The Indifference to the Jewish Holocaust
During the regime of the Nazi Party in Germany, a fundamental credence subsisted in the general German society. This was based on the notion that some perilous people needed to be purged from the German society. The German society believed that the exclusion of these people was vital for their survival and prosperity. Those to be eliminated included Russians, Gypsies, Poles and especially the Jews. The Jews were therefore destined to be killed by the Nazi, without any room for escape.
At every juncture of the Second World War, the armed supremacy of the Germans was used to squash and terrorize the Jews. This was amidst the intimidations of considerable acts of vengeance. For the mere opposition of one person, hundreds would be killed Scores of Nazis and their cohorts combed many European cities and countryside to flush out the Jews. This made it possible for them to entrap any Jew who attempted to slither through their hands. The Nazis devoted themselves to purge the entire society of all the Jews.
The mind baffling aspect of the entire occurrence is the fact that the Jews were generally forsaken by not only their neighbors but even by the international community. The Jews had no country of their own to run to, yet they also had no means of defending themselves. Furthermore, the populations in which they lived remained indifferent to their destiny, with many even assisting the Nazis to extradite them to their fatality campsites (Dean, 2004). Equipped with full information about the holocaust, and vast resources to save the situation, many European and other governments lacked only the will to rescue the helpless Jews.
The Holocaust Guilt
The European Jews were exterminated not just by the Nazis alone, but also by the lack of concern and the silence in other countries including the United States and the Great Britain. The apathy and the silence of these countries remain to be the products of anti-Semitism shared by the Anglo-American world and its German adversaries. Over the holocaust experience, inaction and collaboration were the basic synonyms. This is manifested by the failure of the Allies to bomb the railway lines that led to Auschwitz death camps. This was a typical example of their inaction or collaboration.
Another typical instance of this indifference was the failure of the Western democracies to rescue the Jews at St. Louis. In a great way, these nations either killed the Jews or failed to salvage the situation thus making them stand condemned (Feingold, 1995). In actual sense, the rest of the international community somehow handed the Jews over to the executioners. These include those who remained silent, burying their heads in the sand in spite of the atrocities that were happening.
Most Jewish Holocaust promoters use the words "indifference" and "abandonment" to include the former heroes of the Second World War to their casts of villains. This implies that they are as blameworthy as the very Germans they fought (Berger, 2002). Both the Nazis and the Anti-Nazis are conflated by their collective culpability. The Nazis are held responsible for their crimes against the Jews while the Anti-Nazis are accused of their sinful indifference to the heinous crimes against humanity (Berger, 2002). The European Jews were not only ensnared in a tumultuous of methodical large scale massacre, but they were also abandoned to it.
The American Indifference
April 1943 saw the devastation of the Warsaw ghetto by the insurgency. Thereafter, a furtive transmitter's signal conveying the news of the struggle was in some measure obscured (Bloxham & Kusher, 2004). However, two words still got to the outside world: "Save us. " For a long time, the Allied world including America disregarded that call for assistance (Feingold, 1995). In spite of the fact that the international community was armed with the whole information of the bloodbath and vast resources to stop the massacre, they lacked the will spare the millions of Jews.
Instead of saving the situation, the United States gave a plethora of excuses. Their popular excuse was that the aims of the war overshadowed the secondary requests of non-enemy civilians. This was made evident the by rate and intensity with which the American bureaucrats cited their lame excuses (Bloxham & Kusher, 2004). Basically, the solidity of the soldiers to the cries of the desperate European Jews symbolized the world's escape from ethical liability. This included its withdrawal from its own principles of humanitarianism.
Consequently, the wartime behaviors and position of the United States concerning the helpless Jews dismantled a lot of perceptions (Berger, 2002). This included the notion that it partly entered the war to accomplish its pledge to always stretch out its arms to those in quest of a safe haven. At the time of the holocaust, the United States banned its doors on six million homeless Jews.
The appalling triumph of the Holocaust, in as much as it was instigated and implemented by Hitler and the Nazis, cannot be entirely ascribed to their maniacal plan of ethnic cleansing. To the glee of Hitler, the humanitarian governments partly contributed to the annihilation of two-thirds of European Jews (Feingold, 1995). This was in spite of the fact that several opportunities existed for the Western nations to alleviate the terror. In as much as some lackadaisical efforts saved thousands, the fact still remains that other opportunities were rejected by impediments like lack of sympathy, lassitude, lack of knowledge, and spinelessness.
