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Old 01-17-2020, 01:39 PM
 
Location: NOVA
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Six million Jews died in the Holocaust. Five million others perished under the Nazi regime. When facing such an abhorrent figure historians have long argued– could we have done more? Should we have done more?


https://www.historynet.com/should-th...al-history.htm
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Old 01-17-2020, 03:29 PM
 
12,796 posts, read 19,025,440 times
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I seem to remember this as a topic in this forum before regarding bombing of train tracks leading to Auschwitz, the general consensus I think was that train tracks are too easy to repair - literally a one day job using the prisoners for slave labor. The problem with bombing the camp itself as was explained in the article - our bombing technology at that time was not precise enough and would have resulted in us leveling the camp and taking out the very prisoners we were trying to protect, essentially doing the nazi's job for them (although there were subcamps as well).

And then of course, what about all the other concentration/extermination camps - Chełmno, Bełżec, Sobibór, Treblinka, Majdanek, Trostenets, etc.

Remember also, Auschwitz is in Poland. That would be Russia's theater of operations.

Last edited by Dd714; 01-17-2020 at 03:40 PM..
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Old 01-17-2020, 05:20 PM
 
Location: Roaring '20s
1,861 posts, read 479,017 times
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On precision bombing
My first thought was that while the camps could be eradicated, so too would the prisoners therein. The article acknowledges that. I had forgotten about the previously-discussed idea of bombing the tracks until someone mentioned it.

So imagine Auschwitz is laid waste. It's put out of action. So too are most of those being held there. There would be some survivors, but how do you suppose the SS would have dealt with them? I'm guessing they wouldn't even bother trying to transfer them - they'd have been shot, with bomb craters serving as mass graves.

And then what? The military announces that we've put a death camp out of action but everyone being held there is now dead - oh, and by the way, 10% of the aircrews flying the missions are now KIA/MIA/POW. How do you think that will go over?

On the nature of World War II
The romantic revisionism of the war is that it was fought to free nations. It wasn't. In the European theater, it was fought to defeat Nazi Germany because the Third Reich insisted on invading... well, pretty much every country within reach unless they were really inconvenient to invade (ex: Switzerland) or was happy to play along (ex: Italy). Bombing a death camp wouldn't have furthered that end.

Of course, a Polish Jew was no less worthy of life and liberty than any American or Brit. But that wasn't the calculus, and it isn't even the calculus now. Nations are and were more interested in the fates of their own than in the fates of those of other countries. It seems an unlikely expenditure of limited resources to be made at that time. The goal of the war wasn't to free Jews and give people democracy - those just happened to be nice fringe benefits (in some cases) of rolling back the Nazis.

This question reminds me in some respects of others pertaining to the war:
Shouldn't we have intervened sooner?
Shouldn't we have gone to war to liberate eastern Europe from the Soviets?

And other questions not often asked but which still are predicated on the same sort of utilitarian thinking:
Shouldn't we have freed Spain from its fascist dictator? (maybe Portugal, too)
Why didn't we ensure that liberated South Korea was democratized as with Japan?

[I'm not asking those questions - I'm just noting that they're similar]

On the way Jews and Poles were perceived
In the 1940s, there was a lot more of the sentiment of 'otherness' in the perception of Jews. We still see it today - it was a lot stronger then. Also, there was less of a cultural connection with eastern Europeaners. Had there been a death camp in, say, France, that was engaged in the assembly-line extermination of French Jews then I think that would have been a somewhat different story. They would have still been Jews and all that entails for the anti-Semitism of the time, but there were a lot more Anglo/U.S.-French cultural links than Anglos/Americans and Poles. Just like humans tend to care more about 'their own' in regards to nationality, so too is that a thing with regards to ethnicity.

Of course, this all speaks not to 'should we have' but 'why we didn't'. Still, this is one of those cases perhaps of trying to place modern moral standards on figures of the past. Should we have done so in a moral sense? Sure, in the same way that we should have intervened in Uganda in the 1990s in a moral sense. But even today, we do not intervene in many cases where we have the capacity to end death and suffering.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dd714 View Post
And then of course, what about all the other concentration/extermination camps - Chełmno, Bełżec, Sobibór, Treblinka, Majdanek, Trostenets, etc.
I suppose Auschwitz gets all the attention because of the scale - more were killed there than elsewhere.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dd714 View Post
Remember also, Auschwitz is in Poland. That would be Russia's theater of operations.
This occurred to me, too. Then I remembered Ploesti, so I did some digging. Turns out the western Allies were quite active in bombing Romania, which was definitely on the Soviet's turf, so to speak. But then, perhaps such operations were ironed out with Stalin, whereas it was understood that Poland was off-limits. I don't know. But I am unaware of the western Allies undertaking bombing campaigns there.
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Old 01-17-2020, 06:46 PM
 
Location: San Diego CA
5,748 posts, read 3,766,028 times
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The short answer is that no one especially those in positions of power really cared what happened to the Jews. You realize that several years after the war and the newsreels of dead bodies piled up in the camps Jews in America couldn't even book a hotel room because of their last names or buy a home in certain neighborhoods.
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Old 01-17-2020, 07:51 PM
 
15,931 posts, read 14,307,305 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2x3x29x41 View Post
On precision bombing
My first thought was that while the camps could be eradicated, so too would the prisoners therein. The article acknowledges that. I had forgotten about the previously-discussed idea of bombing the tracks until someone mentioned it.

So imagine Auschwitz is laid waste. It's put out of action. So too are most of those being held there. There would be some survivors, but how do you suppose the SS would have dealt with them? I'm guessing they wouldn't even bother trying to transfer them - they'd have been shot, with bomb craters serving as mass graves.

And then what? The military announces that we've put a death camp out of action but everyone being held there is now dead - oh, and by the way, 10% of the aircrews flying the missions are now KIA/MIA/POW. How do you think that will go over?

On the nature of World War II
The romantic revisionism of the war is that it was fought to free nations. It wasn't. In the European theater, it was fought to defeat Nazi Germany because the Third Reich insisted on invading... well, pretty much every country within reach unless they were really inconvenient to invade (ex: Switzerland) or was happy to play along (ex: Italy). Bombing a death camp wouldn't have furthered that end.

Of course, a Polish Jew was no less worthy of life and liberty than any American or Brit. But that wasn't the calculus, and it isn't even the calculus now. Nations are and were more interested in the fates of their own than in the fates of those of other countries. It seems an unlikely expenditure of limited resources to be made at that time. The goal of the war wasn't to free Jews and give people democracy - those just happened to be nice fringe benefits (in some cases) of rolling back the Nazis.

This question reminds me in some respects of others pertaining to the war:
Shouldn't we have intervened sooner?
Shouldn't we have gone to war to liberate eastern Europe from the Soviets?

And other questions not often asked but which still are predicated on the same sort of utilitarian thinking:
Shouldn't we have freed Spain from its fascist dictator? (maybe Portugal, too)
Why didn't we ensure that liberated South Korea was democratized as with Japan?

[I'm not asking those questions - I'm just noting that they're similar]

On the way Jews and Poles were perceived
In the 1940s, there was a lot more of the sentiment of 'otherness' in the perception of Jews. We still see it today - it was a lot stronger then. Also, there was less of a cultural connection with eastern Europeaners. Had there been a death camp in, say, France, that was engaged in the assembly-line extermination of French Jews then I think that would have been a somewhat different story. They would have still been Jews and all that entails for the anti-Semitism of the time, but there were a lot more Anglo/U.S.-French cultural links than Anglos/Americans and Poles. Just like humans tend to care more about 'their own' in regards to nationality, so too is that a thing with regards to ethnicity.

Of course, this all speaks not to 'should we have' but 'why we didn't'. Still, this is one of those cases perhaps of trying to place modern moral standards on figures of the past. Should we have done so in a moral sense? Sure, in the same way that we should have intervened in Uganda in the 1990s in a moral sense. But even today, we do not intervene in many cases where we have the capacity to end death and suffering.



I suppose Auschwitz gets all the attention because of the scale - more were killed there than elsewhere.

This occurred to me, too. Then I remembered Ploesti, so I did some digging. Turns out the western Allies were quite active in bombing Romania, which was definitely on the Soviet's turf, so to speak. But then, perhaps such operations were ironed out with Stalin, whereas it was understood that Poland was off-limits. I don't know. But I am unaware of the western Allies undertaking bombing campaigns there.

Thank you.
This is the reminder to Eastern Europeans that the prime reason why they ended up in the "Russian domain" was NOT because Russians "tore them away from the West," but because the West didn't have any particular affinity with them to begin with.
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Old 01-17-2020, 07:54 PM
 
15,931 posts, read 14,307,305 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msgsing View Post
The short answer is that no one especially those in positions of power really cared what happened to the Jews. You realize that several years after the war and the newsreels of dead bodies piled up in the camps Jews in America couldn't even book a hotel room because of their last names or buy a home in certain neighborhoods.

