JF Ptak Science Books LLC Post 697 Blog Bookstore
“It may perhaps seem strange, that I treat as often in my works of the same matter…the contempt of the world, and the meditations of Death: but if the importance of the subject be considered, and the profit to be derived thence, a Man will never be wearie of seeing such faire truths under different presentations.”
Jean Puget de la Serre, The Mirrour Which Flatters Not, 1639.
Following up on yesterday’s post on lethal number
I’d like to focus on self-deception, the welcoming of not
knowing something, of not wanting to know, of stopping: of doing nothing in the face of something needing to be done.
The destruction of the Jewish people during World War II is a history with many
bearings, a complex of actions that seem to have been both elusively
unstoppable and eminently addressable. The psychology of why this
occurred is forensically comprehensible; the ultimate question, after
everything is said and done, is why the extermination was allowed to continue
for years on end. There is a considerable catalog of demons of nonactions and deceits
that I just can’t address now in a short post like this. Though I would like to
know why was it so difficult/impossible for the British government (and in
particular, Anthony Eden)
to allow Palestine
Henry Morgenthau (1891-1967), an old-line politician, was
secretary of the treasury under Roosevelt
Its title left nothing to question:
"Report to the Secretary on the Acquiescence of this Government in the Murder of the Jews”
“One of the greatest crimes in history, the slaughter of the
Jewish people in Europe, is continuing
"I am convinced on the basis of the information which is available to me that certain officials in our State Department, which is charged with carrying out this policy, have been guilty not only of gross procrastination and wilful failure to act, but even of wilful attempts to prevent action from being taken to rescue Jews from Hitler.
"I fully recognize the graveness of this statement and I make it only after having most carefully weighed the shocking facts which have come to my attention during the last several months.”
The full document is reproduced below.
It is a damning document outlining the power of doing nothing.
"Report to the Secretary on the Acquiescence of this Government in the Murder of the Jews”
One of the greatest crimes in history, the slaughter of the
Jewish people in Europe
This Government has for a long time maintained that its policy is to work out programs to serve those Jews of Europe who could be saved.
I am convinced on the basis of the information which is available to me that certain officials in our State Department, which is charged with carrying out this policy, have been guilty not only of gross procrastination and wilful failure to act, but even of wilful attempts to prevent action from being taken to rescue Jews from Hitler.
I fully recognize the graveness of this statement and I make it only after having most carefully weighed the shocking facts which have come to my attention during the last several months.
Unless remedial steps of a drastic nature are taken, and taken immediately, I am certain that no effective action will be taken by this government to prevent the complete extermination of the Jews in German controlled Europe, and that this Government will have to share for all time responsibility for this extermination.
The tragic history of the Government's handling of this matter reveals that certain State Department officials are guilty of the following:
(1) They have not only failed to use the Governmental machinery at their disposal to rescue Jews from Hitler, but have even gone so far as to use this Government machinery to prevent the rescue of these Jews.
(2) They have not only failed to cooperate with private organizations in the efforts of these organizations to work out individual programs of their own, but have taken steps designed to prevent these programs from being put into effect.
(3) They not only have failed to facilitate the obtaining of information concerning Hitler's plans to exterminate the Jews of Europe but in their official capacity have gone so far as to surreptitiously attempt to stop the obtaining of information concerning the murder of the Jewish population of Europe.
(4) The have tried to cover up their guilt by:
(a) concealment and misrepresentation;
(b) the giving of false and misleading explanations for their failures to act and their attempts to prevent action; and
(c) the issuance of false and misleading
statements concerning the "action" which they have taken to date. United
Although only part of the facts relating to the activities of the State Department in this field are available to us, sufficient facts have come to my attention from various sources during the last several months to fully support the conclusions at which I have arrived.
(1) State Department officials have not only failed to use the Governmental machinery at their disposal to rescue the Jews from Hitler, but have even gone so far as to use this Governmental machinery to prevent the rescue of these Jews.
The public record, let alone the facts which have not as yet been made pubic, reveals the gross procrastination and wilful failure to act of those officials actively representing this Government in this field.
