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EASTERMAN ON HITLER’S MASSACRE

 OF THE JEWS: 1942

 

Alex Easterman, ‘An Anniversary the World Forgot’, Jewish Chronicle, 15 Dec., 1967.

 

‘Very few, whether Jews or non-Jews, will recall that, exactly 25 years ago, on December 17, 1942, an international event occurred as poignant as any in the long history of Jewish tragedy and suffering.

 

‘On that day a declaration by all the wartime Allied Governments and General de Gaulle’s French National Committee, was made public at the same hour in London, Washington and Moscow, announcing officially, for the first time, to an astounded and horrified world, that “the German authorities . . . are now carrying into effect Hitler’s oft-repeated intention to exterminate the Jewish people in Europe. . . .

 

‘“From all the occupied countries, Jews are being transported, in conditions of appalling horror and brutality, to Eastern Europe . . .” and “deliberately massacred in mass executions.” The Declaration concluded: “They [the Allied Governments and the French National Committee] reaffirm that those responsible for the crimes shall not escape retribution.”

. . .

 

‘In our agony and helplessness in 1942, when more than a million European Jews had already perished in the Nazi horror camps and gas chambers, we believed that the Allied Declaration meant that we had, at last, convinced the democratic world that Hitler’s threats to annihilate European Jewry were actually in process of fulfilment by a deliberately calculated plan of mass murder.

 

‘To obtain the Declaration had been no easy matter. Before the war, and until 1942, all our persistently repeated efforts to arouse Governments and world opinion to accept the reality of the Nazi aim to destroy the Jews as “The final solution of the Jewish problem” were received either with scepticism or incredulity. By Governments and press alike, Hitler’s design was regarded merely as one sample of the vituperative demagogy he employed in embroidering his well-worn antisemitic mania.

 

‘Wall of Silence

This remained the situation until June 29, 1942, when World Jewish Congress officials in London made a final desperate attempt to break through the wall of silence and indifference.

. . .

 

‘For the first time, the world press and radio told the terrible story of Nazi infamy and Jewish catastrophe. The free world was instantly horrified. Prelates, politicians, public men in all spheres and the press denounced the infamous bestialities of the pagan Nazi regime. But the Allied Governments maintained silence.

 

‘Two months later, in August 1942, World Jewish Congress leaders in London received from the Congress’s Geneva office authentic information, transmitted through diplomatic channels, that plans were being elaborated in Hitler’s headquarters for the complete annihilation of European Jewry by mass deportation, murder, gassing and burning to ashes in the incinerators of the Nazi concentration camps.

 

‘This terrifying news was instantly communicated to our colleagues in New York, headed by the late Dr. Stephen Wise and Dr. Nahum Goldmann. With other Jewish organisations in London and the United States, intensive diplomatic representations were undertaken, calling for an Allied denunciation of the Nazi perpetrators of this vast crime and governmental measures to save the surviving Jews.

 

‘The response was painfully, exasperatingly and disappointingly slow, particularly in Washington.

 

‘From the first, the British Government was understanding and sympathetic, but cautiously anxious to obtain independent confirmation of our information.

 

‘British Initiative

Eventually, the terrible facts were accepted, and the British took the initiative in proposing the Allied Declaration we had requested.

. . .

 

‘These are a few background facts relating to the all but forgotten Allied Declaration of 1942. . . . In the topsy-turviness of these times, when the Soviet Union sponsors and rearms the enemies of the Jewish state and tolerates the deprivations and frustrations of Jewish life in Russia, when the President of France indulges in a gratuitous and provocative anti-Jewish diatribe, and when a neo-Nazi political movement emerges in Germany, we must look back on that Declaration not only with sadness, but in anger.’

 

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