Holocaust Institute Defends Fly-Over Of Auschwitz By Israeli Fighter Jets

News Release
September 04, 2003

A leading Holocaust Studies institute is defending today’s fly-over by Israeli F-15s above the site of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

“For Israeli planes to fly symbolically over Auschwitz serves as an important reminder that Allied planes flew over the notorious Nazi death camp in 1944, but knowingly failed to bomb the gas chambers and crematoria where 1.5-million Jews were murdered,” said Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies.

In a growing controversy, officials of the Polish government-sponsored museum at Auschwitz have criticized the fly-over as “inappropriate.”

But Dr. Medoff, director of the Wyman Institute, said the historical record clearly show that Allied planes flew over Auschwitz in 1944 and could have bombed the gas chambers, but instead bombed only the adjacent oil factories. “The Roosevelt administration knew about the mass murder of Jews in Auschwitz, but did not order U.S. planes to bomb the gas chambers, largely because saving Jews would have resulted in more pressure to let the refugees come to the United States,” Medoff said.

“On August 20, 1944, 127 American ‘Flying Fortress’ bombers dropped more than 1300 bombs on German factories less than five miles from the gas chambers; on September 13, 1944, 96 American ‘Liberator’ bombers hit the factories again–and stray bombs accidentally struck an SS barracks and the railway line leading into the death camp. But the gas chambers and crematoria remained untouched.”

For more information on this developing story, see the front-page item in today’s Wall Street Journal, or go to: