Institute for Historical Review

Institute for Historical Review

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The Myth of the Six Million

10. Unconditional Surrender, the Prolongation of the War, and the Effects on Jews Under German Control

Eichmann was allegedly responsible for the deportation of men like Heimler and Levi. Unlike the case of Margarete Buber, the alleged concentration camp experiences of Heimler and Levi began long after the public announcement of unconditional surrender by President Franklin D. Roosevelt at Casablanca on January 13, 1943. The effect of this pronouncement on the prolongation of the war and on the promotion of. Communist aims in Europe has been considered by many experts. The desire in Germany for a compromise peace by the summer of 1942 was by no means confined to the German opposition to Hitler. Walter Schellenberg, The Schellenberg Memoirs (London, 1956), reveals that, as early as August, 1942, Heinrich Himmler was willing to envisage a compromise peace approximately on the basis of Germany's territorial position on September 1, 1939. Specific peace efforts of Himmler as early as 1942 were later confirmed from official Swedish sources. Schellenberg was the dominant personality in the SD (SS Security Service) after the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich by British agents in Bohemia in 1942, and he consistently exerted a moderating influence on Himmler.

The effect of unconditional surrender was certain to mean the prolongation of the war to the bitter end to the benefit of Soviet Russia. General J.F.C. Fuller, The Second World War (London, 1948, pp. 258-9), has explained that "Russia would be left the greatest military power in Europe, and, therefore, would dominate Europe." Colonel F. C. Miksche, Unconditional Surrender (London, 1952, p. 255), stated that "the unconditional surrender policy, proclaimed by President Roosevelt in Casablanca and bolstered up by a frivolous propaganda, was heedlessly put into execution."

George N. Crocker, Roosevelt's Road to Russia (Chicago, 1959, p. 182), noted that the Germans fought on with the couragre of despair, and that "Roosevelt's words hung like a putrefying albatross around the necks of America and Britain."

The unconditional surrender pronouncement was no sudden inspiration of President Roosevelt at Casablanca. Compton Mackenzie, Mr. Roosevelt (N.Y., 1944, p. 251), dated the genesis of the unconditional surrender plan from the period of President Roosevelt's 'fireside chat' of December 29, 1940, nearly one year before the formal entry of the United States into, World War II.

Alfred Vagts, "Unconditional Surrender -- vor und nach 1943" (i.e. before and after 1943) (Vierteliahrshefte fuer Zeitgeschichte, 1959/3) has explained in considerable detail how World War II actually became a "crusade" along the lines of unconditional surrender from the moment the United States formally entered the war. There was virtually no criticism of this policy before and after Casablanca from those close to the President (William C. Bullitt was a notable exception). Elliott Roosevelt, As He Saw It (N.Y., 1946, p. 117), declared that unconditional surrender was as good as if "Uncle Joe" Stalin himself had invented it.

As a matter of fact, however, the idea of unconditional surrender for Germany was not actually of American origin, despite Roosevelt's enunciation of the slogan at Casablanca in January, 1943. The British launched the policy; indeed, it had been basic in the war plans of Lord Halifax long before September, 1939. It was confirmed when Halifax and the British refused to accept the Italian plan to stop the German-Polish war early in September, 1939, a plan to which Hitler assented. The British continued it when they refused Hitler's offers of peace at the close of the German-Polish war, and again when they rejected his generous peace offers after Dunkirk. The British under both Halifax and Chamberlain, and under Churchill were determined that Germany must be utterly destroyed.

Roosevelt, after some thought, seems to have recognized at least momentarily the folly of this policy, and on May 23, 1944, sent a note to Churchill and Stalin suggesting that a return be made to the policy of Woodrow Wilson and an appeal be made to the German people over the heads of Hitler and his government, offering peace if the National Socialist government would be overthrown. Churchill rejected it instantly, and on May 24th made a speech in the House of Commons declaring that Britain would accept nothing short of unconditional surrender. Stalin also vetoed Roosevelt's suggestion on May 26th. After that, Roosevelt made no further effort to alter the crusade for unconditional surrender (Gerhard Ritter, The German Resistance, N.Y., 1958, p. 274; John L. Snell, Wartime Origins of the East-West Dilemma over Germany, New Orleans, 1959, p. 128).

