Why wasn't Auschwitz bombed?

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PFLB
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Re: Why wasn't Auschwitz bombed?

Post by PFLB » 24 Oct 2010 09:41

Christopher, as I said, the question posed in the thread is not 'should Auschwitz have been bombed' but 'why wasn't it bombed'. You seem to be arguing with a straw man here. At any rate, I do not see how you can deny that discussion of what the Allies knew about the Holocaust is relevant. As I said above, it is only if they knew what was occurring at Auschwitz that they would have had any reason to evaluate bombing it. What you discuss is relevant but, with respect, does not make everyone else's comments irrelevant.

Dunserving
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Re: Why wasn't Auschwitz bombed?

Post by Dunserving » 24 Oct 2010 11:47

Evaluate bombing it..............?

As has already been stated, and confirmed by others, the location of the camps made bombing virtually impossible.
It was just too far from allied airfields.
For fast high photo-recce aircraft it could be done, but for bombers it was simply not on.
It could be reached but with greatly reduced bomb load.
The long flying time over enemy territory would mean a terribly high and unacceptable loss rate.
Loss rates were already such that they could not be used on a mission with so little return for the loss incurred.
The bombers were needed for more war-critical missions.
It was recognised that the priority was bringing the war to an end as soon as possible.
That was more likely to be achieved by bombing factories, cities, transport infrastructure etc etc.
No matter how much they knew about Auschwitz it was never going to be bombed.
It was just too far away.
Even for Lancasters.

Just in case there's still some misunderstanding....

Question: Why wasn't it bombed?
Answer: It was too far away.

PFLB
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Re: Why wasn't Auschwitz bombed?

Post by PFLB » 24 Oct 2010 13:47

As I said above, unless we know that the Allies evaluated bombing Auschwitz and decided not to, 'it was too far away' does not explain why they didn't bomb it - it only explains why they wouldn't have bombed had they turned their minds to the possibility. So far I have only seen people stating that the installation was photographed from the air and unspecified persons knew what was occurring, but no evidence that there was ever any thought of bombing it. In other words, you are not providing an explanation of the reasons for why the Allies did not bomb Auschwitz, but only an explanation of a hypothetical situation in which they consider bombing Auschwitz and decline to do so due to military considerations.

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Re: Why wasn't Auschwitz bombed?

Post by Larry D. » 24 Oct 2010 14:33

PFLB -

You seem to be belaboring this subject unnecessarily. The link below, should you invest the time to read the citations thoroughly, will answer your questions. Dr. Kitchens presented the official United States Air Force position on the matter in his capacity of a chief archivist at the U.S. Air Force Historical Research Agency at Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, Alabama. He particularly addressed the issue of top level discussions in Washington, Bushy Park and Caserta concerning what was known, should we or shouldn't we, if not then why not, etc., etc., etc. - in short, all the things you are interested in. It's all there. Enjoy.

http://www.google.com/#hl=en&expIds=172 ... 02b015b9a1

htk
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Re: Why wasn't Auschwitz bombed?

Post by htk » 25 Oct 2010 08:29

hi pflb

I think you are right in the sense that, for so far as I know, the is NO order or meeting known, skipping Auswitz (or similar) as a target for bombing

rgds

hans

Dunserving
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Re: Why wasn't Auschwitz bombed?

Post by Dunserving » 25 Oct 2010 08:45

htk wrote:hi pflb

I think you are right in the sense that, for so far as I know, the is NO order or meeting known, skipping Auswitz (or similar) as a target for bombing

rgds

hans
Oh please...... If there was no order "skipping Auschwitz (or similar) as a target for bombing" that does NOT mean that it was possibly considered as a target.

The effective maximum bombing range from allied airfields was well known. Something outside that range would never be considered as a potential target for the simple reason that we did not plan one-way missions.

It should be blindingly obvious to you that Oswiecim could not even be considered as a target until bombers were able to operate from airfields much closer, following an invasion of mainland Europe.

It does not take much common sense to realise that the activities at Auschwitz would be stopped far more effectively by pursuing the war in the west with maximum vigour in order to bring the war to an end as fast as possible.

It does not take much common sense to realise that bombing accuracy was not all that good. You might plan to destroy the gas chambers, but bombs would fall on an area as large as the camp itself. All you'd really succeed in doing is killing prisoners.

Surely it is understood that it would be far more effective to bomb targets in Germany if you want to stop the killing in Auschwitz. How about bombing the factories that made Zyklon B? How about bombing the factories that made the precursor chemicals? How about bombing the railways that transported the victims to Auschwitz?

htk
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Re: Why wasn't Auschwitz bombed?

