US, Britain, Soviet Union knew about Holocaust two years prior to general assumption

New documents that are only being revealed now in a newly published book are indicating that the U.S., Soviet Union and Britain knew that at least two million Jews were murdered in 1942 under the Nazi regime. In addition, the documents have revealed that the Allied Powers were working on war crime indictments against Adolf Hitler and top Nazi commanders in 1944.
Photo Credit: Channel 2 News

The U.S., Soviet Union and Britain knew about the Holocaust and the systematic extermination of the Jewish people in 1942, according to new documents that were revealed for the first time recently. Researcher Dan Plesch obtained the never before released United Nations War Crimes Commission (UNWCC) documents and used them in the research for his newly published book Human Rights After Hitler.

The main conclusions of his research were published in the British newspaper The Independent on Tuesday morning. The general assumption is that the Allied Powers only found out about the horrors of the Holocaust in 1944 but the new documents show that in December 1942, “the US, UK and Soviet governments were aware that at least two million Jews had been murdered.”

“The major powers commented [on the mass murder of Jews] two-and-a-half years before it is generally assumed,” Plesch told The Independent. “It was assumed they learned this when they discovered the concentration camps but they made this public comment in December 1942.”

In December 1942, then-UK Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden told the British parliament: “The German authorities, not content with denying to persons of Jewish race in all the territories over which their barbarous rule extends, the most elementary human rights, are now carrying into effect Hitler’s oft-repeated intention to exterminate the Jewish people.”

In addition, in March 1943, Viscount Cranborne, a minister in the British war cabinet, said that the Jewish people of Europe should not be viewed as a special case, explaining that the British Empire could not possibly offer a safe haven to additional people because it was already too full of refugees. The documents also showed that the Allied Powers were working on indictments citing war crimes against Adolf Hitler and top Nazi commanders in 1944, a year before the surrender of Nazi Germany.

Auschwitz Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

Plesch is a professor at the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at SOAS University of London. He said that the Allied Powers heard witness testimony from the camps and the resistance movements. “Among the reason given by the US and British policy makers for curtailing prosecutions of Nazis was the understanding that at least some of them would be needed to rebuild Germany and confront Communism, which at the time was seen as a greater danger,” wrote Plesch in his book.

Yad Vashem responded to the new information: “The information about the mass murder of the Jewish people reached the free world in June 1941 and the flow of information increased over time.” In addition, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial museum stated: “Even today, it is still unclear how much the Allied Powers and neutral leaders understood the full scale of what we know now- the shock of the commanders who freed the camps at the end of the war will most likely serve as an indication that the understanding was not complete."

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