Many books have been written about the efforts of the German opposition to Hitler in 1942 to arrive at a satisfactory understanding with the Western Powers in order to win sufficient support within Germany to establish, by revolutionary action, a new government, and, needless to say, not an anti-Jewish one. Hans B. Gisevius, To the Bitter End (N.Y., 1948, p.p. 448ff.), and Fabian von Schlabrendorff, Revolt against Hitler (N.Y., 1948, pp. 117ff.), have emphasized the importance of a satisfactory German agreement on peace terms with the Western Powers. Allen Dulles, Germany's Underground (N.Y., 1947, p.p. 167ff), indicated that the author, as OSS chief directing American espionage from Switzerland, favored a positive agreement with the German opposition in 1942, and he was forcefully presenting his views to the American authorities at home. Gerhard Ritter, Carl Goerdeler und die deutsche Widerstandsbewegung (Stuttgart, 1954; Am. ed., The German Resistance, N.Y., 1958), revealed that Goerdeler, as the designated head of the future opposition government, was in despair when he heard of the unconditional surrender pronouncement.

There is overwhelming evidence that American authorities had ample reason to believe that the war might be brought to a sudden close after the North African landings and the Stalingrad impasse had positive terms for peace been presented to Germany through German opposition spokesmen in Switzerland. Robert Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins (N.Y., 1948, pp. 650ff.) has revealed that the primary reason for Roosevelt's unconditional surrender announcement, when made in 1943, was to head off a German revolt and an irresistable bid for peace even without specific terms of encouragement from the Western Powers. At that time, Roosevelt did not appear to want Germany to escape from final and total defeat in the field, as she had done by means of the conditional surrender negotiations with President Wilson in 1918.

It is an incredible fact that since the war most writers critical of unconditional surrender have concentrated almost exclusively on the unfortunate effect of the policy in prolonging the slaughter by military action and in promoting ultimate Communist control in Europe. This is astonishing, because, in the total scope of writing on World War II, the subject of the impact of the war on the European Jews has received more emphasis than any other. Surely one could have expected very early a detailed study on the implications and effects of unconditional surrender on the fate of European Jews. It is now alleged on many sides that American Jewish leaders by the summer of 1942 were receiving reports from Europe which persuaded them that Hitler literally meant to undertake the physical liquidation of all European Jewry. It would be logical, if these stories are at all true, to expect that the American Jewish leaders would have been seeking to save the European Jews from such a horrible fate through conclusion of the war as quickly as possible. This would be the only possible effect means of succor under the alleged circumstances, namely, ending the war. One would expect American Jewry to have been far more horrified by Roosevelt's unconditional surrender pronouncement in January, 1943, than even by Hitler's appointment as German Chancellor in January, 1933.

Henry Morgenthau, Jr., "The Refugee Run-Around" in Colliers, Nov. 1, 1947, alleged that the United States Government knew from August, 1942, that Jews were being killed wholesale. Yet Morgenthau and his Communist assistant, Harry Dexter White, were ardent supporters of unconditional surrender both before and after Casablanca, and they were the American supporters of the Russian-born plan to convert Germany into a goat pasture. This plan was adopted by Roosevelt and Churchill at the Quebec conference in 1944, and it was soon learned by Hitler and the remaining German opposition leaders alike.

There were plenty of prominent American Jewish leaders who might have prompted President Roosevelt to follow the advice of Allen Dulles and to end the war, but they failed to do so. Margaret L. Coit, Mr. Baruch (Boston, 1957, pp. 468ff.) has proved that Bernard Baruch had more influence on President Roosevelt than did William C. Bullitt, who opposed unconditional surrender, although Bullitt had worked hard for President Roosevelt in promoting the outbreak of war in Europe in 1939. Baruch, like Morgenthan and other Jewish advisers of the President, was a fervid supporter of unconditional surrender in 1942, although this policy was calculated in any event to produce the greatest possible loss of Jewish lives.

