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Monday, 29 June 2015


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One argument is that the quickest way to end the death camps was to win the war - and bombing the camps would not only not help win the war, but would divert resources from the front line.

I once believed that bombing the camps would have saved lives. I came to understand that, when the camps were bombed, the NAZIs just used other means. For one example, the rail lines from Hungary to Auschwitz, I believe it was, were bombed, so the Jews were just compelled to walk a few hundred miles to their deaths, those who did not die along the way. Dropping food parcels into the camps might have helped, a little. However, once they started shooting people for picking them up, that benefit would have been at an end. Bombing an arms factory in Budapest, which Horthy believed was in retaliation for the deportations, prompted him to demand that the deportations cease. That saved about half a million lives, almost by chance. So, yes, winning the war was the quickest way to end the murders. A small example, if Market Garden had succeeded, the remaining Jews of Holland would have been saved. Yes, I have at least a little understanding of just why Market Garden was bound to fail, and yet, and yet. There were only a few hundred NAZI troops in all of Holland. What if Dutch ports had been captured? This would have ended the war many months sooner, and saved thousands of lives, even of German civilians. So, all in all, I am content to leave the conduct of wars to the actual generals.

Oh and incidentally David, I see somebody else making the same point as you ... which I suspect, is why it didn't happen.

"Erdheim also insists that bombing the camp would have been “no more complex than numerous other missions.” He says P-38 or Mosquito fighters could have been used without causing significant collateral damage and that both heavy and medium bombers had the range to attack the camp as well."

I truly don't want to be picky here but truly, what is the point of this discussion?
Enough already with WW2.

I do think many of the camps could have been bombed and bombed accurately as the attack on Amiens prison proved. However, that attack, although successful in some respects was a disaster in others.

I am not convinced that much good would have resulted from such a raid, not the least of the problems being what the suddenly released inmates would have done with their 'freedom' in hostile territory. Perhaps a leaflet drop aimed at the guards and administrators along the lines of 'We know who you are, we know where you live, we know what you're doing and we're coming to get you' might have had some very slight effect.

Not like you to be silly, Andra, get a grip!

A few points

The Wannsee conference was early 1942. This laid the foundations for the Final Solution. Prior to that the method was mass shootings into open graves. The death camps were in their early stages by late 1942. I think it fair to state that by late 1942 we would have received many reports about wholesale murders Jews but the death camps would have been one data point amongst many. The books I've read indicate that it was later that the governments accepted that mass murder was occurring. I recall that a request to bomb the camps or the railways was made in 1944.

The Butt Report of 1941 stated that only one third of aircraft recorded as attacking the target dropped their bombs with 5 miles of the target. Not 5%. Of course 5 miles is virtually useless when the intention was to knock out particular factories. That's the principle reason why area bombing became the preferred policy. Later in the war navigation aids like Gee, Oboe and H2S were brought in. Even so they only reduced the error.

The Mosquito is an interesting idea. I guess you have Operation Jericho in mind. Such a raid might have been able to destroy the gas chambers at Auschwitz. That of course happened in 1944. Technology had moved on. I doubt that such a deep penetration raid would have been viable earlier in the war.

The extermination camps - there were 8, most in Poland - were all dismantled by wars end. All but two before August 1944. Only Chelmno and Auschwitz remained until Jan 1945. From March through July 1944 the RAF and USAF were dedicated to supporting Overlord. I would argue that the Allied leaders came to accept that mass extermination was happening during 1944. Consequently there is a window from August 1944 to January when they might have done something.

It's as well to remind ourselves that images from Belsen were a shock in 1945. It seemed absurd that the Germans would divert effort away from winning the war to actually murder their slave workers. Of course today we have documented the Final Solution. No one on the Allied side would have known any detail beyond the snippets that escaped. You can imagine senior figures in the Allied command bombarded daily with hundreds of reports and decisions to be made, being asked to do something. Should they divert their efforts for an uncertain outcome? I couldn't, hand on heart, declare I would do differently.

As a side note: You'll note that the Russians get free pass for their failure to bomb Auschwitz. They are barely censured for failing to support the Warsaw rising.

With hindsight I can say that for morale alone it would have been better that we have done at least one raid with the intention of saving lives. Not just for then but for today too. We live in an era when the Allied bombing campaign is routinely trotted out as a blot on Allied conduct. We are as bad as them is taught to schoolchildren for this and for a myriad other sins. We have no redeeming qualities and the other is bad only as a reaction to our sins.

I tend personally (at present) to be especially keen on agreeing with Andra.

"Over here" we're, uhm, re-fighting/re-guessing on the behalf of those who actually did, what we imagine they, "should've done" not appreciating exactly what was done half the number of years ago doubled.

And yet - in our living memories we all agree on extant tits.

And TDK, a point that's nowadays "unforgivable/irredeemable" by some lights.

We needed the evidence to present to "the participants" just what they'd allowed. Give those "we had no idea" to recognize irretrievably they did.

But that was Europe.

Today's flag of what was formerly Imperial Japan doesn't look so different as was;

It is a mark of who we are that we can have these "bombing questions" and related debates. It reflects the soul of the Allied Forces. Had the Axis Forces won, no debates would happen, no second guessing, no nothing.

The only effective way to take action was to bomb the camps. Given the propaganda about Dresden, this would have been rather unpalatable.

The propogandists against the Dresden bombing kind of forgot about the death camps and the many cities in the UK that were bomded by the Luftwaffe. My mother had to take my older brothers and sister to the shelter on many nights. So F the bleeding hearts.

Yeah, what Jimmy said!

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