Dear Rafael Medoff…

February 19, 2020 by Professor Bill Rubinstein
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The debate on the bombing of Auschwitz continues with Professor Bill Rubinstein answering the article written by Rafael Medoff [Feb-18] responding to Rubinstein’s piece. Rubinstein now responds to Medoff,

Professor Bill Rubinstein

Professor Rubinstein [J-Wire Feb-16] had criticised an article written on the argument to bomb Auschwitz by Jonathan S.Tobin [J-Wire Jan 22].

Professsor Bill Rubinstein:

I thank Dr. Rafael Medoff for his contribution; I was already familiar with the evidence he presents. The point of my article was that no one, anywhere, advocated the bombing of Auschwitz, or anything like it, until May 1944, a central point with which he does not take issue. Concerning Dr Medoff’s point about Ben-Gurion, Gruenbaum, and the Jewish Agency, as he notes, there is no evidence that the Jewish Agency went on record as supporting the bombing of Auschwitz, and it is a mystery why Gruenbaum stated that the Jewish Agency “should not ‘say such things explicitly and openly in a resolution”, the stance above all others which should surely have been shouted by them from the rooftops. This is especially true if there was, as Dr. Medoff suggests, now agreement by the Jewish Agency that it should be bombed. There is simply no evidence that Ben-Gurion ever changed his mind about this issue, or spoke out about it.

Dr. Medoff also fails to mention the U.S. War Refugee Board, which was the only officially constituted body in the United States (or anywhere else) established specifically to rescue Jews. As I noted, its head, John Pehle, opposed the bombing of Auschwitz until November 1944, the month in which the gassings there had ceased. The second head of the Board, William O’Dwyer, made the claim in the Board’s final Report that it had saved the lives of 200,000 Jews. As I discuss in my book, there is no real evidence that it had saved the lives of any Jews, and certainly not 200,000, despite the absolute dedication of Pehle to this task. O’Dwyer’s claim was made in the context of his running for electoral office in New York, with its vast Jewish population, and should be seen as such. The Jews of Nazi-occupied Europe were, tragically, prisoners of Hitler, and, with the most limited of exceptions, could not be rescued except by liberating Nazi-occupied Europe yard by yard, which the Allies were in the process of doing as quickly as possible. The Jews by that stage were not refugees – that is, people who were forced to flee from their homelands because of a fear of persecution – and were forbidden by the Nazis to leave, prior to genocide.

The bombings of the oil fields near Auschwitz were completely different from any bombing of Auschwitz, with the pinpoint accuracy this required to destroy the gas chambers without killing the prisoners, and could almost certainly not have been accomplished with the technology of 1944. British RAF bombers could only fly over targets at night since they could not fly at altitudes above the range of German anti-aircraft fire. While American bombers flew much higher (30,000 feet vs. 20,000 feet) and faster, they were also much further away from their targets. If the aim was to destroy a German factory or level a German city to the ground, where the bombs fell didn’t matter very much; if the aim was to destroy the gas chambers at Auschwitz, it did. Dr James Kitchens, who was mentioned in commenter Peter Wertheim’s response to my post, and whom I quoted at length in my book, has discussed this in detail.

I do not want to digress, but the internment of the Japanese during the War – obviously an odious, and in peacetime, unconstitutional procedure – was mandated by President Roosevelt in an Executive Order, but was actually carried out by California’s Attorney-General Earl Warren, later, of course, the ultra-liberal U.S. Chief Justice, and by General John L. De Witt, head of the Western Defence Command, not by Roosevelt, and had wide support by the press and by the general public after Pearl Harbor. I might also say that the David Wyman Institute appears to be engaged in an extended vendetta against Franklin D. Roosevelt. But it was Hitler’s venomous hatred of FDR which was the main reason why he declared war against the United States (not the other way round) a few days after Pearl Harbor, without which America may never have entered the War against Nazi Germany at all, let alone destroyed it. Despite the desire for revenge against Japan for Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt ruled that the defeat of Nazi Germany, rather than Japan, be the central aim of America’s war effort. At the time, the overwhelming majority of American Jews and others knew that their enemy was Adolf Hitler and his monstrous regime – not President Roosevelt, who was leading the effort to wipe it off the earth.


3 Responses to “Dear Rafael Medoff…”
  1. Steve Burstein says:

    To Mr. Rubinstein: so glad you’re still making your voice heard on this subject. Whenever I read something achronological like “The US saved the Lippizaner Stallions while letting Jews die” I wonder why so few understand that this was after the War and not concurrent with the Holocaust!

  2. Eion Isaac says:

    There is another huge issue .

    Taking in millions of Jewish People from Europe as refugees to areas far safer – the USA till December 1941 and its territories leased from Britain , the British Empire till the fall of France May 1940 Cyprus Sri Lanka India the Caribbean lands – note one thousand Jews were taken in to Manila which is far further than British India and the Islamic Lands for example Turkey close to Romania Greece and Hungary .
    Turkey has taken in millions of Arab refugees from the wars in Syria and Iraq a million recently have left Irbid in Northern Syria as Ba’ath Fatah Barrel Bombs civilians and targets medical centres .

    Roosevelt kept strict quotas and did not relax them even when he was re-elected in November 1940 at which time the vast majority of Jewish People in Europe were still alive .

    • William Rubinstein says:

      Mr. Isaac’s posting is, I am afraid, a good example of the wishful thinking which is often found in discussions of this controversial topic. First, immigration to the US was regulated by the Immigration Act of 1924, which remained in place until 1965. Under it, the quota for each country was a percentage of the number of Americans in 1890 who had been born in each country. Roosevelt had absolutely no authority to change this immigration law, which could only be altered by the US Congress. It was inconceivable that the US Congress would greatly expand immigration at that time when, because of the Depression, unemployment never fell below 10%. Secondly, it was Germany’s Jews who were refugees, and had to flee Germany. America’s immigration law was fairly generous to Germany, and no less than 161,000 Germans, mainly Jews, were admitted to the US between 1933 and the War. Thirdly, the Jews of other parts of Europe were not refugees, not under German rule, and had no possible way of knowing what would happen to them when war broke out. In Poland, the Bund and Charedi groups told local Jews not to emigrate. The millions of Jews in the USSR could not emigrate even if they wanted to. Once Nazi Germany conquered these areas, it invariably forbade Jews to emigrate. Fourthly, there is a valid point about emigration to Palestine, which was limited to only 75,000 over the next five years from 1939 by the Macdonald White Paper. This was put in place by the UK purely to appease the Arabs- in the War that was about to break out, the Jews by definition would fight Nazi Germany, but the Arabs had to be appeased. However, it should also be noted that fewer than 75,000 Jews actually managed to emigrate to Palestine over the period of the War, because of Nazi rule and wartime restrictions.

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