000 Jews

Geneva, Switzerland, Feb. 15 (ONA) - All the aged and feeble [from Czestachowa, Poland] were sent to Rawa-Russka, in Galicia, for execution by the Nazis, sources from inside Poland said."

February 23, 1943, p. 23: "Atrocities Protested

Thirty-five hundred children [...] held a solemn assembly of sorrow and protest against Nazi atrocities in Mecca Temple, 133 West Fifty-fifth Street. [...] Six refugee children related their experiences at the hands of the Nazis."

March 2, 1943, pp. 1, 4: "Save Doomed Jews, Huge Rally Pleads

Immediate action by the United Nations to save as many as possible of the five million Jews threatened with extermination [...] was demanded at a mass demonstration [...] in Madison Square Garden last night.

[...Rabbi Hertz said] 'appalling is the fact that those who proclaim the Four Freedoms have so far done very little to secure even the freedom to live for 6,000,000 of their Jewish fellow men by readiness to rescue those who might still escape Nazi torture and butchery. [...]'

[...Wendell Wilkie said] 'Two million human beings, merely because they are Jews, have already been murdered by every fiendish means which Hitler could devise. Millions of other Jews [...] face immediate destruction [...]'

[...Chaim Weizmann said] 'Two million Jews have already been exterminated. [...]

'The democracies have a clear duty before them. [...] Let them negotiate with Germany through the neutral countries concerning the possible release of the Jews in the occupied countries. [...] Let the gates of Palestine be opened to all who can reach the shores of the Jewish homeland [...]'"

March 7, 1943, p. 30: "600 Jews Sent To Silesia

Stockholm, Sweden, March 6 (Reuter) - Nearly 600 Norwegian Jews [...] are now known to have reached Polish Upper Silesia. Most of the men have been sent to work in the mines near Katowice."

March 10, 1943, p. 12: "40,000 Here View Memorial To Jews

Forty thousand persons listened and watched [...] last night to two performances of 'We Will Never Die,' a dramatic mass memorial to the 2,000,000 Jews killed in Europe. [...] The narrator said 'There will be no Jews left in Europe for representation when peace comes. The four million left to kill are being killed, according to plan.'"

April 1, 1943, p. 2: "French Jews Sent To A Nazi Oblivion

Wireless to The New York Times London, March 31 - A system of 'death convoys' under which French Jews are being rounded up [...] and then shipped out to various points in Eastern Europe, after which they are no longer heard from, was described here today by the British section of the World Jewish Congress, which charged that the 'full force' of the Nazi and anti-Jewish terror now was being concentrated in France.

Basing its report on first hand information supplied by a prominent French Jew who has escaped to a neutral country, the Congress declared the last 'convoy' left France about Feb. 20. It involved 3,000 Jews of all classes and ages, and all that was known about its eventual destination was that it was somewhere in the East.

In mid-February, the Congress added, the Gestapo raided the Lyon headquarters of the General Union of French Jews, arrested the entire staff, removed them to the Drancy concentration camp and since has shipped them, too, to some 'extermination center' on the other side of Europe."

Reitlinger (page 327) tells us that "less than a tenth of the Jews who were deported (from France) possessed French nationality." By his figures that is perhaps 5,000 of the 240,000 French Jews, suggesting that maybe the 5,000 enlisted for work voluntarily or were actually "politicals" or partisans.

April 12, 1943, p. 5: "Nazis Erase Ghettos In Two Polish Cities

London, April 11 (AP) - The Polish Telegraph Agency said tonight that the Germans had erased the ghetto at Krakow in a three-day massacre that started March 13, and also had eliminated the ghetto in Lodz.

The fate of the Jews in the latter city was unknown, but the agency said it was believed they also were killed."

April 20, 1943, p. 11: "2,000,000 Jews Murdered

London, April 19 (Reuter) - Two million Jews have been wiped out since the Nazis began their march through Europe in 1939 and five million more are in immediate danger of execution. These figures were revealed in the sixth report on conditions in occupied territories issued by the Inter-Allied Information Committee.

[...] The report said lethal gas and shooting were among the methods being used to exterminate the Jews."

April 20, 1943, p. 11: "Rescue Of Jews Urged

The Jewish Agency for Palestine, in a memorandum addressed to the Bermuda Refugees Conference yesterday, urged that measures of rescue be launched immediately on behalf of 4,000,000 Jews estimated to be still surviving in Nazi occupied countries.

The Agency, headed by Dr. Chaim Weizmann, is recognized in the Mandate for Palestine as a body to advise and cooperate with the Government of Palestine on matters affecting the establishment of the Jewish National Home.

The memorandum declares that 'should the announced policy of the enemy continue unchecked, it is not impossible that by the time the war will have been won, the largest part of the Jewish population of Europe will have been exterminated.'"

April 25, 1943, p. 19: "Scant Hope Seen For Axis Victims

Special Cable to the New York Times Hamilton, Bermuda, April 24 - The large scale movement of refugees is impossible under wartime conditions, and neither the United States nor Great Britain, alone or jointly, can begin to solve the refugee problem. These two concrete impressions have emerged after almost a week's discussion of the refugee problem by the American and British delegations here."

Because almost all Jews outside the Continent, particularly those in the U.S., believed the extermination claims, they brought political pressures which resulted in the Bermuda Conference. It was believed,[147] correctly, that the Nazis wished the emigration of the Jews from Europe (under appropriate conditions), and this put the British and American governments, on account of the propaganda basis for their war, into an awkward position, around which they were obliged to continually double-talk.[148] We have described the conflict between State and Treasury in this regard. The British had, at that point, no intention of opening Palestine, and both the British and Americans had no intention of providing the resources, in the middle of the war, for massive operations undertaken for reasons that were valid only to the degree that their propaganda was taken seriously. No sane modern statesmen believe their own propaganda. This is the dilemma, which J. Breckenridge Long and other State Department officials felt themselves facing.

Another point that should be made here before proceeding with the survey of the propaganda is that the six million figure had its origin apparently in the propaganda of 1942-1943. An examination of the problem of the origin of the six million figure could easily lead to the conclusion that it had its origin at the IMT, where the indictment mentioned a figure (supplied by the World Jewish Congress) of 5,721,800 "missing" Jews and Wilhelm Höttl of the SD signed an affidavit, 2738-PS, asserting that he had gotten a figure of six million from Eichmann. According to Höttl, Eichmann had visited his Budapest office in a depressed mood because he was convinced that the war was lost, thought that the Allies would punish him as a major war criminal, and then declared, with no other witnesses present, that four million Jews had been killed in extermination camps and that two million had met death in various other ways, mainly through executions carried out by the Einsatzgruppen in Russia.

Here we offer a different theory regarding the origin of the six million figure. Its very first appearance seems to be Rabbi Goldstein's statement of December 13, 1942, followed by the story of December 20 to the same effect, except that it specified a potential seven million in danger of being exterminated, rather than the six million implied by Goldstein's statement. However, it could correctly be argued that one must not infer the origin of the six million figure purely on the basis of these stories.

However, the appearances of the two million killed - four (or five) million to be killed - extermination claim at the public affairs reported on March 2 and 10, 1943, must be taken much more seriously. More information about the latter affair can be extracted from an advertisement that also appeared on March 10 (page 10), reporting that the show had been organized by the "Committee for a Jewish Army of Stateless and Palestinian Jews," headed by Senator Johnson of Colorado. The advertisement makes the same extermination claim (two million killed, four million to be killed) and also lists the sponsors of the organization, which included many members of Congress and other notables. The same organization had also run a full page advertisement on February 16 (page 11), specifying two million killed and four million to go (and also claiming that the only Arabs who objected to massive Jewish immigration into Palestine were Nazi agents). The two stories of April 20 suggest rather widespread usage of the two million killed - four (or five) million to be killed - form of the extermination claim in early 1943. We therefore have very general usage of the six (or seven) million figure, long before the end of the war, by the political establishment that wrote the charges at Nuremberg: Thus, I believe that we can take late 1942/early 1943 propaganda as the origin of the six million figure. The complete independence of that figure of any real facts whatever is reflected in Reitlinger's elaborate apologies for his belief that he can claim only 4.2 to 4.6 million Jews, almost all East European, who perished in Europe during World War II, one third of them dying from "overwork, disease, hunger and neglect."[149] However, Reitlinger's figures are also mostly independent of any real facts, but that matter will be discussed in Chapter 7.

