“A crucial and in many ways definitive contribution to the ongoing debate over whether the death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau should have been bombed and what such a venture, if undertaken, might have achieved. In assembling fifteen essays on the subject by leading scholars and dozens of official documents, the editors have furnished readers with ample material to help them reach an informed response to this issue.”
— Lawrence L. Langer
“The editors merit credit for approaching the subject in a broad spectrum of scholarly approaches...An unusually well-selected section of documents.”
— Dennis Showalter
“An excellent study, objectively edited, with all points of view represented eloquently and substantively by major scholars on the subject. Significantly, the book contains important documents essential to any fair-minded discussion of the issue...The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum...has been central to the development of the issue and its discussion.”
— William vanden Heuvel, Forward
“Neufeld and Berenbaum do what they set out to do effectively...specialist, graduate students and non-professional interested in the debate and willing to read carefully will find the book rewards their effort.”
— Kelly McFall, H-Net (H-War)
“The essays here are all excellent.”
— Matthew Berke, The Weekly Standard
Could the Allies have destroyed the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944, saving the lives of tens of thousands of Holocaust victims? Could the Allied forces have cut the railway lines leading to Auschwitz, disrupting the transportation of Hungarian Jews to their deaths? Or are these questions just speculative exercises in “what if” history, reflecting mostly our concerns, not those of 1944? For years, these questions have been debated heatedly by historians, ethicists, and military experts (though seldom in the same forum).
Inspired by a conference held to mark the opening of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, The Bombing of Auschwitz: Should the Allies Have Attempted It? brings together the key contributions to this debate, with new and original articles by eminent historians of World War II and the Holocaust, and a selection of the most important documents and aerial reconnaissance photos from 1944.
Among the issues discussed are these: How much knowledge of Auschwitz did Allied intelligence agencies have? What British and American aircraft might have been used to carry out attacks against the gas chambers and rail lines, and when would they have come within range? Would bombing missions have had a reasonable chance of success? Would even a successful mission have been a diversion of military forces at a crucial juncture of the war? What about our Soviet ally? Why were the appeals of Jewish groups rejected in 1944?
Published in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and jointly edited by an aerospace historian and a historian of the Holocaust, this book provides a balanced and comprehensive guide to these and other questions, allowing readers to draw their own conclusions. Stimulating and easy to read, this book will become an invaluable reference source for general readers, scholars, and students alike. From the book jacket.
“A striking new contribution to the historically important and morally pressing debate concerning the Allies’ failure to bomb Auschwitz...Significant documents; cogently argued and persuasive contributions by Holocaust and military historians...An essential introduction, a comprehensive overview.”
— Robert Jan van Pelt, co-author of Auschwitz, 1270 to the Present
“In essays by fifteen World War II and Holocaust historians all sides of the debate are presented...an absorbing collection.”
— George Cohen
“Editors Neufeld...and Berenbaum...have assembled a myriad of replies to one of the most basic questions that students of the Holocaust ask and are faithful to their goal of presenting all sides of the debate...The definitive resource for understanding this deeply troubling episode in the 20th century’s greatest horror.”
— Kirkus Reviews
Selected by History Book Club
Michael J. Neufeld is curator and historian at the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Michael Berenbaum is an independent consultant working on the historical content of films and the conceptual development of museums. He is the former president and CEO of the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation and served as director of the Research Institute of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Dr. Berenbaum is also adjunct professor of theology at the University of Judaism.