There is a story which I read many years ago that has stayed in my memory all these years. It is a story of a Captain Smith in the US air force who served during WWII.
On one of his missions bombing Germany, he noticed one of the concentration camps down below. Knowing about the Germans’ death camps, he wondered “why don’t we bomb these camps and perhaps save the lives of countless civilians who were about to be gassed and cremated?”
Upon returning to his base in England, he went to his commanding officer, General X, and asked permission to bomb one of the death camps which was on his route in Germany. General X told Captain Smith that permission from higher authority is needed for that action. A few days later, General X told Captain Smith that his request was turned down. Captain Smith was surprised and even outraged; “why wouldn’t they let me do it? It won’t affect the mission and we could prevent death and suffering.”
Following the war, Mr. Smith went on a mission to find out who was ultimately behind the decision not to bomb the camps. After months of relentless inquiry, it became clear to Mr. Smith that the decision came from the top, none other than US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
It was a most puzzling decision which would we debated for years following the war. One might wonder what kind of a relationship the president fostered toward the American Jewish community, considering he may have known full well the atrocities occurring at these Nazi death camps.
While information surfaced in later years, the American Jewish community have chosen never to delve into the story. Personally, I thought that it was a rotten decision which left a dark stain on the president’s otherwise glorious history.