Britain, US knew about extermination of Jews, Vatican claims

From The Daily Telegraph:

Britain knew about extermination of Jews, Vatican claims
The Vatican’s official newspaper has accused Britain and the United States of having detailed knowledge of Hitler’s plans to exterminate the Jews but of failing to do anything to halt the Final Solution.

By Simon Caldwell and Nick Squires in Rome
Published: 7:30AM BST 17 Aug 2009

L’Osservatore Romano said the British and American governments ignored, downplayed or even suppressed intelligence reports about the Nazis’ extermination plans.

They could have bombed Nazi concentration camps and the railways that supplied them but instead chose not to, the newspaper claimed.

It quoted from the diary of Henry Morgenthau Jr., the wartime US secretary of the treasury, who described London’s alleged indifference to the plight of the Jews as "a Satanic combination of British chill and diplomatic double talk, cold and correct and adding up to a sentence of death".

British and American inaction was in contrast to the efforts made by the wartime Pope, Pius XII, who tried to save as many Jews as he could through clandestine means, L’Osservatore claimed in a lengthy article titled "Silence and omissions at the time of the Shoah (Holocaust)".

The editorial is the Vatican’s latest effort to rehabilitate the reputation of Pope Pius, whose reluctance to denounce the Nazis publicly prompted accusations of anti-Semitism and earned him the title "Hitler’s Pope".

L’Osservatore dismissed such claims as a "radically false" characterisation of the pontiff’s wartime record.

It quoted Morgenthau as saying that as early as Aug 1942, the US government "knew that the Nazis were planning to exterminate all the Jews of Europe".

In his diary, Morgenthau cited a telegram dated Aug 24, 1942, and passed on to the US State Department, that relayed a report of Hitler’s plan to kill between 3.5 million and four million Jews, possibly using cyanide poison.

L’Osservatore, which is regarded as the semi-official mouthpiece of the Holy See, reproduced a copy of the telegram.

American officials had "dodged their grim responsibility, procrastinated when concrete rescue schemes were placed before them, and even suppressed information about atrocities," Morgenthau wrote.

When the US government was finally convinced to try to rescue European Jews who had not already been sent to concentration camps, the British baulked, the editorial said.

It cited a British Foreign Office cable that warned of "the difficulties of disposing of any considerable number of Jews should they be rescued from enemy occupied territory" and advised against allocating money for the project.

While the British and Americans prevaricated, Pius was engaged in "the only plausible and practical form of defence of the Jews and other persecuted people" by arranging for them to be hidden in monasteries, convents and other Catholic Church institutions, the newspaper claimed.

L’Osservatore said that although the Nazis rounded up and deported from Rome more than 2,000 Jews, another 10,000 were saved.

Marking the 50th anniversary of Pius’ death last year, Pope Benedict XVI described him as a great pontiff who worked "secretly and silently" during the war to "save the greatest number of Jews possible".

Sir Martin Gilbert, the British historian and biographer of Winston Churchill, described in his 2001 book "Auschwitz and the Allies" how an underground network of European Jews had begged the RAF to bomb Auschwitz.

Churchill, who had told Anthony Eden in 1944 that the Holocaust was probably the greatest crime ever committed in human history, had given his permission for raids to go ahead.

"Yet even then a few individuals scotched the Prime Minister’s directive because, as one of them put it at the time, to send British pilots to carry it out would have then risked ‘valuable lives’," wrote Sir Martin.

"At that very moment, however, Allied lives were being risked to drop supplies on Warsaw during the Polish uprising and during these missions these very same pilots had actually flown over the Auschwitz region on their way to Warsaw."

I haven’t found… huge surprise… this editorial on the page of L’Osservatore Romano.  Their approach to the internet is incredibly backward.

Sooo… this comes out during the ferie when everyone is out of Rome.


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  1. patrick_f says:

    They (the secular media) will do whatever they can to assault to church. Thank goodness we have a wonderful Pontiff now.

    I actually, I guess being as young as I am, never knew the british piece, or the american piece, but it is un surprising. Look at all the maniacal crazies that we supported at one time when it benefited us. Osama Bin Laden, comes to mind, Stalin, another.