In August 1942, a message concerning the plight of the Jews reached the United States stressing the moral test facing the Allies. The message urged the Allied governments not to be guilty of the transgressions of omission (Bloxham & Kusher, 2004). In fact, Szmul Zygielbojm, a member of the Polish National Council who was committed to exposing the predicaments of the Jews, decided to commit suicide over the indifference of the Allied governments. As a matter of fact, he cited the whole liability of the Holocaust on the entire humankind.
In the moral call to intervention, there was no nation which was capable of alleviating the massacre as the United States. However, of all the groups and individuals who took part in disapproving the Nazis none had enough power to whip up support for successful reprisal. The failure of the United States to stir humanity to action represented a deliberate negation of her selfless representation. It also ended up deflating the accepted notion of America's beneficent task in the Second World War. The United States and various groups including the media, the populace, the armed forces, the government, and the then President all failed accountability to the Jews.
Consequently, the blood of the millions of Jews who putrefied in the most atrocious, calculated act of cruelty ever engineered by humanity came to blemish the hands of not only the perpetrators but the onlooker as well.
The Secret Occurrences
All through the brutal years and months of organizing and implementing the Final Solution, personalities behind the Holocaust worked clandestinely and proficiently. There were very few written orders or documents concerning the Holocaust being produced (Bloxham & Kusher, 2004). Most orders were being issued verbally with other being obscured in profoundly coded documents. However, a project of such a scale involving millions of people could not be concealed for too long. Any common civilian could easily observe the day to day vanishing of the Jews from the European streets.
July 1942 saw the removal of almost 18,000 Jews from the streets of Paris under the guise of their deportation to the East. Over the same period, 6000 Jews were shipped daily from the Warsaw ghetto to the execution camps of Treblinka. Many more thousands would be removed from countries like Holland and Belgium. This news regularly reached the Allied governments confirming that the heinous events were well known in Europe and America.
In due course, information pushed through subversive channels concluded in the eventual publicity of Hitler's Final Solution. This radically changed people's opinions by clearing doubts regarding the suspicions. This was after the confirmation of the evidence indicating a methodical preparation for the annihilation of the Jews.
News concerning the Holocaust began to materialize in July 1942 after the Polish-government-in-exile testified that almost 700,000 Polish Jews had been murdered by Germans from the time of the September 1939 raid (Bloxham & Kusher, 2004). The report indicated that as many as 1,000 Jews were killed every day. This was further confirmed by interviews on BBC. Additionally, the World Jewish Council reported that Jews were being transported to a vast slaughterhouse in the Eastern part of Europe with an estimated one million having been killed.
Gerhart Reigner, a member of the Jewish World Council was informed on August 1, 1942, that Hitler had secretly structured the extinction of all Europe's Jews. However, on passing the information to the State Department, a decision was made to stifle the report until appropriate authentication. The following weeks saw the validation of the reports. An American representative to the YMCA, Dr. Donald Lowrie witnessed the extradition of the Jews from parts of France to Poland (Patterson, 2002). He also sent the account to the State Department. By November that year, a string of ambassadorial interactions including a range of affirmations gave fresh independent authentication.
In as much as the American people were not aware of the information in the hands of the State Department, they were however not blind to the annihilation happening in Europe (Patterson, 2002). The most common means of information was the newspaper. The press was actually one of the groups blamed for failing the Jews at their point of need (Bloxham & Kusher, 2004). In spite of the fact that the coverage was mostly scant, the information was still accessible to the American populace and the rest of the world. Newspapers recognized the many reports of the Jewish Holocaust.
Denial of the Truth
In spite of the extensive publicity, the international community could not come to terms with a disaster of such an unparalleled scope. The nature of the news that slipped out of Europe left the free world struggling for an allusion to grapple with its fundamental dimension. Lacking any psychosomatic capability of comprehending any such meaning, most of the international community turned away. Despite the warning signs, most of the soldiers who stumbled upon the concentration camps as they strode across Europe were taken aback.
