Talk:Auschwitz bombing debate

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Military history (Rated C-Class)
MILHIST This article is within the scope of the Military history WikiProject. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the project and see a list of open tasks. To use this banner, please see the full instructions.
C This article has been rated as C-Class on the quality assessment scale.
WikiProject Jewish history (Rated Start-class, Low-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Jewish history, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Jewish history on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Low  This article has been rated as Low-importance on the project's importance scale.


This article has just been started, which is why it's currently somewhat one-sided. This will be addressed in the coming days/weeks as the article develops. SlimVirgin (talk) 10:53, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

The book "The Myth of Rescue" by William Rubinstein makes the contrary case. --Zerotalk 14:35, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

This article has a serious problem. The title of hte article is 'Why Auschwitz was not bombed'. The article states that Auschwitz was not bombed, and that the allies could have bombed it, but doesn't actually answer (or even attempt to answer) the question why. Raul654 01:57, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Raul, it was started as a longer-term project and is going to require a lot more writing. I'll try to find the time soon to get it into at least minimal shape. SlimVirgin (talk) 05:41, 7 September 2006 (UTC)


The original title was "Why Auschwitz wasn't bombed"; the grammar Nazi in me moved it to "Why Auschwitz was not bombed"; and now it has been moved back. I feel somewhat uncomfortable with unnecessary abbreviations in article title names, and I want to know whether or not this is just me (if so, fair enough, I will relent) or whether others feel the same. A possible compromise is to rename the page "Auschwitz bombing controversy", or words to that effect. Batmanand | Talk 13:53, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

I've changed the title to "Auschwitz bombing debate," as there seemed to be a consensus to change it during the AfD, and someone suggested this one. SlimVirgin (talk) 05:42, 14 September 2006 (UTC)
That seems a satisfactory outcome. Thanks - and good luck with the article. Batmanand | Talk 09:10, 14 September 2006 (UTC)
Yes this is a much better title. I'm still bewildered by the focus on Auschwitz alone... Fourdee 02:03, 15 September 2006 (UTC)
I think the new title is a really poor one. Aushwitz wasn't bombed so there's no debate --> the question is WHY it wasn't bombed. Allegations that not bombing death camps was premedidated against Jews is the appropriate title, but the best is simply why were the death camps not bombed.... and if one doesn't like the question: Reasons/excuses for not bombing death camps. Amoruso 02:07, 15 September 2006 (UTC)

they were bombing factories right next to Auschwitz, in which the inmates worked[edit]

Some even hit the camp (and others too), and the guards had an anti-aircraft shelters and trenches. They would also accidentally strafe the death trains (like the famous Dachau one). Also, the Polish plan for the Auschwitz uprising included an air raid. --HanzoHattori 19:07, 1 November 2006 (UTC)

Suggestion of Source[edit]

This is a drive-by mention of a source that would benefit this article: Michael J. Cohen, "Churchill and Auschwitz: End of Debate?", Modern Judaism - Volume 26, Number 2, May 2006, pp. 127-140. In this article Cohen claims to solve the question of why Churchill did not follow through on his initial positive reaction to the proposal to bomb Auschwitz. --Zerotalk 07:32, 22 December 2006 (UTC)

Thanks, Zero. SlimVirgin (talk) 07:39, 22 December 2006 (UTC)

Pilecki's organisation1940-43[edit]

Years before Vrba-Wetzler! To quote: From October 1940, ZOW sent reports to Warsaw, and beginning March 1941, Pilecki's reports were being forwarded via the Polish resistance to the British government in London. These reports were a principal source of intelligence on Auschwitz for the Western Allies. Pilecki hoped that either the Allies would drop arms or troops into the camp, or the Home Army would organize an assault on it from outside. --HanzoHattori 04:10, 20 February 2007 (UTC)

What point are you making? Knowing that camp called Auschwitz existed is different from knowing about the gassings there, which were not occurring in 1940. Paul B 15:43, 3 August 2007 (UTC)

They didn't bomb it because....[edit]

.... they knew there was no reason to do so. -- (talk) 16:34, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

More on Auschwitz from the air: —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:40, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

