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Auschwitz and the Allies Paperback – September 6, 2001

4.2 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"One cannot write too highly of Martin Gilbert's industry and literary abilities in making the world aware of the fullness of this hideous tale...A brilliant book" Spectator "Auschwitz is now a name of horror without parallel...Why did it remain relatively unknown for so long? Martin Gilbert has set out to explore this contradiction" Observer "A story that needs to be remembered. It is here told by a real historian...whose style is the more moving by being objective and controlled" -- Hugh Trevor-Roper The Times "An unforgettable contribution to the history of the last war" Jewish Chronicle

About the Author

Sir Martin Gilbert, CBE, PC, a lecturer and writer, and an honorary fellow of Merton College, Oxford, is one of Britain's most distinguished modern historians. He has published over eighty books, including several volumes on Winston Churchill and a number of major books on Jewish history.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Pimlico (September 6, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0712668063
  • ISBN-13: 978-0712668064
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,811,714 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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This book is in many ways two books -the first being how the British and Americans were duped into not realizing the true nature of "the deportations to the East." The second was their lack of real interest in saving what could have been saved of the Jews. When one reads the memorandums by such people as John J. McCloy and various faceless British Foreign Office officals you get the feeling that their greatest fear was what were they going to do "with all these Jews" who could be rescued. The old canard oft stated by Roosevelt apologists such as William D. Rubinstein who wrote "The Myth of Rescue" that the best way to help the Jews was to win the war as quickly as possible is proven false - Jews could be rescued if there was a will to rescue. them. The most heartrending section of all - dealing with the destruction of the Jews of Hungary is when you read all the excuses given for not bombing the gaschambers at Auschwitz is when you see the actual aerial photographs of Birkenau and people being led to the gas chambers. The allies always claimed that it was logistically impossible to bomb Auschwitz-Birkenau and we now kmow that was a damnable lie. Also the real heroes we learn are of all people - Treasury Department Officials and two escaped Auschwitz prisoners who brought to the world the horrors of Auschwitz and fought the crypt Anti-Semites who were not doing all they could for rescue.
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This is an excellent study by Sir Martin Gilbert surrounding the most horrific period in Jewish history, the Holocaust, and the 'role' of the Allies.
We are confronted with the disturbing revelation that, although supplied with considerable information about the decimation of Jewish communities in the Nazi Concentration Camps & gas ovens of Europe, the Allies turned a blind and incredulous eye to the suffering and slaughter.
In relation to the British involvement (or lack of it), the book quotes from a letter by Winston Churchill to Anthony Eden dated July 1944 pertaining to the Nazi slaughter of Jews in Europe;-"...there is no doubt that this is probably the greatest and most horrible single crime ever committed in the whole history of the world..."
One would think that this expression of apparent concern would have led to the most aggressive intervention possible to rescue the vast numbers facing genocide. Not so ! The book shows that Churchill did indeed order a so-called feasibility study for possible air-strikes on Auschwitz, but subsequently did nothing. The issue was passed to the Americans who also did...nothing.
Before some say that it was too late in 1944 anyway, the book clearly illustrates the Allied possession of such knowledge of an ongoing genocide in 1942.
Hitler himself being shown to have publically announced during 1942, before an enormous crowd & film crews, that the war in Europe would result in the complete annihilation of the Jews. Some 11,000,000 in Europe. The Allied Government's all heard this, but looked away.
The book details a number of British newspaper headlines and extensive reports, some of which follow;-
"Nazis murder 700,000 Jews in Poland".
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This thoroughly documented and deeply disturbing book is divided into three parts. The Final Solution includes the chapters Hitler's Pledge, Warnings And Forebodings, Britain's Dilemma, Evidence And Omissions, Rescue and Refuge, Eyewitness and This Bestial Policy. Part Two: Hope And Hopelessness includes Warsaw And Bermuda, The Spread Of Nazi Power and The German Occupation Of Hungary. Part Three: Auschwitz revealed, includes inter alia, Escape From Auschwitz, Zionism At Bay, The Deportations From Hungary, The End Of Auschwitz and the Epilogue.

The book is painful to read as it chronicles the history of the Shoah from the earliest warnings of Hitler's intentions through the war, the doomed attempts of many individuals and organisations to rescue the Jews, the indifference and the excuses given by certain officials on the Allied side, and the actions, good and bad, of occupied and neutral countries. Although the book does not focus on personal experiences in the holocaust, there are some examples of unspeakable horror that the sensitive reader had best avoid.

The author ascribes the extent of the tragedy and the failure to do more as failures of imagination, of response, of intelligence, co-ordination and of sympathy. To me the most shocking revelations are those where policymakers used the excuse that they were afraid of flooding Palestine and the UK with Jewish refugees. Or maybe even worse, those who claimed that the reports coming out of Europe were exaggerated. Another incredible show of indifference was the refusal of the Allies to bomb Auschwitz, while their planes were overflying the accursed place to drop supplies on Warsaw for the Polish uprising.
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Scepticism is a powerful force. Do not be sceptical of this book: read it. We think we know the story of the holocaust: it is a harrowing one, evil leaders duping or swaying a more or less complicit German population into killing Jews, Poles, homosexuals, the disabled in darkest Eastern Europe; the end of the war revealing an unimaginable horror. Unbelievable. Well, yes, actually. This book tells the story of those who died trying to tell the world of these 'unbelievable' events; smuggling themselves, their stories, their papers, their photographs, their evidence to neutral Switzerland and thence to the Allies. They were met with unbelief. This is believable, even understandable. The trickle of information became a torrent. Still unbelief. Finally, and this is the most unbelievable part, incontrovertable truth, testimonies, high altitude photographs are met with... no massive response. No change in war strategy. No attempt to save the thousands the Allies knew were dying every day. Only slow-thighed, stone-walling bureaucracy: timid circular memos, double-thinking, a need to know basis, no rocking of boats, a belief in desks, annotations, hierarchy, in process not in human life. Yes, they knew. No, they did nothing. Yes they kept this a secret. This is no conspiracy theory. The evidence is unbelievable. But it is incontrovertable. Undeniable, undenied, even. Churchill, Roosevelt, Washington, Whitehall, all the echelons of government, our noble western democracies, did nothing, nothing, to stop the largest act of deliberate, systematic murder the world has seen.
Read this back. That makes them complicit. That makes us complicit.
The final unbelievability: that this painstaking, unassuming, remorseless, tragic book is not more widely known.
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