Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home

Eisenhower Discusses Atrocities at Press Conference

(June 18, 1945)

During a press conference at the Pentagon on June 18, 1945, General Dwight Eisenhower briefly discussed the concentration camps. When asked whether he thought that the publication of atrocity stories was useful, he replied:

I think I was largely responsible for it, so I must have thought it was useful. When I found the first camp like that I think I was never so angry in my life. The bestiality displayed there was not merely piled up bodies of people that had starved to death, but to follow out the road and see where they tried to evacuate them so they could still work, you could see where they sprawled on the road. You could go to their burial pits and see horrors that really I wouldn't even want to begin to describe. I think people ought to know about such things. It explains something of my attitude toward the German war criminal. I believe he must be punished, and I will hold out for that forever. I think it did good. I think the people at home ought to know what they are fighting for and the kind of person they are fighting. Yes, it did good.

When asked how widespread the atrocities were, Eisenhower said:

Is it something we have been trying desperately to find out, whether or not the German population as a whole knew about that. I can’t say. It does appear, from all the evidence we can find, that they were isolated areas and this one piece of evidence that the mayor being shown the thing and going home and hanging himself would indicate he didn’t know about it. On the other hand, what makes the story so thin with me is when we find these very high ranking Nazis denying knowledge of it. If they didn’t, they deliberately closed their eyes, that is all. As far as I’m concerned these people are just as guilty as anybody else – those high ranking Nazis – but I think it would be impossible to say, however, the German nation knew it as a whole. But a lot of them know it, because I told them to go out and give them a decent burial. We made a film an hour long and we have made many Germans look at it, and it is not pretty.

Press conference, June 18, 1945, Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Pre-Presidential Papers, Principal File, Box 156, Press Statements and Releases, 1944-46