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Tom Segev on the Holocaust_ 1944

 

Tom Segev, The Seventh Million (1993; Hill and Wang, New York; trans. from Hebrew by Haim Watzman), pp. 93, 94.

 

‘On May 19, 1944, a Jewish rescue envoy sent by the Nazis in Hungary landed at Istanbul airport in neutral Turkey. He carried a proposal that had been put together in a series of meetings with Adolf Eichmann and other German government representatives in in Budapest . . . . [T]he Germans proposed to leave a number of Jews alive, perhaps a million, but this time they demanded not money but ten thousand trucks and several hundred tons of commodities: coffee, tea, cocoa, and soap. Like the Europa Plan, this deal was also meant to lead to a separate peace between Himmler’s SS and the Western powers, without the knowledge, and perhaps only after the death, of Hitler and without the Soviets – perhaps even against them. This was the infamous Trucks-for-Blood proposal; within days, it was the subject of high-level diplomatic correspondence between Jerusalem, London, Washington, and Moscow. Within a few months it was leaked to the press, and then it died. . . . The American and British ambassadors in Moscow were ordered to report the proposal to the Russians, and the Kremlin, of course, opposed negotiating any separate peace with the Germans . . . . The United States and Britain were therefore left with no course but to ensure that, in the future, they would not be accused of having missed an opportunity to save what remained of the Jews. All parties – Jerusalem, Berlin, London, and Washington – seemed to be preparing alibis for the day of judgment after the war. The latter two pretended they were interersted in drawing out the negotiations with the Germans as long as possible. Yet . . . the Trucks-for-Blood deal, if carried through, would have meant a mass exodus of Jews to the West and raised the question of where they would go. No one knew what to do with a million Jews.’

 

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