Vatican daily has Jewish historian comment on Bush and Auschwitz

January 13, 2008

Apologies aren’t easy, especially for the infallible.*

President Bush visits Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, 11 January 2008During his visit to Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, President George Bush saw aerial photos of the Auschwitz death camp taken by American planes during World War Two and was quoted as saying: “We should have bombed it.” This presented an interesting challenge to the Pope’s daily newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano. Critics have long accused Pope Pius XII of failing to help Jews during the Holocaust and his successors of failing to say mea culpa in apology. German-born Pope Benedict heard the same in May 2006 after he avoided the issue during a visit to Auschwitz. So how should the Vatican daily report what looked like an indirect apology (the first of its kind?) by the U.S. president?

The Sunday edition showed the way. L’Osservatore, a once-bland broadsheet livened up under its new editor Giovanni Maria Vian, invited the Jewish historian Anna Foa to write a front-page commentary on “The Missed Bombing” (text in Italian). She writes: “A president of the United States, George W. Bush, has admitted publicly what many historians and a part of public opinion have been saying for years: that in 1944, the Americans should have bombed Auschwitz.” Foa noted that, as early as 1942, information about the death camps had reached “the Red Cross, the neutral countries, the Holy See, the chancelleries of the Allies. Many of these reports were not believed at the time. But in 1943, all governments knew.

Pope Benedict enters Auschwitz death camp, 28 May 2006/Pawel KopczynskiBombing Auschwitz could have slowed or stopped the slaughter there, especially of the half a million Hungarian Jews deported in the summer and autumn of 1944, but the Allies did not do it. Not because bombing would not be useful, Foa writes, but for “a more general reason: saving the Jews did not have priority in the overall management of the war.” Bombing the train tracks leading to Auschwitz or even the gas chambers themselves “would have broken the silence that settled over the death camps, given the war an incomparable ethical motivation and forced all of Europe to know” what was happening there.

Now, at Yad Vashem, an American president has accomplished the same gesture that brought Willy Brandt to his knees in the Warsaw Ghetto: saying “mea culpa”. Brandt for the crimes of Nazi Germany, Bush for the mistaken choices of his country.

The Roman orator Cicero often gave examples in threes. Has this Roman historian left out a third “B”?

(* Yes, bloggers, I know the pope is not supposed to be infallible all the time, only when he speaks in matters of faith and morals. But who can deny that Auschwitz is a moral issue? A question for Catholic theologians — if Benedict apologised, would he be speaking in matters of morals and therefore infallibly?)

7 comments

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There are several instances like this which defy explanation. In today’s world the biggest champions of Democracy and Freedom court biggest oppressors like US courting China. History will ask for an explanation !

But surely the Allies would have been then held responsible for the murder of Jews? Morally, the act would have been defensible: the doctrine of double effect, the greater good involved, the long-term reduction of lives lost, and so on. The same argument can be made for shooting down a hijacked plane headed for a city centre. But it is not an easy calculation. In retrospect, knowing that many millions died in the death camps, it might seem a no brainer. But while the Allies knew of the death camps, were they aware of their sheer scale? And even if the gas exterminations could have been stopped, would the Nazis not have resorted to even faster, less mechanised methods of extermination?

A lot of questions; few answers. But Bush’s “we should have bombed them” sounds to these ears grossly simplistic.

Posted by Austen | Report as abusive

Austen,

There were Jewish partisans that were begging the FDR administration to bomb the camps, the rail lines, anything to slow down the slaughter.

The amount of people killed in the bombing would have been insignificant to the number not killed because the facilities would need to be rebuilt. The allies *WERE* told of the scale of the slaughter. The “less mechanized methods of extermination” were much slower.

You can argue that any slowdown at Auschwitz would have caused rerouting of the “to be slaughtered” to other death camps. That might be true, but still it would have caused the Germans to dedicate additional rail cars and tracks to the eliminations.

Thanks for educating me on this, Izzy.

Posted by Austen | Report as abusive

[...] Bush is quoted as having said, while visiting Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, that the Americans should have bombed Auschwitz during World War II (link via Clive). On the principle that some things may be right even when said [...]

[...] Bush is quoted as having said, while visiting Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, that the Americans should have bombed Auschwitz during World War II (link via Clive). On the principle that some things may be right even when said [...]

Bush and Auschwitz lawsuit
On account of failure to intervene in the death
factory Auschwitz survivors (members of the Jewish
Auschwitz resistance) filed a class action for punitive damages against the US power holders at
the Federal District Court in Washington DC.
President George W. Bush confirmed:
“The US accepts the well-pled allegations of the
complaint as true”.
But he also declared:
“President’s Sovereign Immunity applies even in
Holocaust cases. Federal Courts do not have ju-
risdiction”.
Thus President Bush has broken American Martial
Law:
“Commander’s Responsibility for Crimes against
Humanity on innocent civilians”.
Bush has injured Art.6 of the “Nuremberg Law”.
This Rule excludes US President’s Sovereign
Immunity in view of Crimes against Humanity on
innocent civilians. The “Nuremberg Principles”
are basis of International Law since 1945.
We assume that Bush’s public confession at Yad
Vashem has changed his Holocaust position in
the Auschwitz lawsuit.
The cited Martial Law establishes the jurisdiction
of US Federal Courts.

