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June 08, 1984 - Image 41

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-06-08

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with my government. Obviously. It
Justice Goldberg reviewed the
political muscle. In those days, that
was my job.
lessons and attributed the responsi-
was lacking.
"Zeiglebaum came to me at the
bility for the tragedy, based on the
"Also the Jewish people, includ-
time of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising
report of the Commission on the
ing myself— I'm guilty — had a kind
in May 1943. He advised me that
of love affair with Roosevelt, and
Jews were fighting in the ghetto. He
"I rate what happened as fol-
they refused to believe that he could
also had a dossier on what was hap-
lows," he said. "Hitler was of course a
be indifferent to their plight. But he
pening in Auscihwitz. By that time,
killer. He stands in a class by him-
had other priorities.
two or three million Jews had al-
self. No Jew did the murdering.
"And it must be remembered
ready been killed.
"Second comes the anti-
that this was a period of great unem-
"But a Pole named Jan Karski, a
Semitism or indifference of the Allied
ployment. And that primarily was
very courageous fellow who was 19 or
governments. They could have
the Administration's concern.
20 at the time, dressed up in an Esto-
opened their doors in the period be-
"The least responsible for the re-
nian policeman's uniform and went
tween 1933 and 1939 and rescued a
scue failure would be those who lived
into Auschwitz. He got out and . considerable number of Jews. But the
in Palestine; Zionists. But there were
brought with him pictures of the
restrictive immigration laws of the
only 600,000 of them. Furthermore,
crematoria, of the bodies, of people
so-called democratic, civilized coun-
Palestine was under the . British
who had died of starvation, and af-
tries prevented them.
mandate at the time, and subject to
fidavits from inmates of what was
going on. It was a compelling docu-
"We had heard about the actual
killing from '41 on, because we had
broken the Germans' code and we
were intercepting cables which, if
you read them carefully, indicated
en former
that Jews were being transported to
death camps. So we were aware from
Supreme Court Justice Arthur J.
'41 on. But this was the first time that
someone from inside a camp had ac-
Goldberg accepted the
tually brought out material.
chairmanship of the American
"So Zeiglebaum, who gave me
the dossier, said that the Jews had
Jewish Commission on the
two requests, one from Auschwitz
and another from the ghetto, to have
Holocaust, he had two reasons for
the places bombed.
undertaking the difficult task. One
"I raised the natural question. If
the ghetto is bombed, won't Jews be
was personal .. .
killed, too? Zeiglebaum said yes, they
knew that, but they would like the
Germans killed. They were going to •
be killed, anyhow, he said — and he
put it to me very bluntly — and they
wanted the ghetto bombed.
"So Hitler killed the Jews. What
the most restrictive of immigration
"They were armed with very in-
we're dealing with is rescue. Could
sufficient weapons against tanks,
The lessons to be learned from
flame throwers and so on, and their _ some have been rescued? My conclu-
the Holocaust experience, Justice
armament was puny compared to sion is yes. Hundreds of thousands
could have been saved. So I blame
Goldberg pointed out, are simple, but
what the Germans could wheel in on
governments first; their indifference
among the most difficult to act upon.
and anti-Semitism, if we believe
"When human rights are vio-
"The second request, from the
there is a difference in terms. Maybe
lated," he said, "whether it's Jews or
inmates of Auschwitz, was to have
indifference is on a slightly lower
anybody else, you have to raise your
the railroad junction, which was
scale than anti-Semitism. Not very
voice, not just submit. You may not
where the transports came every day
do good immediately, but you must
by the thousands from all over
"Third comes the media, outside
speak out.
Europe, bombed. And . they also
of the Yiddish press. The Yiddish
"I had a conversation with Rus-
wanted the camp itself bombed.
press had a good many stories about
sian dissidents, both Jewish and
"And again I raised the question:
killings. But the general press had
non-Jewish, when I was
`Won't that kill them?' The answer
very few. So I rate the media as very
ambassador-at-large to a human
was, 'They'll be killed anyway.'
responsible, not for the killing, but
rights convention in Belgrade. They
"So I sent a courier to Washing-
for the non-rescue.
had been expelled or escaped from
ton with Zeiglebaum's requests to
"After that, I rate the- indif-
the Soviet Union. So I asked them,
Gen. Donovan, asking him to take it
ference of the Christian community.
`You know, I'm willing to be very vig-
up with the highest authority. Dono-
There were righteous Gentiles who
orous at this meeting. Is that going to
van was a good man, and I believe
did what human beings ought to do,
hurt those who remain? I'm not anx-
that he did what I asked, because a
and helped, but the great bulk of the
ious to hurt them.'
few days later he sent a messenger
Christians did not. The Vatican was
"The answer I got was uniform:
back to me, saying that he was taking
delinquent, so were the Protestant
`Please go ahead. It may not help in
it up with the highest authority, our
terms of persuading the Russian gov-
high command.
ernment, but the Jews and other dis-
"When it comes to the Jews, the
"The answer was that they could
sidents still inside will not feel alone.
Jewish organizations did not do all
not do this because it would divert
They will have the sense that people
that they could have done. But in
planes from their primary mission of
are conscious of their plight.
their defense, if there is a defense for
going after Germans. We were bomb-
"Another thing we have learned
not having done all that could have
ing five miles from Auschwitz at the
(and that world Jewry has learned, I
been done, we must remember that
time. It wouldn't have been a very
hope) is never to repeat the role of
the Jewish organizations of 40 years
great diversion.
what was called the Judenrat. Those
"So it was my sad duty to call
were the heads of the Jewish com-
There was no Jewish lobby, they
Zeiglebaum — I had him to dinner —
munities in Europe who — I think
were just emerging from immigrant
and give him the response. The next
basically out of good motives — dealt
status. The principal spokesmen
day he committed suicide.
with the Nazis. Step by step, they had
were two rabbis, Stephen Wise and
"So maybe, if you ask why I was
to provide the lists of people the Nazis
Abba Hillel Silver.
willing to probe the questions raised
wanted. And they all landed in Au-
• "Today, the spokesmen for the
by the Holocaust, I don't think there
schwitz, by the way.
Jewish community are presents of
can be a sensible argument as to why
"But beyond that, the conscien-,
Jewish organizations, big con-
the facts shouldn't 'be brought to
tious ones, who took it because they
tributors to the Republican and
light. Because we have to learn the
hoped to have an ameliorating
Democratic parties. , They have some
lessons. And must say me have."•




