Bush admits US Auschwitz error
By Tim Butcher in Jerusalem
PRESIDENT George W
Bush has said that America should have
bombed the Nazi death camp Auschwitz during the
Second World War.
The comment, which Mr Bush
reportedly made to
his Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
during a visit to Israel's Holocaust museum Yad
Vashem, appeared to be the first acknowledgement
by an American president of failure to strike
Nazi death camps.
W Bush visits Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in
According Avner Shalev, chairman of
Yad Vashem, Mr Bush had tears in his eyes at two
moments during an hour-long tour of the
Upon viewing an aerial shot of Auschwitz, Mr
Bush said the ruling not to bomb it was
He then spoke to Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice about President Franklin
Delano Roosevelt's decision, clearly
pondering the options before rendering an
opinion of his own, Mr Shalev said.
"We should have bombed it," Mr Bush said.
Tom Segev, a leading Israeli
scholar of the
Holocaust, said the seemingly spontaneous
comment was the first time an American president
had made this acknowledgment.
The Allies had detailed reports on Auschwitz
during the war from Polish partisans and escaped
prisoners. But they chose not to bomb the camp,
the rail lines leading to it, or any of the
other Nazi death camps, preferring instead to
focus all resources on the broader military
DO I smell a major
class-action lawsuit now pending
against Uncle Sam by those nice folks
non-bombing of "Auschwitz", many things
need to be said:
The British and
Americans were fighting a major war
with great precision and
single-mindedness. Many horrors were
being inflicted on many peoples on both
sides. The way to end the horrors, with
no special favours to one people or
another, was to end the war.
It was as simple as
The British may well
also have seen little urgency in
helping a people whose terrorists were
throughout that same war fighting
British troops in Palestine,
culminating in the assassination of
Lord Moyne, a close friend of
Aug 23, 1944: click for
As for bombing
"Auschwitz" -- what precisely do they
mean by that? The site was vast, bigger
than Heathrow or O'Hare. Bomb the "gas
chambers"? Even now historians cannot
agree which buildings were gas
chambers, and just how long would it
take the Germans to rebuild?
Bomb the bridges and
railroad lines? The same answer
applies: it routinely took Albert
Speer and Xaver Dorsch of
the Todt Organisation one to two days
to put back bombed railroad lines into
action, as both men told me. How many
Allied airmen would have had to pay for
this costly diversion with their
THERE is one other point, which I
have made before.
On March 23, 1962,
forty-six years ago, I asked Sir
Arthur "Bomber" Harris,
commander-in-chief of RAF Bomber
Command, why he had not bombed the site
(see picture above). The
controversy was beginning to boil over
"Mr Irving," he
replied, "If I were given the choice of
being burned alive by British
incendiaries and being killed by
cyanide gas, I know which I should
REFERENCE to Tony Blair reminds
me that we should all congratulate him
-- but we won't -- on getting his two
million pounds a year,
nothing-much-to-do job with US bankers
J P Morgan.
prime minister, who sold out Britain's
interest in the Middle East by joining
Britain to Bush's murderous and
criminal adventure against Iraq,
probably does not know that it was J P
Morgan, the same bank, which acted as
liquidators when Britain became
formally bankrupt on December 6, 1940:
the bank oversaw the sales of all
Britain's overseas assets -- railroads
in South America and the like -- to pay
for the munitions which President
Roosevelt kindly agreed to furnish (in
breach of US neutrality).
Churchill sold out
the Empire to continue his war (thus
incidentally making the Holocaust
possible); Blair betrayed our soldiers,
and the same bank will be seeing him
all right in his old age.
Not many of your
newspapers will have spotted the irony
Between 1.1 million and 1.5 million people
were murdered at the infamous Polish camp. While
in Israel Mr Bush also paid a brief visit to the
Sea of Galilee in the north, speaking to local
Christians at the Mount of Beatitudes where,
tradition has it, Jesus gave the Sermon on the
He emerged from his two-day visit to Israel
and the occupied Palestinian territories saying
he was confident that agreement between the two
sides to end decades of violence could be
reached by next January.
Tony Blair, who met Mr Bush in his
role as international mediator to the developing
Palestinian state, said he was "cautiously
optimistic" a deal was possible within a year --
if only because failure was not an option.
