Sunday, May 06, 2012

New York Times coverage of Auschwitz

A comment on an earlier post about the British POWs who were held in one of the Auschwitz camps just wrote: "And the article's reference to the Red Cross reaction to rumours about Auschwitz reinforces the difficulty of verifying conditions at camps. Indeed, the Red Cross had some difficulty separating the German picture of life in POW camps from the harsh reality even at those they visited."

By the summer of 1944, however, quite a lot was known and the Red Cross, it seems to me, would have had full access to all the information known outside Nazi-occupied Europe. While the New York Times dragged its feet considerably about reporting on the extermination camps, by the summer of 1944 they were publishing reports about what was happening in Auschwitz-Birkenau.

This report was published on July 3, 1944, on page 3.

1,715,000 Jews Said to Have Been Put to Death by the Germans Up to April 15

by Daniel T. Brigham

By Telephone to The New York Times

GENEVA, Switzerland, July 2 - Information reaching two European relief committees with headquarters in Switzerland has confirmed reports of the existence in Auschwitz and Birkenau in Upper Silesia of two "extermination camps" where more than 1,715,000 Jewish refugees were put to death between April 15, 1942 and April 15, 1944.
[Note: These figures are too high - according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, "At least 960,000 Jews were killed in Auschwitz. Other victims included approximately 74,000 Poles, 21,000 Roma (Gypsies), and 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war; and 10,000-15,000 members of other nationalities (Soviet civilians, Czechs, Yugoslavs, French, Germans, and Austrians)"].
The two committees referred to are the International Church Movement Ecumenical Refugee Commission with headquarters in Geneva and the Fluchtingshilfe of Zurich, whose head, the Rev. Paul Voght, has disclosed a long report on the killings.
The article goes on to give estimates of the number of Jews killed in Auschwitz, and then refers to what was then the ongoing killing of the Jews of Hungary.
To this must now be added Hungary's Jews. About 30 percent of the 400,000 there have been slain or have died en route to Upper Silesia. Discussing "malicious, fiendish, inhuman brutality" in the treatment of Hungarian Jews, the Ecumenical Commission says:
"According to authenticated information now at hand, some 400,000 Hungarian Jews have been deported from their homeland since April 6 of this year under inhuman conditions to Upper Silesia. Those that did not die en route were delivered to the camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau in Upper Silesia, where during the past two years, it has now been learned, many hundreds of thousands of their co-religionists have been fiendishly done to death."
After a fortnight to three months' imprisonment, during which they were "selected" or worked to death, the Jews were led to the execution halls, it was said. These halls consist of fake bathing establishments handling 2,000 to 8,000 daily.
Another report was published in the Times on July 6, 1944, giving more details about the camp and the deportation of the Hungarian Jews, with the title "Two Death Camps Places of Horror," by Daniel Brigham.

An article from July 5 also discussed the deportations from Hungary, and includes this statement:
Information received by the World Jewish Congress leaves little doubt that the Germans are waging two wars - one against the enemies of Germany, the other against the Jews - and that, with Germany's defeat imminent, they are preparing to wipe out European Jewry. It is estimated conservatively that they have already massacred 4,000,000 of Europe's 7,000,000 Jews.
This article is called "Hungary Deports Jews, Eden Says." Eden was the British Foreign Secretary.

Later, on September 15, 1944, the Times reported on a German communique broadcast from Berlin. One sentence reads: "Enemy bomber and fighter formations yesterday attacked in the west and south of the Reich as far as central Germany. Terror raids were directly mainly against the towns of Stuttgart, Darmstadt, Osnabrueck and Auschwitz."

An earlier report, from June 20, 1944, reports on the killing of Czech Jews taken from Terezin to Auschwitz.
LONDON, June 19 - The Czechoslovak State Council disclosed today that, according to a report it has received from inside Europe, 7,000 Czechoslovak Jews interned in the fortress of Terezin have been killed en masse.
The report said that the victims were dragged to gas chambers in the notorious German concentration camps at Birkenau and Oswiecim. 
 Confirmation of the existence of these gas chambers and the execution of there of uncounted thousands was brought to London recently by a young Pole who had been imprisoned in both camps.
The first report in the New York Times of the liberation of the camp by the Red Army came on February 3, 1945, several days after the camp had been liberated (January 27).
 Saved from "Murder Factory"
MOSCOW, Feb. 2 (U.P.) - The newspaper Pravda reported today that the Red Army had saved several thousand tortured, emaciated inmates of the Germans greatest "murder factory" at Oswiecim in southwest Poland.
Pravda's correspondent said fragmentary reports indicated that at least 1,500,000 persons were slaughtered at Oswiecim. During 1941, 1942 and early 1943, he said, five trains arrived daily at Oswiecim with Russians, Poles, Jews, Czechs, French and Yugoslavs jammed in sealed cars. 

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