May 15, 2006

Learn from History or Repeat It

About.com has got interesting news.

Has it really? News, I mean.
Allies May Have Known of Holocaust Plans

American and British WWII military intelligence authorities may have been aware of Adolph Hitler's "Final Solution" plan for the "eradication" of the Jews of Europe as early as 1942, according to documents just declassified under the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act of 1998.

According to a July 2, 2001 National Archives press release, by March 20, 1942, a surreptitiously obtained document appears in the files of the United States Coordinator of Information (COI), a predecessor to the Central Intelligence Agency, clearly discussing the Nazi intent to eradicate European Jewry. The document is a translated copy of a dispatch filed by a Chilean diplomat on November 24, 1941.

The document sheds new light on the longstanding question of how much the Western powers knew of the Holocaust. According to Thomas H Baer, "Warnings from the allies to the Jews of Europe of a planned genocide never came. The Nazi murders depended on secrecy and subterfuge. Warnings would not have stopped the Holocaust, but they could have saved lives." Baer is a public member of the Interagency Working Group (IWG), a group that coordinates the government-wide effort to declassify federal records related to Nazi and Axis war crimes,

Another IWG member, Elizabeth Holtzman added, "This recently declassified document helps pinpoint how much officials within our government knew about the Holocaust and when they knew it. The next question is why our government--not to mention the British--did nothing in response. It is unbearable to think that plans to 'eradicate' a Jewish population were a matter of such indifference."

The National Archives press release goes on to describe the 1941 dispatch apparently received by the Chilean diplomat. (The Nation Archives uses the alternate spelling of dispatch - "despatch.")

The Chilean Despatch

During German occupation, Prague was no longer a capital of a country and most foreign diplomats had departed. The former Chilean consul, Gonzalo Montt Rivas, however, was able to resume his post because of friendly relations between Nazi Germany and neutral Chile. His location and good connections provided a unique vantage point for discerning the Nazi agenda and actions in Nazi-occupied territories, a perspective not afforded to most Western diplomats.

Prompting his despatch was a decree to be issued by Nazi Germany on November 25, 1941, announcing that Jews who had left Germany and were living abroad could not be German subjects (they had lost their citizenship by laws issued in 1935) and that all remaining assets of these Jews automatically were forfeited to the Reich.

The diplomat wrote to the Chilean government, translating part of the decree and making the following observations about Nazi policy in general:

"The Jewish problem is being partially solved in the Protectorate [Reich Protectorate of Bohemia-Moravia], as it has been decided to eradicate all the Jews and send some to Poland and others to the town of Terezin, whilst looking for a more remote place.

The German triumph [in the war] will leave Europe freed of Semites. Those [Jews] who escape with their lives from this trial will certainly be deported to Siberia, where they will not have much opportunity to make use of their financial capabilities.

In proportion to the U.S.A. increasing its attacks on the Reich, Germany will expedite the destruction of Semitism, as she accuses international Judaism of all the calamities which have befallen the world.

The exodus of the Jews from the Reich has not had the results prophesied by the enemies of Germany: on the contrary: they have been replaced by Aryans with obvious advantage to everything and in everything, except in the usury line in which they are past masters."


The West received partial information about the Holocaust from a multitude of sources, but Montt's November 24, 1941 despatch came to the West in early 1942, which was very early in the flow of information. The report, was one of a set of despatches from Chilean diplomats in Europe to the Chilean Foreign Ministry in Santiago that were acquired by British intelligence and shared with American intelligence during the war.

(The Nation Archives uses the alternate spelling of dispatch - "despatch.")

The Declassification Effort

Since 1999, the Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group (IWG) has overseen the identification, declassification review, and release of formerly classified U. S. Government records as required by the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act. Under the auspices of the IWG, U.S. Government agencies have declassified more than 3 million pages to date. The records are available for research at the National Archives. In its recent passage of the Japanese Imperial Government Disclosure Act of 2000, Congress endorsed the IWG's effort to finish the European war crimes phase and move into the Japanese and Far East phase and thus complete the full task set forth in the Disclosure Act.
This is interesting for several reasons. What comes to mind first is that some crimes seem to be inconceivable for the average person, even the average criminal. Even though the comparison is pretty shaky, I'd like to remind of 9/11, a crime of such a scope that it was, in all its enormity and in spite of its simplicity, impossible to comprehend in advance.