One can only hope that an honest and well-informed Jewish writer will soon undertake a detailed explanation of this phenomenon, which would be utterly monstrous and incomprehensible if the reports of liquidations of the Jews in 1942 had been true. Furthermore, the internment policy persued by the German Government after March, 1942, spelled enormous suffering for many Jews in the context of Roosevelt's unconditional surrender policy, quite apart from any alleged German policy of deliberately exterminating all Jews.

The enthusiastic description by Isaac Zaar, Rescue and Liberation: America's Part in the Birth of Israel (N.Y., 1954, pp. 39ff.) of the big New York City Jewish rally on March 9, 1943, is sadly ironical under these circumstances. Ben Hecht presented his tragic Jewish pageant, We Will Never Die with a Kurt Weill musical score, Billy Rose producing, and Moss Hart directing. Only a few weeks earlier, the public declaration of unconditional surrender by the American President had guaranteed prolonged and unnecessary suffering to millions of European Jews as well as to several hundred million other Europeans.

Cyrus Adler and Aaron Margalith, With Firmness in the Right: American Diplomatic Action Affecting Jews, 1840-1945 (N.Y., 1946, pp. 418ff.), have claimed that President Roosevelt took an allegedly proper step on August 21, 1942, when he warned that retribution would follow any and all deliberate excesses against Jews. The accent here was clearly on revenge rather than immediate succor for the European Jews. An unlimited American jurisdiction in Germany after the war tantamount to "unconditional surrender" was clearly implied in the assumption that the United States would be in a position to secure retribution in any and every case where excesses had taken place. One can well doubt the value of this threat, repeated on December 17, 1942, in the context of the official unconditional surrender policy adopted the following year.

The "Emergency Conference to Save the Jews of Europe" was organized in April, 1943. The only person connected with it who opposed unconditional surrender was Herbert Hoover, and he was merely an honorary chairman. The solution envisaged was along the lines later taken by Joel Brand for the emigration of the Jews from Europe while war operations continued. This was, to put it mildly, an utopian and unsatisfactory policy compared to encouraging a speedy end of the war. This is especially true when one considers the disinclination of this group actually to negotiate with the Germans. The comprehensive German offer presented by Adolf Eicibmann at Lisbon in 1940 and again from Berlin in 1941 for the emigration of the European Jews had produced no result, and any widespread emigration of European Jews virtually ceased after the outbreak of war between Germany and the USSR in June 1941.

The British prohibited the landing of the S.S. Struma in Palestine in March 1942, with its 769 passengers from Europe, and shortly afterward the ship sank with only one life saved. Even worse was the earlier case of the French liner, Patria, which was burned and sunk by British warships before Haifa on November 25, 1940, with a loss of 2,875 Jewish lives. Anthony Eden summarized British objections to the evacuation of European Jews during wartime at a conference in Washington, D.C. on March 27, 1943 (Adler and Margalith, Ibid., p. 396; Sherwood, Ibid., p. 717).

The Emergency Conference suggested in addition to emigration a policy of bombing the concentration camps. The motive was not to be the one usually followed of seeking to reduce the industrial production connected with the camps, but rather that of demolishing the camps in their entirety. This was based on the naive assumption that the inmates would not be killed but would be enabled to escape. It is truly inconceivable that any large numbers of inmates would have escaped permanently. Increased loss of lives through the bombings and the destruction of facilities to provide for the prisoners would be unavoidable. The bombing campaign actually conducted in 1945, with its attendant slaughter and privations, undoubtedly produced the worst conditions experienced in German concentration camps (Zaar, Ibid., p. 60).

Further efforts, within the hopeless context of unconditional surrender, except for the effective distribution of supplies to the inmates in the camps through the International Committee of the Red Cross, were equally feeble. President Roosevelt joined Secretary Morgenthau in sponsoring a special War Refugee Board on January 22, 1.944. A tiny band of some 984 European Jews had been transported under its auspices to a special refugee camp at Oswego, N.Y. by July, 1944. The occupation of Hungary by Germany in March 1944, which probably would not have taken place bad it not been for unconditional surrender, led to the formation of the New York Conference of Hungarian Jews on April 2, 1944. The group urged Stalin to accelerate his military operations against the Hungarians as the decisive means of aiding the Hungarian Jews. This was the best help they could offer Hungarian Jewry (Zaar, Ibid., pp. 78-1141).

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