    Just do whats right world leaders, and then you dont have the youth of history like myself pointing these things out.

  2. AM says:

    It’s great that opposing voices, at the Vatican or elsewhere, can go on the offensive in this matter, and not merely defend Pius (may he soon be Blessed) but hold up others’ actions in the same light.

    However, considering the prevarication (at best) of the Allies and the bitter treachery of the Russians at the time of the Warsaw Uprising, in which far too few “supplies” far too late were ever “dropped” before the end, (and from absurdly far away because the Russians wouldn’t permit Warsaw to be supplied from Russian territory) it’s a pity that Gilbert should be made to end with this example. Particularly since the ranks of the defenders of Warsaw included many Jewish soldiers.

  3. haleype says:

    Did nothing? We fought a war thousands of miles from our shores and spilled the blood of our finest young men to remove Hitler and the Third Reich from power. Did nothing? Pulleeeze. Oh how the Modernists love to twist the facts to suit their purposes.

  4. ASD says:


    Of course you’re right, & your point is well taken. But, there is some satisfaction in a demonstration that Catholic officials aren’t the only ones whose wartime actions can be second-guessed many years after the fact. Can’t you just feel the very people who criticize Pope Pius XII cringing & saying, “Yes, but things are more complicated than that . . ..” Indeed they are.


  5. roydosan says:

    This is hardly news – watch Claude Lanzmann’s “Shoah”. He interviews one of the Poles that went into the Warsaw Ghetto and then reported back to the allies on what he found. The allied response was not great but realistically what could they do? Maybe bombing the gas chambers but half the six million were killed by either shooting or forced labour so the Germans would probably have killed them anyway.

    Also, three million Jewish Poles were killed by the Nazis but so were three million Catholic Poles. People tend to forget that bit.

  6. Traductora says:

    Well, we fought the war for other reasons, and the release of the Jews from the extermination camps occurred in the course of the campaigns (both by the American forces and the Russian forces) but was not the main objective.

    Then there is the famous incident of the St. Louis, the ship with 900 refuge-seeking Jews on it that was originally headed for Cuba but whose passengers found that they could not disembark because Cuba no longer considered their travel documents valid. Most of them had applied for US visas and actually intended to go on to the US. The ship headed to Miami but was turned away by US officials; the passengers appealed to Roosevelt and to Congress for emergency visas, but they were turned down. Finally the ship was forced to return to Europe. Some of the Jews found refuge in other European countries, but more than half of them had to return to Germany and about half of these, several hundred people, died in the camps.

    By contrast, the Vatican tried from the beginning to rescue the Jews (remember, the Vatican doesn’t have an army and an air force!) and did indeed manage to save many. Spain also took in large numbers of Jewish refugees, both from Eastern Europe and later from Italy when there were attacks on the Jews under Mussolini.

  7. Bill in Texas says:

    Maybe it’s just because I’m old, but it seems to me that the fact the U.S. and Britain (specifically President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill) knew about the concentration camps and Hitler’s plans to exterminate all Jews, has been open knowledge for many years. At the time, both Roosevelt and Churchill chose to keep the information secret. I am not exactly sure why.

    I am also not sure why the L’OR writer thinks the US and Britain should have bombed the camps (which would have killed more prisoners than SS), or why the writer thinks the railroads were not bombed (they were).

    The St. Louis affair was not our finest moment. However, I am not certain what else the US and Britain could have done for the prisoners in the camps, other than what we did do — defeat Hitler as quickly as humanly possible. It seems to me that the Vatican, European organizations, and the governments of a few European countries were in a better position to help, and they did in fact do what they could. The fact is that Hitler was determined to do what he did (and in the process, also to destroy other groups, such as the Rom, and to destroy the Catholic Church — he killed millions in addition to the Jews), and he and his subordinates set about doing that with all haste and efficiency. What else could the US and Britain have done?

    Also, it should not be forgotten how many millions Stalin slaughtered — more than Hitler.

  8. SGCOLC says:

    I find it quite interesting to see commenters writing things like: What could the US and Britain have done? (other than was done militarily)

    So what was Pope Pius and the Catholic Church to have done?