Why were these extermination camps full of starving people who looked like they'd been living there for years? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:37, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

I don't see how your question is relevant to this topic of why the Allied did not bomb the camps. The "starving people" were most likely typhus victims. It wasn't bombed because the Allied did not feel the rumors were correct that they were "extermination" camps. The front page at least links to the website at the very bottom which makes that case with documents. Why isn't there a stub about this on the main page when there is a link to a website that explains that the Allied did not feel they were "extermination" camps? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:32, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

I agree that it's not relevant to the article but I thought it might still be good to explain that many of the concentration camp inmates were sent from one camp to another, so if they were mere skeletons that does not mean they must have starved for a long time at that exact camp, just look at the histories of some inmates.Galant Khan (talk) 23:54, 9 October 2014 (UTC)

Aerial Reconnaisance Picture Info Box[edit]

If there are no objections I'll change the reference to the picture being taken by a "Mosquito fighter bomber" to "Mosquito photo-reconnaissance aircraft", which is the actual type of aircraft that took the photo of Auschwitz.Starviking (talk) 07:33, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

Image copyright problem with File:Pilecki ausch f.jpg[edit]

The image File:Pilecki ausch f.jpg is used in this article under a claim of fair use, but it does not have an adequate explanation for why it meets the requirements for such images when used here. In particular, for each page the image is used on, it must have an explanation linking to that page which explains why it needs to be used on that page. Please check

  • That there is a non-free use rationale on the image's description page for the use in this article.
  • That this article is linked to from the image description page.

The following images also have this problem:

This is an automated notice by FairuseBot. For assistance on the image use policy, see Wikipedia:Media copyright questions. --03:59, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

unmittelbar getötet (?)[edit]

What does unmittelbar getötet mean, why is there no translation for it? Bigger digger (talk) 01:39, 9 May 2009 (UTC)

It's no longer in the article but it means "immediately killed". Galant Khan (talk) 23:59, 9 October 2014 (UTC)

When did the debate start?[edit]

The article states:

The issue of why Auschwitz concentration camp was not bombed by the Allies during World War II continues to be explored ...

When did the debate start? Was the issue debated during World War II (and, if so, in what forum?) or did the debate only begin later? Was it a genuine debate about proposed action or is it, rather, a retrospective question? It is possible that the change of title has caused problems.

Given the present title of the article, one would expect something on the history of the debate, not just 'continues to be explored'. Norvo (talk) 23:36, 11 September 2009 (UTC)

If we're going by the starting quote: "How could it be that the governments of the two great Western democracies knew that a place existed where 2,000 helpless human beings could be killed every 30 minutes, knew that such killings actually did occur over and over again, and yet did not feel driven to search for some way to wipe such a scourge from the earth?", then 1998.
It has been examined since then, and it has emerged – plausibly – that the Allies did "search for some way to wipe such a scourge from the earth"; and that Prof. Wyman had maybe not understood what was in Churchill's memoirs. No doubt new research will emerge, so it is an ongoing debate. We would all agree with Bush's 2008 sentiment, but in 1944 things obviously appeared differently.Red Hurley (talk) 14:54, 19 September 2009 (UTC)
As someone with family who had fought against the Nazis, Wyman's readiness to sacrifice Allied lives so that he can feel better about it, sixty-odd years on, has always rubbed me the wrong way. As far as agreeing with the Bush's sentiment goes, if the sentiment is "man, I wish we could have done more", I'm with you. If the sentiment truly is, "we should have bombed it", I'm not. Any attempt to bomb Auschwitz would have a real cost in both aircraft and aircrew and would have diverted resources away from targets whose destruction would actually impact the war, all in the vain hope that Jewish lives might possibly somehow be saved in some fashion. The most perverse aspect of this "debate" is that bombing supporters seem to underestimate or simply not understand how committed the Germans were in killing as many Jews as they could get their hands on. The Holocaust was not some whim to be stopped by Allied demands or action, it was state policy, it was a war aim. Indeed, Hitler saw the Holocaust as his legacy, his "gift" to the world. To think that they could be persuaded by any means to stop is foolish. You can't apply reason to the unreasonable. (talk) 04:14, 17 May 2011 (UTC)
Would you argue in the same way if Americans or British had been exterminated in the camps?
I also don't see how the fire bombing of cities like Dresden that cost the life of thousands of civilians or of the churches of Hildesheim were a greater accomplishment in ending the war that did not divert resources. If you say the holocaust was a war aim for Hitler destroying the place where about one sixth of the killing of Jews happened would have diverted the Nazis' resources.Galant Khan (talk) 00:22, 10 October 2014 (UTC)

