The official response of the War Department and
of the armed forces to requests to bomb Auschwitz-Birkenau was based
upon policy, strategic and tactical decisions taken even before the
questions of bombing the camp arose in June 1944. Major General Thomas
Handy's memo reflects these earlier positions (see McNarney memo, Feb.
4, 1944) and laid down two of the principles that underlay the American
refusal to bomb Auschwitz: no diversion from the war effort and rescue
through victory. Doubts as to the technical feasibility of such bombings
were also part of the refusal to bomb.
Proposed Air Action to Impede Deportation of Hungarian
and Slovak Jews.
Reference is made to Civil Affairs Division disposition
form, subject as above, dated 23 June 1944, which forwarded to the Operations
Division for necessary action a paraphrase of a cable on the above subject.
The Operations Division, WDGS, recommends that the
Civil Affairs Division reply to Mr. Morgenthau, the Chairman of the
War Refugee Board, substantially as follows:
The War Department is of the opinion that the
suggested air operation is impracticable for the reason that it could
be executed only by diversion of considerable air support essential
to the success of our forces now engaged in decisive operations.
The War Department fully appreciated the humanitarian
importance of the suggested operation. However, after due consideration
of the problem, it is considered that the most effective relief to victims
of enemy persecution is the early defeat of the Axis, an undertaking
to which we must devote every resource at our disposal.
3. A copy of this D/F, with identical inclosure, has
been furnished CG, AAF and AC/S, G-2.
THOS. T. HANDY,
Assistant Chief of Staff.
1 Incl: Paraphrase of cable