    Supposedly, according to his critics, Pius should have spoken out more boldly, more openly condemned Hitler, etc. Well, so should have the US and Britain. They should have welcomed refugees. They should have supported and promoted networks to rescue and save Jews and others, just as the church did in Rome and Spain and elsewhere.

    Maybe if the nations had early on spoken out, and had done what the church did, more could have been saved from the camps in the first place.

    And I fear there is a lot of the same kind of thing going on in the world now, and we are doing too little, again.

  9. romancrusader says:

    It’s true that FDR, the New York Times, and others of that ilk were singularly unconcerned as word of the Holocaust started to get out. I do think that there is something highly questionable about how the left idolizes FDR while falsely demonizing Pope Pius XII, who did in fact oppose the Nazis and help the Jews as far as he could.

    It might be added that FDR and his State Department refused to admit into the country many Jews who fled Nazi persecution.

  10. romancrusader says:

    L’Obsservatore Romano Needs a New Editor

    Vatican newspaper says Obama sought ‘common ground’ at Notre Dame

    Editor of Vatican newspaper says ‘Obama is not pro-abortion’

    Vatican Paper: ‘Angels & Demons’ Harmless

    Media Slants The Vatican Newspaper Meaning Said Reviews Of ‘Angels & Demons’ Favorable

  11. TJM says:

    I am not surprised by this article, after all, the left-wing loon media for the past several decades has been unfairly criticizing Pius XII for not “speaking
    out!” It is only right and proper to shift the blame around. Keep in mind folks, if the Brits and the French had conducted a pre-emptive war against
    Hitler when they had the power to do so, they could have stopped this monster before the concentration camps began working night and day. But then,
    again, the same left-wing loons would have decried this action as well (just like they did the Iraq War). You can’t win for losing with lefties. Tom

  12. pcstokell says:

    Good grief.

    Nice fanon pic, though.

  13. cwillia1 says:

    Probably the greatest crime of the Allies was repatriating millions of Soviet refugees and POWs to face execution or slave labor. Not only did the Vatican do everything in its power to save the Jews they did everything they could to save German civilians in Eastern Europe from brutal reprisals. The truth is that Pius 12 was the only world leader to come out of the war with clean hands. Hands that were not only clean but did everything possible to mitigate human suffering at great personal risk.

  14. Agnes says:

    It will be interesting to see what the Vatican folks have to say after they get back in town.

  15. Athanasius says:

    They want to be important, but they don’t want to take the heat. If anything putting this on the front page during important periods would gain them more attention. Something tells me they don’t have the stomach to stand up to the secular world. Harry Potter reviews appear on the front page, but this gets tucked away.

  16. Dave N. says:

    This is not really news, although it bears repeating I suppose.

  17. ray from mn says:

    How come we didn’t bomb them? How come we didn’t bomb them?

    This is an old mantra.

    And the fact of the matter is the British and the U.S. Army Air Corps couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with their bombs. They only thing they could hit would be entire cities. War production facilities, bridges and railroad tracks could not be hit with any dependability.

    Famous economist John Kenneth Galbraith and a team conducted an effectiveness survey for the USAAF after the war that came up with these facts. The USAF has denied them ever since. Because bombing accuracy is still a problem.

    And as WWII progressed, the crews became younger and younger. And German anti-aircraft crews caused many crews to prematurely drop their bombs and hightail it for home. It was only our immense war production capabilities in the U.S. that gave us the capability of keeping immense pressure on the Nazis.

    After five years of war, Germany’s war production in 1944 was greater than it ever had been.

    And more importantly, the German government never imposed overtime working conditions on German citizens until the very end. They didn’t want to get their people worried about the war’s outcome.

    Bombing relatively small concentration camps in Poland and Germany would have resulted mostly in the deaths of Jews, Poles and other prisoners.

    There seems to be a big industry in re-writing history. I read a book last year that accuses Abraham Lincoln of being a war criminal for the way he conducted the Civil War.