To what end?[edit]

What has always puzzled me about most arguments in favor of bombing Auschwitz is that they never specifically state what exactly was to be accomplished by such bombings. Was it expected that the bombings would lead to escapes? Inmates escaped from death camps by the hundreds, but the Germans and their allies never had much of a problem rounding them back up again. Was it to actually stop the killing process? The Einsatzgruppen show that the real machinery of death is a willingness to murder, not gas chambers and crematoria. Was it to show the Nazi leadership that the Allies were serious about holding them responsible for their crimes? This had already been explicitly stated and, if any doubts remained, the systematic bombing of Germany day and night (at great cost) should have been proof enough of Allied earnestness and resolve. Was it simply the right thing to do from a moral standpoint? Well, this at least allows us, over sixty years after the fact, to pat ourselves on the back for being morally superior to our 1940s counterparts, but the tangible results of such a policy would have been negligible. How many Jews, ostensibly to be saved by the bombings, would be killed by the bombs? How many aircrew would be sacrificed so we in the present can feel better about ourselves and our countries? Plus, if you do bomb Auschwitz, what else doesn't get bombed that day? Would the war be lengthened because the moral effort to bomb Auschwitz limited the number of sorties that could have been flown against Germany's dwindling oil supplies or rail infrastructure? Wyman himself seems to admit that the only real result of such a campaign would be some sort of moral victory with few, if any, lives saved. I realize that this is not a forum, but I mention all of this because if there have been concrete proposals on bombing Auschwitz with specific objectives in mind, they should certainly be included in the article. (talk) 03:50, 17 May 2011 (UTC)

Article now a bit of a mess[edit]

An edit in March added content to contradict the idea that bombing was supported at the time or feasible. It massively expanded the lead and added argumentative editorializing into the article. I'm loath to revert as this seems to be sourced content, but the tone and structure is all wrong. Fences&Windows 18:36, 21 June 2011 (UTC)

The debate[edit]

Speaking as a reader rather than an editor, there doesn't seem to much in the article as to the debate itself. I think, the article needs to cover cerrtain points better than it does.

  1. When the debate started
  2. Whose on which side of the debate
  3. Who are the chief proponents
  4. How important the debate is to Holocaust history
  5. Is there are similar debate over any other camps
  6. How it fits in with the general question of "why didn't the Allies do something?"

Before it gets into the minutinae of the arguments, as to what could have been achieved by bombing and how it could have been done. GraemeLeggett (talk) 19:45, 21 June 2011 (UTC)

The omission in the debate so far is that the Soviets aren't mentioned at all, even though they were so close in 1944. I have just tidied up that para. Let me try:
  1. 1993 - "At the dedication of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington in 1993, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel famously asked, "Why weren't the railways leading to Birkenau bombed by allied bombers? As long as I live I will not understand that"." and then 1998 - Wyman, David S. "Why Auschwitz wasn't bombed," in Gutman, Yisrael & Berenbaum, Michael. "Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp", Indiana University Press.
  2. Outside of the debates in academia and in TV documentaries, all the real-world decision-makers have died.
  3. Not very, as no bombing took place; it can be a counterfactual conditional at best, but books written about it will sell
  4. No; the Vrba-Wetzler report only mentioned Auschwitz
  5. Since the 1943 Casablanca Conference the western allies could not negotiate with the Nazis. The air forces looked at it in 1944 and said no; the political will was there, in Churchill's mind anyway. Bombing the railways was therefore the only thing the allies could have done, but the Germans were also expert at quickly repairing bombed railways. (talk) 23:14, 14 October 2011 (UTC)

