Scrapbookpages Blog

November 18, 2015

Why didn’t America bomb the railroad tracks into Auschwitz?

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 12:43 pm

As a child, living in a small town in America, my home was located right beside the railroad tracks going through the center of the state of Missouri; I would frequently look out the window and see workers repairing the railroad tracks. The tracks required frequent maintenance, which was quickly accomplished.

Today, I read a news story which seems to suggest that it would have taken a long time to repair the tracks leading to Auschwitz-Birkenau and that the Jews could have been saved if the tracks had been blown up.

The following quote is from the news article:

One less fortunate result is that the Big Questions begat by the Holocaust — How could it have happened; Where was God; Where was Roosevelt? — often result in small answers, answers that do not necessarily do the questions justice. Nonetheless, Jews are a meaning-seeking people. And so we keep trying. Jay Winik’s monumental survey of the last full year of the Second World War, “1944: FDR and the Year that Changed History” (Simon & Schuster), marks the most recent effort to answer the third question: Why didn’t America and the Allies rescue the Jews as the Final Solution unfolded? In particular, why were the tracks to Auschwitz, and Auschwitz itself, not bombed?
Railroad tracks entering the gatehouse at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Railroad tracks going through the gatehouse into the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp

The town of Auschwitz was a major railroad hub, with many train tracks coming into it, and a large marshaling yard was located near the Auschwitz station.  Standing on a railroad overpass at Auschwitz in 1941, Heinrich Himmler realized that Birkenau was an ideal location for transporting people by rail from all over Europe, although the plans for exterminating the Jews were not finalized until the Nazis were confident that they would win their war against the Soviet Union. The gate house at Birkeanu is located three kilometers, or about two miles, from the main Auschwitz camp, known as Auschwitz I.

To get to the Birkenau camp from the main Auschwitz camp, turn right after exiting from the parking lot. The road curves to the left and goes over the railroad overpass where Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler stood on March 1, 1941 when he selected the village of Birkenau to be the location of a new addition to the Auschwitz main camp. At that time, the invasion of the Soviet Union and the plan to exterminate all the Jews in Europe was only months away.

The "Gate of Death" at Auschwitz-Birkenau

My photo of the  “Gate of Death” at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp

From the railroad overpass, the road leads directly to the Gate of Death, shown in my photo above.

The railroad spur line that goes through the gate house begins on the left side of the gate, about a quarter of a mile away, and curves around until it forms a straight line in front of the gate.

Trains coming from the west entered the Birkenau camp from tracks on the left side of the gate, as you are facing it, and did not pass the railroad station in the town of Auschwitz. Trains coming from the opposite direction passed the train station in Auschwitz and then entered the camp on the spur line. The train tracks end only a few yards from two of the gas chambers inside the Birkenau camp.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau gate house was not built until 1943, long after the Birkenau camp was first opened.

The first inmates, who were Soviet Prisoners of War, arrived at Birkenau on October 7, 1941. At first, the gate shown in my photo above was for trucks and pedestrians.

Railroad tracks were not laid through the gate until the Spring of 1944, just before the transports of Hungarian Jews began to arrive. According to the Auschwitz Museum, 434,351 of these Hungarian Jews were not registered at Birkenau; instead, they were gassed immediately upon arrival.

At the height of the deportation of the Hungarian Jews, during a 10 week period, up to 12,000 Jews were allegedly gassed and burned each day. If only the Allies had destroyed the railroad tracks into Birkenau, they could have been saved.