It is not at all remarkable that after the war somebody could be found to declare at Nuremberg that the propaganda figure was correct. Höttl, indeed, was a completely appropriate choice, because he was one of those stereotype "operators," with which the world of intelligence work is plagued. Born in 1915, he entered the SD in 1938 and soon acquired a reputation for mixing official business with personal business deals. His teaming up with a Polish countess friend in a Polish land deal led to an SS investigation of his activities in 1942. The report of the investigation characterized him as "dishonest, scheming, fawning [...] a real hoaxer," and concluded that he was not even suitable for membership in the SS, let alone a sensitive agency such as the SD. He was accordingly busted down to the ranks, but then the appointment in early 1943 of his fellow Austrian and Vienna acquaintance Kaltenbrunner to head the RSHA seems to have reversed his fortunes, and he rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel by the end of the war and played a responsible role in foreign intelligence work. After the war, he worked for the U.S. Army Counter-Intelligence Corps until 1949 in lining up ex-SS personnel to give information. It is said that he managed to make this job rather lucrative. After 1949, he immersed himself in the snake pit of Vienna cold war politics, maintaining links with neo-Nazis, Soviet agents, and nearly everybody else. He had a particularly close relationship with one Soviet agent Kurt Ponger, a naturalized U.S. citizen whom he had met when Ponger was employed as a translator at the IMT (in addition a Kurt Ponger, probably the same person, was a prosecution lawyer in NMT Case 4). Höttl consequently became suspect in the Verber-Ponger espionage case of 1953 and was arrested by U.S. authorities in March in Vienna but released a few weeks later. In the mid-Fifties, he published two books on his wartime experiences. In 1961, he signed a prosecution affidavit for Eichmann's trial (substantially the same as his IMT affidavits).[150]

Authors on my side have written that Höttl was an Allied agent during the war. This is not correct. The only real fact that is involved in this claim is that Höttl was in touch with Allen Dulles of the OSS in Switzerland toward the end of the war. This was a part of his duties: the RSHA was attempting to arrange a favorable conclusion of the hostilities, and Höttl was one of the persons involved in the secret contacts with the western Allies.

No doubt, during the very last weeks of the war many of these intelligence officers started acting with their personal interests in mind, and also without doubt, Höttl would have been delighted to have been enlisted as an Allied agent at this juncture of the war and may even have volunteered some favors to Dulles with this development in mind. However, these contacts are no more evidence that Höttl was an Allied agent than they are that Dulles was an Axis agent (Dulles is even said to have peppered his conversation with anti-Semitic remarks when he was trying to win the confidence of some German contacts[151]). If Höttl had been an Allied agent, it would seem that he would boast about this in one of his two books (The Secret Front and Hitler's Paper Weapon), but he makes no such claim. In addition, Ian Colvin, who knows as much about these matters as anybody, wrote the Introduction for The Secret Front, and makes no remarks in this connection.

April 27, 1943, p. 10: "Norwegian Deportees Die

Stockholm, Sweden, April 26 (ONA) - Reports from Oslo said today that most of the Norwegian Jewish women and children deported from the country [...] had died of starvation.

Transports of deportees that left Oslo in November and February were removing them toward an ultimate destination in the Silesian mining region around Katowice. [...]"

May 3, 1943, p. 12: "Britain Scored On Jews

An audience of 1,500 persons [...] heard Pierre van Paassen [...] assert that Palestine presented the only solution to the refugee problem.

[...] Mr. van Paassen said that Great Britain had made a 'hollow mockery' of the refugee conference in Bermuda by excluding discussion of Palestine among the possible solutions.

'Britain feels that the modernization of Palestine by the Jews endangers the pillars of her empire. [...] That is the real reason many more Jews face death because Britain wants to keep the doors of Palestine shut to them.'"

May 20, 1943, p. 12: "Eden Ties Victory To Refugee Hopes

Special Cable to the New York Times London, May 19. [...] Eden [...] insisted that it was not fair to accuse the British Government of utterly ignoring the situation.

[...] he disclosed that the war Cabinet had approved the [Bermuda Conference] report [...]

[WJC disappointed with Bermuda Conference]

London, May 19 (Reuter) - The World Jewish Congress [...] expressed deep disappointment with the results of the Bermuda Conference.

The note [...] pointed out that the way to Palestine is now also free."

May 22, 1943, p. 4: "Jews Last Stand Felled 1,000 Nazis

Wireless to the New York Times London, May 21 - Nearly 1,000 Germans were killed or wounded in the battle in the Warsaw ghetto in the last two weeks when the Nazis undertook the final liquidation of the ghetto.

[...] More news of the anti-Jewish campaign in Poland was picked up today from SWIT, the secret Polish radio station. It said the Nazis had started liquidating the ghetto of Cracow and Stanislawow [...] shooting Jews wherever they were found or killing them in gas chambers."

June 7, 1943, p. 15: "'Rally Of Hope' Is Held

Six thousand children [...] participated yesterday in a 'Rally of Hope'[...]. '[...] Jewish children and their parents are tortured and put to death by a barbarous enemy. [...]'"

June 9, 1943, p. 3: [Deportations of Jews]

"London, June 8 (Reuter) - No fewer than 3,500 Jews have recently been deported from Salonika, Greece, to Poland, it was stated here today. Men, women and children were herded indiscriminately into cattle trucks, which were then sealed, it was added."

June 13, 1943, p. 8: "Nazi Gas Killings Of Refugees Cited

By Telephone to the New York Times Stockholm, Sweden, June 12 - More than 10,000 Jews were killed since last October in the Brest-Litovsk district [...] according to the Swedish language Jewish Chronicle published in Stockholm.

Thousands were gassed to death in hermetically sealed barns and others have been shot in groups of sixty in adjoining woods, the paper says.

[...] When Dr. Robert Ley, chief of the German Labor Front, recently spoke at Koenigsberg, Bialystok and Grodno he said: 'The Jews are the chosen race, all right - but for extermination purposes only.'"

June 15, 1943, p. 8: "Nazis Deport 52,000 Belgians

London, June 14 (AP) - The Belgian Government in exile said today that the Germans had removed nearly all 52,000 Belgian Jews to concentration camps in Germany, Poland and occupied Russia."

Reitlinger reports for Belgium the same situation as in France. Among the Jews deported from Belgium, "virtually none" were Belgian Jews. It is worth remarking that essentially the same held for Italy and Denmark.[152]

June 21, 1943, p. 2: "Bermuda Parley Scored

A resolution condemning the 'inaction' of the Bermuda Conference and another calling upon President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill to open the doors of Palestine to refugees were adopted unanimously yesterday by the order of the Sons of Zion [...] at the Hotel Pennsylvania."

June 21, 1943, p. 3: "Romanians Blamed For Killing Of 5,000

Berne, Switzerland, June 20 (UP) - Swiss newspapers said tonight that 5,000 bodies reported by Axis propagandists to have been buried near Odessa were those of Romanian Jews killed by the Romanian secret police.

The Romanian press announced the discovery of the mass tomb on April 22, claiming the bodies were those of Romanians killed by the Russians after the latter occupied Bessarabia and Bukovina in 1940."

June 23, 1943. p. 8: "Netherland Jews Ousted By Nazis

London, June 22, (UP) - All Jews in Amsterdam have been deported by the Germans to Poland, thus completing the removal of the entire Jewish population of the Netherlands, the Aneta news agency said today."

This story is not true. Nevertheless, the majority of Dutch Jews were deported. The reasons for the great differences in policy in the Netherlands (and Luxembourg) on the one hand and in Belgium and France and other countries on the other will be seen on page 265. It will be shown that the ultimate, as distinct from immediate, destination of the Jews deported from the Netherlands was most probably not Poland. Of the 140,000 Dutch Jews, about 100,000 were deported.[153]

June 28, 1943, p. 8: [Aryanization of Jewish property]

"London, June 27 (Reuter) - A German radio broadcast tonight quoted Premier Nicholas von Kallay of Hungary as stating that all remaining property of Jews in Hungary would pass into 'Aryan' hands at the end of this year. This property will be distributed among those who have distinguished themselves in the war and families with many children, it is said."

June 29, 1943, p. 6: "Nazis Execute 150 Jews

London, June 28 (Netherlands News Agency) - The Germans have launched mass executions of Netherlands Jews deported to Poland, it was reported tonight.

[...] 150 Jews in the village of Turck had been mowed down with machine gun fire. [...] At Socky [...] 340 Netherlands Jews were machine-gunned, and 100 women and children were slain near Potok. [...] They were among the thousands of Jews who had been transported from the Netherlands to the notorious Treblinka concentration camp."

