Why Didn’t The Press Shout?

The Nazi’s opened concentration camps as early as 1933. Stories ran in the Boston Globe, Seattle Times, New York Times, and the Daily Telegraph (London), about the mass killing of the Jews in 1942.

So why did it take until 1945, three years later, for the average listener of CBS News to know and understand the true enormity of the Nazi crimes?

In the book, Why Didn’t the Press Shout?, the following five reasons are given as to why such a story didn’t overwhelm the front page of the newspapers, and remained an “inside” story for several years.

REASON # 1
“The perpetrators of the Holocaust used the tools of totalitarianism to hide their operations. They controlled the foreign press and dominated the German press. They used railroad cars designed for industrial equipment to transport Jewish victims to death camps in Eastern Europe, telling them that they were going to labor camps.”

REASON #2
“The Allies were intent on winning the war, not on saving Jews. President Roosevelt squirmed between political and military expediency and personal indifference whenever he explained US policy.The central thrust of Allied policy was the defeat of the Third Reich —- ‘unconditional surrender’ was the demand — and Allied leaders persuaded themselves that any humanitarian digression, such as bombing the railroad lines into Auschwitz, could only delay and possibly jeopardize the achievement of the ultimate goal.”

REASON #3
“Anti-Semitism. In the late 1930s , as the US was struggling to emerge from the Depression, anti-Semitism was a flourishing hate among many Americans. In the spring of 1942, sociologist David Riesman described anti-Semitism in the US as “slightly below the boiling point. According to one poll conducted by the National Opinion Research Center, then at the University of Denver, shortly after the outbreak of the war, 66 percent of the American people–two out of every three — described the German people as “essentially peace-loving and kindly.

Another poll said that 61 % believed that the German people should not be blamed for the mass killings, Fifty-eight percent said that only the Nazi leaders should be blamed.

In January, 1943, after Undersecretary Welles confirmed the “final solution,” after the Allies released their joint statement of condemnation, still another poll said that more than half of the American people did not believe that the Nazis were ‘deliberately’ killing the Jews.”

REASON #4
“The fourth reason was related to this widespread anti-semitism and to the enormity of the Nazi crime. Many people simply could not believe that the German people would be engaged in the systematic extermination of the Jews, and many others, either because they were anti-Semitic or totally absorbed with the war effort, were basically indifferent to this possibility.”

REASON #5
“The very nature of journalism itself, as it was practiced at that time. Journalism has never been an adventurous craft. It feels uncomfortable leading the parade–much more comfortable simply covering it, objectively. Their editors wanted stories about the home front and the war front. They were not geared for stories–quite fantastic stories– about millions of Jews being gassed and burned to  death as part of a systematic German campaign to exterminate a people.”

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