Treading on Their Blood

(March 18, 1942)


This editorial discussed a report in the Palestinian press in the middle of March 1942. It said, in effect, that Bernard Jacobson, representative of the Joint Distribution Committee in Hungary (who had returned to the United States) reported that Hungarian soldiers who had returned from the front — said that the Gestapo had murdered a quarter of a million Jews in the Ukraine, including some who had been banished there from Eastern Europe.


We have commented more than once in our newspaper about the lamentable practice of several newspapers in this country to inflate the evil tidings of murders of Jews, to overstate the number of casualties and killed, to encase their news items in black borders, to make the grim even grimmer, and to create a greater impression. For what purpose? Is the Jews distress not severe enough? Is enough Jewish blood not being shed everywhere that hyperbole and exaggeration must be added? Even when the sword is unsheathed and blood flows like water, one should have pity on every drop of blood and refrain from fomenting unnecessary anxiety. None of us wishes to argue consolingly, or to argue to others, that the Nazi murderers have not assailed, abused, and trampled on Jews. They have done so and are still doing so. However, the various irresponsible reporters are killing more Jews with their own hands. They accept every rumor, hunt for bad tidings and morbid statistics with fine-toothed combs, and serve up the results to the newspapers and the readers in a bloodcurdling way that literally “kills.” Surely some will say that we are being overly complacent, that we are closing our hearts and eyes to the event that has beset the bleak Jewish world in its death throes. If this or that report disabuses us of complacency, there is no reason to regret it. However, do those who spread reports about the killings and massacres of tens of thousands of Jews, a quarter of a million Jews, not notice that the public is not inclined to overexcitement about the facts and figures in these reports because of disbelief and exaggeration? For example, somebody tallied figures reported by “Hungarian soldiers who returned from the Russian front” and says that 240,000 Jews have been killed.... We know how to gauge the reliability of testimony from certain soldiers who have returned from the front and bragged about their mighty “feats”—in killing people, especially Jews. We also know that one must not add up figures reported by such “eyewitnesses.” One soldier reports that such-and-such number of Jews have been killed in this or that locality. Another soldier comes along and says that a different number were killed there, and a third reports yet another number.

These figures are taken down and turned into news reportage, the reporter cabling his mythical number. [...]. “Journalists”: don't be so quick to pour Jewish blood into your reporting! Will the reporters and journalists heed this?. Will they learn their lesson?.

Source: "Hatsofe" Newspaper (Palestine), March 18, 1942.


Source: Yad Vashem