Soviet position[edit]

While it would be nice to have something about the Soviet position, that can only be done on the basis of sources that report it. The journal paper of Glantz which was offered as a source does not mention the camps, Jews, the Holocaust, or indeed anything directly concerning the subject of this article. It is entirely concerned with the Soviet role in the Warsaw Uprising. Zerotalk 05:03, 15 October 2011 (UTC)

Surely the lack of a Soviet aspect – why there was no Soviet policy on this – compounds the fact that very few people of relative unimportance suggested this bombing to the western allies? (talk) 06:23, 23 October 2011 (UTC)
Both the US and UK governments considered the question, so it is somewhat irrelevant who asked them. I don't remember reading about anyone asking the Soviets or if they considered it. Zerotalk 08:03, 23 October 2011 (UTC)
Is there a source that states that the Soviet Union didn't know anything at all about the Holocaust? This would improve the article and settle that aspect. Obviously in terms of simple physics and proximity the SU could have bombed the camps much more easily than the US / UK air forces. By mid-1944 the SU air force had already bombed Berlin which was much further from its bases than the death camps. (talk) 12:08, 28 December 2011 (UTC)
The Soviets were members of the United Nations in 1942, and so would at least have been aware of the 1942 Polish booklet addressed to the United Nations. The Auschwitz bombing debate focuses on what the UK and USA might have done in 1943-44. Doubtless some American academic will some day widen the scope to include the USSR, but until then... (talk) 10:37, 23 August 2014 (UTC)

Paragraph on Witold Pilecki[edit]

This paragraph is problematic, due to lack of sources or inaccessible sources. It has dubious claims, such as "By 1943, however, Pilecki realized that no such plans existed." (How could an Auschwitz inmate know what plans existed?) Also, "the British authorities refused air support for an operation to help the inmates escape" needs a source and it also doesn't make much sense (what operation exactly was support refused for?). Zerotalk 08:57, 23 October 2011 (UTC)

Twin quote: "I wished every day they would bomb it."[edit]

Children of the Flames contains a relevant quote from one of the Mengele twins(Olga Grossman if I'm not mistaken). The quote was regarding the American planes they would see fly overhead and how she either wished or prayed that they would bomb the camp. Unless I am missing something there are no quotes from Auschwitz prisoners in this article so IMO it should certainly be included. Seems as if it would fit well with the information on the US planes taking photographs. I'm new to this and also a little hesitant to edit something of controversy. Any input or objections? UselessToRemain (talk) 23:52, 26 June 2012 (UTC)

a new source[edit]

it could be useful:
"AMERICA'S FAILURE TO BOMB AUSCHWITZ: A New Consensus Among Historians" by Dr. Rafael Medoff &Prof. Bat-Ami Zucker.[1]
It reports the Jewish Agency and the World Jewish Congress’s positions and other proponents: it seems to me that the claim in the WP article that the bombing was proposed "by a tiny handful of individuals on the periphery" is wrong.
And "despite the War Department’s claim that reaching Auschwitz would require diverting planes from elsewhere in Europe, U.S. bombers repeatedly attacked German oil factories close to the death camp throughout the summer" (chapter VII). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:06, 28 June 2012 (UTC)

The conclusion in that study is that there were quite a few Jews that requested that it should be bombed, primarily orthodox leaders, but not single influential organization was among them, first and foremost The Jewish Agency and the Zionists leadership including David ben Gurion. L69 (talk) 05:42, 10 March 2013 (UTC)

Whose debate?[edit]

Who is debating with whom? Auschwitz wasn't bombed and this article is on that. Buchenwald concentration camp was bombed by the US air force in August 1944, killing 388 and wounding over 2,000, but that doesn't get an article. Buchenwald was then liberated in 1945. Did that bombing make any difference? Sadly, no. This all comes across as a book selling exercise. (talk) 16:16, 28 October 2012 (UTC)

Buchenwald concentration camp was in Germany and by far less people were killed there, the extermination camps were in Poland and Auschwitz is kind of the synonym for them due to the sheer extent of the killing. Which book do you think was supposed to be sold? Galant Khan (talk) 00:31, 10 October 2014 (UTC)

