How the Allies Responded to the News of Hitler’s Final Solution
Chapter 7. Towards ‘an unknown destination’
...So strong an impact did Lichtheim’s Geneva memorandum of August 30 make in Washington, where it had been sent to the White House, that on September 26 President Roosevelt’s Personal Representative to Pope Pius XII, Myron Taylor, sent a copy of it to Cardinal Maglione, the Vatican Secretary of State. In his covering note, Taylor asked Maglione whether the Vatican had any information ‘that would tend to confirm the reports contained in this memorandum’, and if so, ‘whether the Holy Father has any suggestion as to any practical manner in which the forces of civilized public opinion could be utilized in order to prevent a continuation of these barbarities’.
Unfortunately, as the State Department learned three weeks later in a dispatch from Harrison, the Minister in Switzerland, ‘reports of severe measures taken against non-Aryans have also reached the Holy See from other sources, but that up to the present time it has not been possible to verify the accuracy thereof’. The Holy See, Harrison added, ‘has no practical suggestions to make’.
...Hitler now had a further prophecy to make. Just as the Jews had, as he put it, ‘managed actually to draw one nation after the other into this war’, so, to just the same degree, ‘a wave of anti-Semitism has swept over nation after nation’. And, he prophesied, ‘it will move on further. State after State that enters this war will one day become anti-Semitic’. Hitler then declared:
In Germany too the Jews once laughed at my prophesies. I don’t know whether they are still laughing, or whether they have already lost the inclination to laugh, but I can assure you that everywhere they will stop laughing.
‘With these prophesies,’ Hitler added, ‘I shall prove to be right’.
...The name ‘Auschwitz’ had still not appeared in the growing list of camps in which Jews were being killed, nor had it yet been mentioned as a destination of any of the Jewish deportations. But many of the September deportations had in fact gone straight to Auschwitz. Of 957 Jewish men, women and children reaching Auschwitz from Paris in the early hours of the morning of September 2, a total of 918 were gassed by the late afternoon. The gassing was witnessed by an SS doctor, Johann Kremer, who noted in his diary: ‘Compared with what I saw, Dante’s inferno seems to me like a comedy. Not without reason do they call Auschwitz an “annihilation” camp’.