It seems odd to transport people out of an extermination camp and then kill them. Whoever composed this story was evidently not only uninformed on what Treblinka was supposed to be, but also on the order of magnitude of the numbers that were supposed to be thrown around.

July 21, 1943, p. 13: "Quick Aid Is Asked For Europe's Jews

Immediate action to rescue the Jews of Nazi-dominated countries was demanded last night by speakers at the opening session of the Emergency Conference to Save the Jews of Europe, held at the Hotel Commodore.

[...] Representative Rogers pointed out that some 3,000,000 of Europe's 7,000,000 Jews already have perished and insisted that 'this is a problem which cannot be solved through the exercise of vocal cords and routine protests.'

[...] 'Certainly there are enough open spaces and unpopulated areas to accommodate 4,000,000 tortured human beings,' he said. 'Palestine is the logical place. It is nearer and over land instead of over water [...]'

[...] Count Sforza voiced the hope that Jews and Arabs would be able to cooperate in the future in the building of a great Near East federation, with Palestine as a member."

August 2, 1943, p. 10: "16,000,000 Made Refugees By Axis

Washington, Aug. 1 - A survey of the European refugee problem, published today by the Foreign Policy Association, said that only a collective effort on the part of the great powers or an international organization could deal effectively with the situation that would follow the end of the war.

[...] On the basis of reports from the governments in exile and other informants, the report said, it was estimated that of the Jews who in 1939 inhabited European countries now held by the Axis, two million already have been deported or had perished from various forms of mistreatment or deliberate extermination."

The Foreign Policy Association does not seem to be very secure in asserting exterminations, because it gives the impression that most of the Jews had been "deported," even though by this time other propagandists were speaking of three million dead Jews.

August 8, 1943, p. 11: "2,000,000 Murders By Nazis Charged

London, Aug. 7 - Polish Labor Fights, a publication issued here today, printed an account of a house maintained by the Germans at Treblinka, Poland, for the extermination of Jews. In this place alone, it is said, the Germans have killed 2,000,000 persons.

[...] 'When the cells are filled they are closed and sealed. Steam is forced through apertures and suffocation of the victims begins. At first cries can be heard but these gradually subside and after fifteen minutes all is silent. The execution is over.

[...] 'Often a grave digger is too weak to carry two bodies, as ordered, so he ties arms or legs together and runs to the burial ground, dragging them behind him.'"

Of course, the post-war story was that the bodies were burned, not buried: these millions of buried Jewish bodies simply did not exist.

August 27, 1943, p. 7: "Report Bares Fate Of 8,300,000 Jews

[...] a 300-page survey made public yesterday by the [...] American Jewish Congress and the World Jewish Congress.

More than 3,000,000 Jews have been destroyed by planned starvation, forced labor, deportations, pogroms and methodical murders in German-run extermination centers in eastern Europe since the outbreak of the war in 1939, according to the report, while 1,800,000 Jews have been saved by migration into the interior of the Soviet Union and 180,000 have succeeded in emigrating to other countries.

[...] The survey [...] declares that 1,700,000 Jews have been victims of organized massacres and pogroms, [...] that 750,000 Jews perished as a result of starvation and its consequences, and that 350,000 died in the process of deportation.

[...] A table showing how the process of extermination has been carried out [...] follows:

Germany

110,000

Belgium

30,000

Poland

1,600,000

Holland

45,000

USSR

650,000

France

56,000

Lithuania

105,000

Czechoslovakia

64,500

Latvia

65,000

Danzig

250

Austria

19,500

Estonia

3,000

Romania

227,500

Norway

800

Yugoslavia

35,000

 

 

Greece

18,500

Total

3,030,050"

August 27, 1943, p. 7: "Deliberate Nazi Murder Policy Is Bared By Allied Official Body

London, Aug. 26 (UP) - The Inter-Allied Information Committee [...] tonight accused Germany, Italy and their satellites of [...] a deliberate program of wholesale theft, murder, torture and savagery unparalleled in world history.

[...] Poland: Exhaustion, torture, illness and executions have created a life expectancy of only nine months from the time an individual is thrown into a concentration camp. Conditions are particularly severe at the Oswiecim camp, where 58,000 persons are believed to have perished.

At least 1,000,000 Jews have been slaughtered, starved or beaten to death in Poland during the past three years. In Warsaw food rations permit only 23.4 per cent of the calories necessary to keep a human being alive."

This was one of the very few pre-1944 specific references to the Auschwitz concentration camp (although the stories of March 7 and April 27 were oblique references). The interesting thing about this reference to Auschwitz is that it is essentially correct, as shall be confirmed in the next chapter, although one cannot be confident of the accuracy of the 58,000 figure and "torture" and "executions" should not be included as causes of the high death rate. The important point is that this story implicitly rejects the post-war extermination claims which assert that thousands were killed at Auschwitz almost every day, starting at the latest in the summer of 1942 and continuing to the autumn of 1944.

October 8, 1943, p. 5: "All-Europe Purge Of Jews Reported

Stockholm, Sweden, Oct. 7 - Well-informed circles here said today that a decree had been issued in Berlin ordering the removal of all Jews from Europe before the end of the war. The source said that the order was issued by Adolf Hitler himself.

[...] The power behind the Nazi persecution of Danish Jews is the so-called 'Jew Dictator,' Storm Trooper Eighman [sic...] who was born in Palestine of German emigrants and brought up there [and] is known for his sadistic hatred of Jews. He engineered all the extermination action against Jews in Germany and the occupied territories. [...]"

This seems to be Eichmann's debut in the propaganda and, probably, the source of the myth that he was raised in Palestine (he was born in Solingen, Germany, and raised in Linz, Austria).

November 23, 1943, p. 4: "Wife Of Mikolajczyk Hostage Of Germans

The 43-year-old wife of Premier Stanislaw Mikolajczyk of Poland is being held by the Germans as a hostage in the Oswiecim concentration camp and may be facing imminent execution, the Polish Telegraph Agency reported from London yesterday.

[...] Oswiecim is the most notorious German prison in Poland, where thousands of helpless victims have been tortured to death. [...]

The names of the Germans chiefly responsible for the massacre of Polish Jews were given in a Polish statement in London. [...]

'There are ten of them, headed by Ludwig Fischer, the Nazi Governor of the Warsaw area. [...] A member of the Polish National Council said that most of the Jews in Poland had already been wiped out.'"

November 29, 1943, p. 3: "50,000 Kiev Jews Reported Killed

By W. H. Lawrence.

Kiev, Russia, Oct. 22 (Delayed) - Kiev authorities asserted today that the Germans had machine-gunned from 50,000 to 80,000 of Kiev's Jewish men, women and children in late September, 1941 and, two years later - when Kiev's recapture by the Red Army seemed imminent - had forced Russian prisoners of war to burn all the bodies completely destroying all the evidence of the crime.

[...] On the basis of what we saw, it is impossible for this correspondent to judge the truth or falsity of the story told to us. [...]"

December 6, 1943, p. 10: "Captive Killings Laid To Germans

London, Dec. 5 (UP) - Evidence that Russian prisoners of war were executed and cremated in German concentration camps has been offered to the emigre Czech Government by a Czech Army officer who spent several years in a German prison camp before he escaped to England.

[...] The officer's teeth had been kicked out when he was struck on the mouth, he was deaf in one ear from a blow on the head and on his body was the scar of a swastika that he said had been carved by Germans to whom he went for treatment of an infection.

Jews were chosen at random from those in the camp and shot, he said. [...]"

This completes the survey of relevant New York Times stories for the period of spring 1942 through 1943. Selectivity on my part was, of course, necessary, but I believe that an adequate picture has been given of the sort of stories that were in circulation in supposedly intelligent circles.

What cannot be recaptured is the hysterical atmosphere of the time. The unusually critical reader will have noticed the rather high page number of many of the stories cited, especially those which report specific instances of mass killings. In practical politics only page one counts, and these things seldom appeared on page one. If Roosevelt said something, it was normally printed on page one, but only because he said it, not because he said anything interesting or significant. The allegations of exterminations of Jews do not appear to have had great importance to the public during the war, if one judges from the lack of any prominence given to such stories. Another way to express it is to say that if one spends some time examining the newspapers of the time, a high degree of hostility to the Nazis is obvious, but the specific basis of the hostility is virtually impossible to distinguish. Thus, there is something of an emotional nature missing from our survey, but this is unavoidable.

Two principal observations should be made in regard to the extermination propaganda. First, the legend has its origin among Zionists and, second, Auschwitz was not claimed as an extermination camp until very late in the war.

