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The Allies had information about the Nazi plan to exterminate the Jews by 1942. Although confirmed reports of the mass murders of Jews had reached the US State Department in 1942, officials remained silent. Along with others in a position to know, many Allied leaders did not believe that Germany was systematically destroying Europe's Jews. The lack of public pressure made this possible. In April 1944, two young Jews, Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler, escaped from the camp and wrote a detailed report which was smuggled to the free world. It exhorted the Allies to bomb the camp. As early as June 1944, the United States had detailed information about the layout of Auschwitz from Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wexler [Mitchell Bard].

  • Dino Brugioni, "Auschwitz and Birkenau: Why the World War II Photo Interpreters Failed to Identify the Extermination Complex."
  • The American Experience : America and the Holocaust
  • David S. Wyman, The Abandonment of the Jews, (NY: Pantheon Books, 1984);
  • Martin Gilbert, Auschwitz and the Allies, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1981
  • Arthur Morse, While Six Million Died
  • Walter Laqueur The Terrible Secret
  • Lucy Dawidowicz, What is the Use of Jewish History?
  • The Bombing of Auschwitz: Should the Allies Have Attempted It? Edited by Michael J. Neufeld and Michael Berenbaum. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000,
  • James H. Kitchens III, “The Bombing of Auschwitz Reexamined,” The Journal of Military History (April 1994), pp. 233-66;
  • Richard H. Levy, “The Bombing of Auschwitz Revisited: A Critical Analysis,” in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, (Winter 1996), pp. 267-98
  • William D. Rubinstein, The Myth of Rescue, (London: Routledge, 1997), pp. 157-181;
  • Stuart G. Erdheim, “Could the Allies Have Bombed Auschwitz-Birkenau?” Holocaust and Genocide Studies, (Fall 1997), pp. 129-170;
  • Richard Breitman, “Allied Knowledge of Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1943-1944” in Verne E. Newton, ed., FDR and the Holocaust, (NY: St. Martin's Press, 1996).

Several prominent Holocaust historians have argued that that if the Allies had bombed the gas chambers at Auschwitz in 1944, the mass murder of Jews could have been halted. Although industrial areas near the camp were bombed, the gas chambers and the deportation railways never were. Bombing the camps at such long range would have been an extremely complex undertaking and that there is no real certainty that the desired result could have been obtained by such a raid. Other analysts, such as Joseph Robert White, James H. Kitchens III and Richard H. Levy, argue that the interplay of weather, intelligence, technology, military operations, and the enemy's response is so complex that simplistic "what if" scenarios are usually a historical dead end. Stuart Erdheim argues that if the Allies had seriously considered that death camp as a potential target, they would have found that bombing it was no more complicated from an operational standpoint than was bombing any of numerous other targets during the war.

In an analysis prepared in 1979, [The Holocaust Revisited: A Retrospective Analysis of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Extermination Complex], CIA photo-interpreters Dino A. Brugioni and Robert G. Poirer considered the available imagery that could have supported the refugees reports of the Holocaust, and supported direct military action against the camps.

  • Robert G. Poirier, The Katyn Enigma: New Evidence in a 40-Year Riddle, Studies in Intelligence, Spring 1981
  • Stalin's Killing Field Benjamin B. Fischer
  • God's Eye: Aerial Photography and the Katyn Forest Massacre by Frank Fox
  • Katyn: An Interpretation of Aerial Photographs
  • "Katyn: an interpretation of aerial photographs considered with facts and documents." Waclaw Godziemba-Maliszewski, Polskie Towarzystwo Geograficzne, Klub Teledetekcji Srodowiska ul. Krakwskie Predmiescie 30, 00-927, Warszawa 1995 ISN 0071 8076 At US$60.00 including shipping within USA and US$68.00 incl. shipping internationaly, copies are available from: W Godziemba-Maliszewski, 94 Dodgingtown Road, Bethel CT 06801, USA.

