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December 25, 1981 - Image 56

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1981-12-25

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

56 Friday, December 25, 1981


'Auschwitz and Allies' Details Holocaust Complicity



(Editor's note: Former
Detroiter Charles A.
Madison was an editor
for Henry Holt and Co.,
later Holt, Rinehart and
Winston, from 1924 to
1962. He has authored,
among other books, "Cri-
tics and Crusaders,"
"American Labor Lead-
ers," "Leader's and Lib-
erals in 20th Century
America," "Yiddish Lit-
"Jewish Publishing in
America" and "Irving to
In the preparation of "Au-
schwitz and the Allies"
(Holt, Rinehart and
Winston), Martin Gilbert
delved into the source mate-
rials of the Holocaust with
the acuity and erudition of
the seasoned scholar and
the compassionate concen-
tration of humaniitarian-
As the official biographer
(six volumes) of Winston
Churchill, he had access to
his private papers; in addi-
tion he perused- all the
available materials of the
Holocaust in Israel, Europe,
and the United States; he
has alsd interviewed many
survivors as well as the


leaders active in behalf of
the refugees during the war
The result is an almost
day-to-day account of the
fiendish brutality of the
Nazis who were carrying
out Hitler's pledge to
achieve "the complete an-
nihilation of the Jews."
Simultaneously, he de-
lineates the insensitivity
and frequently the bigoted
indifference of Allied' offi-
cials to the cruel plight of
the millions of Jews under-
going extermination.
The book is thus a fac-
tual, graphic and pathe-
tic narration of the de-
velopment of the Au-
schwitz extermination
activities (kept secret
from the world for almost

two years), the frantic yet
futile efforts of Jewish
leaders to rescue the Nazi
victims, and the various
reactions to their appeals
by British and American
officials, diplomatic and
Having written a prev-
ious book on the Holocaust,
Gilbert here deals primarily
with the criminal activities
in Auschwitz. Completed
secretly early in 1942, the
Nazis made it the largest
extermination center under
German control. During its
infernal functioning its gas
ovens worked daily to mur-
der thousands of victims,
mostly Jews. They were
brought by train loads from
every part of Europe, and
most of them were sent di-
rect to the crematoria.
The name Auschwitz, or
Oscwiecim, was almost
never mentioned, so the
world outside of Germany
hardly knew of its exist-
ence. When the horrible
truth finally emerged, very
few could intellectually ap-
prehend its infernal de-
The first direct evidence
was given by two young
Slovak Jews, Rudolf Vrba
and Alfred Watzler, who
had succeeded in escapirig

from Auschwitz in April
1944 and reached Switzer-
land. Their graphically hor-
rible account was at once
sent to Jewish leaders in
London, New York and
Jerusalem, who im-
mediately presented the in-
formation to British and
American officials.
The latter remained
skeptical, considering it
Jewish exaggeration —
until a Polish major, Czes-
law Mordowitz, had also
managed to escape and re-
ported similarly to the
Polish government in exile
in London.
This time the truth had
become undeniable, and
both Churchill and
Roosevelt urged action to
save the surviving Jews,
Churchill giving his "per-
sonal authority" to do so.
But Anthony Eden consid-
ered help "out of the ques-
tion" in the prevailing war
circumstances. The officials
under him acted similarly.
One of them, A. R. Dew, in
response to the frantic ap-
peals of Jewish leaders,
stated: "In my opinion, a
disproportionate amount of
time of the Office is wasted
in dealing with these wail-
ing Jews."
In the United States,


after a personal appeal by
Henry Morgenthau, Secre-
tary of the Treasury, who
accused officials in the State
Department of indifference
and bigotry, Roosevelt es-
tablished the War Refugee
Board — only to have its ef-
forts frustrated again and
A section of the book
discusses the fate of the
Jews in Hungary. In
March 1944, Hitler sum-
moned Horthy, the Hun-
garian dictator, to Berlin
to inform him that Ger-
man officials were to
supervise the treatment
of the Jews in Hungary.
Soon these Nazis began
their fiendish work.

Simultaneously, Adolf
Eichmann informed Joel
Brand, a leading Hunga-
rian Zionist, of a proposed
"deal" involving "goods for
blood," or one truck for 100
Jews. While dangling this
offer for thousands of
trucks, he secretly sent
12,000 Jews almost daily to
Auschwitz. Brand of course
failed in his task.
Before long, more than
100,000 Hungarian Jews
were murdered befrsr\e
Horthy, realizing that
ler was losing the war ...id
fearful of the Allies' threat
of postwar retribution, put
an end to the further depor-
tation of Jews.

Martin Gilbert makes
painfully clear that the Al-
lies were loath to permit
refugee Jews into their own
countries, maintaining that
they feared the spread of
anti-Semitism among their
own people. Great Britain
also insisted on limiting the
number of Jews into Pales-
tine in order not to alienate
the Arabs.
"Auschwitz and the Al-
lies" has provided an au-
thentic account of what
Roosevelt termed one of
"the blackest crimes" in all

`Children of the Holocaust' Reveal the Horrors,
Their Experiences Add to the Nazi Indictments