  18. r7blue1pink says:

    Sure they knew….. my Father says they chose to do nothing,it was common knowledge to those in the AK (Polish Underground
    ) that they werent going to get any help during the Warsaw uprising. Dad said that the supplies they dropped were virtually useless and they could have done much more. Dad was captured and sent to Dachau….then to Neungamme.. then justmissed the ride on the Cap Arcona and sent to Bergen Belsen where he was liberated.

    when they did finally come, they divide up Europe and give it away 2 the commies- as if THEY (UK/US) owned it…

  19. frere wilfrid says:

    ray from mn: the RAF sank the Tirpitz in a bombing raid conducted from 15 thousand feet. In 1944 the USAF destroyed the so-called V3 site in Normandy, dropping bombs into an opening a few feet wide. The pilots of WWII could certainly do precision bombing when required.

  20. David2 says:

    This is nothing particularly new. The question of “should the Allies have bombed Aushchwitz? has been one of the most vexed questions for students of the Holocaust for years. Interestingly, many in the camps claim to have been praying for a bombing raid.

    In 2005, some remarkable RAF arial photos of Auschwitz were released in the UK. You could actually see the prisoners filing out for roll-call.

    See, for example, this page, from a UK government site:

    Unique photograph shows clouds of thick smoke rising from the Auschwitz camp. At this stage in the history of Auschwitz, in the final months of the war, we now know the number of people being killed was so high that the crematories were unable to burn all the corpses.

    This image graphically illustrates, the burning of these mass funeral pits. When viewed at high-resolution, prisoners can be seen on roll-call. The camp commandant, Rudolf Höß, testified at the Nuremberg Trials that up to 3 million people had died at Auschwitz.

    We ought to remember that the Nazis essentially re-doubled their extermination efforts in 1944, in an effort to finish the job before the allies finished them.

    Now, the historical fact is that the allies were aware of what was going on in the camps. The jewish leadership was aware of what was going on, and pleaded with both the american and british administrations, at the highest levels, to interrupt the railway lines.

    Some historians say that bombing the railway lines would have achieved nothing, and the SS would have had the trains running on time quicker than you could say “shickelgruber”. Others have argued that bombing one railway line to one camp on one day towards the end of the war would have saved thousands if not tens of thousands, as the Germans were operating at maximum efficiency.

    Further, by Albert Speer had got the German armaments / war production industry up and running more efficiently than it ever had before, despite years of strategic bombing.

    On the other hand, during World War II, there were 44 railroad tracks in the train yard at Auschwitz, more than twice as many as at New York’s Penn station, according to the U.S. Holocaust Museum. The only comparable train yards in America are located in Roseville, California and in North Platte, Nebraska. In addition to its other functions, Auschwitz was a transit center for receiving prisoners from all over Europe and dispatching them to the many forced labor sub-camps. There were 40 such sub-camps in the vicinity of Auschwitz-Birkenau alone, where prisoners worked in industrial facilities or in farm production. The head of the concentration camps, Heinrich Himmler, who had a college degree in agriculture and is frequently called a “chicken farmer,” had set up an agricultural experimental station near Birkenau.

    Finally, why were not more Jews permitted to emigrate to the US. The Brits didn’t want them in Israel, because they were fighting the Mandate. But the whole “St Louis” incident is harder for defenders of FDR to explain away (that was the ship that left Hamburg for Cuba full of refugees, only to have the Cuban passports of thei passengers invalidated. The Jews applied for refuge in the US, including appealing to FDR and Congress, and were ultimately sent back to Europe to die in the camps).

    My final conclusion is that Churchill, and (particularly) FDR have a much larger case to answer on the Holocaust than Pius XII could ever have.

  21. Sandra_in_Severn says:

    There were a few books out as early as the 1960s about this horrific piece of history, that the “Allies’ highest levels of governance” were complicit in the Holocaust.

    My parents’ uncles liberated a few of the camps, they would never talk about it, would get very silent and just tell me to remember them in my prayers before bed.

  22. Prudentius says:

    On a related topic from the excellent Roman Christendom blog…

    The strategic bombing campaign is one of the blackest marks upon the good name of the allied air forces and prepared the way for the decision to drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the last being dropped right on top of Urukami Catholic Cathedral of St Mary in the centre of Japanese Catholicism by American aircrew which, with terrible irony, numbered Irish-American Catholics among them.