We have seen that the first extermination claims were not based on one scrap of intelligence data. Zionists, principally the World Jewish Congress, merely presented their nonsense to the Allied governments, in particular to the U.S. government, demanding endorsement of their nonsense. The first reactions in Washington were to scoff at the claims but, on account of various political pressures, and only on account of those pressures and not because corroborating information had been procured from military intelligence, official Washington eventually cooperated with the extermination propaganda to the extent of having high officials make vague public declarations in support of it, and of having propaganda agencies make more specific declarations of an obscure nature. The early propaganda had features which are retained in the legend to this day, such as the six million figure, and also features which were quickly forgotten, such as the soap factories, although both features were authored by the same Zionist circles.

In regard to our terminology, it should be remarked that the word "Zionist" is not being employed here as a code word for "Jewish;" the evidence shows that, while the hoax is certainly a Jewish hoax, in the sense of having been invented by Jews, it is also a Zionist hoax, in the sense of having been invented by Jews who were Zionists, on behalf of Zionist ends. The Zionist character of the propaganda is quite clear; note that, as a rule, the persons who were pressing for measures to remove Jews from Europe (under the circumstances a routine and understandable proposal) coupled such proposals with demands that such Jews be resettled in Palestine, which shows that there was much more in the minds of the Zionist propagandists than mere assistance to refugees and victims of persecution.

We have also noted that Auschwitz was absent from the extermination propaganda in 1942 and 1943 although, if there had been exterminations at such a prominent site, military intelligence and others would certainly have learned of it. To be sure, Auschwitz appeared in the propaganda, but the specific claims, bearing on a high death rate due to more or less normal causes, were in their essentials true, however amplified their content. There were no claims of gas chambers or exterminations. Naturally, I make the reservation that this statement is based on the fact that, after a reasonably thorough study, I have not noted Auschwitz in the 1942-1943 extermination propaganda; Treblinka, Belzec, and Chelmno appeared in the newspaper extermination stories, but not Auschwitz.

This view is confirmed by the periodicals and books of the period that I have examined. Three periodical publications are of particular interest. The issue of Commonweal for June 4, 1943, carried an article by Jacques Maritain, which summarized what he, evidently after some investigation, believed to be the chief features of the extermination program. Auschwitz is not mentioned, although exterminations via "poison gases, electrocution, mass piling into enclosed spaces where asphyxia takes place by degrees, suffocation [...] in sealed freight cars" are mentioned, and particular reference is made to Chelmno.

The New Republic for August 30, 1943, was a special issue devoted to the plight of the Jews in Europe and made no reference to Auschwitz. A two page advertisement, placed by the Jewish Labor Committee (New York), mentions only Treblinka, Belzec, and "hermetically sealed cars where Jews are being poisoned."

Survey Graphic for April 1943 carries a two page article by William L. Shirer. The subject is the whole range of alleged German atrocities and thus Auschwitz (Oświęcim) is mentioned, but only in connection with an alleged high death rate of 250 Poles per day, due to "executions, inhuman treatment, hunger, and epidemics." Shirer claims exterminations of Jews at Belzec.

The Shirer story cites a March 7 report from the Polish government in London as the source for the statements about Auschwitz. This is the earliest reference that I know of to Auschwitz in the propaganda. The only candidate for an earlier claim that I know of appears in The Black Book of Polish Jewry, J. Apenszlak, ed., 1943. Pages 56 and 59 tell of reports in the "East London Observer" in early 1942 that the ashes of Jews who had been sent to Auschwitz were being returned to their relatives (contradicting post-war propaganda). However, as far as I have been able to determine, the East London Observer did not exist. The Black Book does not claim exterminations at Auschwitz but speaks of exterminations via gasmobile at Chelmno (pages 115-117, in agreement with later claims); via electrocution in baths at Belzec followed by burial (page 131, not in agreement); through being left in freight cars for days near Belzec followed by burning (pages 137-138, not in agreement); via steam baths at Treblinka followed by burial (page 143, not in agreement; the Diesel engine whose exhaust gases were used for killing in later versions of the story is used for digging the graves in The Black Book).

There remains one source which conveys the impression that Auschwitz appeared in the extermination propaganda early in 1943 or even earlier. This is the book The Devil's Chemists by Josiah DuBois, whom we have encountered as a wartime Treasury official. At the NMT after the war, DuBois was the chief prosecutor in the Farben trial, and his book is his account of the trial and such other matters that he considered relevant. According to him, a message dealing with Auschwitz crossed his desk in November 1942. The message transmitted the contents of a note, a "crumpled testament of despair," which had allegedly been written by a worker-inmate at Auschwitz and then passed along underground in hand-to-hand relay to Bern:

"We worked in the huge 'Buna' plant. [...] There was a chain of sentry posts overlooking every 10 square meters of workers, and whoever stepped outside was shot without warning as 'having attempted to escape.' But attempts were made every day, even by some who tried to crawl past the sentries because they could no longer walk."

The note also applied to Farben's Ter Meer "stereotyped images of swastika and riding crop and fixed sneer." (which had not characterized Ter Meer at any time during his life). The claimed origin and history of the note make the whole thing appear rather silly, but one should note the strong element of fact in the note: at approximately this time, many workers at Auschwitz were indeed not in a condition to work or even walk. Thus, this message was not really extermination propaganda, and we cannot be certain that it really existed, but if it did, all it suggests is that the propagandists were well aware, in late 1942, of what was happening at Auschwitz.

DuBois then proceeds to misinform his reader that the two messages of January and April 1943 from Harrison to the State Department, discussed above, dealt with Auschwitz, i.e. it was at Auschwitz that 6,000 were allegedly being killed every day. In reporting this, DuBois is simply passing along misinformation. His motive seems to be that, as the prosecutor in the Farben case, he was attempting to maximize the significance of Auschwitz in every respect possible, and has thus read in the record something that simply is not there.[154]

German Reactions

It is of passing interest to comment on what the Germans were saying about the Allied propaganda stories. We have seen that von Stumm of the press section of the German Foreign Office ridiculed the extermination claim when it was first made by the Allied governments, but that was a rare reference on the part of the German government to any specific Allied propaganda concoction. The weekly newspaper Das Reich, published by the Goebbels Ministry, and the Völkischer Beobachter, the daily newspaper of the Nazi Party, had much comment of a general sort on the "Greuelpropaganda," but there were few references to specific propaganda claims. The usual situation was one of no commentary on the Jewish extermination claim as well as on other specific propaganda claims, e.g. starvation and torturing of American and British POWs and the various gruesome inventions of Hollywood, such as the draining of the blood of children in occupied countries for the use of the Wehrmacht.

The reason for this relative silence on specific propaganda claims was no doubt that there was no need, from the German point of view, to review its content. They had seen it all before, during World War I. Thus, the German press treatment of the "Greuelpropaganda" was on a higher level, and rather than concern itself with the specific contents of the stories, it concerned itself with such questions as the nature of the political interests that were served by the propaganda and the extent and means of Jewish influence in the Allied press (e.g. Das Reich for December 20, 1942).

The War Refugee Board Report: Birth of the Auschwitz Legend

The high level Washington commitment to the claim that Auschwitz was an extermination camp came in November 1944, after the claimed termination of the killing program, in the form of the WRB report (the claim had appeared many times in the propaganda earlier in 1944; those stories are reviewed in Chapter 5). The issuing of the report was carried by the New York Times on November 26, 1944, (page 1) and some excerpts were given.

The WRB report is described as two reports, one written by "two young Slovakian Jews" and the other by "a Polish major," all of whom had been inmates at Auschwitz from the spring of 1942 until the spring of 1944, when they escaped (the two Jews on April 7).

There is an additional short supplement said to be written by two other young Jews who escaped on May 27, 1944, and made their way to Slovakia (under German domination until 1945) to make their report, which is said to have been received in Switzerland on August 6, 1944. The authors are completely anonymous, and this anonymity is duly apologized for "whose names will not be disclosed for the time being in the interest of their own safety."

Sections 1, 2, and 3 constitute the first part of the report and section 4 the second part. The first section is the major part of the report. It is said to have been written by a Slovakian Jew who arrived at Auschwitz on April 13, 1942, and was given a registration number (tattooed onto his left breast) in the neighborhood of 29,000. He eventually became registrar in the Birkenau infirmary. The feature of this first section is a detailed record, for the period April 1942 to April 1944, of the transports which arrived at Auschwitz, together with the registration numbers assigned. About 55 groups of transports (sometimes more than one transport are in a group) are reported, and the (admittedly approximate) registration numbers assigned to the people in each group are given. The numbers start at 27,400 and run to 189,000 in the consecutive numbering system in which a number was not used twice. For each group the nationalities represented as well as other information is given (Jewish or Aryan, political prisoners or other, occasional names of individuals, numbers "gassed" instead of registered, etc.). The WRB report, if it is approximately correct in these matters (interpreting the people "gassed" as either never having existed or having been sent on to another destination), is one of the few known sources of significant amounts of such information (another is the referenced set of Netherlands Red Cross reports, which is the subject of Appendix C).

