George McGovern, a former U.S. Senator and candidate for President in 1972, died Sunday at the age of 90. In one of the many news stories about him, I learned that McGovern was a bomber pilot in World War II; he piloted a B-24 “Liberator” bomber. Among his targets: German synthetic oil factories in occupied Poland – some of them fewer than five miles from the Auschwitz gas chambers.
This quote is from an editorial in The Jewish Press which you can read in full here:
“There is no question we should have attempted…to go after Auschwitz,” McGovern said in the interview. “There was a pretty good chance we could have blasted those rail lines off the face of the earth, which would have interrupted the flow of people to those death chambers, and we had a pretty good chance of knocking out those gas ovens.”
Even if there was a danger of accidentally harming some of the prisoners, “it was certainly worth the effort, despite all the risks,” McGovern said, because the prisoners were already “doomed to death” and an Allied bombing attack might have slowed down the mass-murder process, thus saving many more lives.
Whatever gave George McGovern the idea that the Nazis were carrying on “mass murder” with the use of “gas ovens”?
Actually, McGovern was not the only person who mistakenly believed that “gas ovens” were used to kill the Jews.
On the former Hannity and Colmes Fox News show on 12/13/06, Alan Colmes showed a photo of two cremation ovens at Buchenwald with the remains of partially burned bodies visible, as he said: “A number of people at this [Holocaust denial] conference and your organization have said things like ‘The gas chambers did not exist.’ I want to put up on the screen the furnaces that were used to kill Jews.” At that point, the photo below was shown on the screen.
The photo above is on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website with the following caption: “The charred remains of former prisoners in two crematoria ovens in the newly liberated Buchenwald concentration camp. Buchenwald, Germany, April 14, 1945.”
Notice the date on the photo: April 14, 1945. Buchenwald was liberated by American troops on April 11, 1945. Three days later, a photo of an oven with bodies inside was taken. Notice that the photo does not have an identification number in the lower right hand corner, which would identify it as a photo taken by the U.S. Army Signal Core.
The quality of the photo indicates that it was not taken with an expensive camera. This is NOT a photo taken by Margaret Bourke-White, who arrived in Buchenwald to take photos on April 15, 1945. The photo looks suspiciously like a posed photo, set up by some of the former prisoners to show how the Jews had been killed in “gas ovens.”
In any case, it is not surprising that George McGovern thought that the Nazis were doing “mass murder” by using “gas ovens.” Everyone is familiar with the method of suicide that involves sticking one’s head inside a “gas oven.” The former prisoners at Buchenwald set up an exhibit that showed shrunken heads, and human skin lampshades, so it is conceivable that they also took photos of the “gas ovens.”
Actually, there was one prisoner at Auschwitz who did stick his head into a “gas oven.” Tadeusz Borowski committed suicide by sticking his head into a “gas oven” a short time after he was liberated from Auschwitz-Birkenau. Borowski is famous for writing about how the SS men and the Jews were playing soccer together at Auschwitz and they observed Jews entering the gas chamber which was very close by.
Maybe George McGovern and Alan Colmes read Borowski’s short stories and got confused about how the mass murder at Auschwitz was really done.
Bombing the homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz would not have done much good because the disinfection buildings, where the clothing was deloused, could have then been used to kill the Jews.
The photo above shows one of the buildings where the clothing of the prisoners at the Auschwitz II camp was disinfected with Zyklon-B, the same gas that was used to murder the Jews in the crematoria buildings.