(a) A long time has passed since it became clear that Hitler was determined to carry out a policy of exterminating the Jews in Europe
(b) Over a year has elapsed since this Government and other members of the United Nations publicly acknowledged and denounced this policy of extermination; and since the President gave assurances that the United States
(c) Despite the fact that time is most precious in this matter, State Department officials have been kicking the matter around for over a year without producing results; giving all sorts of excuses for delays upon delays; advancing no specific proposals designed to rescue Jews, at the same time proposing that the whole refugee problem be "explored" by this Government and Intergovernmental Committees. While the State Department has been thus "exploring" the whole refugee problem, without distinguishing between those who are in imminent danger of death and those who are not, hundreds of thousands of Jews have been allowed to perish.
As early as August 1942 a message form the Secretary of the World Jewish Congress in Switzerland
Thereupon, the Jewish organizations took the necessary steps to bring the shocking facts to the attention of the public through mass meetings, etc. and to elicit public support for governmental action. On December 17, 1942, a joint statement of the United States
Since the time when this government knew that the Jews were being murdered, our State Department has failed to take any positive steps reasonably calculated to save any of these people. Although State has used the device of setting up intergovernmental organizations to survey the whole refugee problem, and calling conferences such as the Bermuda Conference to explore the whole refugee problem, making it appear that positive action could be expected, in fact nothing has been accomplished.
Before the outcome of the Bermuda
"As yet we have had no report from the Bermuda Refugee Conference. With the best good will in the world and with all latitude that could and should be accorded to diplomatic negotiations in time of war, I may be permitted to voice the bitter suspicion that the absence of a report indicates only one thing--the lack of action.
"Probably in all 5703 years, Jews have hardly had a time as tragic and hopeless as the one which they are undergoing now. One of the most tragic factors about the situation is that while singled out for suffering and martyrdom by their enemies, they seem to have been forgotten by the nations which claim to fight for the cause of humanity. WE should remember the Jewish slaughterhouse of Europe
"*** Perhaps it would be necessary to introduce a formal resolution or to ask the Secretary of State t report to an appropriate congressional committee on the steps being taken in this connection. Normally it would have been the job of the Government to show itself alert to this tragedy; but when a government neglects a duty it is the job of the legislature in a democracy to remind it of that duty. *** It is not important who voices a call for action, and it is not important what procedure is being used in order to get action. It is important that action be undertaken."
Similar fears were voiced be Representatives Cellar, Dickstein, and Klein. Senator Wagner and Representative Sadowski also issued calls for action.
The widespread fears concerning the failure of the Bermuda Conference were fully confirmed when Breckinridge Long finally revealed some of the things that had happened at that Conference in his statement before the Committee of Foreign Affairs of the House on November 26, 1942.
After Long's "disclosure" Representative Cellar stated in the House on December 20, 1943:
"He discloses some of the things that happened at the so called Bermuda Conference. He thought he was telling us something heretofore unknown and secret. What happened at the Bermuda Conference could not be kept executive. All the recommendations and findings of the Bermuda Conference were made known to the Intergovernmental Committee of Refugees in 938 and which has been functioning all this time in London
One of the best summaries of the whole situation is contained in one sentence of a report submitted on December 20, 1943, by the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, recommending the passage of a Resolution (S.R. 203) favoring the appointment of a commission to formulate plans to save the Jews of Europe from extinction by Nazi Germany. The Committee stated:
"We have talked; we have sympathized; we have expressed our horror; the time to act is long past due."
The Senate Resolution had been introduced be Senator Guy M. Gillettte in behalf of himself and eleven colleagues, Senators Taft, Thomas, Radcliffe, Murray, Johnson, Guffey, Ferguson
The House Resolutions (H.R.'s 350 and 352), identical with the Senate Resolution, were introduced by Representatives Baldwin and Rogers.
The most glaring example of the use of the machinery of this Government to actually prevent the rescue of Jews is the administrative restrictions which have been placed upon the granting of visas to the United States
"Since the entry of the United States into the war there have been no new restrictions placed by the Government of the United States upon the number of aliens of any nationality permitted to proceed to this country under existing laws, except for the more intensive examination of aliens required for security reasons."
The exception "for security reason" mentioned in this note is the joker. Under the pretext of security reasons so many difficulties have been placed in the way of refugees obtaining visas that it is no wonder that the admission of refugees to this country does not come anywhere near the quote, despite Long's statement designed to create the impression to the contrary. The following administrative restrictions which have been applied to the issuance of visas since the beginning of the war are typical.
