National Catholic Register

Opinion

Historical Paparazzi

BY Jim Cosgrove

March 15-21, 1998 Issue | Posted 3/15/98 at 2:00 PM

 

Three cheers to Mark Brumley for his review “The Myth of Rescue: Why the Democracies Could Not Have Saved More Jews From the Nazis” (Feb. 15-21).

This was the first intelligent and convincing argument I have seen to counter the fanciful theories advanced by modern-day revisionists.

The Allies, whose primary objective was the destruction of the Third Reich in World War II, did all that they could with the resources available. Rescue missions to Nazi death camps deep inside enemy territory- and whose existence was not known until late in the war-would have been quite impractical.

And the bombing of such camps, if logistically possible, would have accomplished nothing except the additional slaughter of Jewish captives. The most accurate British and American bombing tactics could not have prevented this.

If this had happened, as Brumley writes, we would never be allowed to forget it.

The trouble with the so-called revisionists writing today-chiefly to make money by stirring up controversy-is that they have such limited knowledge of history. They are the paparazzi of historical literature, and they are scorned by legitimate historians.

As a military historian, I have come across a number of books advancing ludicrous historical theories, such as the suppositions that British Prime Minister Winston Churchill somehow lured President Franklin D. Roosevelt into the war, and that Churchill-an honorable man, and a humanitarian-engineered the 1943 air crash off Gibraltar that killed Polish Gen. Wladyslaw Sikorski.

And, of course, as Brumley points out, Pope Pius XII and the Vatican have not been left out of the revisionists' fantasies. The pontiff did, in fact, speak out against Nazism, but he was in a difficult position, and was bound to the strictures of neutrality.

Nevertheless, the Vatican did not collaborate with the Germans occupying Italy, as some revisionists have advanced. In fact, the Very Rev. Hugh O'Flaherty of the Congregation of the Holy Office-aided by other priests and British diplomats and officers-worked tirelessly to keep thousands of escaped Allied prisoners and Jewish refugees out of the Gestapo's hands in Rome in 1943-45.

Brumley states that author William Rubinstein concludes that responsibility for the Holocaust rests solely with Hitler and his National Socialist henchmen. The attempts by revisionists to try to implicate the Allies in the genocide is both irresponsible and historically inaccurate.

Michael Hull

Enfield, Connecticut

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