1. How Many Jews Could Have Been Saved? Two Sides to the Debate.
Side One: Very Few Could Have Been Saved.
H-H RUBINSTEIN (MEDOFF): How they could have saved more Jews http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx= vx&list=H-Holocaust&month= 1107&week=e&msg=jMTJ/E2lUNO2u7/fE/ mqVg&user=&pw=
I might I ask you what you think the Western powers could do in 1941 to
"nip in the bud" the Holocaust? Britain was fighting alone until Russia
was attacked in June, and could hardly save itself, let alone the Jews of
Poland. America was not in the War until Pearl Harbor in December, and
had an army of only 100,000 men. Russia was invaded in June and the Nazi
army got within 25 miles of the Kremlin by December. What do you think
they could have done?
I would advise anyone who thinks that more Jews could have been saved by
the democracies during the War to read my book, _The Myth
of Rescue_ (Routledge, London, 1997). The Jews of Nazi-occupied Europe were
no longer refugees, as they had been in the 1930s, but
the exact opposite -- prisoners -- prisoners of a genocidal madman who was
all-powerful throughout Europe. My book reprints all the plans for rescue
which were made anywhere in the West during the War. It is painfully
obvious that all were totally useless.
(2) I don't want to procrastinate this debate on which we are never likely
to agree, but since the Jews of Nazi-occupied Europe were not "refugees,"
most of this list consists of non sequiturs. A "refugee" is someone who
has "to leave his or her homeland because of a well-founded fear of
persecution." This is an obviously accurate description of German and
Austrian Jewry prior to 1940. But the whole point is that after 1940-41
the Jews on Nazi-occupied Europe were forbidden to leave or emigrate,
and were not rerfugees but prisoners -- prisoners marked for death. No one
in the West could think of any way of getting round this, and, indeed,
almost everyone still thought of the Jews as "refugees." No one anywhere
proposed bombing Auschwitz until April-May 1944, and nor indeed any other
concentration camp or extermination camp.
No Jewish group ever proposed this before April-May 1944, so far as I am
aware, including the Revisionists.
Professor Bill Rubinstein
Side Two: Many More Could Have Been Saved if there Have Have Been a Will to Save Them.
William Rubinstein claims that during the Holocaust, "the Jews of
Nazi-occupied Europe were...prisoners -- prisoners of a genocidal madman
who was all-powerful throughout Europe," and therefore, he claims, "all
the plans for rescue...were totally useless."
In fact, Hitler's Europe was not hermetically sealed. We know that many
Jews could have been rescued prior to the Allied liberation, because some
Jews did escape or were rescued before V-E Day. For example, more than
26,000 European Jewish refugees reached Palestine between 1941 and 1944 in
transports organized by Zionist activists. An estimated 27,000 Jewish
refugees escaped to Switzerland and were granted haven during the war
years, though tens of thousands more reached the Swiss border but were
turned back. More than 7,000 Danish Jews were smuggled out of
Nazi-occupied Denmark to safety in Sweden in 1943. Thousands of French
Jews escaped the 1942 deportations by fleeing to Spain. Thousands more
reached Allied-liberated Italy.
There were also many instances in which Jews were rescued within Europe.
In 1944, for example, pressure by the U.S. government's War Refugee Board
(which was belatedly established by President Roosevelt under pressure
from Congress, the Treasury Department, and Jewish activists) convinced
Rumania to move 48,000 Jews out of the path of the retreating German Army.
The WRB financed operations to help refugees survive in France, Germany,
Italy, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary, including bribing German officials,
providing supplies and forged documents, and sustaining 8,000 Jewish
orphans hidden in France. The WRB also mobilized the international
pressure that stopped the deportation of Jews from Budapest to Auschwitz
in 1944, and Raoul Wallenberg, who was financed and assisted by the Board,
saved many thousands in Budapest. As a result, some 120,000 Jews were
still alive in Hungary at war's end.
Rubinstein's claim that nobody could be saved is thus contradicted by the
fact that many were.
The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies
How Many Could Have Been Saved? The Brit-Am Impression from the Sources.
We dealt with this subject in our work "The Tribes".
Both sides of the argument bring up valid points.
Many more could probably have been saved than actually were.
On the other hand there is a tendency to exaggerate as to how many Jews could have been rescued.
The determination of the Nazis and their Helpers to kill Jews seems to be underrated.
The enthusiasm and popular support for the killing of Jews amongst certain Eastern Europe populaces also seems to be often glossed over.
The Nazi War against the Jews was a positive factor in the eyes of many Gentiles.
Those who say that few more could have been saved than actually were are probably technically the more relatively accurate.
Even so, we must not hide from the fact that in some arenas much less was done than could have been and that prejudice against Jews
was one of the causes of this inaction.
We must also acknowledge and be appreciative of what was done and the difficulties that were surmounted in order to do it.