I know that looking back on history with a retrospective view always comes with a 20/20 vision, nevertheless it is important to understand that it was widely know what was happening to the Jewish population in Europe throughout World War 2. Too often I have heard the argument that no one knew until after the war. There were regular reports issued to the governments of the allied forces and to newspapers.
The picture above is a cutting from the Daily Worker newspaper of an open letter – also published in the Times – by well-known figures appealing for action against the mistreatment of Jews in Europe. It was issued in February 1943.
Cutting dated …17 Feb 1943 … 194
Britain Urged To Act Now and Save Jews
The following letter appeared in the Times yesterday: –
We have noted with satisfaction the Joint Declaration of the United Nations vigorously protesting against the Nazi outrages upon the Jewish people.
We desire to associate ourselves with it. But we think that present action to mitigate this barbarism now is even more essential that the assurance of penalties after Hitler’s defeat for those who have shared in the perpetration of the outrages upon the Jews and other victims of Nazi Germany.
We suggest that the nation is eager to see the British Government take the lead in attempting to rescue as many as possible of these, the most helpless of Hitler’s victims, as they were also the first; the generous temper in which Italian settlers in Abyssinia have been repatriated to Italy should be applied to the right of the Jews to protection.
In the circumstances, we suggest that it is incumbent on the British Government to take the initiative in the following measures:
To make representations by the United Nations to the German Government to permit Jews to leave the occupied countries of Europe.
To offer the joint protection of the United Nations to Jews liberated or escaping from the occupied territories.
To facilitate the transfer of Jews to and their asylum in the territories and colonies of the United Nations.
To urge on neutral countries the desirability of receiving as many Jewish refugees as possible until, with victory, it is possible to consider ways and means of their permanent settlement. Where food and finance raise difficult problems for neutral countries willing to assist, the United Nations should agree to make these available to them.
To make available the fullest possible facilities for the immigration of Jewish refugees into Palestine.
We suggest that, as a prelude to these large-scale measures, the British Government should offer immediately to admit to Great Britain the largest possible number of Jewish refugees, especially children.
We see little difficulty, given good will, in taking all the necessary precautions which the national security demands.
We do not deny either the magnitude or the complexity of the Jewish problem. But we do not feel that the Government and nation can stand helplessly by while a whole people is ruthlessly butchered.
Verbal sympathy is not enough. We must be prepared, whatever the action of other people, to act with resolution and magnanimity.
That is an attitude rooted in our historic tradition. Never was it more necessary to prove that it is still a living faith among us.
For if we do nothing while a helpless people is assassinated, we shall breed a temper of acquiescence in the barbarism of tyrants which may become one of the unhappiest legacies of this epoch of agony. – Yours faithfully, W.G.S Adams, Phyllis Bottome, A.M. Carr-Saunders, Wyndham Deedes, P.A.M. Dirac, E.M.Forster, G.P.Gooch, R.A.Gregory, Storm Jameson, F.G.Kenyon, A.D.Lindsay, Kingsley Martin, Frederick Maurice, Gilbert Murray, Harold G. Nicolson, John Boyd Orr, Margaret Rhondda, Sankey. George Bernard Shaw, R.H. Tawney, Beatrice Webb, Wedgwood, Rebecca West.
Report from Poland
Report of the mass execution of Jews in Poland
EXTERMINATION OF THE JEWS IN POLAND
According to recent reliable reports received from leaders of the underground movement in Poland, the process of extermination of the Polish Jewish population of over 3 million and of the large number of Jews deported to Poland from Germany, Austria and the occupied countries of Europe has been carried far towards its final completion.
Although at first the Germans established a number of ghettos in various Polish cities and towns, thus deluding the Jews into the belief that they would be allowed to survive in this way, they proceeded early in 1942 with the mass extermination of the Jews and it is known that the principal ghettos, those of Warsaw, Wilno, Lwow, Krakow and Lublin have now been largely liquidated. It is known that some time in April the remnants of the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto, offered desperate resistance to the German military and police attempting to remove them, and that the complete destruction of the Jews in this ghetto was preceded by street and house-to-house fighting lasting several days.
The dreadful mass slaughter of the Jews in Poland is being carried out in several death camps, the largest and most notorious of which is that of TREBLINKA. The Polish Government have received a detailed description of the circumstances and methods of the mass slaughter, based on the personal accounts of several Jewish grave-diggers who succeeded in escaping from the confines of the camp and are being sheltered by the Polish underground movement.
The Slaughter Camp of TREBLINKA.
‘The extermination of Jews in Poland by methods of mass slaughter continues with unabated intensity. Not only Polish Jews, but those from other occupied countries of Europe, including France, Belgium, Holland, Norway, Czechoslovakia, etc., are being deported to special Death Camps and murdered by the thousand without discrimination as to age or sex.
‘The principal Death Camp has been established near the village of TREBLINKA situated near the main Biakystok-Warsaw Railway Line. At first, the Germans used this camp as a Penal Concentration Camp for Poles, where many thousands of them were executed in March 1942, however, the Germans proceeded to construct a special Death Camp for their mass …’
Situation in transit camps
Telegram describing the deteriorating situation in transit camps
[CYPHER] Departmental No.1.
From Berne to Foreign Office
No. 3767 D.8.00p.m. 11th August, 1944.
11th August, 1944 R.2.00a.m. 12th August, 1944
() () () ()
My telegram 3229.
The Swiss Government inform me orally that Bergen-Belsen is the Transit Camp to which all jews eligible for repatriation are temporarily sent.
The Jewish camp at Westerbork in Holland is in process of being dissolved. The usual number of inmates fluctuates between 40,000 and 50,000. The present number is approximately 2,000. The Jews are evacuated from Westerbork in three directions; those eligible for repatriation fall to Bergen-Belsen; technicians and persons likely to be of use to the German war effort are sent to Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia those who are considered useless are sent to Ausschwitz for elimination.
Telegram from Sir G Ogilvie Forbes regarding the damage dealt to Jewish properties during ‘Kristallnacht’ on 10 November 1938.
Telegram (en clair) from Sir G. Ogilvie Forbes (Berlin),
D. BY TELEPHONE. 10th November, 1938.
R 5.5p.m. 10th November, 1938
“My telegram No. 661.
I have just returned from a tour of Friedrichstrasse and city districts where Jewish shops are being smashed and looted by youths in plain clothes, followed by large and smiling crowds including soldiers and others in party uniforms. Police were taking no notice.
Only exception was the premises of Messrs. Israel, a big department store partly British-owned which was guarded by police with fire brigade standing by. His Majesty’s Consul-General who visited these premises informs me that enormous damage has been done to stock and fittings. According to Mr. Israel store was attacked early this afternoon by a crowd which included S.S. men in uniform. Business offices owned by Jews are also being entered and smashed up apparently with impunity. Similar attacks on Jewish property are said to be taking place all over Germany.
His Majesty’s Consul Dresden reports that a British Jew from Leipzig has asked for asylum in the Consulate as Jews in Leipzig are being beaten up. I have taken immediate steps with the Under Secretary of State for the safeguarding of British subjects.
Chief Rabbi of Berlin has been arrested and seven synagogues have been burnt.
The facts that these attacks began only after midnight last night and that Jewish shops and offices have been systematically signalled out indicate that this action was deliberately planned.”
The report on the Kristallnacht was issued 10 months before World War 2 started.
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