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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 (Switzerland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Auschwitz And The Allies (Paperback)
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.
Especially tragic is the tale of the Hungarian Jews. Admiral Horthy, ruler of Hungary, had resisted Nazi attempts to deport the Jews for extermination, and the Nazis were able to start only in mid-1944, with the defeat of the Nazis less than a year away. Jewish Agency demands that the railway lines be bombed (they eventually were in range of Allied aircraft operating from Italy) were met with the arguments of the difficulty and uncertainty of such an operation, and that resources should not be diverted from the ultimate salvation of the Jews - the defeat of Nazi Germany. Churchill was keen to disrupt the murder schedule and passed the problem to the Royal Air Force, which passed it to the US Air Force, which did nothing. Eventually, Allied threats to try the Hungarians as war criminals stopped the shipments, but only after a substantial proportion of Hungary's Jews had been slaughtered.
And Auschwitz kept on with its deadly work until the Russians were almost at the gates, at which point the SS sought to destroy the evidence by demolishing the place
Sir Martin tells the sorry tale in a reasoned, dispassionate way, never attributing blame and letting the various elements of a complex story speak for themselves. It is not a straightforward story, in which blame can be attributed - except to the depraved monsters who, in contravention of all logic and humanity, were set on mass murder, even at the cost of taking resources from their own desperate and failing war effort. Confronted with a crime of unimaginable proportions, the Allies fumbled the ball, because they really didn't know what to do, how to do it, or who should do it, whatever "it" was. Edmund Burke said that, "all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing". The good men did something - they defeated Nazi Germany. Whether this was enough and whether something more could have been done to save more of the Jews of Europe is something we shall never know.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Turning our backs on genocide. A disturbing study., 28 Feb. 2006
By 
M. D Roberts (Gwent, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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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". - Daily Telegraph, 25 June 1942, which also included a follow up report under the heading "Travelling Gas Chambers".
Additionally, the following reports were published publically on 30 June 1942;
"Massacre of Jews - Over 1,000,000 have died since the war began". - The Times.
"Greatest pogrom - one million Jews die". - Daily Mail.
Other such references are also included, all of which show an alarming knowledge of the Nazis agenda and operations for the last 3-4 years of the war.
The contents of this study clearly show that the Allies had both the equipment and technology to bomb/destroy the railway lines and bridges leading to Nazi Concentration Camps and even the gas chambers themselves at Auschwitz. Allied aircrews and far-reaching amounts of aircraft were even risked to drop supplies to assist the Polish resistance during the Warsaw Uprising against the Germans.
Missions that even entailed overflying Auschwitz itself whilst en-route to Warsaw, yet not a single bomb or supply was dropped to assist the Jews. Having served in the British armed forces, I feel an incredible level of shame whilst writing this.
The book proceeds to examine whether it was not perhaps `politically expedient' for the Allies to intervene on behalf of the Jews. The British situation in Palestine is studied, in particular the restrictions placed upon Jewish immigration into Palestine and British interests in the Middle East in parallel with the latter's relationship with the Arab world.
Reference is made amongst others to the incident surrounding what the British called the `illegal' refugee ship `Struma', carrying some 750 men, women and children, forbidden entry into Palestine and sent back to the Black Sea. Despite there being little food or sanitary provisions for these poor people and their vessel being declared as unseaworthy, no help was forthcoming. Indeed, the book shows that neither humanitarian or military considerations would change British policy towards the Jews. The `Struma' mysteriously blowing-up in the Black Sea with all but one of the 750 refugees being allowed to perish.
This is an essential contribution towards Holocaust studies. Might I respectfully recommend another book upon this same subject entitled "The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust 1941-1945" by David Wyman.
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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
By 
Peter Uys "Toypom" (Sandton) - See all my reviews
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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.
Here and there one finds some glimpses of right action, for example Bulgaria, an Axis ally that nevertheless managed to protect its Jews from the worst. But overall, one is left with a feeling of utter despair at the way the events unfolded and the frustration that Zionist leaders must have endured in trying to help their doomed people. It is chilling to read how countries like Switzerland refused to accommodate refugees and how every obstacle was placed in the way of orphaned children trying to reach Israel. The world looked on and it still does. Since then, we have witnessed Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya and Darfur.
The book contains 16 pages of black and white plates and 20 maps. It concludes with biographical notes and a thorough index. For more information and background on the horror and the indifference, I recommend The History Of The Jews by Paul Johnson and The Contract Of Mutual Indifference: Political Philosophy After The Holocaust by Norman Geras. For a glimpse of the future, consult Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam And The American Left by David Horowitz and The Mountains Of Israel by Norma Parrish Archbold.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is sad.., 1 Feb. 2007
By 
SJ SMART "Smartie" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Auschwitz And The Allies (Paperback)
This book is sad, because it points out in detail how much the Allies knew about the holocaust and how little they did to prevent it.

Churchill was keen to help but sadly his Foreign office werent, so nothing was done. Gilbert points out all the possible options open to the Allies at the time, like bombing the camps or the railway lines to the camps but these werent taken up.

Read this book and it will change your views of the war.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Allied inaction in the face of genocide, 5 Jun. 2008
By 
This review is from: Auschwitz And The Allies (Paperback)
In this comprehensive work , Martin Gilbert analyses how the Allied governments during World War II reacted to news about the Nazi holocaust of Europe's Jewry , especially after the truth became known about the massive death factory known as Auschwitz.