Many people refused to accept the holocaust even after soldiers gave their own firsthand accounts of the atrocities. In fact, they even went as far as refusing to look at the snapshots or consider the accounts. In actual sense, some sections of the media called the pictures "propaganda" aimed at rousing the public against the people of Germany. Some recorded that the atrocities were so horrible that civilized men and women would find them unrealistic to believe (Culbertson). They wrote that the events were so monstrous that the civilized world would draw back before them. Basically, the naive acuity of both the victims and perpetrators alike tinted the American response to the Holocaust.
The Role of President Roosevelt
The passivity of Roosevelt set the tone for American policy towards the Jews during the war. In as much as many thought he was unconcerned, conversely, he looked forward to a time when the perpetrators would face the penalty. Furthermore, he saw no effectual way of liberating the millions of Jews condemned to death. Roosevelt's reaction expressed what was to be the most accepted justification for evading ethical accountability. The American officials believed that rescuing the Jews did not rank high on the record of precedence (Bloxham & Kusher, 2004). They also believed that winning the war was the best way of saving the Jews. This was cited due to the difficulty of not only the rescue operation but also relocation (Berger, 2002).
Roosevelt's policy towards the Jews was in a big way shaped by his giving in to public attitude. He allowed the public opinion to hamper with the interests of the Jews. The establishment of the War Refugee Board in January 1944 only forced Roosevelt to react citing the political confrontation he would face. His administration was also on the edge of a spiteful humiliation over rescue policies. Basically, in spite of the domestic and political considerations, Roosevelt was mildly anti-Semitic and poorly informed.
Roosevelt's failure was not based on the fact that he resolutely barred the salvation of the Jews, but on his silence and failure to inspire action. Some believe that his failure to sincerely agitate efforts to save the Jews became the nastiest letdown of his presidency.
Initial Steps of Action
President Roosevelt announced on October 6, 1942, that the United States, USSR, Great Britain and a host of other government-in-exile would set up a joint War Crimes Commission. This was meant for recording war offenses and organizing for post-war retribution. This announcement was actually almost made without the presence of the Americans. This was because they belated to act in response to a similar proposal by the Britons. The British Foreign Secretary Antony Eden threatened to make the pronouncement without the United States should he fail to get any response on the same.
Eventually, President Roosevelt himself made the announcement thus giving the impression to the public that the Americans initiated the commission, and did not stall its formation, as was the public view (Bloxham & Kusher, 2004). A joint United States Declaration signed by key Allied governments and the occupied nations was issued on December 17. They condemned the extermination of the Jews by Hitler in the strongest possible terms.
The cooperation of these governments indicated the possibility of implementing a post-war punishment. Although these powerful statements highly publicized the Nazi atrocities, the promises of action made every little and actually meant nothing to the Jews at the brink of death.
The Plight of the Rumanian Jews
The Rumanian government approached the Allied governments in February 1943 with a proposal to shift almost 70,000 Jews who were starving and dying in Transnistria, a region in Rumania. They wanted them moved to a place of refuge as long as the Allies would bear the shipping costs. Unfortunately, the United States rejected the chance of saving the dying Jews and even the restoration of its poor humanitarian standing. Eventually, against the backdrop of full knowledge of the atrocities, the United States and Britain rejected the first main liberation chance.
Failure to execute a rescue mission was based on fear and not hopes. Although the Allied governments were sympathetic at least, in theory, they were on the other hand terrified that an antagonistic pro-Jewish policy would invite Hitler to a mass eviction of Jews. This would force them to absorb the Jews. Furthermore, there was the fear that similar requests would be made by Jews from other parts of Poland and Germany. Again, the idea would anger Hitler while at the same time such an undertaking would be complex to execute citing the transportation logistics. It was thus obvious that the Allies assumed an irrefutable responsibility as an unwanted trouble.
The Bermuda Conference
Although the Jews of the Warsaw ghetto assembled in rebellion, delegates from the Allied governments converged in Bermuda to talk about the predicament of refugees. This was, in essence, the height of Allied indifference (Berger, 2002). Days after this conference, a group of about 20,000 Jewish activists gathered in Madison Square to push the United States to "Stop Hitler Now". Because of being mindful of public opinion, and the need to revive their humanitarian representation, consultations were then opened for a two-power forum on the plight of refugees.