Almost all of this information is given by the author of the first section of the WRB report, but after he escaped, the authors of the third, supplemental section of the report kept an account of this information for the period April 7 - May 27 and have contributed it to the report.

The second section of the report is said to be written by a Slovakian Jew who arrived at the Lublin camp around June 4, 1942, but was sent to Auschwitz around June 30, 1942. According to the first section of the report, he then would have received a registration number around 44,000, which was tattooed onto his left forearm (the tattooing system had changed). The two authors of the first two sections of the report are the two young Slovakian Jews who escaped together on April 7, 1944. The third section of the report is the short supplement and the fourth section is the contribution of the "Polish major."

The anonymity of the authors of the report is certainly a vulnerable feature, but the major implausibility is simply the contents of the WRB report. Examination shows that the information given in the report, which is most likely true to semi-true, is the sort of thing that could have been built up from intelligence data, not from reports of "two young Slovakian Jews and a Polish major" who "escaped." This is exactly as one should expect; Germany's enemies had certain means of gathering information about German camps and about events in Europe and simply used information gathered by such conventional methods, plus a considerable amount of invention, to compose the WRB report. It is just not believable that intelligence agencies were in such a primitive position with respect to, of all things, the industrial center Auschwitz that they were obliged to depend for information on miraculous escapes by unusually well informed prisoners. This point will be amplified below. Of course, such an observation does not rule out the possible use of reports of former employees or inmates, escaped or otherwise, as part of the data.

The report presents the following information (or estimates, or guesses, or claims, or inventions):

  1. The number of prisoners at Auschwitz I in the month of April 1942, the predominant nationalities present, and the main causes of internment. Description of the inmate registration number system and the "star system" of inmate insignia. A list of various factories in the area (pt. I, 1-2).
  2. An accurate map of the area, comparable to our Fig. 5 (pt. I, 4).
  3. Dimensions related to the Auschwitz I camp size, its fences and its guard towers. Ditto for Birkenau. Description of barracks (pt. I, 5-7).
  4. In the case of a natural death of a prisoner, a death certificate was made out and sent to Oranienburg central camp administration. If the inmate was gassed, his name was entered in a special register and marked "S.B." (Sonderbehandlung, special treatment) (pt. I, 9).
  5. Four buildings, referred to as Crematories I, II, III, and IV, were in use in spring 1944 at Birkenau; use of at least one of them had started in February 1943. Each building contained: (A) a furnace room of ovens; (B) a large hall; (C) a gas chamber. The first two buildings each contained 36 muffles and the other two 18 each. Three bodies are put in one muffle at a time and the burning took an hour and a half. Thus, one could dispose of 6,000 bodies per day. This was considered, at the time, an improvement over burning in trenches (the method previously employed) (pt. I, 14-15).
  6. The specific product used for generating the gas for the gas chamber was a powder called "Cyklon," manufactured by a Hamburg concern. When exposed, it released cyanide gas, and about three minutes were required to kill everybody in the gas chamber. The containers for the Cyklon were marked "for use against vermin" (pt. I, 16).
  7. Prominent people from Berlin attended the inauguration of the first crematory in March 1943. The "program" consisted in the gassing and burning of 8,000 Cracow Jews. The guests (no names given) were extremely satisfied with the results (pt. I, 16).
  8. A detailed breakdown of the numbers and classifications of the inmates at Birkenau in April 1944 (pt. I, 23-24).
  9. In the camp, each block has a "block eldest" who "has power of life and death." Until February 1944, nearly 50 per cent of the block eldests were Jews, but this was stopped by order of Berlin. Under the block eldest is the block recorder, who does all the clerical work. If the recorder has noted down a death by mistake, as often occurs, the discrepancy is corrected by killing the bearer of the corresponding number. Corrections are not admitted (pt. I, 25).
  10. A passage strikingly similar to the November 1942 "crumpled testament of despair":
  11. "We worked in the huge buna plant to which we were herded every morning about 3 AM. [...] As our working place was situated outside the large chain of sentry posts, it was divided into small sectors of 10 x 10 meters, each guarded by an SS man. Whoever stepped outside these squares during working hours was immediately shot without warning for having 'attempted to escape.' [...] Very few could bear the strain and although escape seemed hopeless, attempts were made every day." (pt. I, 30).

  12. A "careful estimate of the numbers of Jews gassed in Birkenau between April 1942 and April 1944," summarized in a tabular form. The numbers showed up in the published record of the IMT trial and are presented here as Fig. 25 (pt. I, 33).
  13. Great excitement prevailed as a consequence of the escape of the two young Slovakian Jews (this is supposedly written by the authors of the supplementary section 3), and the friends and superiors of the two escapees were closely questioned. Because the two had held posts as "block recorders," all Jews exercising such functions were removed for punishment and as a precautionary measure. This, of course, contradicts the implication of the "Foreword" of the WRB report that the Germans did not know the identity or even registration numbers of the two escapees, because it withholds such information "in the interest of their own safety." (pt. I, 34).
  14. Starting May 15, 1944, Hungarian Jews started arriving at Birkenau at the rate of about 15,000 per day. Ninety per cent were killed immediately and, because this exceeded the capacity of the ovens, the method of burning in trenches, which had existed earlier, was reverted to. The ten percent who were not killed were also not registered at Birkenau but sent eventually to camps in Germany: Buchenwald, Mauthausen, Gross-Rosen, Gusen, Flossenbürg, Sachsenhausen, etc. (pt. I, 36-37).
  15. A new inmate registration number system was also put into effect in the middle of May 1944. At about the same time, a visit by Himmler to nearby Cracow was reported in the Silesian newspapers. These newspaper reports apparently omitted to mention, however, that on this trip Himmler had also visited Birkenau, and that his party made a special visit to Crematory I (pt. I, 37-38).
  16. In the late summer of 1943, a commission of four distinguished Dutch Jews had visited Auschwitz for the purpose of inspecting the condition of the Dutch Jews (who were then specially prepared by the Germans with new clothes, better food, etc.). The commission saw only a part of the Dutch Jews sent to Auschwitz but were told that the others were in similar camps. The commission was satisfied with this and signed a declaration that everything had been found in good order at Auschwitz, but after signing, the four Jews "expressed a desire to see the camp of Birkenau and particularly the crematoria about which they had heard some stories. [...] The commission was then taken to Birkenau [...] and immediately to Crematorium No. 1. Here they were shot from behind. A telegram was supposedly sent to Holland reporting that after leaving Auschwitz the four men had been victims of an unfortunate automobile accident." (pt. I, 38).
  17. The area around Auschwitz, within a radius of 100 kilometers, had been evacuated, and the buildings not to be taken over by the camp were to be demolished (pt. II, 6).
  18. Description of the Auschwitz I hospital and its procedures. In the autumn of 1942, the hospital mortality rate was so high that Berlin requested an explanation. An investigation uncovered that the "camp doctor" had been administering lethal injections to weak and sick people, certain prisoners condemned to death, and some teenagers considered to be orphans. For "punishment," the camp doctor was simply sent to the same job at the Buna plant (probably meaning Monowitz; the SS continued to provide some services to the camp administered by Farben) (pt. II, 8-10).
  19. As a result of bad treatment, a Jew could not last more than two weeks, irrespective of his physical condition (pt. II, 12).
  20. In the summer of 1942, Jews were being gassed in the birch forest (Birkenwald, where Birkenau was located) in special sealed buildings giving the impression of showers. Because the crematories were not completed, the bodies were buried in mass graves, causing putrefaction. In the autumn of 1942, the four crematories were completed, and many bodies were exhumed and burned (this is the Polish major's account, contradicting that of the two young Slovakian Jews, who said that part of the new crematories were put into operation in February 1943 and that prior to that date bodies were burned in trenches) (pt. II, 16-17).
  21. Details on how it was decided exactly when to execute somebody already condemned to death (pt. II, 16-17).

The foregoing is effectively illustrative of the contents of the WRB report. It is a mixture of truth, guess-work, and invention, the factual part of which could have been, and obviously was, put together on the basis of inside information available in 1944.