Holocaust" is a compilation .
of the data regarding the
horrors that were perpet-
rated during the Nazi beg-
Books have appeared
under that very title, and
now the youngsters who
were themselves the vic-
tims of the inhumanities
are relating how they were
tortured, how their parents
and other relatives were
sent to the gas chambers.
Those Who survived now re-
count the occurrences in the
concentration and slave
labor camps.
Scores of books keep
being published dealing
with the Holocaust and its
sufferers. Collectively they
serve the purpose of keeping
the crime on the record, to
prevent its repetition.
It is when the experi-
ences of the youngest of
the sufferers are de-
scribed that the subject
becomes most deeply
moving. This is ascriba-
ble to the account of the
terror while in Amster-
dam, Holland, during the
two-year agony in
Bergen-Belsen, told in
the narrative by Barry
Spanjaard in "Don't

Fence Me In" (B. and B.
Publishers, Saugus,
This is the story of a child
born in New York, accom-
panied his parents to his
father's native Holland,
trapped there, subjected to
the insults- heaped on non-
Germans and especially
Jews by the German oc-
cupying forces. He was Bar
Mitzva in Antwerp, in a
ceremony under dire cir-
Then began the incarcer-
ations, the German camps,
life in Bergen-Belsen, he
and his parents finally
being sent to Switzerland in
an exchange in behalf of the
U.S. for German prisoners
— five Americans for one
His father did not survive
the journey and died in
Switzerland. He returned to
the U.S. with his mother,
where she died in 1955,
after rendering important
services to the United
Jewish Appeal but suffering
from depression in her final
Barry wrote his story at
the age of 16, when he left
Belsen. He was freed and
returned to the U.S. with
the aid of U.S. military

authorities in 1945. He
wrote his story in 1946
but kept it to himself. He
later married, served in
the U.S. Army, was as-
signed to Germany, lived
there with his first wife
and their child.
He was divorced and his
remarriage in 1972 became
an important event in his
life. His second wife induced
him to correct and publish
this deeply moving story.
In the prologue to the
book, Bunnie Gurmain
Spanjaard tells how her
husband had written his
tale while a student in the
Virginia Military Institute
in 1946. Bunnie asserts that
Barry wrote his notes for
himself, as if he had kept a
secret. Not a literary gem,
she asserts, it is difficult to
explain why he had not told
his story for the public to
It was after she had got-
ten the secret out of her
husband to be, when she
first met him, that she in-
duced him to publish his re-
collections. The story as he
had scribbled it was resur-
rected from the bottom of a
carton in 1978.
Bunnie joined in cor-
recting the text now

available as "Don't Fence
Me In." Barry Spanjaard
now also travels to relate
his story to interested
His book is filled with so
many horror stories that
they create amazement over
the manner of the cruelties
imposed by Nazism. To re-
late them would be utterly
heartrending. But the story
must not be ignored.
Barry- was born in New
York in 1929, was taken by
his father to Holland on a
business trip at the age of
two. 'They remained there,
through the years of Ger-
man occupation. The re-
markable memory of the
sufferer and the author of
this book is evident as he
describes every detail, re-
calls the family's neighbors
in Amsterdam, tells of the
journeys to and from the
German prison camps until
the shipment to Belsen.
* * *

31/2 years in Sweden be-
fore coming to the U.S., in
Specializing in social an-
thropology, Miss Siegal has
hosted radio programs dur-
ing which she related the
story of the horror of her life
under the Nazis- in Hun-
Aranka's story is also one
of survival, despite loss of
friends, rationing, witness-
ing the capture of her sister
and the knowledge that her
parents were sent to the Au-
schwitz death camp.
This is another of the de-
eply moving stories, con-
taining the account of
Aranka Siegal, who spoke
trilingually as a child,
grandmother encouraging

Once again, in this tale,
there is evidence of de-
termination, under sub-
mission to a terrorizing
Nazism, to survive.
Miss Siegal's story is
Hungarian Jewish
philosophical, questioning
Family's Destruction how the terrors could have
Told in Volume
occurred and the scapegoat
Bergen-Belsen figures in and Chosen People aspects
another deeply-moving are scrutinized.
It is a very human story,
story, that of Aranka
Siegal, who was an Hunga- compelling in its approach,
rian Jewish girl who was a volume to be read for
trapped, at the age of nine, further understanding of
at her grandmother's farm what happened to Hunga-
on the Ukrainian border. rian Jewry under the heels
She relates the story of her of Nazism.
Youth learns the mean-
family's destruction under
Nazism in "Upon the Head ing of Auschwitz, while
of the Goat" (Farrar, Straus being subjected to the
taunting and search for lust
& Giroux).
Aranka's parents died on the part of the ruling be-
in Auschwitz; she sun- asts in the Holocaust
vived, was liberated by drama.
Here, too, there is mem-
the British and lived for

ory of terror — an adven-
ture leading to the horror
and suffering of youth who
survived while witnessing
the mass murder of the el-
ders. The resort to memory
lends added significance
also to the Siegal volume.

* * *

Partisans' Narrative
Is Added to the
Holocaust Library

Schocken books is the
leader in the publishing
field as producers of the
Holocaust Library.
Among its titles is the
story of the partisans. In "A
Voice From the Forest,"
Nahum Kohn and Howard
Roiter relate the incidents
that led to resistance, to the
heroic determination to
survive in dignity.
Kohn, - a watchmaker,
stemming from a reli-
gious fanfily in Sieradz,
Poland, went to the for-
est. There he was among
those who battled for life
by refusing to yield to
agonies and thre
He joined the Soviet par-
tisan Medvedev and the
network of resistance fight-
Together with the legen-
dary partisan Nikolai Kuz-
netsov, the linguist who
managed to infiltrate into
enemy territory, he was an
activist against Nazism.

His story is related here
by Howard Roiter, the co-
author who is a University
of Montreal professor.


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