Peter Wolz
Attorney of Auschwitz victims

Posted by Peter Wolz | Report as abusive

additional comment
January 27, 2008
INTERNATIONAL AUSCHWITZ REMEMBRANCE DAY

CONFESSION OF PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH:
WE SHOULD HAVE BOMBED AUSCHWITZ

MESSAGE OF JEWISH AUSCHWITZ RESISTANCE:
HOLOCAUST JUSTICE HAS TO BE REALIZED BY
- THE UNITY OF TRUTH AND JUSTICE AND
- THE UNITY OF JUDAEO-CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLES,
AMERICAN LAW AND INTERNATIONAL LAW

Short Summons of the main points of
state of affairs and legal points:

I.
On account of failure to intervene in the death
factory Auschwitz Holocaust survivors (Represen-
tatives of the “Jewish Auschwitz Resistance”)
filed a class action for punitive damages against
the responsible US power holders at the Federal
District Court of Columbia in Washington DC.
Auschwitz was an “oil/synthetics target” on the
bombing list of US Air Force. Surrounding traffic
targets were scheduled for Air Force attack too.
Compatible with the other military goals it would
have been possible for the 15th US Air Force to
stop the deportation of Hungarian Jews to Ausch-
witz by bombing the well-known railway-bridges
between Hungary and the death factory.
The Jewish Auschwitz Resistance had delivered this
US Air Force target. Just by bombing two bridges
the whole traffic between Hungary and Auschwitz
could have been paralysed. More than 400.000 Hun-
garian Jews would not have been deported to the
death factory.
But the railway-bridges were overflownby US Air
Force.

The responsible Federal Judge in Washington DC
drew a Summons. Complaint and Summons were delivered to President George W. Bush. In his
Reply the President has confirmed:
“The US accepts the well-pled allegations of
the complaint as true”.
President’s Yad Vashem confession open to the
public is a repetion and a reinforcement of US
power holders’ share of the responsibility.

II.
At the Federal District Court in Washington DC
the President has made an attempt at self-justi-
fication. He said:
“President’s Sovereign Immunity applies even
in Holocaust cases. Federal Courts do not
have jurisdiction”.

With his public confession the President has
corrected this position:
The industrial Genocide on innocent civilians -
a “Crime against Humanity” – cannot be subjected
under President’s Sovereign Immunity.
On the basis of the principle
“Commander’s Responsibility for Crimes against
Humanity on innocent civilians”
American Martial Law also establishes the juris-
diction of Federal Courts.
Art. 6 of the “Nuremberg Law” excludes in view
of Crimes against Humanity “President’s Sovereign
Immunity” too.

III.
In contrast to the positions in Continental Europe
since 1648 Anglo-American writers came out in fa-
vour of humanitarian intervention even before
WW I. They supposed also the obligation of a
powerful nation to oppose crimes committed out-
side the territory. At the instigation of USA
the Rule of Intervention has been included in
the League of Nations Act of 1919, which was
ratified by States of Europe.

This rule is based on Judaeo-Christian Principles.
The Tora Levitican citation 19:16, as elaborated
in Maimonides’ Tora (Laws concerning Murder and
the Preservation of Life, 1:14) instructs:
“If one person is able to save another and does
not save him, he transgresses the commandment”.
President Roosevelt complied with this Tora
commandment.
The “Report to the Secretary (Morgenthau Jr.)
on the Acquiescense of this Government in the
Muder o the Jews”, published January 13, 1944,
said that “the whole US Administration would be
responsible unless immediate actions were under-
taken to rescue the Jews”:
“One of the greatest crimes in history, the
slaughter of the Jewish people in Euroe,
is continuing unabated”.

President Roosvelt reacted by issuing Executive
Order 9417 on January 13, 1944. The basic prin-
ciple reads:
” It is the policy of the Government to take all
measures within its power to rescue the victims
of enemy oppression who are in imminent danger
of death and otherwise to afford such victims
all possible relief and assistance consistent
with the successful prosecution of war”.
To fulfill Government’s obligations Morgenthau Jr.
at once demanded that the US War Ministry should
take immediate military actions. In accordance
with this demand it would have been possible for
the US Air Force -and compatible with the other
bombing goals “oil/synthetics and traffic targets”
to bomb, from the beginning of April 1944, the
well-known railway-bridges between Hungary and
Auschwitz.
On March 25, 1944, at a meeting in the US Air Mi-
nistry in Washington DC, General Dwight D. Eizen-
hower was faced with the decision on the next
stage in Allied Air War. In this meeting, at the
latest, the immediate bombing of the railway brid-
ges between Hungary and the death factory could
have been decided.
But the Auschwitz intervention has been blocked.
The Commander in Chief -President Roosevelt -
gave no Special Order.

IV.
The public confession of President Bush makes the
first move of US power holders’ share of the
responibility for the mass murder of Nazi chief
war criminals on the deported Hungarian Jews
in the death factory Auschwitz.

Holocaust Justice must be realized.

Peter Wolz
Attorney of Auschwitz victims

Posted by Peter Wolz | Report as abusive

Peter Wolz is an evil man.

The Jews have never had a better friend than America. Yet Mr. Wolz has the tremendous arrogance to demand money from us because we didn’t do enough (in his eyes) to save Jews during the Second World War.

His motive has nothing to do with justice. It has to do with greed and hatred.

The mind-boggling contempt this shows for America and the American people is infuriating.

Every Jew should speak out against this evil man. If you fail to do so, you will alienate many millions of Americans and set the stage for a re-birth of open anti-Semitism.

Jews are not the only people in the world who have ever suffered a horrifying injustice. It is time to give the Holocaust a rest.

Posted by David W. Owens | Report as abusive