The contradiction in the two accounts of exterminations serves to enhance the credibility of the claim that these are unsolicited reports of escaped inmates, but it is not clear that such increased credibility was the motivation for composing the report thus. The first version, that large crematories were in operation at Birkenau in early 1943 and that mass cremations took place in trenches before that date, is the one subsequently put forward (and the correct one in regard to the date of availability of the crematories) but the second version of mass graves might have some truth in it also, because there had been a typhus epidemic in the summer, at a time when inadequate crematory facilities existed.

Reitlinger uses the WRB report as a source. This is not entirely justified, but it is not entirely without justification either. One must assume that much of the material in the report is true. As will be elaborated below, there is no question of the competence of the authors of the report. However, one must be careful in this regard, obviously, and accept only that, which seems corroborated by either common sense or independent evidence. Given the protagonistic and propagandistic role of the report, but recalling that a well organized hoax necessarily contains much valid fact, this is perfectly reasonable.

One can be rather specific about the routes, by which information flowed out of the camps. In cases where there was significant industrial activity, the inmates inevitably came into contact with many people who were not camp inmates (company employees, railroad employees, etc.), and these contacts were the basis for an extensive system of clandestine channels of communication. Auschwitz, of course, furnished numerous and excellent opportunities for such contacts, and on account of the communist organization, there were very effective channels to outside underground centers, especially in nearby Cracow. Information about the camp, including, it is claimed, copies of orders received from Berlin or Oranienburg, flowed constantly out of Auschwitz. These channels were also used to send such things as money, medicine and forged papers into the camp. In addition, as discussed in another connection on page 143, the Communists in all of the camps were highly organized for illegal radio listening. If they had receivers, they no doubt also had transmitters. There has been witness testimony to possession of radio transmitters by camp inmates, and Reitlinger believes that Auschwitz inmates had transmitters.[155]

In order to grasp completely the nature of the information and propaganda channels that existed, one should take special note of the War Refugee Board and the OSS. The WRB maintained constant contact with events in Hungary even after the German occupation in March 1944. For example, it had its agent, Raoul Wallenberg, in the Swedish diplomatic corps, and there were other links through Jewish organizations. Jewish leaders in Budapest were in constant contact with those in Slovakia, and the Slovakian Jewish leadership was in contact with Polish Jewry, particularly in Cracow.[156]

Possibly more important than the WRB, although its role in the hoax is not nearly as obvious, was the Office of Strategic Services, OSS, the predecessor of the CIA. The OSS was set up early in World War II under the leadership of General William Donovan. Its mission was intelligence of a political nature and related matters (e.g. sabotage, propaganda, guerilla warfare) as distinct from the more conventional forms of military intelligence, to which its operations were related somewhat as the operations of the German SD were related to those of the Abwehr, although high-placed Washington observers complained that the OSS seemed to enjoy unlimited funds and knew no bounds on its authority.

With only a few exceptions, the OSS was not staffed by military people but by persons recruited from private life. Thus, it included many political types, ranging from Communists to émigré monarchists. On account of their organization, the Communists were naturally a significant force in the OSS, irrespective of their numbers.

The OSS was deeply involved with propaganda. The OWI (Office of War Information), the most prominent U.S. wartime propaganda agency, had been the propaganda division of the "Office of the Coordinator of Information" (Donovan) when it split off from the OSS in 1942, and the remainder of Donovan's organization was renamed the OSS. Despite this separation, the OSS remained active in the propaganda field, and when the Anglo-American PWB (Psychological Warfare Branch) was set up in Eisenhower's headquarters, it drew its American personnel from both the OWI and the OSS.

Another propaganda operation of the OSS, one which employed a large number of "progressive writers," was the MO (Morale Operations) Branch. The mission of MO was "black propaganda," i.e. MO specialized in manufacturing propaganda presented in such a way that it would appear to have come from within the ranks of the enemy. MO thus distributed forged newspapers and military orders among enemy personnel, operated clandestine transmitters that purported to be broadcasting from within enemy territory, and started rumors in the Axis and Axis occupied countries. Its staff included "liberals and communists alike, all dedicated to the idealist interpretation of the fight against fascism."

A particularly relevant facet of the OSS operations was that they had enlisted the cooperation of the Jewish Agency in Palestine (which was really the unofficial Israeli government of the time). The Jewish Agency, on account of extensive and elaborate contacts with Jews in Europe, especially in the Balkans, was able to undertake many important missions for the OSS. Thus, the channels to Jews in Hungary, Slovakia, and beyond were open.

Finally, it is of interest that the OSS was very significant on the prosecution staff at the IMT trial, especially in the early stages.[157]

The point to be made in this discussion of the WRB report is certainly not that it was invented in the OSS or the WRB. I do not know the identity of the authors and do not believe that the question is of great significance. The main point is that two "internationals," the Communist and the Zionist, played important roles in the intelligence, propaganda, and refugee assistance programs of the U.S. The WRB, effectively taking its orders from Harry Dexter White, Henry Morgenthau Jr., the World Jewish Congress, and other Zionists, and the OSS, with its staff of Communists and its Jewish Agency allies, show that the situation was perfectly suitable for the manufacture of a Jewish extermination propaganda lie, built about Auschwitz, which, as a precaution, contained enough real facts to suggest to the unreflective that the allegations were true.

The interior of the Auschwitz camp was not, by any exercise of the imagination, isolated from the Allies. The world's most efficient intelligence organization, the Communist Party, could transmit any information desired to any destination whatever, and the situation was such that the ubiquitous Zionist International was in a position to manufacture and transmit whatever items seemed appropriate for the occasion. Even if the contents of the WRB report were entirely true, an escape by inmates would not have been at all necessary to get the "facts" into the hands of the Allies. Note that we are told that the entire contents of the WRB report are due to three independent escapes by remarkably informed inmates. In view of what we know about the channels of communication that existed, this is silly in the extreme.

The authors of the WRB report remained anonymous for quite a bit more than "the time being." The report became a prosecution document at Nuremberg under the number 022-L. The descriptive material accompanying the document, dated August 7, 1945 (the "staff evidence analysis"), seems distressed at the anonymity of the authors. It tells of a certain Dr. Joseph Elias, "Protestant Pastor of Jewish ancestry, organizer of Jewish resistance in Hungary, head of Jo'Pasztor Bizottsag, who interrogated the first two Slovak Jews after their escape." Then it tells of "Dr. G. Soos - Secretary of Hungarian underground movement MFM, who brought the first report (of the first two Slovak Jews) to Italy." The organization "Jo'Pasztor" was real, but of the activities of Elias or Soos in connection with these matters nothing, it seems, is known. Of the origins of the parts of the report attributed to the other three people we are told nothing. It is said that R. D. McClelland, Bern representative of the WRB, forwarded the report to Washington in early July 1944 (the supplemental part was presumably not included).

The WRB report was put into evidence at the IMT as document 022-L by Major Walsh on December 14, 1945.[158] There was no defense objection, at the IMT, to the acceptance of the report into evidence. At the Farben trial, the prosecution submitted the report (Document Book 89) as evidence, but the defense objected, and this objection "as to the competence and materiality of each and every document in the book" was sustained by that court. The result of the ensuing legal argument was that the court agreed to taking a certain very ambiguous "judicial notice" of the documents.[159]

Anonymity was maintained for several more years, because the first edition (1953) of Reitlinger's The Final Solution considers the authors anonymous. In considering the beginnings of the gassings, reference is made to "the very reliable report of the Birkenau infirmary registrar or Blockschreiber, who escaped to Hungary in April 1944" (page 110). In connection with information about Theresienstadt Jews transported to Auschwitz, "we are indebted to a Slovak Jewish doctor, who escaped to Hungary in April 1944. This man, who was in charge of the Birkenau infirmary records [...] " (pages 169-170). In discussing the WRB report, Reitlinger told us that "the most important document is that of the anonymous Slovak Jewish doctor who escaped to Hungary in April 1944" (page 540). In all three cases Reitlinger was referring to the author of the first section of the WRB report, who, the report says, was the Slovakian Jew who arrived on April 13, 1942, and was given a registration number around 29,000. Reitlinger refers to him as a doctor, but the report actually does not make it clear what he was; it appears that he was supposed to be an "intellectual" or a "clerk."