Of all the crimes in World War II, the most puzzling has been the massacre known as "Katyn Forest." After the defeat of Polish forces at the hands of the Nazi and Soviet forces in the autumn of 1939, the Soviet side received a majority of the Polish army's officer corps. When Germany turned against its former ally, the Germans came across mass graves in the Katyn Forest. In 1943 the Germans exhumed around 4000 corpses, and made it public as irrefutable proof of Soviet barbarity. In 1944 Soviet authorities exhumed the bodies again and thereafter steadfastly maintained that the Germans had in fact committed the crime. Not until the fall of the Soviet Union did the new leaders of Russia acknowledge that in 1940 their government had ordered the murder of 27,000 Polish officers.

Aerial photographs were taken of the area during the Second World War by the German Air Force, and were later deposited in the US National Archives. In 1981 Robert G. Poirier carried out the first scientific interpretation of air photographs of the Katyn Forest. The imagery, selected from 17 sorties flown between 1941 and 1944 and spanning a period before, during, and after the German occupation of the Smolensk area, was important evidence. Among other things, it showed that the area where the mass graves were located had not been altered during the German occupation and that the same area displayed physical changes that predated the Germans' arrival. It also captured the NKVD on film bulldozing some of the Polish graves and removing bodies. Poirier concluded that the corpses of the murdered Polish Army officers have been probably moved out from Katyn Forest or secretly buried in another place. A young Polish-American photo-interpreter, Waclaw Godziemba-Maliszewski, was instrumental in the effort to locate the remains of the brave soldiers. It began when he came across a hoard of German aerial photographs at the National Archives and began to unravel one of the most closely guarded secrets of the Russian intelligence services -- the burial sites of the Polish officers.

The mid-July 1995 massacre of thousands of civilians in the Kasaba/Tartar region of Bosnia provides a potential exemplar of how emerging public intelligence capabilities might enable non-governmental organizations to alter the course of events. If a human rights organization had been in a position to obtain and publicize images of these killing fields, governments would have been forced to act in a more timely fashion, perhaps saving many lives.

David Rieff's book "Slaughterhouse" is the definitive explanation of a war that will be remembered as the greatest failure of Western diplomacy since the 1930s. In a shocking and deeply disturbing tour de force, David Rieff, reporting from the Bosnia war zone and from Western capitals and United Nations headquarters, indicts the West and the United Nations for standing by and doing nothing to stop the genocide of the Bosnian Muslims.

Tatar, 27 Jul 95

Tatar, 27 Jul 95

Kasaba, 27 Jul 95

Kasaba, 27 Jul 95

Kasaba/Konjevic Polje, Jul 95


10/29/95 New York Times The following article is by Stephen Engelberg and Tim Weiner with further reporting from Raymond Bonner in Bosnia and Jane Perlez in Serbia. Details intelligence failure in detecting and preventing Serbia atrocities,

A U.S. reconnaissance satellite photographed hundreds of Muslim men held in fields at gunpoint on July 13 - evidence of a crime in progress. But those riveting photos, and shots taken by a U-2 spy plane two weeks later of freshly turned earth in the same fields, were first shown to President Clinton's top advisers Aug. 4, long after the victims were dead and buried.

In hindsight, the officials say, their best information came from human rights groups, the United Nations and the press, not from spies, satellites or eavesdropping.

On July 13, as the press reported refugees' accounts of mass killings, an U.S. spy satellite passing over Bosnia recorded pictures of two fields in which hundreds of prisoners were guarded by gunmen.

But no one saw that picture for three weeks.

By Aug. 2, ``enough information had come to us that allowed us to hone in'' on the killing grounds, an intelligence official said. An analyst with the CIA's Balkans Task Force stayed up all night, looking through thousands of images, until he matched the men in the fields with the corresponding shot of freshly dug graves.

The pictures landed at the White House on Aug. 4. They were riveting. Here was evidence, Shattuck said later, of ``direct acts of genocide.'' Madeleine K. Albright, the chief U.S. delegate at the United Nations, successfully argued that they be made public.

On July 27, two weeks after the first published accounts of mass killings from survivors of the fall of Srebrenica, a U-2 spy plane passed over the sites of the slaughter and recorded images of newly turned earth. That film was shipped to Washington on a regular military flight July 30.

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