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Emet m'Tsiyon

Sunday, April 02, 2006

The BBC & the Holocaust - Was It Reported or Disregarded? - Was It British Policy? - Part One

The BBC deliberately overlooked the Holocaust, while it was going on, as a matter of policy. BBC policy, for those who may be unaware, was and is dictated by the British Foreign Office. The BBC was instructed during World War 2 to overlook Jewish sufferings, not to report them at all, or to report them scantily at best. There have been some British academic studies that mention this fact, and anyone who knows of them is welcome to discuss them with us in our Comments section.

We are going to illustrate BBC policy however, by quoting several passages from the writings of Shmul Zigelboym. Zigelboym [or Zygelboim or Zygelbojm or Szmul Zygielbojm or Siegelbaum or Zigelbaum], also known as Comrade Artur, was the delegate of the Jewish Socialist League of Poland to the Polish National Council, that is, the Polish government-in-exile in London during the Second World War. The Jewish Socialist League, commonly called the "Bund" [or often, the Jewish Labor Bund] was a socialist party represented in the Polish parliament between the two world wars, a partner of the Polish Socialist Party, and a member of the Socialist International. The party conducted its organizing and educational work primarily in Yiddish, and championed Jewish secular culture in the Yiddish language. Yet, the party took a clearly anti-Zionist position, seeing the future of the Polish Jews in Poland. By today's standards, nevertheless, the Bund might be considered Zionist, if only because it considered Jews to be human beings, unlike today's overwhelmingly Nazi-like anti-Zionists. Nevertheless, because it advocated that the Polish Jews stay in Poland, it left them like sitting ducks when the Nazi armies invaded Poland [in collaboration with the Soviet Red Army, also ostensibly socialist like the Bund]. Hence, the Bund objectively set up the Jews for the Holocaust which the Bund's leaders did not see coming.

Yet, subjectively, the Bund fought to save Jews. Zigelboym considered himself the representative of the Jewish workers in Poland. He was smuggled out of Poland to London towards the beginning of the war. Much of his time in London was taking up with pleading the case of the Jews threatened with mass murder, to the British officials in London. The BBC too disappointed him since it had to be urged over and over to report the Holocaust before giving any information about it whatsoever.

Here are excerpts from a letter by Zigelboym to the Bund's representative in New York, dated 17 December 1942. The events described took place after his previous letter dated 28 November 1942:
I held special conferences with the political editor of the London Times, with the sub-editor of the Reuters Agency, with the London correspondent of the New York Times, and with the director of the British Radio [BBC].
My conferences had the result that in the London Times there were large excerpts from our report [on the massacre of Jews {in Poland}] for three days in succession, and on Sunday -- a long editorial. The Reuters Agency distributed a large summary of the report to the press; a long cable was sent to the New York Times, my proposals in the Polish National Council were printed in the Daily Telegraph, with the newspaper taking a positive position. On the British Radio [BBC], they began to give very skimpy notices about the massacres, and this -- only in the broadcasts for Europe, and not for England.
אין בריטישן ראדיא (ב.ב.סי.)
האט מען אנגעהויבן צו געבן זייער קארגע ידיעות וועגן די שחיטות, און דאס -- בלויז אין
די אוידיציעס פאר איראפע און נישט פאר ענגלאנד
Through the British Labour Party, I was connected with the British Foreign Ministry directly. I met three times with a person whom foreign minister Eden {Anthony Eden} had specially selected for the purpose and who is the expert on Polish affairs.
Monday afternoon, I again met Raczynski {foreign minister in the Polish Government-in-exile} who informed me about his talks with Eden. I proposed to Raczynski that he should immediately communicate all information to the governments {the British, other allied governments, and the governments in exile} in an official note and request action from them.
In Polish government circles . . . it was now agreed to deal with the matter as an action against the extermination of the Jewish population.
In British government circles, the information was still not believed. The British Radio had received secret instructions not to make any big propaganda about the whole issue. I spoke about this matter with the representative of the British Foreign Ministry. He denied it but the same evening, one of my friends --who belongs to the inner staff of the British Radio [BBC]-- related to me confidentially that he himself was at a staff meeting that evening at which an instruction was read out from the British Foreign Ministry, to give very cautious reports about Poland and not much.
עס איז איבערגעלייענט אן אינסטרוקציע פון בריטישן אויסערן מיניסטעריום צו געבן זייער פארזיכטיק ידיעות וועגן פוילן און נישט קיין סך

[Shmul Zigelboym, Zigelboym-Bukh, edited by Y.S. Hertz (New York: Unser Tsait, 1957), pp 358-359; in Yiddish]
One thing that Zigelboym is saying is that the BBC did not report the massacres of Jews until December 1942, whereas the massacres of Jews started with the invasion of Poland in 1939 in the form of special air raids on the poor and religious Jewish neighborhoods, later continuing in other forms. Here we note a very big contrast between the way the BBC --and most other Western news/press outlets-- reported the Holocaust, and the way that the same news outlets and press agencies reported --for example-- the Israeli anti-PLO, anti-terrorist, and anti-Syrian expedition in Lebanon in 1982. In the latter case, gross comparisons were made between Israel's operation in Beirut in 1982 with the Nazi attack on the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943. Yet there were many many differences that the Western press commonly overlooked in 1982. For one thing, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943 got very little press attention compared with that given to the PLO's travails in Lebanon in 1982. Right there we have a very big difference that the sob sisters over the PLO's suffering in Lebanon did not seem to be aware of.

It is also noteworthy that the BBC and the British Foreign Ministry, which had the superb resources of British intelligence at their disposal, did not want to believe the reports of massacres of Jews supplied by Zigelboym and the Polish underground courier, Jan Karski, among others. Somehow the Foreign Office and Anthony Eden in particular did not know or did not want to know or did not want to acknowledge that they knew about the ongoing Holocaust. This was the same Anthony Eden who favored pan-Arab nationalism by promoting formation of the Arab League [see the previous post]. The attitude toward reports of Jewish suffering contrasts with the attitude toward Arab suffering, whether real or exaggerated or wholly invented. When the suffering is alleged to be Arab, then the BBC joins in, cooperates and may even invent on its own. Consider the BBC attitude to the Jenin massacre hoax. BBC TV anchormen openly relished the story of the Jenin massacre, impatiently asking BBC correspondents on the ground in Jenin whether the bodies had yet been found. In fact, the bodies were never found because the Jenin massacre was a hoax, invented and spread by Arafat and his cronies, such as Sa'eb Erikat.
- - - - - - -
Coming: The BBC and Britain during the Holocaust, part 2, etc.


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