Correct again.
And even when the state of Israel was reborn in 1948, the US were not in hurry to recognize it.
It was Russia that initially supported it, with Stalin being a "midwife" at its birth. ( As strange as it might sound now.)
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Old 01-17-2020, 08:41 PM
 
20,504 posts, read 8,145,659 times
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We should have bombed the tracks. Done well, meaning over a long distance with many bombs hitting it, it would have taken a long time to fix. For one thing, grading many sections of track would have made repairs a lengthy endeavor. Plus, it would not have been hard to hit many such tracks to many camps during the course of hitting nearby targets.

Bombing the camp would be a tricky call. It would save lives on a net basis. The turns of killing the population were HUGE. Estimates have indicated 400k could live there, and the camp killed 5-10x that. So lets say it was done before the camp had killed the last 2 mill, lets say 1/2 the 400k die in a raid. 200k killed, 2 million saved. Same kind of discussion Hiroshima bomb stirred.

But the collateral damage would be killing a large chunk of the current population.
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Old 01-17-2020, 10:49 PM
 
Location: Howard County, Maryland
6,233 posts, read 3,988,424 times
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Bombing the tracks -- or, more to the point, the marshalling yards -- would have not only disrupted the flow into the camps, but would have also hampered the ability of the Nazis to use the railroads to move soldiers and supplies around the Reich. I know that rail facilities were sometimes targeted, but a broader campaign against them would have advanced our war aims as well as helped preserve civilian lives.

As for bombing the camps themselves, the argument that I would use is that, while you'd be consigning the current inmates to death, you might be saving others who couldn't be sent to a camp that lay in ruins. Given the industrial scale of the killing apparatus, I would surmise that you'd save more lives in the long run than you'd lose. However, Americans tended to shy away from deliberately targeting civilians, at least prior to the bombing campaign against Japan. I'm not sure if public opinion would have allowed the targeting of the camps.
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Old 01-18-2020, 06:09 AM
 
Location: Roaring '20s
1,861 posts, read 479,017 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erasure View Post
Thank you.

This is the reminder to Eastern Europeans that the prime reason why they ended up in the "Russian domain" was NOT because Russians "tore them away from the West," but because the West didn't have any particular affinity with them to begin with.
If you got that out of my post, I'd suggest you have someone read what I wrote and then explain it to you.

The interest of the western Allies in seeing eastern Europe free was nowhere close to being commensurate with the cost of prying it out of Stalin's clutches. That only explains why they did not expend blood and treasure trying to do so. But make no mistake about it: the reason eastern Europe was subjugated under the totalitarian thumb of the Soviets was -- surprise, surprise! -- because of Soviet aggression and malice. Period. That was the cause. By definition. A third-party declining to intervene is not the cause. By definition.

In short, there is nothing in my post that mitigates Soviet culpability in turning the states of eastern Europe into its own puppet dictatorships existing for no purpose other than the service of Moscow. Don't try and drag me into your pro-USSR fluffery.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bus man View Post
Bombing the tracks -- or, more to the point, the marshalling yards -- would have not only disrupted the flow into the camps, but would have also hampered the ability of the Nazis to use the railroads to move soldiers and supplies around the Reich. I know that rail facilities were sometimes targeted, but a broader campaign against them would have advanced our war aims as well as helped preserve civilian lives.
Some points:

One, there wasn't much in the way of marshaling yards at Auschwitz. The camp had rail lines running to Krakow, Ketowice, and Prague. There was a spur to administrative headquarters, and another to Auschwitz II with a very small switching yard - nothing remotely on the scale of the great marshaling yards in Germany and France that the Allies targeted with area bombing. These were very small targets.

Two, rail transport was systematically targeted. But these operations tended to be massive raids on major hubs (ex: on April 22, 1944, 800+ bombers escorted by 800+ fighters hit the yards at Hamm) or tactical hits by ground-attack aircraft on individual lines. Auschwitz was not a hub of any significance. I have no doubt that hitting its rail lines would have had some military effect - but probably nowhere near equal to the cost of the mission, and that was the controlling factor.
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Old 01-18-2020, 06:52 AM
 
8,127 posts, read 12,007,377 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pruzhany View Post
Six million Jews died in the Holocaust. Five million others perished under the Nazi regime. When facing such an abhorrent figure historians have long argued– could we have done more? Should we have done more?


https://www.historynet.com/should-th...al-history.htm
I just had someone tell me that Putin was worse than Stalin. 10s of thousand books and movies about the Nazi's. Stalin starved 6 million Ukranians to death and sent 20 or more million to the camps. IDK, should we have done more?
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