Friday, June 8, 1984 41

ence, learned that they were being
used to keep Jews quiet.
"It is this type of thing that I
think has to be talked about. We do
not cooperate nor collaborate. You
know you're going to be killed any-
how, but at least you save your own
conscience. You don't make it easy
for the real killers."
Justice Goldberg leaned forward
in his seat. He meant to deal, once
and for all, with the charge that Jews
experienced 'a conflict of interest be-
tween their religion and their alle-
giance to the United States. It was a
sore point. He had been accused of
double loyalty in 1965 when he-res-
igned his seat on the Supreme Court
to represent the United States at the
United Nations.
"The charge of double loyalty is
nonsense," he said. "I left the Sup-
reme Court to serve the country. I
don't have to prove my loyalty. I've
demonstrated it. I gave up lifetime
security and a job I love because our
country was in trouble in Vietnam
and I thought I could help get us out
of it. How many people would do
that? And I don't regret it. I miss the
court, but I did the right thing.
"But I'll tell you something
about Jews. Sometimes they aggra-
vate me. I'll be honest with you. They
are so enamored with their titles that
they miss the point. Is title and posi-
tion more important than principle?
"Jews, I think, should give the
back of their hands to this charge of
double loyalty. Take Israel. We're al-
lies. President Reagan says so. So
what's wrong with supporting an
ally? I think Jews don't reason it out.
Sometimes it's because people don't
recognize the nature of America. We
are a pluralistic country. We come
from many countries. And what is
wrong with a strong attachment to
your origins, your roots? It may sur-
prise you to know that even Supreme
Court Justices who are Jewish some-
times fall into this.
`I was the only Supreme Court
justice out of five in 1962 who took his
oath on a Hebrew Bible. Everybody
else took it on the King James ver-
sion, but when they presented it to
me, I said, 'That's not my Bible. I'll
swear on the Hebrew Bible.'
"And do you think it won me any
criticism? It won me praise from my
colleagues. They said, 'You did the
right thing. Would you like us to
autograph that Bible?' So I had them
do it, and now I don't know how to
- divide the Bible between my two
children (Barbara and Robert). I've
given them each a cabinet chair. '
That's fine. But I only have one Bible.
"More and more I like Or-
thddoxy," said Goldberg, leaning
back and crossing one leg over the
other. "My father was an Orthodox •
rabbi in Chicago. I was once at a
meeting where several people in the
audience expressed disapproval over
my leaving the court. A rabbi got up
and wanted ,to reply. I was tired of
answering, so I said, 'Rabbi, please
do.' He said, 'You were at the United
Nations in '67. You were the author
of 242 (the U.S. resolution that estab-
lished the principles for a settlement
after the Six-Day War). It was
bashert (fate) that you should be in
that place at that time.'
" 'You answered it better than I
Could,' I said. 'Thank you very



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