The next development seems to have been the publication in 1956 in Israel of the book Im Schatten des Todes, by J. Oskar Neumann. Neumann had been one of the leaders of the various Jewish councils and resistance organizations in Slovakia. In his account, Rabbi Michael Dov Ber Weissmandel (or Weissmandl), originally a Hungarian Jew resident in a part of Hungary that was annexed by Czechoslovakia after World War I, was the leader of Jewish resistance in Slovakia. In Neumann's story the two young Slovakian Jews appear on schedule in Slovakia, as does the Polish major (actually, the WRB report does not say where the Polish major escaped to). Neumann gives the impression that he actually met these people: "Yet here sit eye-witnesses, who have told the whole truth." His account does not mention the two authors of the third, supplementary, section of the WRB report, and he does not tell us the names or tattooed registration numbers of the escapees. Since they were in great danger of being found by the Gestapo, which was looking for them, they "were sent to an outlying mountainous area to rest." Rabbi Weissmandel communicated the report to Budapest, Switzerland, and other destinations, in order to warn other Jews and to bring help.[160]

Weissmandel emigrated to the United States after the war and set up an orthodox Talmudic seminary in New York State. He died in November 1957. However, his war memoirs were published posthumously in 1960, unfortunately in Hebrew, which I am not able to read. The WRB report is a major subject of his book. I have assumed that his story is essentially similar to Neumann's, because the two authors were similarly situated and had the same connections. However, I could be wrong.[161]

Rudolf Vrba

It appears that the next event involved Reitlinger. The anonymity of the authors of the WRB report is a striking and disturbing feature of the first edition of Reitlinger's book, as I am sure he realized. This no doubt bothered him, for it appears that he set out to locate the authors of the report, for he writes in his second edition, published in 1968, that Rudolf Vrba, the author of the "most important" part of the WRB report, i.e., the first section, was "in hospital practice in Cardiff in 1960." Reitlinger's contact with Vrba in 1960, thus, would appear to be the first appearance of an alleged author of the report in any sort of historical record. Vrba was apparently produced as a consequence of Reitlinger's investigations. The town of Cardiff in south Wales is incidentally only about 150 miles from Reitlinger's home in Sussex. Reitlinger does not mention the name of any of the other authors. He considers a stencil book by Silberschein, Riegner's World Jewish Congress colleague in Switzerland, as including the "complete version" of the report.[162]

Both authors of the first two sections of the WRB report (the first two young Slovakian Jews) acquired identities at Eichmann's trial in 1961. Two witnesses testified regarding the report, and it was offered in evidence with the explanation that the first two young Slovakian Jews were Alfred Wetzler (or Weczler) and Rudolf Vrba (ex Rosenberg or Rosenthal, then resident in England). The document was rejected on the grounds that certain contradictions in the figures offered required further explanation. Therefore, late in the trial, the prosecution produced an affidavit by Vrba. The affidavit explains how Vrba arrived at the impressively detailed figures regarding the transports to Auschwitz, which are the main feature of the WRB report. His affidavit gives the impression that, while he got assistance from various people, he was solely responsible for drawing up the figures, and he does not give the name of or even mention his companion who supposedly escaped with him in April 1944. He mentions a Philip Müller, who helped him somewhat with his figures, because Müller "is apparently the only survivor alive at present." Vrba's affidavit was rejected by the court on the grounds that there was no excuse for the prosecution not bringing him to Jerusalem to testify.[163]

Vrba appeared again at the Auschwitz trial in Frankfurt in 1964; his book I Cannot Forgive (with Alan Bestic), also appeared in 1964, shortly before his Frankfurt appearance. Vrba's companion in his supposed escape appeared, too; Alfred Wetzler was said to have been the other young Slovakian Jew. Wetzler was (in 1964) a 46-year-old civil servant in Czechoslovakia, who had arrived at Auschwitz on April 13, 1942, and been given registration number 29,162. He had been a block registrar at Birkenau. Vrba was identified as a 40-year-old biochemist living in England, who had arrived at Auschwitz on June 30, 1942, and been given registration number 44,070. He had also been a block registrar at Birkenau. They had, they said, escaped on April 7, 1944, and made their way to Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, where they made their report to the Jewish elders and also to the Papal Nuncio. The report was smuggled to Budapest by Rabbi Weissmandel.[164]

The 1964 story differs, therefore, from that which was told to the authors of the IMT staff evidence analysis in 1945. The most serious apparent contradiction, however, is in the credit for the reporting of the figures related to the transports to Auschwitz. Vrba, in his 1961 affidavit (which did not mention Wetzler) and also in his Frankfurt testimony, presented himself as being primarily responsible for the figures. The WRB report, on the other hand, while it attributes the figures to both men, present the figures in the first section of the report, whose author is supposed to be Wetzler.

Vrba does not explain, in his 1964 book, why he waited 16 years to talk about his escape from Auschwitz and his delivery of the statistics that were eventually published by Washington. His book follows roughly the story of the WRB report with a few contradictions of varying degrees of importance. For example, in the book (page 128) Vrba writes that the girls working in the "Canada" area were in very good health, but in the WRB report (part I, page 31) these women were "beaten and brutalized and their mortality was much higher than among the men." Other oddities in his book are his claim to have helped build the crematories (page 16, not mentioned in the WRB report) and his description of an Allied air raid on April 9, 1944, of which there is no record (page 233; he says that he and Wetzler hid in a woodpile for three days at Auschwitz after their April 7 escape. The possibility of an Allied air raid in April in discussed below on page 188*). Wetzler just barely manages to get mentioned in Vrba's book. Vrba says nothing about the Polish major or the two Jews who supposedly escaped later on to supplement the Auschwitz transport figures. In the book the other prisoners refer to him as "Rudi," although his original name, and the name by which he was supposedly known at Auschwitz, is supposed to have been Walter Rosenberg (a point Vrba's book does not bring up but is claimed elsewhere, e.g. in They Fought Back, edited by Yuri Suhl, and in Fighting Auschwitz by Jozef Garlinski). Vrba says nothing about resting in a mountain retreat after escaping.

Just as conclusive, in our evaluation of Vrba's story, as the various contradictions of either the WRB report or known fact, is the general tone of the book and his description of how various people behaved at the camp. Although the book presents utterly incredible material in this connection from beginning to end, the best example is Vrba's description of an alleged visit by Himmler on July 17, 1942 (pages 9-15, not mentioned in the WRB report). The prisoners were drawn up for inspection, and the orchestra was in readiness to play when Himmler arrived. As they waited, the leader of the orchestra:

"[...] stood, baton raised, motionless, poised to weave music for the honored guest.

And then it happened. The catastrophe that every actor dreads. The moment of horror that only great occasions merit. The crisis that seems to dog every moment of truth.

In the tenth row outside our Block, the Block senior found Yankel Meisel without his full quota of tunic buttons.

It took some seconds for the enormity of the crime to sink in. Then he felled him with a blow. [...]

Out of sight, [...] they beat and kicked the life out of him. [...]

[...] Himmler's suite was twenty yards away. The baton moved [...] and the orchestra followed [...] with an excerpt from Aida.

It was 'The Triumph March.' [...]

He lined us up and rapped: 'I am the Reichsführer. Let's see how you behave in front of me.'

Slowly he marched down the ranks, a little killer aping a big killer, glaring at each of us in turn. If he found dirty finger nails or wooden shoes not properly blacked, he howled abuse at the offender and thumped him with his heavy bamboo cane. He even inspected us, nursery fashion, behind the ears and then went prowling through the barracks, searching for blankets which had not been folded with precision."

Vrba mentions a second Himmler visit (pages 15-19; the visit seems to correspond to the March 1943 visit of dignitaries from Berlin) in January 1943 to witness the gassing of 3,000 Polish Jews. The event was scheduled for 9 AM, but Himmler took until 11 AM to finish breakfast, so the 3,000 Jews had to wait two hours in the gas chamber. Himmler finally witnessed the gassing in a cheerful and relaxed mood, chatting with the commandant and others, occasionally throwing a glance through the peep-hole to observe the Jews being gassed.

The book manages to maintain this utterly incredible tone throughout, as you can verify by reading it, if you can stand it.

Reitlinger does not cite Vrba's book in any connection in the second edition of his book. He still writes of Vrba as the author of the "most important" part of the WRB report, the first section, although the data offered shows that this role should be attributed to Wetzler. It does not appear important or relevant to Reitlinger that Vrba was only 18-years-old when, as he claims, he started collecting the numerical and other data concerning the transports to Auschwitz with the intention of making this information available to the outside world.

There has been no claimed break, so far as I know, in the anonymity of the Polish major. In an article in Suhl's book, Erich Kulka of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem offers names for the two authors of the supplementary section (Czezlaw Mordowicz who changed his name to Petr Podulka and Arnost Rosin who changed his name to Jan Rohác), but I know nothing of these people other than that they remained quiet about their heroic exploits for an even greater number of years than Vrba and Wetzler did. Moreover, neither Elias, nor Soos, nor Vrba (as Vrba or as Rosenberg), nor Weissmandel appeared as witnesses in any of the Nuremberg trials, despite the sometimes contested role played by Document 011-L at those trials.

