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Auschwitz and the Allies [Hardcover]

Martin Gilbert
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description


When Hitler announced that the result of the war in Europe would be 'the complete annihilation of the Jews', he did so in 1942, not only in public, but before an enormous crowd in Berlin. The Allies heard, but, astonishingly, they did not listen.

In 1944, Allied reconnaissance pilots, searching out industrial targets in the area, repeatedly photographed Auschwitz. The pictures, apparently overlooked by the Allies, were routinely filed in government archives and not examined until 1979.

First-hand reports on the horrors of the death camps came to the West by 1944 in the person of two escaped Auschwitz prisoners. Their testimonies, and those of subsequent escapees, were either ignored or dismissed.

Despite the fact that, the same year, Churchill himself had ordered feasibility studies for air strikes on Auschwitz, the RAF not only did nothing, but eventually passed the buck to the Americans, who also did nothing. This book explains the reasons why.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Holt Rinehart and Winston (1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0030592844
  • ISBN-13: 978-0030592843
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.5 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 562,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"One cannot write too highly of Martin Gilbert's industry and literary abilities in making the world aware of the fullness of this hideous tale...A brilliant book" (Spectator)

"Auschwitz is now a name of horror without parallel...Why did it remain relatively unknown for so long? Martin Gilbert has set out to explore this contradiction" (Observer)

"A story that needs to be remembered. It is here told by a real historian...whose style is the more moving by being objective and controlled" (Hugh Trevor-Roper The Times)

"An unforgettable contribution to the history of the last war" (Jewish Chronicle) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

'A story that needs to be remembered. It is here told by a real historian.whose style is the more moving by being objective and controlled' - Hugh Trevor-Roper, The Times --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sobering but essential read 8 Jun 2005
By Teemacs TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Just recently, Ariel Sharon stood at Auschwitz and said that millions of Jews had been murdered and that the world had stood by and done nothing. This of course was a typical politician with typically simplistic statements. This excellent book, written by distinguished (and Jewish) historian Sir Martin Gilbert, presents a much more complex picture.
The Nazi extermination of European Jewry was shrouded in secrecy (alleged "resettlement", extermination camps in distant Poland). The programme was already well under way when in 1942, Jewish Agency representatives in Switzerland put two and two together (massive deportations and news of experiments with gas chambers). This was initially largely ignored by the Allies, because extermination on such a scale seemed just too incredible, and because the Jews were said to exaggerate everything. However, eyewitness accounts corroborated the terrible things going on, at about the time the minor camps - Treblinka, Sobibór, Belzec - were running down their operations.
The most amazing thing of all, and a tribute to the Germans' secrecy, is that the biggest and worst of the extermination camps, Auschwitz-Birkenau, retained its secret until mid-1944. The existence of a camp at Auschwitz was known from the beginning, but the Allies thought it was a labour camp (because of the factories attached to it). They also thought that Birkenau was an entirely separate labour camp elsewhere.
And when the secret was discovered, then what? The Allies had a limited ability to do anything. Reprisals against German civilians (e.g., by bombing) for the murder of Jews were considered unwise, because this could have led to counter-reprisals against Allied POWs. The camps were for much of the war at extreme range for Allied bombers.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By M. D Roberts VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent study by Sir Martin Gilbert surrounding the most horrific period in Jewish history, the Holocaust, and the 'role' of the Allies.
We are confronted with the disturbing revelation that, although supplied with considerable information about the decimation of Jewish communities in the Nazi Concentration Camps & gas ovens of Europe, the Allies allegedly turned a blind and incredulous eye to the suffering and slaughter.
In relation to the British involvement (or lack of it), the book quotes from a letter by Winston Churchill to Anthony Eden dated July 1944 pertaining to the Nazi slaughter of Jews in Europe;-"...there is no doubt that this is probably the greatest and most horrible single crime ever committed in the whole history of the world..."
One would think that this expression of apparent concern would have led to the most aggressive intervention possible to rescue the vast numbers facing genocide. Not so ! The book shows that Churchill did indeed order a so-called feasibility study for possible air-strikes on Auschwitz, but subsequently did nothing. The issue was passed to the Americans who also did...nothing.
Before some say that it was too late in 1944 anyway, the book clearly illustrates the Allied possession of such knowledge of an ongoing genocide in 1942.
Hitler himself being shown to have publically announced during 1942, before an enormous crowd & film crews, that the war in Europe would result in the complete annihilation of the Jews. Some 11,000,000 in Europe. The Allied Government's all heard this, but looked away.
The book details a number of British newspaper headlines and extensive reports, some of which follow;-
"Nazis murder 700,000 Jews in Poland".
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The indifference, the failures and the horror 9 Oct 2005
This thoroughly documented and deeply disturbing book is divided into three parts. The Final Solution includes the chapters Hitler's Pledge, Warnings And Forebodings, Britain's Dilemma, Evidence And Omissions, Rescue and Refuge, Eyewitness and This Bestial Policy. Part Two: Hope And Hopelessness includes Warsaw And Bermuda, The Spread Of Nazi Power and The German Occupation Of Hungary. Part Three: Auschwitz revealed, includes inter alia, Escape From Auschwitz, Zionism At Bay, The Deportations From Hungary, The End Of Auschwitz and the Epilogue.
The book is painful to read as it chronicles the history of the Shoah from the earliest warnings of Hitler's intentions through the war, the doomed attempts of many individuals and organisations to rescue the Jews, the indifference and the excuses given by certain officials on the Allied side, and the actions, good and bad, of occupied and neutral countries. Although the book does not focus on personal experiences in the holocaust, there are some examples of unspeakable horror that the sensitive reader had best avoid.
The author ascribes the extent of the tragedy and the failure to do more as failures of imagination, of response, of intelligence, co-ordination and of sympathy. To me the most shocking revelations are those where policymakers used the excuse that they were afraid of flooding Palestine and the UK with Jewish refugees. Or maybe even worse, those who claimed that the reports coming out of Europe were exaggerated. Another incredible show of indifference was the refusal of the Allies to bomb Auschwitz, while their planes were overflying the accursed place to drop supplies on Warsaw for the Polish uprising.
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