Posted Wednesday, June 14, 2000

Quick navigation

Alphabetical index (text)

Calgary, Alberta, June 3, 2000

London Exhibit

Holocaust details were not believed

Michael Smith, London

The Telegraph broke the story of the Nazi gas chambers to a disbelieving world on June 25, 1942, with the stark headline "Germans kill 700,000 Jews in Poland."

The strange manner in which the newspaper came by the evidence is related in a Holocaust exhibition, due to be opened by Queen Elizabeth on Tuesday, at the Imperial War Museum in London.

The story, which included first-hand accounts of "travelling gas chambers" in which an average of 1,000 Jews were being gassed each day, described the killings as "the greatest massacre in the world's history."

Government officials already knew about the murders from the decrypts of German messages. Churchill had even denounced them as "a crime without a name."

But the Telegraph's first-hand reports of the killings, smuggled into Britain by the Polish resistance, were disbelieved by a skeptical public swamped with anti-Nazi propaganda.

A reporter following up the story for another newspaper went so far as to suggest to the Polish courier that he should "drop a zero or two" if he wanted to be believed.

The extraordinarily detailed reports, which included the gassing of 40,000 Jews at the Chelmno extermination camp but did not mention the similar camp at Auschwitz, were smuggled out of Poland on microfilm hidden inside a key.

"Everywhere the procedure has been the same," The Telegraph report said. "Men and boys between 14 and 60 have been driven together into one place, usually a public square or cemetery, and there killed. Children in orphanages, pensioners in almshouses and the sick in hospitals have been shot. Women have been killed in the streets."

The way in which news of the Holocaust reached Britain is a recurring element of the exhibition, which has taken four years to research.

Some survivors have criticized it as being too unemotional, "too British." But David Cesarani, one of the exhibition's expert advisers, said it was important to make it "a scrupulously balanced interpretation."

From the start Suzanne Bardgett, the project director, and the curators had taken the view that attempts to exaggerate or sensationalize what happened were not only redundant but counter-productive.

As a result, the exhibition has "tremendous weight and authority, which is the best way to refute the claims of the Holocaust deniers," Cesarani said.

The only moments of relief from the terror that swept across Nazi-occupied Europe come in the exhibits on the work of those who saved Jews, such as the Swede Raoul Wallenberg and the British spy Frank Foley.

Foley, who broke strict British immigration rules to allow thousands of Jews to emigrate to Palestine, was one of the few Britons who recognized what was happening.

For Daniel Falkner, now 88, the exhibition's most poignant reminder of what happened to him is a small wooden cart which he last saw in the Warsaw Ghetto.

"People died like flies in the ghetto," said Falkner. "Every morning, people with such carts would come round to collect the bodies of those who had died in the night."

Falkner is one of 16 survivors whose testimonies are told in video in the exhibition.

If you write to a newspaper don't forget: 1. keep it short; and 2. add your mail address and a daytime telephone number; they will not print it otherwise.

The above news item is reproduced without editing other than typographical
 Register your name and address to go on the Mailing List to receive

David Irving's ACTION REPORT

© Focal Point 2000 [F] e-mail: Irving write to David Irving