The whole structure of Bermuda was basically an outward response to external demands. It was therefore not a genuine response to the cries of hopeless Jews. This is because the delegates approached the entire subject with unwillingness and lack of concern. Some of the proclamations made by the delegates even before the commencement of the conference indicated despondency among them.
Moreover, the State Department came to the conference with other vague objectives. They suggested that neutral countries should be encouraged to allow more refugees and to momentarily transfer them to UN regions in Europe and North Africa. They also suggested that the ICR should execute the resolutions previously arrived at. Their indifference was made manifest by the fact that there was no mention of the plight of the Jews in their objectives.
A proposal to move some of the Jews to North Africa was tentatively accepted citing possible Arab hostility. This is because the Allies could not consider that North Africa would have been a more receptive paradise in comparison to Hitler's death chambers. Furthermore, humanitarian objectives bent to the wants of war. Eventually, the proposals were accepted and about 2,000 Jews were rescued from peril. The Bermuda conference came up with certain recommendations. Among the recommendations was that Hitler was not to be consulted for the release of the refugees.
Additionally, neutral shipping services would be acquired for the transportation of the refugees. Some of the refugees would be allowed into Cyrenaica in North Africa, with some being removed from Spain. However, the apathy of the Allied governments was further demonstrated by their refusal to consider more drastic suggestions put forward by Jewish groups (Culbertson). This included the request to Hitler to let go of the Jews and the lifting of the barricades to assist the dying. The delegates decided that the suggestions were unfeasible and were beyond the capacity of the Conference.
Creation of the War Refugee Board
In response to the poor reaction towards the rescue of the Jews in Rumania, the then Secretary of Treasury Henry Morgenthau presented a report in January 1944 (Bloxham & Kusher, 2004). The report accused the officials of the State Department of not only failing to use the Government resources to rescue the Jews but also going as far as using the resources to thwart their rescue.
Few days after the release of this report, President Roosevelt issued an executive order establishing the War Refugee Board. The WRB embodied a severe turnaround of policy towards the Jews thus indicating that they were comparatively effectual. The Board, however, served as a sad reminder that the United States squandered valuable opportunities.
The WRB's course of action included the taking away of the Jews from the Axis regions. Temporary havens were also to be made for them. In order to prevent more executions, the Board was to use psychological measures and intimidations of stern post-war retribution. Food supplies were also to be shipped to the concentration camps. Eventually, the WRB was able to rescue as many as 200,000 Jews. The Board also ensured improved handling for the Jews in the Balkans, together with hindering the extradition of Jews hiding in France.
The Board's most difficult challenge was in March 1944 over preparations to rescue 850,000 in Hungary, who were to be deported to Auschwitz. The Allied efforts arrived a little too late.This is because the Nazis had already begun directing the Jews into ghettos for their preparation for extradition and fatality. Eventually, more than seventy percent were killed. This was to some extent because the Allies belated in bargaining exit for the Jews who were allowed to leave by the Hungarian Head of State.
During the negotiations for travel documents, the Nazis blocked all the Hungarian borders thus prohibiting any possibilities of exit. The Hungarian efforts were thus termed a failure (Cesarani, 2004). The Board also failed to force the War Department to redirect war assets in order to explode Hitler's gas chambers at Auschwitz or even bomb the railway lines leading there. The greatest failure of the Board lay not in its triumph in rescuing a tiny proportion of the Jews but in its exceptionally delayed formation.
The Allied governments could not be pardoned of blame merely because they were messed up in their perceptions. This is due to the fact that much of the artificial impediments to understanding the situation in a great way rested on a basis of indifference, lack of knowledge, and anti-Semitism. The governments were exemplified by the propensity of rejecting as impractical daydream the actual forewarnings the Nazis issued.
To a great extent, the failures of most governments lay in the misjudgments of the vicious nature of Nazism, coupled with a phony state of hopefulness. The indifference over the whole tragedy is, therefore, a figurative erasure whose cruelty is obvious to all and sundry. This is irrespective of whether they were ignorant or informed, or even concerned to assist. The fundamental truth is that those who were indifferent have no basis to regret their inaction.