The records of the International Tracing Service in Arolsen, West Germany, report that two Jews named Wetzler and Rosenberg did escape on April 7, 1944, and this agrees with the Kalendarium published by the Polish government in 1964 as number 7 of Hefte von Auschwitz, which also declares that two Jews named Mordowicz and Rosin escaped on May 27, 1944. Because there were many successful escapes from Auschwitz during this period (many, many more than Vrba seems to think there were - compare page 217 of Vrba with Garlinski's remarks about escapes), this data may well be correct, but it still does not authenticate the authorship of the WRB report, especially because we are told today that after escaping the four Jews adopted aliases for concealment purposes and that three of the four retained these different names after the war rather than reassume their real names.

The details behind the manufacture of the WRB report will probably never be completely uncovered, but it is entirely possible that its creators went to great lengths in simulating a report miraculously smuggled to Slovakia and then to Switzerland. If it was written in Slovakia, then it seems clear that Rabbi Weissmandel should be credited with at least co-authorship. It is also possible that, as claimed, the report was given to the Papal Charge d'affaires in Slovakia, Giuseppe Burzio, and that it was forwarded by him to Rome. It is clear that Burzio was contacted by Jewish propagandists and that he forwarded at least some of their "information" to Rome. Examples that Burzio transmitted to the Vatican were March 22 claims that the Germans were taking young Jewish women from their families to make them prostitutes for German soldiers on the eastern front (a complete fantasy) and an early 1943 letter from a Bratislava priest claiming that both Jewish and responsible German sources had told him of soap factories supplied with the bodies of gassed and machine-gunned Jews. Whether Burzio forwarded such material purely as routine procedure or because he gave credence to it is hardly relevant, although the later appears to be the case. The Vatican received and filed many such reports during the war, but never gave any credence to them. Its present position is that, during the war, neither it nor the "Jewish agencies were aware that the deportations were part of a general mass annihilation operation" (see also Appendix E).[165]

In any case it is obvious that the WRB report is spurious. The data given in the report is not the sort of information that escapees would carry out; the claim that two more Jews escaped later on to supplement this data is more than doubly ridiculous. Instead of coming forward immediately after the war with ostensible authors of the report in order to lend more support to the lie, it appears that it was assumed that the whole thing was irrelevant until, for some reason (probably Reitlinger's curiosity), an author was produced sixteen years after the event. That person's story is not credible.

Thus was born the Auschwitz legend.


Notes

[113]Howard, 4-7, 216; U.S. Special Committee, 24.
[114]Howard, chapters 2-9.
[115]Howard, 82-83.
[116]Howard, 104-108.
[117]Naunton, 104.
[118]DuBois, 284.
[119]As stated, the rubber crisis "filled the press," but the following stories seem to summarize the crisis adequately: Business Week (Jan. 31, 1942), 22+; (Mar. 14, 1942), 15+; (May 30, 1942), 15+; (Jun. 20, 1942), 15+; (Aug. 15, 1942), 15+; (Sep. 19, 1942), 15+; (Dec. 19, 1942), 28+; Newsweek (Apr. 6, 1942), 46+; (Apr. 13, 1942), 56+; (June 1, 1942), 46+; (Sep. 21, 1942), 58+; New York Times (Jan. 11, 1942), sec. 7, 6+; (Jul. 26, 1942), sec. 7, 3+; Fortune (June 1942), 92+; Nature Magazine (May 1942), 233+; Harper's (Dec. 1942), 66+.
[120]Naunton, 108; Howard, 210-213.
[121]Howard, 221-222; Coit, 120-121, 162-222, 513-520.
[122]Howard, 227-228; U.S. Special Committee, 13, 18, 50-51; Dunbrook, 40-46.
[123]The photograph appears in Schoenberner, 162 (206 in paperback), and in Central Commission, Fig. 39.
[124]C.B. Smith, 166-171 and photographs.
[125]Editor's note: There are some reservations about the authenticity of this picture, see Udo Walendy, "Do Photographs Prove the NS Extermination of the Jews?," in G. Rudolf, Dissecting the Holocaust, pp. 253f.
[126]Hilberg, 631; Reitlinger, 493-495.
[127]Unless otherwise noted, our treatment of the early extermination propaganda, related developments in Washington and New York, and the conflicts between the State Department, on one hand, and Zionists and the Treasury Department on the other, and the events leading up to the establishment of the War Refugee Board, is based on Morse, 3-99; Feingold, 167-247; DuBois, 183-189; Blum, 207-227; Israel; 173-174, 216-217, 306-337; Morgenthau.
[128]Guggenheim's affidavit is in dispatch no. 49 of October 29, 1942, of the retired files of the U.S. Consulate, Geneva, which are in the archives of the Foreign Affairs Document and Reference Center, Department of State, Washington. Squire's memorandum of his interview with Burckhardt is attached to Squire's personal letter of November 9, 1942 to Harrison, which is in the same file.
[129]The question put to Burckhardt and his answers are IMT document Kaltenbrunner 3, IMT Vol. 40, p. 306.
[130]The statement of the "Vatican source" is in the U.S. National Archives as Department of State file 740.00116 EW/726.
[131]Hull, 471-473.
[132]Morgenthau Diary, 6.
[133]New York Times (Jan. 22, 1943), 6; (May 13, 1943), 8; (Sep. 5, 1943), 7; (Sep. 6, 1943), 7.23, 1944), 11.
[134]Morgenthau Diary, 6-9.
[135]DuBois, 198-199; Red Cross (1947), 20, 23, 59-60; US-WRB (1945), 9-10, 56-61.
[136]US-WRB (1945), 45-56.
[137]Morgenthau Diary, 805-810; Aretz, 366-368.
[138]Barnes, quoted in Anonymous, 3.
[139]Blum, 343, 383.
[140]Das Reich (Jun. 14, 1942), 2; Jaeckel, 62-63.
[141]Calic, 34-35. Hitler also made relevant remarks in Mein Kampf.
[142]Frederick J. P. Veale, Advance to Barbarism, and Benjamin Colby, 'Twas a Famous Victory.
[143]Hitler, 848.
[144]New York Times (Oct. 29, 1942), 20; New Yorker (Apr. 18, 1942), 62; (Sep. 12, 1942), 53; (Oct. 24, 1942), 64f; (Nov. 28, 1942), 82; (Dec. 5, 1942), p. 82.
[145]Reitlinger, 176-186.
[146]Reitlinger, 439.
[147]DuBois, 197.
[148]New York Times (Nov. 1, 1943), 5; (Dec. 11, 1943), 1; (Dec. 13, 1943), 11; (Jan. 3, 1944), 9.
[149]Reitlinger, 533, 545, 546.
[150]Time (Jul. 12, 1954), 98, 100; New Republic (Dec. 20, 1954), 22; New York Times (Apr. 7, 1953), 20; (Apr. 12, 1953), 33; Eichmann, session 85, A1-L1; IMT, vol. 11, 228.
[151]R. H. Smith, 214-215.
[152]Reitlinger, 367, 370-371, 378.
[153]Reitlinger, 352.
[154]DuBois, 137-138, 186-188.
[155]NMT, vol. 5, 820; Reitlinger, 466; Borwicz, 66-76.
[156]US-WRB (1945), 24-33. For contacts of Slovakian Jews with Poland, especially Cracow, and with Budapest, see Neumann's book and also the testimony of Freudiger: Eichmann, session 51, Ww1-Eee1; session 52, A1-Bb1. Wallenberg discussed in Poliakov and Wulf (1955), 416-420.
[157]R. H.Smith, 2, 12, 23, 62, 125, 239; Kimche & Kimche, 108.
[158]IMT, vol. 3, 568.
[159]DuBois, 173-175.
[160]Neumann, 178-183.
[161]New York Times (Nov. 30, 1957), 21; Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 16, 418-419.
[162]Reitlinger, 115n, 182, 590-591.
[163]Eichmann, session 52, M1, N1, W1-Aal; session 71, Ff1; session 72, I1-M1; session 109, J1-L1, R1, S1. The affidavit is reproduced by Vrba & Bestic, 273-276.
[164]Naumann, 290-291; Langbein, vol. 1, 122-125; vol. 2, 968, 971.
[165]New York Times (Apr. 27, 1974), 7. Actes et documents, vol. 8, 476, 486-489; vol. 9, 40, 178n.

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