Opinion – Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s Jewish Question – Social Europe – John Gelmini

Dr Alf is right to be troubled. There should be no attempt to conceal the past and the role of Poland, and for that matter Hungary and Lithuania, in the Holocaust. That said, the full context must be explored, including the roles of all participants.

In an earlier response to Dr Alf’s post about the Holocaust, I explained the culpability of the British and American governments, and thus Churchill and Roosevelt in their failure to order the bombing of the railway lines leading to the extermination camps and the crematoria.

There is more.

When my late Italian father was twenty-one, in 1944, and Italy had changed sides in the War, he was given a choice of working for the Germans or being sent to his certain death in a concentration camp. Sensibly, he chose the first option because it meant meals and a chance of survival. He was sent to Germany to clean up war damage and on his travels noticed mountains of human ash more than 35 feet high, suggesting that large numbers of additional people had been dispatched and then cremated so that who they were could never be established.

As the Allies were closing in, my father and his fellow Italian POWs, were assigned to burn everything in one particular camp, and then told by the German Commandant at that location to flee in the night because he had received instructions from the SS to shoot all the POWs in the morning.

Burning things in a location or locations was a way to reduce the enormity of what had happened to a total of six million Jews and one million gypsies, plus an unknown number of homosexuals, unemployed and the mentally ill.

How the ash, on which no plant will grow, was disposed of, where and by whom, is a different question which history has never answered.

My father, before he died in 1983, gave me another insight into the aftermath of one extermination camp being liberated, versus others that he had observed.

Of the Allies, the most effective and efficient at providing succour and relief to those concentration camp survivors who remained were not the Americans and the British but the Russians. As a result, more survivors actually lived as a result of the more swift action by the Russians than was the case with the British and American liberators who acted much more slowly.

Our accounts of World War II and the old black and white television series “The Valiant Years” tell us nothing about these events which is perhaps not surprising as victors in war always write the story.

John Gelmini

Opinion – Lessons on the Holocaust, From Warsaw’s No 35 Tram – Op Ed – NYT – John Gelmini

Dr Alf is right.

The Poles cannot whitewash their history vis-a-vis the Holocaust but neither can the British and American governments which deliberately failed to order the bombing of the railway lines leading to the extermination camps. Churchill, the wartime leader so lionised in British history, and Roosevelt were both responsible for this but very little is taught in either British or American schools about this policy.

My own father saw the policy in action, as a young conscript in the Italian Army, at the age of 20, in German occupied France. He rescued three cattle cars packed with Jewish people and led them to safety in French stone church. He knew enough German to get these people to run with him, whilst a Lancaster bomber circled overhead and then dropped its payload of 500 pound bombs on the station where SS guards and fierce dogs were waiting to escort the death train and the unfortunates in the cattle cars.

Dr Alf and others can look at the records of World War II and see that in six years not one set of railway lines to a concentration camp or extermination camp was ever bombed or mined or attacked, thus allowing six million Jews and one million gypsies to be gassed and killed preceding cremation.

John Gelmini