(a) Many applications for visas have been denied on the grounds that the applications have close relatives in Axis controlled Europe
(b) Another restriction greatly increases the red tape and delay involved in getting the visa and requires among other things two affidavits of support and sponsorship to be furnished with each application for a visa. To each affidavit of support and sponsorship there must be attached two letters of reference from two reputable American citizens.
If anyone were to attempt to work out a set of restrictions specifically designed to prevent Jewish refugees from entering this country it is difficult to conceive of how more effective restrictions could have been imposed than have already been imposed on grounds of "security".
It is obvious of course that these restrictions are not essential for security reasons. Thus refugees upon arriving in this country could be placed in internment camps similar to those used for the Japanese on the West Coast and released only after a satisfactory investigation. Furthermore, even if we took these refugees and treated then as prisoners of war it would be better than letting them die.
Representative Dickstein stated in the House on December 15:
"If we consider the fact that the average admission would then be at the rate of less than 50,000 per year, it is clear that the organs of our Government have not done their duty. The existing quotas call for the admission of more than 150,000 every year, so that if the quotas themselves had been filled there would have been a total of one-half million and not 500,000 during the period mentioned.
"But that is not the whole story. There was no effect of any kind made to save from death many of the refugees who could have been saved during the rime that transportation lines were available and there was no obstacle to their admission to the United States
Representative Celler stated in the House on June 30:
"Mr. Speaker, nations have declared war on Germany, and their high-ranking officials have issued pious protestations against the Nazi massacre of Jewish victims, but not one of these countries thus far has said they would be willing to accept these refugees either permanently or as visitors, or any of the minority peoples trying to escape the Hitler prison and slaughterhouse.
"Goebbels says: 'The United Nations won't take any Jews. We don't want them. Let's kill them.' And so he and Hitler are marking Europe Judentun.
"Without any change in our immigration statutes we could receive a reasonable number of those who are fortunate enough to escape the Nazi hellhole, receive them as visitors, the immigration quotas notwithstanding. They could be placed in camps or cantonments and held there in such havens until after the war. Private charitable agencies would be willing to pay the entire cost thereof. They would be no expense to the Government whatsoever. These agencies would even pay for transportation by ships to and from this country.
"We house and maintain Nazi prisoners, many of them undoubtedly responsible for Nazi atrocities. We should do no less for the victims of the rage of the Huns."
Again, on December 20, he stated:
"According to Earl G. Harrison, Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, not since 1862 have there been fewer aliens entering the country.
"Frankly, Breckinridge Long, in my humble opinion, is least sympathetic to refugees in all the State Department. I attribute to him the tragic bottleneck in the granting of visas.
"The Interdepartmental Review Committees which review the applications for visas are composed of one official, respectively, from each of the following Departments: War, Navy, F.B.I.State
"I brought this difficulty to the attention of the President. He asked Long to investigate at once. No, there has been no change in conditions. The gruesome bottleneck still exists."
(2) State Department officials have not only failed to cooperate with private organizations in the efforts of these organizations to work out individuals programs of their own, but have taken steps designed to prevent these programs from behind out into effect.
The best evidence in support of this charge are the facts relating to the proposal of the World Jewish Congress to evacuate thousands of Jews from Rumania
(a) On March 13, 1942, a cable was received from the World Jewish Congress representatives in London stating that information reaching London indicated the possibility of rescuing Jews provided funds were put at the disposal of the world Jewish Congress representation in Switzerland.
(b) On April 10, 1943, Sumner Welles cabled our Legation in Bern
(c) On April 20, 1943, a cable was received from Bern
(d) On May 25, 1943, State Department cabled for a clarification of these proposed financial arrangements. This matter was not called to the attention of the Treasury Department at this time.
(e) This whole question of financing the evacuation of the Jews from Rumania
(f) A conference was held with the State Department relating to this matter on July 15, 1943.
(g) One day after this conference, on July 16, 1943, the Treasury Department advised the State Department that it was prepared to issue in this matter.
(h) The license was not issued until December 13, 1943.