Post by htk » 25 Oct 2010 11:15

hi dunserving

ofcourse youre right like the range of the B17s or the Lancs (even considering flying from any other airbase in russia and/or middle east or whatever)etc ... but as pflb rightly puts forward

-Is there or has been proof that auswitz (or any other camp for that matter) has been on a target list
-If it had been on a targetlist, why and by whom has it been bumped.

rgds

hans

for strategic targets see http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?Lo ... =ADA420055

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Re: Why wasn't Auschwitz bombed?

Post by LWD » 25 Oct 2010 12:18

I'd be surprised if the "target lists" weren't drawn up according to 2 criteria:
1) Are they in effective range
2) Are they important to the war effort.
The camps seem to be for the most part marginal in both areas and were more than likely discarded out of hand. If someone did bring up the question of how to stop the killing as fast as possible as Dunserving and others have mentioned ending the war was the best answer. As such bombing the camps may not only have not produced any signficant decline in death rates it may have prolonged them. As for sending the airborne division would loaded DC-3's have even made it? And so what if they did?

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Re: Why wasn't Auschwitz bombed?

Post by ChristopherPerrien » 25 Oct 2010 17:58

Silly yet,IIRC

I thought the BUNA/Sythed oil facilities that were part of the Aushwitz complex WERE INEFFECTIVELY bombed once or twice, before the end of the war. No big raids, but it still does prove that Aushwitz complexs' killing machinery and rail-lines, could have been bombed, just not enough to stop the big H.

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Re: Why wasn't Auschwitz bombed?

Post by Larry D. » 25 Oct 2010 19:09

20 Aug 44: 15th AAF B-17s bombed oil targets at Czechowice and Oswiecim in S Poland.
13 Sep 44: 15th AAF B-24s bombed a rubber factory and oil refinery at Oswiecim and industrial targets at Krakow.
18 Dec 44: 15th AAF B-24s bombed oil and industry targets at Oswiecim.
26 Dec 44: 15th AAF B-24s attacked oil and industry targets at Oswiecim.
Each of these missions involved between 350 and 560 bombers, not all of which were targeted on Oswiecim (Auschwitz).

The intelligence gathering, the preliminary discussions, the target planning and the raids themselves are all well covered in the sources referred to in my previous post.

L.

Dunserving
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Re: Why wasn't Auschwitz bombed?

Post by Dunserving » 25 Oct 2010 20:46

Late '44 when the Luftwaffe was not as much of a threat to bombers as it had been.
Fighter escorts were routine.
Air superiority had been achieved.

Where were they flying from?
What was the bomb load on each aircraft?
What percentage was that of the maximum bomb load the aircraft could carry?

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Re: Why wasn't Auschwitz bombed?

Post by David Thompson » 26 Oct 2010 00:05

Some documents on the question, from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/holocaust/ ... .html#bomb :
OPD 383.7 (23 Jun 44)

Proposed Air Action to Impede Deportation of Hungarian and Slovak Jews.

26 June 1944

1. 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.

2. 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 appreciates 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 enclosure, has been furnished CG, AAF and AC/S, G-2.

Thos. T. Handy,
Major General,
Assistant Chief of Staff
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/holocaust/ ... omas2.html
WORLD JEWISH CONGRESS

August 9, 1944

Hon. John J. McCloy
Under Secretary of War
War Department
Washington, D.C.

My dear Mr. Secretary:

I beg to submit to your consideration the following excerpt from a message which we received under date of July 29 from Mr. Ernest Frischer of the Czechoslovak State Council through the War Refugee Board:

"I believe that destruction of gas chambers and crematoria in Oswiecim by bombing would have a certain effect now. Germans are now exhuming and burning corpses in an effort to conceal their crimes. This could be prevented by destruction of crematoria and then Germans might possibly stop further mass exterminations especially since so little time is left to them. Bombing of railway communications in this same area would also be of importance and of military interest."

Sincerely yours,

A. Leon Kubowitzki
Head, Rescue Department

___________________________________________

14 August 1944

Dear Mr. Kubowitski:

I refer to your letter of August 9 in which you request consideration of a proposal made by Mr. Ernest Frischer that certain installations and railroad centers be bombed.

The War Department had been approached by the War Refugee Board, which raised the question of the practicability of this suggestion. After a study it became apparent that such an operation could be executed only by the diversion of considerable air support essential to the success of our forces now engaged in decisive operations elsewhere and would in any case be of such doubtful efficacy that it would not warrant the use of our resources. There has been considerable opinion to the effect that such an effort, even if practicable, might provoke even more vindictive action by the Germans.