Now the Holocaust was certainly not simple and what the Allied soldiers, puking their guts out, found was not, like 9/11, the overture but the result of such an inconceivable crime, so the comparison ends right here, but the Allies had, at least so I think, in their majority the benefit of innocence on their side -- then.

As an aside, the "Chilenean despatch" throws an embarrassing light on the motive of those many not-so-innocent bystanders to lift a finger in help of the Jews of Europe:
[The Jews] who escape with their lives ... will certainly be deported to Siberia, where they will not have much opportunity to make use of their financial capabilities.
So what else is new?

But the Dangerous Naivity Award of the Year in Gold and with Oakleaves goes to IWG member Holtzman who is asking herself...
...why our government--not to mention the British--did nothing in response. It is unbearable to think that plans to 'eradicate' a Jewish population were a matter of such indifference."
The British? Has Ms. Holtzman forgotten that the Brits of Palestinian Mandate fame let ships with Jewish refugees sink and their passengers drown in the Mediterranean or sent them back to Germany and certain death? Ms. Holtzmann, do I really have to tell you that Americans, for whatever reason, have a conscience while others, collectively speaking, haven't? (The Danes seem to be a notable exception!)

When all is said and done, Jews have no lobby. Never had, never will, in spite of all the "powerful Jewish lobby" drivel and all conspiracy theories. If it were not so, that unwashed monstrosity Ahmadingbat would have been swept away a long time ago by a wave of laughter and economical boycott. And when the Americans will finally remember that conscience of theirs and hopefully do away with Dingbat, their name will be that of the great aggressor AGAIN.

Those who refuse to learn from history will be forced to repeat it.

5 comments:

Jeremayakovka said...

These are important points to reiterate. May I recommend David Wylie's The Abandonment of the Jews and Polish diplomat Jan Karski's on-camera testimony in the documentary Shoah.

The_Editrix said...

Of course you may, JMK, and I will gladly follow your recommendations!

Mac Coinneach said...

American and British WWII military intelligence authorities may have been aware of Adolph Hitler's "Final Solution" plan for the "eradication" of the Jews of Europe as early as 1942, according to documents just declassified under the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act of 1998.

According to a July 2, 2001 National Archives press release, by March 20, 1942, a surreptitiously obtained document appears in the files of the United States Coordinator of Information (COI), a predecessor to the Central Intelligence Agency, clearly discussing the Nazi intent to eradicate European Jewry. The document is a translated copy of a dispatch filed by a Chilean diplomat on November 24, 1941.


Just a thought, but I wonder if there's anything really sinister going on with this. Maybe the information wasn't released so as not to threaten British code-breaking efforts.

The_Editrix said...

Mac, SO glad to see you here!

What you say certainly throws an interesting and different light on the matter.

Maybe the release of further formerly classified documents will finally tell us more.

However, I am sure that there is more than one reason for the lack of interest in the fate of the European Jews.

For everybody who is interested, not in a scholarly account, but in a general overview of that time including the matter we are discussing here, I can't recommend strongly enough Herman Wouk's "Winds of War" and "War and Rememberance". It is stunning how exactly Wouk got the Germans' (and I presume everybody else's) number.

fpb said...

Odious though it was, Montt's document only refers to a population transfer - a brutal measure hardly unknown to imperial powers down the centuries. If we did not know what we know now, it could be taken to be nothing worse than the American decision to intern all Japanese-Americans without distinction. He even seems to have misunderstood the term "final solution" to mean expulsion to some tract in Siberia, where in actual fact Russian cruelty had already created a "Jewish republic" at the border with China. This cannot be taken as evidence of knowledge of mass murders; and Montt seems to have been stupid enough to take the Nazis at their word.