During this five months period between the time that the Treasury stated that it was prepared to issue a license and the time when the license was actually issued delays and objections of all sorts were forthcoming from officials in the State Department, our Legation in Bern
Breckinridge Long knew that his position was so indefensible that he was unwilling to even try to defend it at your pending conference with Secretary Hull on December 20. Accordingly, he took such action as he felt was necessary to "cover up" his previous position in this matter. It is, of course, clear that if we had not made the record against the State Department followed by your request to see Secretary Hull, the action which the State Department officials took on December [ill.] could either never have been taken at all or would have been delayed so long that any benefits which it might have had would have been lost.
(3) State Department officials not only have failed to facilitate the obtaining of in formation concerning Hitler's plans to exterminate the Jews of Europe but in their official capacity have gone so far as to surreptitiously attempt to stop the obtaining of information concerning the murder fo the Jewish population in Europe.
The evidence supporting this conclusion is so shocking and so tragic that it is difficult to believe.
The facts are as follows:
(2) Sumner Welles as Acting Secretary of State requests confirmation of Hitler's plan to exterminate the Jews. Having already received various reports on the plight of the Jews, on October 5, 1942, Sumner Welles as Acting Secretary of State sent a cable (2314) for the personal attention of Minister Harrison in Bern stating that leaders of the Jewish Congress had received reports from their representatives in Geneva and London to the effect that many thousands of Jews in Eastern Europe were being slaughtered pursuant to a policy embarked upon by the German Government for the complete extermination of the Jews in Europe. Welles added that he was trying to obtain further information from the Vatican
(b) State Department receives confirmation and shocking evidence that the extermination was being rapidly and effectively carried out. Pursuant to Welles' cable of October 5 Minister Harrison forwarded documents from Riegner confirming the fact of extermination of the Jews (in November 1942), and in a cable of January 21, 1942 (482) relayed a message from Riegner and Lichteim which Harrison stated was for the information of the Under Secretary of State (and was to be transmitted to Rabbi Stephen Wise if the Under Secretary should so determine). This message described a horrible situation concerning the plight of Jews in Europe
(c) Sumner Welles furnishes this information to the Jewish organizations. Sumner Welles furnished the documents received in November to the Jewish organizations in the United States
Immediately upon the receipt of this message, the Jewish organizations arranged for a public mass meeting in MadisonSquareGarden
(d) Certain State Department officials surreptitiously attempt to stop this Government from obtaining further information from the very source from which the above evidence was received. On February 10, the day after Welles forwarded the message contained in cable 482 of January 21 to Rabbi Wise, and in direct response to this cable, a most highly significant cable was dispatched. This cable, 354 of February 10, read as follows:
"Your 482, January
"In the future we would suggest that you do not accept reports submitted to you to be transmitted to private persons in the United States unless such action is advisable because of extraordinary circumstances. Such private messages circumvent neutral countries' censorship and it is felt that by sending them we risk the possibility that steps would necessarily be taken by the neutral countries to curtail of forbid our means of communication for confidential official matter.
Although this cable on its face is most innocent and innocuous, when read together with the previous cables, I am forced to conclude it is nothing less than an attempted suppression of information requested by this Government concerning the murder of Jews by Hitler.
Although this cable was signed for Hull
I have been informed that the initialed file copy of the cable bears the initials of Atherton and Dunn as well as of Durbrow and Hickerson.
(c) Thereafter Sumner Welles again requested our Legation on April 10, 1943 (cable 877) for information, apparently not realizing that in cable 354 (to which he did not refer) Harrison
The fact that cable 354 is not the innocent and routine cable that it appears to be on its face is further highlighted by the efforts of State Department officials to prevent this Department from obtaining the cable and learning its true significance.
The facts relating to this attempted concealment are as follows:
(i) Several men in our Department had requested States Department officials for a copy of the cable of February 10 (354). We had been advised that it was a Department communication; a strictly political communication, which had nothing to do with economic matters; that it had only had a very limited distribution within the Department, the only ones having anything to do with it being the European Division, the Political Advisor and Sumner Welles; and that a copy could not be furnished to the Treasury.
(ii) At the conference in Secretary Hull's
office on December 20 in the presence of Breckinridge Long you asked Secretary
Hull for a copy of cable 354, which you were told would be furnished to you.
(iii) By note to you of December 30, Breckinridge Long enclosed a paraphrase of able 354. This paraphrase of cable 354 specifically omitted any reference to cable 482 of January 21--thus destroying the only tangible clue to the true meaning of the message.
