Traitors: a book review by Jeffrey Cohen

October 12, 2018 by Rabbi Jeffrey Cohen
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As I picked up this book written by Frank Walker, I had just viewed two episodes of Foyle’s War- one was about an English industrialist who favoured a German victory because it would be good for business and the other episode was about a German nationalist planted in England in 1937 in preparation for a war and being an informant.

Also, there has been much discussion since 1945 about why the Allies did not bomb the rail tracks to concentration camps. This book adds to our knowledge and challenges why the Allies did not do more for the defenceless.

Perhaps the most disturbing is the opening chapter devoted to the topic of Anzacs in Nazi Uniforms. It would be easy to dismiss it as similar to those “fellow travellers” who supported communism and the Russian government without question.

The second half of the book focuses on the question of why and how the Allies allowed war criminals, from all the Axis powers, to go free. Yes, there were show trials like Nuremberg and its war crimes principles. On the other hand, so many war criminals either escaped to places like Argentina or were absorbed into the American (and Russian) post 1945 military programs including the Space program led by Werner von Braun who designed rockets for the Nazis and led the US Space program.- this is expounded in the chapter entitled “Ignore the War Crimes of the Useful”.

It will be no surprise to those who have paid attention to Australian politics to see a discussion concerning how Nazis were hired by ASIO and how those so hired enabled others of a similar ilk to be allowed to immigrate to Australia and then be employed by government instrumentalities. While the emphasis has focused on the Ustashi from the former Yugoslavia, there were many others who ‘escaped’ detection.

Returning to the first Foyle’s War episode, Walker reminds us that many corporations in the Allied countries were still able to do business with the Axis powers usually by so-called neutral countries such as Switzerland and a lesser extent through the Iberian Peninsula. The rationale was that while individuals can have moral values corporation are at best values neutral.

This is a book which will offer no surprises for those with a reasonable knowledge of the period 1939-1960 although it will add to our knowledge! It is well-written and easy to read.

 

Jeffrey Cohen is a rabbi and also an Associate Professor in the School of Medicine (Sydney Campus) at University of Notre Dame, Australia. He served as CEO of the Sydney Jewish Museum for 5 years.

Comments

One Response to “Traitors: a book review by Jeffrey Cohen”
  1. Adrian Jackson says:

    Shortly after WW2 ended Australia tried many Japanese servicemen in military courts for war crimes and executed dozens of them in the islands to our north. What are you talking about here?

    As far as the Germans were concerned generally speaking war crimes were not committed against Australian POW’s by Germans or Italians except some who escaped, recaptured and were shot as deplcted in the film “The Great Escape”.

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