Was Auschwitz liberated by the Soviet Army ?

Some reflections on the 47th Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust and the 5th World Holocaust Forum

Section 1

 1945 -Was Auschwitz-Birkenau (“Auschwitz”) liberated by the Russian Army?       

Prior to 2005 and still nowadays, January 27, is referred to as “the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by the Soviet Army”.

I contend that this wording was originally formulated to make the Soviet Union feel good. Thereafter, I think the formulation was kept in an attempt, to keep Jews and Israel on the good books of Russia,

Yet, this description of the event is contrary to the historical evidence.

More specifically,

Joseph Stalin, a murderous anti-Semite, knew about the existence of the camp through communications and conversations with Allied leaders. He chose not to transmit this information to his field commanders.

Hence, the Soviet field commanders in the area in question did not know of the existence of the camp and consequently they neither intended nor planned to capture the camp and liberate its inmates. They first became aware of the existence of it, when the army scouts located it by happenstance.

By the time they reached the camp, the Germans, the faced with the prospect of being taken prisoner by the advancing Soviet army, abandoned the camp and those of its inmates that were unfit to move, and fled with the inmates whom they considered to be still fit for slave labour on one of their infamous forced marches.

Consequently, the accurate description of the event is that the Soviet Army took possession of an abandoned concentration camp and proceeded to provide medical and related assistance to the survivors.

Most regrettably, however this is not the end of the story which has a sordid lining to it as well as an equally sordid aftermath.

Ben Cohen, in an article titled “What Putin didn’t talk about in Jerusalem” published on the Day of the Commemoration describes the nature and scope of the Soviet hostility towards Jews and Zionists in particular, and contempt for the notion of the Holocaust. More specifically, Cohen points out that

  1. Soviet propaganda claimed that the Zionist movement was an ideological bedfellow of the Nazis and that the Zionist leaders had collaborated with the Nazis at just the time that the USSR was engaged in its heroic resistance.
  2. At the beginning of World War II, the Stalin regime played down the German atrocities that targeted Jews specifically, in the name of waging a “Great Patriotic War”.
  3. That only changed towards the end of the war, when Stalin-a true believer in the global Jewish conspiracy-shrewdly figured out that the sympathy of American Jews could be very helpful in Soviet dealings with the Roosevelt Administration and so he launched a Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee and its figureheads visited the U.S to give dramatic first person accounts of the war against the Nazis and the suffering of the Jews.
  4. By 1946, Stalin dissolved the group and resumed his antisemitic campaign.
  5. Even after Stalin’s death, the Soviets invoked rigidly their line that the Jewish victims of the Nazis were no different from any other victims and that highlighting their treatment only served nefarious “Zionist” aims.
  6. Discussion of the Holocaust during the Soviet period was licensed only insofar as the focus was on the inequities of the Zionist movement and its alleged Soviet efforts to defeat the Germans. The Soviet World War II monuments did not acknowledge the Holocaust as a Jewish event. Meanwhile, the Soviet press dripped with crude cartoons-reminiscent of, Nazi caricatures.

Hence, it is fair to conclude that the only Jews liberated by the Soviets were the Soviet Jews. And the Soviets did that  and only after being shamed  and browbeaten  by the U.S. and western public opinion long enough,  into  allowing those that wanted  to secure their freedom by leaving the country.

The reader may ask: But what about the Soviet vote at the United Nations in support of the recognition and admission of the State of Israel? It certainly was not motivated by the love for the Jewish people or Israel and there was any of that, it did not last long.

Indeed, after a relatively short honeymoon, the Soviets switched camp in response to the 1956 failed invasion of Egypt with particular focus on the Suez Canal by the combined French, British and Israeli forces.

The Russians then proceeded to arm the Egyptian army to the point that, by 1967, Egypt, along with Syria and Jordan, felt that they had what was needed be able to destroy Israel. They were gravely mistaken.

About the Author
Doğan Akman was born and schooled in Istanbul, Turkey. Upon his graduation from Lycee St. Michel, he immigrated to Canada with his family. In Canada, he taught university in sociology-criminology and social welfare policy and published some articles in criminology journals After a stint as a Judge of the Provincial Court (criminal and family divisions) of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, he joined the Federal Department of Justice working first as a Crown prosecutor, and then switching to civil litigation and specialising in aboriginal law. Since his retirement he has published articles in Sephardic Horizons and e-Sefarad and in an anthology edited by Rifat Bali titled This is My New Homeland and published in Istanbul.
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