    President Harry Truman, Freemason and Democrat Party leader, dishonestly told the American public in a broadcast that Hiroshima was a “military base”.

    Blessed Emperor Charles of Austria had condemned the bombing of cities and innocent civilians in World War I and forbade his troops ever to do so.

    Blessed Pope John XXIII and Vatican II were both entirely right to condemn the concept of carpet bombing, mass destruction and atomic bombing of cities.

    Indeed, it is a grotesquely evil moral crime of the highest order.

  23. Kimberly says:

    Bomb Auschwitz? Oh my gosh, do you realize how US would have been demonized for being anti-semetic if we had? The lefties would have had a field day with that.

  24. Hank_F_M says:


    I doubt the excellent Global security web page site is on your regular reading list. But it is always good place to start on this sort of question.

    This page. has several short articles on the subject and is as good as you will bind without much effort.

    I my guess is that it would have been good mission the Allies “see we did something!“ But he “something” would have been extremely difficult mission to accomplish and if accomplished would have done little if anything for the prisoners.

    The best thing we could do for them was win the war and liberate the camps.

  25. David2 says:


    The bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima is another vexed question altogether.

    From the point of view of the US, the war against Japan was a defensive war.

    There were numerous documented atrocities committed against occupied populations.

    After six weeks of fierce fighting, and fanatical resistance by the Japanese over every foot of ground, the island of Iwo Jima fell to the Americans. Its capture cost the US Marines 6,000 dead and more than three times that number wounded. This was the highest toll from one action in the history of the Corps. The US Navy lost 363 lives to Kamikaze and conventional aircraft strikes. Only 216 Japanese were captured alive out of the garrison of 20,000.

    The American flag was raised over the Japanese island of Okinawa in the Ryukyu chain on June 22, 1945, after eighty-two days of fierce fighting during which the Japanese fanatically defended every foot of ground. The presence of a large civilian population on Okinawa, and the blending of Japanese troops with the Japanese civilian population, increased significantly the difficulties facing American troops. The fanatical defence of Okinawa cost the United States almost 40,000 battle casualties on land. That figure included 7,374 American dead. Approximately 110,000 Japanese troops died in the defence of Okinawa.

    Unlike the situation in many Western countries, most of Japan’s major cities did not have clearly defined industrial districts in 1945. Instead, Japanese industrial facilities were mostly dispersed in residential areas. As precision bombing did not exist in 1945, it was impossible for high altitude American B-29s to destroy factories that serviced Japan’s war machine without also hitting residential neighbourhoods that adjoined these factories.

    As the cost in American lives soared, and Japan showed no inclination to surrender, the Americans finally decided in early 1945 to strike at Japan’s war industries even if it inevitably cost civilian lives. For ten days in March 1945, huge formations of B-29 bombers carried out saturation raids on five of Japan’s largest industrial cities, including Tokyo. The raids were then suspended. Instead of inclining Japan to surrender, the Japanese government was able to use the air raids to whip up hatred of Americans and stiffen the will of the Japanese people to fight to the death as a nation. This was not as difficult in Japan as it would have been in Western countries. It has to be remembered that the Japanese people were products of a militaristic culture dating back hundreds of years. They felt intense pride in the power of their military, and Japan’s military conquests in Asia and the Pacific. Japanese culture permitted Admiral Yamamoto to be viewed as a national hero after he engineered the treacherous sneak attack on the United States Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor.

    Most appalling of all, in April 1945, the Japanese Suzuki government had prepared a war policy called Ketsugo which was a refinement of the Shosango victory plan for the defence of the home islands to the last man. These plans would prepare the Japanese people psychologically to die as a nation in defence of their homeland. Even children, including girls, would be trained to use makeshift lethal weapons, and exhorted to sacrifice themselves by killing an American invader. To implement this policy of training children to kill, soldiers attended Japanese schools and trained even small children in the use of weapons such as bamboo spears.

