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Monday, January 19, 2004

Oy, this is not a good thing

WWII archive photos put on the internet
The BBC reported that the more than five million aerial photographs taken by the RAF would go online Monday, that's today. According to the BBC article, "they were used by Allied commancers to help devise their strategy during the six-year conflict."

Why is this not a good thing? Well, go to the LGF posting on this, and you will see that Charles has two photos taken from the BBC story. They aren't there now. I don't know why; maybe I'm doing it wrong. But that's not the point.

The two photos were taken of the death camp at Auschwitz ONE YEAR before liberation.

This first photo shows at the upper left the plume of thick smoke from the crematorium, which was kept operating 24 hours a day:

This one shows a line of prisoners filing out of a barracks building for roll call:

What's not good is that it was seen so clearly, yet no Allied bombers hit the rail lines to Auschwitz. They came, they saw, they took pictures, they did nothing.

I am reminded of the story of the Jewish American soldier who was so excited to participate in the liberation of the camps. When one of the prisoners asked if he was Jewish, and he said yes, he was sure he was about to get a hug. Instead, he got slapped across the face and told, "You're too late."

Comment #25 from "observer" on the LGF thread:
Churchill, at time these photos were available, called the Holocaust "probably the greatest and most horrible single crime ever committed in the whole history of the world." Except for a feasibility study he commissioned on bombing the RR lines, he did nothing, as did FDR. This has been known: Martin Gilbert: "Auschwitz and the Allies;" or Walter Laquer: "The Terrible Secret."

These photos pound the indifference into the brain and heart.
Another comment sends us to this beautifully conveyed conversation between Menachem Begin and Margaret Thatcher in 1979:
Abruptly, Begin turned to face Margaret Thatcher. "Madam Prime Minister," he said in a voice that brooked no indifference, "your foreign secretary dismisses my country's historic rights. He pooh-poohs our vital security needs. So, I shall tell you why the settlements are vital: because I speak of Eretz Yisrael, a land redeemed, not occupied; because without these settlements Israel could be at the mercy of a Palestinian state astride the commanding heights of Judea and Samaria. We would be living on borrowed time.

And," – his face went granite, like his eyes – "whenever we Jews are attacked we are always alone. Remember in 1944 how we came begging for our lives – begging at this very door?"

The British premier's brow creased in concentration, and she muttered pensively, "Nineteen-forty-four? Is that when you wanted us to bomb Auschwitz?"

"No, Madam, not Auschwitz. We asked you to bomb the railway lines leading to Auschwitz. In the summer of 1944 Eichmann was transporting a hundred thousand Hungarian Jews a week along those lines."

Thatcher cupped her chin in profound contemplation, "You know, Prime Minister," she said forthrightly after a momentary pause, "I have at times wondered what I would have done had I been here at Number 10 in those days. And I have to tell you in all candor, the policy of the Allies then was to destroy the Hitlerite war machine as speedily as possible. I would have agreed to nothing that would have detracted one iota from that goal. I would not have agreed to bomb those lines."

Menachem Begin went white. Clearly, the woman had not been briefed who this man was – a survivor of a Soviet gulag, a survivor of the Shoah, orphaned of virtually his whole family.

"But Madam, this was 1944," he said in a low voice reserved for dreaded things. "The Allies had all but won the war. You were sending a thousand bombers a night over Germany. What would it have taken to divert 70, 60, 50, aircraft to bomb those lines?"

"And what does this have to do with the settlements?" Thus Peter Carrington, barging in.

A livid Begin turned on him and snapped: "Lord Carrington, please have the goodness not to interrupt me when I am in the middle of a conversation with your prime minister. Do I have your permission to proceed?"

CARRINGTON WENT puce. The shocked silence was interrupted only when Mrs. Thatcher emitted a genteel cough. "Gentlemen," she said in a voice of uncommon informality, "I am not certain I understand why, but it is my impression that whenever the Holy Land comes up for discussion powerful emotions are stirred and tempers get frayed. It seems to me that we Britishers display a rather — how can I put it? — un-English passion on the matter."

The foreign secretary took off his spectacles, breathed on them, polished each lens in turn with a handkerchief from his top pocket of his Saville Row suit, seemed about to speak but didn't, and then changed his mind and did: "Quite right, Prime Minister," he said apologetically. "Somehow, your little country, Mr. Begin, evokes all sorts of high emotional fevers. Stirs up the blood, so to speak. Amazing!"

"Not really," said Begin, smiling in an unmirthful way, his composure regained. "The story of the Jewish people is very much a tale of survival against bouts of irrationality and hysteria. It occurs in every generation."

This was from an opinion piece in the Jerusalem Post November 25, 2003, called Menachem Begin's bag and baggage.

Like the other guy said, my brain and heart feel pretty pounded. That's it for me for this day.