He poses the questions as to why the Allies never bombed Auschwitz , and analyses Allied lack of reaction , despite ample news of the holocaust - revealing how the allies could have - but did not- act to save millions of Jews.

The prelude to the book deals with Hitler's pledge to completely anihilate the Jews of Europe , on January 20 1942.

By 1941 , the reality of the Nazi massacre of Jews had certainly reached allied governments. On 3 May 1941 the Polish Government-in-Exile sent a formal note to the governments of allied and neutral powers describing how 'tens of thousands' had been interned in concentration camps and it went on to mention four such camps: Oswiecim (Auschwitz) , Oranieburg , , Mauthausen and Dachau as camps whose names will 'mark the most horrible pages of the annals of German bestiality.' The Polish note contained more than 200 accounts of the tortures and murders commited in the camps.

But the persecution of Jews was still not thought of as a specifically important issue. On 25 July 1941 , a Ministry of Information document "had warned British policy makers that to make the Nazi danger 'credible' to the British people it should 'not be too extreme as concentration camp stories 'repel the normal mind'"...while a certain amount of horror was needed "it must deal always with the treatment of indisputably innocent people , Not with violent political opponents and not with Jews".

In 1939 the British issued their infamous White Paper severely restricting the entry of Jews into Palestine , barring their only root of escape from Nazi terror , largely in order to appease Arab opinion .
About 500 000 Jews actually attempted to enter "Palestine" after the Shoah had begun in 1942, but were brutally turned back by the British even after news of the death camps and gas chambers had filtered back to the British. Sir Harold McMichael , British High Commisioner in Palestine telegraphed to the colonial office: " The fate of these people was tragic , but the fact remains that they where national of a country at war with Britain , proceeeding directly from enemy territory. Palestine was under no obligation towards them."
In 1942 Anthony Eden , British Foreign Secretary , refused once again to relax the restriction of Jewish immigration into Palestine claiming that turning back the ships would 'in the end be more merciful.'

British MP Eleanor Rathbone hit the nail on the head when she said: "If it had not been for the restrictions placed on immigration to Palestine in pre-war years , even before the Palestinian White Paper , imposed partly for economic reasons , and partly to please the Arabs , tens of thousands of men , women and children who now lie in bloody graves would have been among their kindred in Palestine..."
Others like Lord Cherwell also urged a Jewish homeland in Palestine as a refuge for Europe's persecuted Jews pointing out that "After the last war Arabia (as big as Western Europe) was conquered by us from the Turks and handed over to the Arabs ; it seems strange that one corner of it , the size of Wales is grudged to the Jews"
This information makes it particularly sickening to see much of the British establishment, including the British media (epitomized by the hate speech of the likes of Robert Fisk, and the BBC), politicians , academics like Tom Paulin and others, leading the international campaign to vilify and harm Israel.
They are showing the same callousness in regard to Jewish men, women and children being murdered today, as they did during the British Mandate.

Aside from the British refusal to let Jews escape to Palestine , the allies rejected taking in Jews into their own countries , claiming that they did not want to be inundated with a 'flood of refugees'.
The book documents the unceasing efforts by Zionist leaders , such as Richard Lichtheim and Chaim Weizmann , to alert the allied governments of the enormity of what was going on and to try to urge them to act to save the Jews , but they constantly fell on deaf ears.

Throughout the war the allied governments where inundated with reports of the atrocities taking place against Jews , throughout Europe but reacted with characteristic calousness such as the remark of a leading British Foreign Office official in September 1944 : "In my opinion a disproportionate amount of time of the Office is wasted on dealing with these wailing Jews..."

Eventually the report of two young Jews who had escaped Auschwitz landed on Churchill's desk and the possibility of bombing the railway lines leading to Auschwitz , and the gas chambers themselves was indeed examined . But why was the plan never carried out?

In the wake of this callous inaction , a section of the world's Jews realized that never again could their safety and survival be left up to the nations of the world alone , and that is the meaning of the State of Israel.
The survival of Israel means the prevention of any such holocaust ever happening again to the Jews.
Will the world stand by as Israel's existence is threatened by Islamic terrorists and Moslem and far-left bigots across the globe?
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A people forsaken, 2 May 2008
By 
Peter Uys "Toypom" (Sandton) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
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.

Here and there one finds some glimpses of righteous action, for example Bulgaria, an Axis ally that nevertheless managed to protect its Jews from the worst. But overall, one is left with a feeling of utter despair at the way the events unfolded and the frustration that Zionist leaders must have endured in trying to save their doomed people. It is chilling to read how countries like Switzerland refused to accommodate refugees and how every obstacle was placed in the way of orphaned children trying to reach Israel. The world looked on and it still does. Since then, we have witnessed Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya and Darfur.

The book contains 16 pages of black and white plates and 20 maps. It concludes with biographical notes and a thorough index. For more information and background on the horror and the indifference, I recommend A History of the Jews by Paul Johnson, Christian Antisemitism by William Nicholls and The Contract of Mutual Indifference by Norman Geras. For a disturbing glimpse on possible future developments, please see Never Again? and The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control by Abraham Foxman, The New Anti-Semitism: The Current Crisis and What We Must Do About It by Phyllis Chesler and The Resurgence of Anti-Semitism: Jews, Israel, and Liberal Opinion by Bernard Harrison.
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Auschwitz And The Allies
Auschwitz And The Allies by Dr Martin Gilbert (Paperback - 6 Sept. 2001)
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