The War Department fully appreciates the humanitarian motives which promoted the suggested operation, but for the reasons stated above it has not been felt that it can or should be undertaken, at least at this time.

Sincerely,

John J. McCloy
Assistant Secretary of War

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/holocaust/ ... world.html
Mr. John W. Pehle, Executive Director
War Refugee Board
Treasury Department Building, Rm. 3414
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. Pehle:

I refer to your letter of November 8th, in which you forwarded the report of two eye-witnesses on the notorious German concentration and extermination camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau in Upper Silesia.

The Operation Staff of the War Department has given careful consideration to your suggestion that the bombing of these camps be undertaken. In consideration of this proposal the following points were brought out:

a. Positive destruction of these camps would necessitate precision bombing, employing heavy or medium bombardment, or attack by low flying or dive bombing aircraft, preferably the latter.

b. The target is beyond the maximum range of medium bombardment, dive bombers and fighter bombers located in United Kingdom, France or Italy.

c. Use of heavy bombardment from United Kingdom bases would necessitate a hazardous round trip flight unescorted of approximately 2,000 miles over enemy territory.

d. At the present critical stage of the war in Europe, our strategic air forces are engaged in the destruction of industrial target systems vital to the dwindling war potential of the enemy, from which they should not be diverted. The positive solution to this problem is the earliest possible victory over Germany, to which end we should exert our entire means.

e. This case does not at all parallel the Amiens mission because of the location of the concentration and extermination camps and the resulting difficulties encountered in attempting to carry out the proposed bombing.

Based on the above, as well as the most uncertain, if not dangerous effect such a bombing would have on the object to be attained, the War Department has felt that it should not, at least for the present, undertake these operations.

I know that you have been reluctant to press this activity on the War Department. We have been pressed strongly from other quarters, however, and have taken the best military opinion on its feasibility, and we believe the above conclusion is a sound one.

Sincerely,

John McCloy
Assistant Secretary of War

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/holocaust/ ... bjohn.html

Larry D.
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Re: Why wasn't Auschwitz bombed?

Post by Larry D. » 26 Oct 2010 00:28

Oswiecim/Auschwitz Target Folder Data
(classified S E C R E T)

Operational Number: GS 5612
Town: Oswiecim or Auschwitz
Target Name: Synthetic Rubber Factory of I.G. Farben Industrie A.G.
GSCS Series & Sheet No.: 4346/Q.51
Grid Reference: FY 7645
Geographical Coordinates and D.T.M.: 50 02 N – 19 18 E (Poland)
Air Ministry No.: 2(f)38

AirMin/AAF Target Folder Map Sheet 128 Series 4081 under Oswiecim identified following on 20 August 1944:
Hutted Camp with 80 huts (a few of which still under construction) at Map Ref 862453;
Hutted Camp with 120 huts (probable labour camp) at Map Ref 890457;
Hutted Camp with 200 huts (probable labour camp) at Map Ref 899455;
Hutted Camp with 16 huts (probable labour camp) at Map Ref 899448;
Hutted Camp with 60 huts (probable labour camp) at Map Ref 903445;
Hutted Camp with 20 huts (probable labour camp) at Map Ref 904440;
Hutted Camp with 25 huts (probable labour camp) at Map Ref 917448;
Hutted Camp with 40 huts (probable labour camp) at Map Ref 943440;
Hutted Camp with 11 huts (probable labour camp) at Map Ref 866464;
Hutted Camp with 28 huts (probable labour camp) at Map Ref 911440.

Source: AFHRA Maxwell .pdf CD A5257, page 883 of 1758.

L.

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Re: Why wasn't Auschwitz bombed?

Post by David Thompson » 26 Oct 2010 01:33

Here's another document, this time on the Oswiecim bombings:
Extracts from the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey, summarizing 15th Air Force bombing attacks in August and September 1944 on Oswiecim (Auschwitz)

SYNTHETIC OIL PLANT OF I.G. FARBEN AT OSWIECZIM NEAR KRAKOW, POLAND

The target is located app. 32 miles west of Krakow and app. 20 miles southeast of Katowice and forms with the rubber plant to the east, one area--grid coordinates 37[ring] 50[ring]. The oil refinery covers an area of approximately 1100 x 1200 yds and the synthetic rubber plant an area of approximately 1800 x 1200 yds. The plants were owned and operated by the I.G. Farben Trust of Frankfurt, Main. To the south and west of the target, a concentration and labor camp exists which indicates forced and foreign labor at these plants.

