The issue of bombing the Nazi death camps or the rail lines leading to them has been debated for years — and the lack of action was interpreted by some as a sign of Allied indifference.
The Allies had detailed reports about Auschwitz toward the end of World War II from escaped prisoners. But they chose not to bomb the camp, the rail lines, or any of the other Nazi death camps, preferring instead to focus all resources on the broader military effort.
Some experts note only late in the war did the United States have the capability to bomb the infamous camp in occupied Poland, and also faced a moral dilemma since such an operation could kill thousands of prisoners. Even Jewish leaders at the time struggled with the issue and many concluded that loss of innocent lives under such circumstances was justifiable.
Bush twice had tears in his eyes during an hour-long tour of the museum, said Shalev, who guided Bush through the exhibits.
Upon viewing an aerial shot of Auschwitz, taken during the war by U.S. forces, he said Bush called the decision not to bomb it "complex." He then called over Rice to discuss President Franklin D. Roosevelt's decision, clearly pondering the options before rendering an opinion of his own, Shalev told The Associated Press.
Shalev quoted Bush as asking Rice, "Why didn't Roosevelt bomb it?" He said Rice and Bush discussed the matter further and then the president delivered his verdict.
"We should have bombed it," Shalev, speaking in Hebrew, quoted Bush as saying.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Aron Heller of the Associated Press writes: