Could the U.S. Have Done More to Slow the Progress of the Holocaust?

The War Refugee Board (WRB), established by Franklin D. Roosevelt in January 1944, saved, or had a hand in saving, tens of thousands of Jews from certain death at the hands of the Nazis. FDR’s public statement about the Holocaust on March 24 of the same year, in which he told the Germans directly that they would be held accountable for war crimes, may have saved additional lives. But John Pehle, the director of the WRB, also lobbied the War Department to do more, including bombing the rail lines to Auschwitz and the factories in the camp itself. In a thorough account of Pehle’s efforts, excerpted from his recent biography of FDR, Jay Winik writes:

Many years [after the war, Assistant Secretary of War John McCloy, who had repeatedly stalled Pehle’s requests], told a journalist that Roosevelt’s close adviser and good friend, Harry Hopkins, maintained that “the Boss was not disposed to” order the bombing of the death camp. Nonetheless, Hopkins himself had enjoined McCloy to solicit the advice of the War Department. McCloy indicated that the Air Force was against the idea of bombing the camps. Insisting that he had “never talked” to the president in person, McCloy said bluntly: “That was the end of that.”

However, several years later McCloy, by then elderly and evidently conscience-stricken, gave a different version of what had happened. In an interview with Secretary [of the Treasury Henry] Morgenthau’s son, he indicated that he and Roosevelt had talked about whether to bomb Auschwitz. In this account, McCloy said the president felt that the bombing would amount to little except to make the United States seem complicit in the Final Solution, a view some Jews themselves held. Roosevelt then evidently told McCloy that the United States would be accused of “bombing these innocent people,” and “we’ll be accused of participating in this horrible business.” Thus, the president himself denied the request, without offering any other imaginative alternatives.

Read more at World Affairs Journal

More about: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Jewish history, World War II


Hamas Wants a Renewed Ceasefire, but Doesn’t Understand Israel’s Changed Attitude

Yohanan Tzoreff, writing yesterday, believes that Hamas still wishes to return to the truce that it ended Friday morning with renewed rocket attacks on Israel, but hopes it can do so on better terms—raising the price, so to speak, of each hostage released. Examining recent statements from the terrorist group’s leaders, he tries to make sense of what it is thinking:

These [Hamas] senior officials do not reflect any awareness of the changed attitude in Israel toward Hamas following the October 7 massacre carried out by the organization in the western Negev communities. They continue to estimate that as before, Israel will be willing to pay high prices for its people and that time is working in their favor. In their opinion, Israel’s interest in the release of its people, the pressure of the hostages’ families, and the public’s broad support for these families will ultimately be decisive in favor of a deal that will meet the new conditions set by Hamas.

In other words, the culture of summud (steadfastness), still guides Hamas. Its [rhetoric] does not show at all that it has internalized or recognized the change in the attitude of the Israeli public toward it—which makes it clear that Israel still has a lot of work to do.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security