Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Co-opting the Nazi death camps
Interesting topic in my class today. The liberation of the concentration camps. The Allied Armies 'discovered' them in Spring 1945. And used them for their own purposes. They, of course, were truly horrible but the Allied Armies used them to 'prove' the real reason why they had to go to war against perverted Nazi Germany. General Eisenhower ordered all military units not engaged to come to Germany to see them. Also senators and congressman. They forced the local German populace to come and look at the horrors in their own neighborhood. Which they denied any knowledge of.
This struck me as so disingenuous. They knew those concentration and camps were there and what happened in them. Jewish underground sources went to tremendous efforts and great danger to carry the news to the British and American authorities. And they did nothing, NOTHING. Roosevelt and his State department, refused to let in Jewish refugees, did not want to be seen as 'favoring' the Jews. Said they could not divert air power to bomb Auschwitz even though they bombed other targets not five miles away. The European Jews who risked their lives felt that, if the Americans knew, they would do something. But they didn't. Rescue trough victory. We just need to win the war.
And now the Allies take the moral high ground, putting the world right.
This image, my teacher said was the iconic image of the concentration camps. Margaret Bourke-White photo that was not published until 1960 in Life. I don't remember seeing it. We speculated that this picture was easier to take because these men were alive, clothed and standing. Not so grotesque.