From the Jerusalem Post:
Did the Allies bury early intelligence on Holocaust?
Sam Ser, THE JERUSALEM POST Jul. 31, 2005
Recent reports on Holocaust intelligence are rehashing difficult questions regarding how much the Americans and the British knew about Nazi atrocities.
The New York Times on Sunday highlighted a lengthy analysis by a top historian at the National Security Agency, the US communications/cryptology intelligence service, which suggests that a combination of incompetence and anti-Semitism prevented the Allied intelligence services from identifying the unfolding Holocaust in Europe.
In "Eavesdropping on Hell," Robert J. Hanyok of the NSA's Center for Cryptologic History claims that the British intercepted – and then buried – information detailing mass murders of Jews as early as 1941. Anti-Semitism is mentioned as a probable element, but not the sole motive, in the mishandling of such information.
The Times quotes a memorandum, cited in Hanyok's 167-page analysis, from a British cryptologic official, dated September 11, 1941, on German massacres of Jews in the Soviet Union: "The fact that the police are killing all Jews that fall into their hands should now be sufficiently well appreciated. It is not therefore proposed to continue reporting these butcheries unless so requested."
The official did not raise the alarm, according to Hanyok, either because of his "inability to appreciate the implications of the massacres or his willingness to ignore what the Nazis were doing." Hanyok's report was released without fanfare in early June.
In early July the "Report of the Anglo-Polish Historical Committee" was submitted at a ceremony in London. It, too, reportedly indicates a failure to perceive the scale of the Nazi genocide, or a failure to publicize it.
Yet such information is, for the most part, not new – Hanyok himself discussed almost the exact same issues at an NSA symposium in 1999.
A question debated for years by historians and Jewish groups is not how much the American government knew of the plight of European Jewry, but how soon the government knew of it, and why the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt did so little to stop it until the war had practically ended.
One example of the historical "what-ifs" inspired by such knowledge is whether the large-scale destruction of Hungarian Jewry, which came only toward the end of the war, could have been prevented or limited.
The issue is not merely one of governmental responsibility, either. As Laurel Leff argues in Buried by the Times, released earlier this year, the Times itself frequently downplayed or even ignored reports of Hitler's crimes against humanity.
"If only The New York Times were a little more aware of its own history, and a little more honest," Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
"There is no doubt whatsoever that, had the details of what was going on in the camps and ghettos been paid more attention, it could have impacted in expanding the priorities of the war effort," Cooper added. "The rate and scope of what was going on in the camps and the ghettos could have been