"It's hard for me to see how you're going to
get a peace agreement done if the present
initiative fails, because if it fails things
will move backwards again," said Mr Blair.
"There is no alternative but to push forward
and to do so with determination." ....
Should Have Bombed Auschwitz
Jan 11 12:41 PM US/Eastern
By ARON HELLER
JERUSALEM (AP) - President
Bush had tears in his eyes during an hour-long
tour of Israel's Holocaust memorial Friday and
told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that
the U.S. should have bombed Auschwitz to halt
the killing, the memorial's chairman
Bush emerged from a tour of the Yad Vashem
memorial calling it a "sobering reminder" that
evil must be resisted, and praising victims for
not losing their faith.
Wearing a yarmulke, Bush placed a
red-white-and-blue wreath on a stone slab that
covers ashes of Holocaust victims taken from six
extermination camps. He also lit a torch
memorializing the victims.
Bush was visibly moved as he toured the site,
said Yad Vashem's chairman, Avner Shalev.
"Twice, I saw tears well up in his eyes,"
At one point, Bush viewed aerial photos of
the Auschwitz camp taken during the war by U.S.
forces and called Rice over to discuss why the
American government had decided against bombing
the site, Shalev said.
"We were talking about the often-discussed
'Could the United States have done more by
bombing the train tracks?'" Rice told reporters
later aboard Air Force One. "And so we were just
talking about the various explanations that had
been given about why that might not have been
The Allies had detailed reports about
Auschwitz during the war from Polish partisans
and escaped prisoners. But they chose not to
bomb the camp, the rail lines leading to it, or
any of the other Nazi death camps, preferring
instead to focus all resources on the broader
military effort, a decision that became the
subject of intense controversy years later.
Between 1.1 million and 1.5 million people
were killed at the camp.
"We should have bombed it," Bush said,
according to Shalev.
In the memorial's visitors' book, the
president wrote simply, "God bless Israel,
The memorial was closed to the public and
under heavy guard Friday, with armed soldiers
standing on top of some of the site's monuments
and a police helicopter and surveillance blimp
hovering in the air overhead.
"I was most impressed that people in the face
of horror and evil would not forsake their God.
In the face of unspeakable crimes against
humanity, brave souls -- young and old -- stood
strong for what they believe," Bush said.
"I wish as many people as possible would come
to this place. It is a sobering reminder that
evil exists, and a call that when evil exists we
must resist it," he said.
It was Bush's second visit to the Holocaust
memorial, a regular stop on the visits of
foreign dignitaries. His first was in 1998, as
governor of Texas. The last U.S. president to
visit was Bill Clinton in 1994.
Bush, making the most extensive Mideast trip
of his presidency, was accompanied on his tour
by a small party that included Rice and Israeli
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
At the compound, overlooking a forest on
Jerusalem's outskirts, Bush visited a memorial
to the 1.5 million Jewish children killed in the
Holocaust, featuring six candles reflected 1.5
million times in a hall of mirrors. At the
site's Hall of Remembrance, he heard a cantor
sing a Jewish prayer for the dead.
Shalev presented Bush with illustrations of
the Bible drawn by the Jewish artist Carol
Deutsch, who perished in the Holocaust.
Deutsch created the works while in hiding
from the Nazis in Belgium. He was informed upon,
and died in 1944 in the Buchenwald camp. After
the war, his daughter Ingrid discovered that the
Nazis had confiscated their furniture and
valuables but had left behind a single item: a
meticulously crafted wooden box adorned with a
Star of David and a seven-branched menorah,
containing a collection of 99 of the artist's
illustrations of biblical scenes.
The originals are on display at Yad Vashem.
The memorial recently decided to produce a
special series of 500 replicas, the first of
which was to be presented to Bush.
Debbie Deutsch-Berman, a Yad Vashem
employee whose grandfather was Deutsch's
brother, said she was proud that Bush would be
given her relative's artwork.
"These are not just his paintings, they are
his legacy, and the fact that they survived
shows that as much as our enemies tried to
destroy the ideas that these paintings embody,
they failed," she said.
Later Friday, Bush was to wrap up his
three-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian
territories with a visit to Christian holy sites
in Galilee before departing for Kuwait, the next
stop on his Mideast tour.
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