    The American government was aware from intelligence intercepts of the chilling implications of these Japanese defensive plans. Intelligence reports indicated that the Japanese would probably be able to muster two million troops and eight thousand aircraft for the defence of the four home islands against a traditional amphibious invasion. The dispersal of these military resources across Japan, and their careful concealment, would provide the Americans with no opportunity to destroy them from the air. The Ketsugo policy placed heavy reliance on suicide attacks on the American troops and their covering warships. For this purpose, several thousand aircraft would be adapted for suicide attacks.

    Other methods of suicide attack being developed included dynamite-filled “crash boats”, guided human torpedoes, guided human rocket bombs (similar to the “Baka” rocket plane used against American ships at Okinawa), and specially trained ground suicide units carrying explosives. In addition, the invading Americans would have to face a civilian population drilled in guerilla tactics.

    The Americans had every reason to be deeply disturbed when they learned about Japanese plans to defend the home islands by massive suicide attacks on American amphibious forces. The Kamikaze suicide attacks on Allied ships at Okinawa had alone produced a horrifying toll:

    34 Allied warships sunk ;

    368 Allied ships damaged (some fit only for scrap);

    4,900 Allied sailors killed; and

    4,874 Allied sailors wounded.

    What would have been the moral consequences of the US millitary mowing down little girls by their hundreds, using makeshift bayonets to charge American positions?

    Best estimates of casualties in invating the home islands topped 1 Million US millirtary casualties. That, of course ignores the Japanese victims of various suicide missions to defend the home islands to the last elderly man, woman and child.

    Prudentius, it’s a much trickier moral conundrum than you make it out to be.


    It’s notable that many Jewish holocaust historians take the view that the allies refused to bomb Auschwitz because they were motivated by anti-semitism, and the place was “only” full of Jews anyway.

    For example this book:

    looks at the question of whether FDR was an anti-semite who refused to bomb Auschwitz because it was full of Jews. Some authors have accused FDR of failing to bomb, because he was personally an anti-semite. That is, admittedly a minority view, but it has been expressed by reputable historians. One of the important questions was and is, why didn’t he bomb the massive Auschwitz railway complex (one of the biggest in the world, and the centre, the “hub” of you will, of a spider’s web of transportation of camp prisoners to death, forced labour, and munitions camps? Why was the St Lous turned back in 1939? True, no exterminations were happening in 1939, but any intelligent person, knowing of the Kristallnacht of November 1938, must have known that no good would have come to Jews sent back to Germany. Especially since the whole “Voyage of the Damned” was planned by Goebbels to prove to the world that “see, nobody else wants these people, either!”

    Again, these questions are much more complex than some posters would have us believe.

  26. Prudentius says:

    Thanks for the history lesson but what is your conclusion? Surely you don’t think the boming was within the context of Catholic “Just War”? How badly the Japanese had behaved is not really the issue or justification, I think we’ve established that they were “baddies”. I am also very skeptical about this statement…” Americans would have to face a civilian population drilled in guerilla tactics” Hhmmm

  27. David2 says:

    1. The war had to be brought to an end somehow.

    2. It is arguable that the bombings actually caused less civilian deaths than would have a street-to-street, house-to-house campaign across the home islands, that may well have made the battles of Leningrad, Stalingrad and Berlin look like a walk in the park. You’ve seen the pictures of Hitler-Jugend Volkssturm brigades of barely pubescent boys going out to fight the Red army in Berlin, with antiquated weapons? Why is it so hard to believe that Japan, with its ingrained warrior-culture and Emperor worshipped as God, would not do the same, nand worse?

    3. Civillian geurilla tactics have been used with varying degrees of success since the Iberian campaigns of Napoleon, including in the three battles referred to in (2). They have generally resulted in massive death and destruction, of which the brunt is borne by civilians – who die in huge numbers in pitched battles with enemy soldiers, of famine and starvation. Or they are summarily executed under the laws of war as non-uniformed combattants. Have you not seen the film footage of Japanese mothers jumping off cliffs with their children in their arms, because life under the Americans would be “too terrible to contemplate”?

    All I am saying is that this sort of “calculus of death” is notoriously difficult, even with the benefit of hindsight, it is very hard to know which option would visit the least death and destruction on civilian populations. It’s often hard to know the “least worst option”.

    I think we can agree, however, that there was no justification whatever for the bombing of Dresden in 1945.

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