Idea of bombing[edit]

The assertion that some thought had not occurred to anyone prior to some specific date cannot be factual in any context. (talk) 14:38, 30 August 2013 (UTC)

Text reverted for wp:shouting[edit]

Re: John J. McCloy to bomb the camps.
... Akzin was not "a zionist activist in america". in fact, he was a junior employee of the war refugee board, of which john w. pehle was executive director, and akzin never accompanied pehle to a meeting with mccloy. secondly, pehle definitely did not "urge" mccloy to "bomb the camps". in fact, on june 24, 1944, pehle met with mccloy, passed on the recommendation, but made it abundantly clear that he did not endorse it. in fact, pehle "made it very clear to mr. mccloy that i was not, at this point at least, requesting the war department to take any action on this proposal other than to appropriately explore it. mccloy understood my position and said that he would check into the matter."
source: fdr library, wrb files, box 35, hungary no. 5, reproduced in wymen, ed., "america and the holocaust", xii:104. whoever wrote the sentence above is obviously deliberately trying to deceive readers. (talk · contribs) Text case lowered by Poeticbent talk 09:45, 2 July 2014 (UTC)

Deleted two pieces of controversial information from intro[edit]

It said the debate was largely a post-war debate, which contradicts the main part of the article. And aerial photographs were only found after the war. Both sentences were marked as"citation needed" since October 2013, which I think risks discrediting the article. Please go ahead if you have sources, though at least the first sentence I think should not be in the intro given the information that follows in the main part. Galant Khan (talk) 23:46, 9 October 2014 (UTC)

Antisemitism as a factor?[edit]

Curiously, this article has not mentioned anti-antisemitism as a factor in why Auschwitz was not bombed. I've just watched the superb Auschwitz dvd and this was said about British refusal to save Jews from being sent from Hungary to Auschwitz in exchange for supplying the Nazis with trucks: "But during the discussion there was another, less idealistic reason suggested to refuse the Nazis' offer. Which was that to accept it might 'lead to an offer to unload an even greater number of Jews on our hands.'" (Transcript: I realise that accepting on English language Wikipedia that antisemitism existed among powerful British state officials as late as 1944 would undermine much post-WW II revisionism, but let's just do the historical record justice here. (talk) 14:29, 1 February 2015 (UTC)

Read the book Catch-22 on why the military is usually full of shit. They didn't bomb the camps because they were probably too busy shipping black market liquor and whores to some privileged officers and U.S. Govt. officials throughout Europe. Ask anyone in the military at the time how the Generals took care of themselves at the expense of the common soldier.— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Issue first raised in 1967[edit]

Rubenstein, in "The Myth of Rescue" (already cited in the article) [2] mentions that the debate didn't start until 1967. "For the first twenty years or so after the end of the Second World War, probably no historical work on the Holocaust criticised the actions of the Allies or suggested that much more could have been done which was not done. All of these early works on the Holocaust, not surprisingly, focused upon the guilt of the Nazis and their allies. Perhaps the first considered work to attack the Allies for their failures in rescuing Jews was a little-noted article by Reuben Ainsztein, a Holocaust survivor who was well known as a historian of Jewish revolt in the ghettos and concentration camps, entitled `How Many More Could Have Been Saved?' Ainsztein's article, which appeared in the British periodical Jewish Quarterly in 1967, contained a surprisingly large component of the critique of Allied policy which has since become standard, years before other historians made the same point." Worth a mention? John Nagle (talk) 21:13, 10 November 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just modified one external link on Auschwitz bombing debate. Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, please set the checked parameter below to true or failed to let others know (documentation at {{Sourcecheck}}).

YesY Archived sources have been checked to be working

Cheers.—cyberbot IITalk to my owner:Online 20:58, 31 March 2016 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just modified 2 external links on Auschwitz bombing debate. Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, please set the checked parameter below to true or failed to let others know (documentation at {{Sourcecheck}}).

Question? Archived sources still need to be checked

Cheers.—InternetArchiveBot (Report bug) 17:22, 21 October 2016 (UTC)