Report: Golda Meir lobbied US to bomb Auschwitz

Research suggests that former PM tried to persuade Washington to carry out attack during World War II, but to no avail.

September 4, 2011 15:07
2 minute read.
Concentration camp tower

Auschwitz 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS)

What if the allies had bombed Auschwitz during World War II, saving the lives of countless Jews and non-Jews by taking the Nazi death camp out of operation? In the seven decades that have passed since WWII ended, that question has loomed large in the minds of many and spawned quite a few alternative histories.

Now a researcher has uncovered information that Golda Meir, a future prime minister, was among those involved in lobbying the US to launch an air strike on the camp where up to three million people, mostly Polish Jews, were systematically slaughtered.

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According to a report by Dr. Rafael Medoff of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, the US-born Zionist leader tried to persuade Washington to carry out an attack on Auschwitz in 1943, but to no avail.

“During the Holocaust, Jewish leaders in British Mandatory Palestine received detailed information about the mass murder of Europe’s Jews,” Medoff writes.

“Golda Meir, a leader of the powerful Histadrut labor union, forwarded the information to the union’s American representative, Israel Mereminski, and repeatedly pressed Mereminski to lobby the US government and others to respond more forcefully to the plight of European Jewry, including urging the bombing of Auschwitz.”

In recent years Medoff has written extensively about the Bergson Group, a cadre of Revisionist Zionists in the US whose aggressive lobbying tactics on behalf of European Jewry during WWII were largely rejected by mainstream Jewish leadership at the time.

The Harvard-educated scholar says the direct involvement of Meir – a prominent member of the Zionist establishment – in efforts to persuade the White House to bomb Auschwitz vindicates the Bergson Group and faults the softer approach adopted by US Jewry’s leadership at the time.

“For years, defenders of president Roosevelt’s response to the Holocaust have claimed that important Jewish leaders opposed bombing Auschwitz; but now we know that one of the most revered figures in modern Jewish history, Golda Meir, was among those who tried to bring about the bombing of the Nazi death camp,” Medoff argues.

During the war, US authorities repeatedly responded to requests by Jewish officials that its air force bomb Auschwitz by saying it was “impracticable” and that it would require “diversion of considerable air support essential to the success of our forces now engaged in decisive operations.”

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