Mitchell Bard

Show the Atrocities and Try the Criminals

General Dwight Eisenhower inspects charred remains of prisoners at Ohrdruf concentration camp. (Wikipedia)
General Dwight Eisenhower inspects charred remains of prisoners at Ohrdruf concentration camp. (Wikipedia)

On April 19, 1945, General Eisenhower sent this Eyes Only cable to General Marshall, asking for permission to take members of the press and Congress to a concentration camp. He wrote:

We continue to discover German concentration camps for political prisoners in which conditions of indescribable horror prevail…I have visited one of these myself and I assure you that whatever has been printed on them to date has been understatement. I will arrange to have them conducted to one of these places where the evidence of bestiality and cruelty is so overpowering as to leave no doubt in their minds about the normal practices of the Germans in these camps.

During a June 18 press conference at the Pentagon, Eisenhower was asked whether he thought publishing atrocity stories was useful. He replied:

When I found the first camp like that I think I was never so angry in my life. The bestiality displayed there was not merely piled up bodies of people that had starved to death, but to follow out the road and see where they tried to evacuate them so they could still work, you could see where they sprawled on the road. You could go to their burial pits and see horrors that really I wouldn’t even want to begin to describe. I think people ought to know about such things. It explains something of my attitude toward the German war criminal. I believe he must be punished, and I will hold out for that forever. I think it did good. I think the people at home ought to know what they are fighting for and the kind of person they are fighting. Yes, it did good.

During all the years Israel has suffered from terrorism, officials have refrained from publishing the most horrific photographs of victims. They have not only wanted to spare the public from the images but also the families who should not have to see the bodies and remains of their loved ones. No one should have to be traumatized twice and have the images imprinted in their brains forever.

Those are good reasons to withhold the evidence of the Hamas abominations. Still, the photos must be seen. Just as Eisenhower believed Americans needed to see what they were fighting for, the world must understand the evil Israel is fighting against. I acknowledge a big difference; Americans were not looking at pictures of people they knew, whereas Israelis and many Jews abroad would have to see family and friends. The government has told parents to turn off their children’s phones so they might not happen upon photos disseminated by Hamas. I would not want them to see anything that the government would release.

Still, the world must see the barbarity of Hamas because the narrative will soon change. Hamas will disseminate phony casualty totals, never admitting a single terrorist was killed by Israeli forces. They will provide photos of pristine teddy bears posed in front of the rubble of buildings. Pictures of children in hospitals or in the arms of parents Hamas used as shields will fill the airwaves without context. The media is already beginning to focus more on the death of Palestinians in Israel’s counterstrikes; the atrocities that prompted them will be forgotten.

The crimes of the Nazis were unspeakable, as are those of Hamas. If there was ever a case where the adage a photo is worth a thousand words was valid, it is now.

The victims deserve to have the way their lives were ended documented for history. These are just a few examples:

  • The bodies of decapitated men, women, children, and babies.
  • People hacked to death with axes.
  • Bodies burned alive.
  • Victims who were trapped in buildings set on fire.
  • People who were smoked out of their hiding places and shot.
  • Children shot in front of their parents.
  • Parents shot in front of their children.
  • Multiple gunshot wounds of older people, women, and children.
  • Faces blown off, bodies ripped apart by grenades and RPGs.
  • Bodies missing limbs.
  • Family pets shot.

When the war is over, Israel must hold a war crimes trial, as it did for Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the final solution. Every terrorist who survives and every captive must be brought to justice, and, as in the case of Eichmann, the guilty should be put to death. Hamas leaders abroad, who orchestrated the atrocities and many others before, must be hunted. They should be captured and brought to Israel for trial or assassinated. The countries harboring them – Turkey, Lebanon, Qatar – must be forced to extradite them or face consequences.

For decades, we have said, “Never Again!” But it happened again, and those in Israel who failed their people must accept responsibility. They must also look at the pictures knowing whatever they did was not enough. They will never forget.

The world’s attention will move on, and, at best, the events of October 7-8, 2023, will be a paragraph in history books outside Israel. The pictures, however, must be preserved so no future generation can look away and say they do not understand why Jews worry about anti-Semitism and Islamic radicalism.

About the Author
Dr Mitchell Bard is the Executive Director of the nonprofit American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE) and a foreign policy analyst who lectures frequently on U.S.-Middle East policy. Dr. Bard is the director of the Jewish Virtual Library, the world's most comprehensive online encyclopedia of Jewish history and culture. He is also the author/editor of 24 books, including The Arab Lobby, Death to the Infidels: Radical Islam’s War Against the Jews and the novel After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine.
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