The attached diagram shows the target area, the principal buildings and their use as estimated from aerial cover, key to plan. There are over 100 buildings in the synthetic oil plant and aerial cover is available. The target has several railroad lines running through the entire plant.


The target was attacked four times by the 15th Air Force with B-17 and B-24 bombers, the bombs used were 500 GP with 1/10 nose and 1/40 and 1/100 tail fuzing.


On Aug. 20th, 127 B-17 bombers attacked dropping 1336 500 lb. GP bombs 1/10 nose, 1/40 tail, alt. of release 26,100 ft to 29,500 ft., time 10:32 to 11:00, 2/10 to 3/10 clouds over target. The main weight of the attack fell on the central and eastern parts; with considerable damage to installations and buildings. It appears that near misses caused a considerable amount of blast damage. Annotated print no. 3071, Aug. 23 shows and DB Report no. 189 list damage by buildings.

Cover was flown Aug. 25, 1944, picture 4173, 4176 and 4178 were taken. Clearance and repair work were in progress. Interpretation Report, Aug. 30th, DP 95 lists as damaged buildings in the primary objectives class no. 80, secondary objective 75 and 98, other objective class no's 61, 64, 70. It is definite that the synthetic rubber plant sustained the greatest amount of damage.

The last cover flown before the second attack was Sept. 2nd 1944 and report DB 199 speaks of repair going on and normal truck and M.T. movement being seen.

The second attack took place Sept. 13, 1944 from 11:17 to 11:20 at a height of 22,300 ft. to 24,000 ft. Ninety-six B-24's attacked with 943 500 lb. RDX filled bombs minus 69 bombs which had regular filler. Visibility poor, pff technic used. The heaviest concentration was again on the synthetic rubber plant, but the following oil plant buildings sustained major damage, no's 64, , 84 and 96 slight damage to 41, 43, 44, 81, 83 and several workshops stores, unidentified buildings and huts in the labor camp to the south and southwest. No's 8, 25, 47, 48, 51, 71, 105, 108, 112 and 114, photo no. 4022 annotated shows most of the buildings.

Oct. 16th, DB 241 speaks of great deal of repair work observed and new construction in progress. The operational activity seen in the past at the gas plant and elsewhere is not thought to have been associated with the use of part of the buna plant.

Report G-430, Nov. 29th, 1944 observes the plant as being active; cars are on the sidings and about 100 tank cars are on the rail siding east of the plant area.

Third attack, Dec. 18th, 1944 by 2 B-17's an d47 B-24's Four hundred thirty-six boobs dropped, all RDX filler with 52 regular filler as exception. All bombs 500 lb. size 1/10 nose, 1/40 and 1/10 nose, 1/100 tail, proportion of the two tail delays used unknown. Attack time 11:20 to 12:17; pff system, 22,900 ft. to 24,000 ft. heights. No photographs available yet. Damage throughout the area reported specially on buildings 73, 76, 84, and 104. Extreme active M.T. and pedestrian activity was evident. Repair activity has been intense and some new construction was evident.

Fourth and last attack, Dec, 26th, 1944 by 95 B-24's. Total of 679 500 lb. bombs dropped; RDX filler with 126 with regular filler as exception. Fuzing 1/10 nose, 1/40 and 1/100 tail, ration unknown. Time of attack from 12:16 to 12:21 at 22,200 ft. to 24, 700 ft., with pff system. No photographs are available yet. Many hits scored and near misses indicate extensive blast damage. Great operational activity at plant. Following buildings damaged: 9, 65, 73, 76, 77, 84, 89, 99 besides workshops, barracks inside labor camp, welfare building and miscellaneous small sheds.

The last cover was flown 15 Jan. 1945 (no prints available yet). Roof repairs were noted, steam issuing from a number of points. There have been movement and probably turnover of rolling stock.
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/holocaust/ ... racts.html

Larry D. -- Thanks for that interesting post. It raises the interesting question of whether the allies knew enough about the homicidal gassing operations to pinpoint specific locations within the sprawling Auschwitz complex.

PFLB
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Re: Why wasn't Auschwitz bombed?

Post by PFLB » 26 Oct 2010 08:38

Thank you Larry, David (ha), those are the sort of materials I was talking about. I do not think it is 'belabouring the subject unnecessarily' to seek to define an issue clearly - if the question is why Auschwitz was not bombed then as I said the response is to be found in documents actually showing what the Allies and how they acted on their own knowledge, rather than simply conjecture as to facts which may might reasonably be expected to have affected military decision-making. I have simply been asking for a demonstration of a connection between said military considerations and the actual decisions which were made, which you have provided.

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