(iv) You would never have learned the true meaning of cable 354 had it not been for the fact that one of the men in my office whom I had asked to obtain al the facts on this matter for me had previously called one of the men in another Division of the State Department and requested permission to see the cable. In view of the Treasury interest in this matter this State Department representative obtained cable 354 and the cable of January 21 to which it referred and showed these cables to my man.
(4) The State Department officials have tried to cover up their guilt by:
(a) concealment and misrepresentation
In addition to concealing the true facts from and misrepresenting these facts to the public, State Department officials have even attempted concealment and misrepresentation within the government. The most striking example of this is the above mentioned action taken by State Department officials to prevent this Department from obtaining a copy of cable 354 of February 10 (which stopped the obtaining of information concerning the murder of Jews); and the fact that after you had requested a copy of this cable, State Department officials forwarded the cable to us with its most significant part omitted, thus destroying the whole meaning of the cable.
(b) the giving of false and misleading explanations for their failures to act and their attempts to prevent action.
The outstanding explanation of a false and misleading nature which the State Department officials have given for their failures to work out programs to rescue Jews, and their attempts to prevent action, are the following:
(i) The nice sounding but vicious theory that the whole refugee problem must be explored and consideration given to working out programs for the relief of all refugees--thus failing to distinguish between those refugees whose lives are in imminent danger and those whose lives are not in imminent danger.
(ii) The argument that various proposals cannot be acted upon promptly by this Government but must be submitted to the Executive Committee of the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees. This Committee has taken no effective action to actually evacuate refugees from enemy territory and it is at least open to doubt whether it has the necessary authority to deal with the matter.
(iii) The argument that the extreme restrictions which the State Department has placed on the granting of visas to refugees is necessary for "security reason." The falsity of this argument has already been dealt with in this memorandum.
The false and misleading explanations which the State Department officials gave for delaying for over six months the program of the World Jewish Congress for the evacuation of thousands of Jews from Rumania
In this particular case, the State Department officials attempted to argue that the relief plan might benefit the enemy by facilitating the acquisition of funds by the enemy. In addition to the fact that this contention had no merit whatsoever by virtue of the conditions under which the local funds were to be acquired, it is significant that this consideration had not been regarded as controlling in the past by the State Department officials, even where no such conditions had been imposed.
Thus, in cases involving the purchase, by branches of United States concerns in Switzerland, of substantial amounts of material in enemy territory, State Department officials have argued that in view of the generous credit supplied by the Swiss to the Germans "transactions of this type cannot be regarded as actually increasing the enemy's purchasing power in Switzerland which is already believed to beat a maximum". It is only when these State Department officials really desire to prevent a transaction that they advance economic warfare considerations as a bar.
(c) the issuance of false and misleading statements concerning the "action" which they have taken to date.
It is unnecessary to go beyond Long's testimony to find many examples of
misstatements . His general pious remarks concerning what this Government has
done for the Jews of Europe; his statement concerning the powers and functions
of the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees; his reference to the
"screening process" set up to insure wartime security, etc., have
already been publicly criticized as misrepresentations.
A statement which is typical of the way Long twists facts is his remarks concerning the plan of a Jewish agency to send money to Switzerland
The most patent instance of a false and misleading statement is that part of Breckinridge Long's testimony before the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House (November 26, 1943) relating to the admittance of refugees into this country. Thus, he stated:
"*** We have taken into this country since the beginning of the Hitler regime and the persecution of the Jews , until today, approximately 580,000 refugees. The whole thing has been under the quota, during the period of 10 years--all under the quota--except the generous gesture we made with visitors' and transit visas during an awful period."
Congressman Emanuel Celler in commenting upon Long's statement in the House on December 20, 1943, stated:
"***In the first place these 580,000 refugees were in the main ordinary quota immigrants coming in from all countries. The majority were not Jews. His statement drips with sympathy for the persecuted Jews, but the tears he sheds are crocodile. I would like to ask him how many Jews were admitted during the last 3 years in comparison with the number seeking entrance to preserve life and dignity. *** One gets the impression from Long's statement that the United States
"If men of the temperment and philosophy of Long continue in control of immigration administration, we may as well take down that plaque from the Statue of Liberty and bloack out the 'lamp beside the golden door.'"