Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Report: Did the BBC Purposely Fail to Warn Hungarian Jews of Nazi Threat?

November 13, 2012 2:27 pm 8 comments

British Army bulldozer pushes bodies into grave at Bergen-Belsen. April 19, 1945. Photo: Wikipedia

Could the BBC have done more to save Hungary’s Jews during the Holocaust? Does it have blood on its hands? The issue was explored at length in a recent documentary program on the BBC, and Professor Ladislaus Lob, who himself is a survivor of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, has published an article today on the BBC’s website exploring the issue.

At the time of the Second World War Hungary was home to one of the largest Jewish populations in Europe, tallying somewhere between 750,000-800,000 people. By 1944 two-thirds of them had been murdered.

During the Second World War the BBC broadcast to several European countries. It was overseen by the Political Warfare Executive (PWE), which was at the forefront of the British propaganda machine. The BBC Hungarian service broadcast everyday, giving updates on the war. Yet as far back as 1942 a memo had been issued that read:  “We shouldn’t mention the Jews at all.” It was written by Carlile Macartney, the Foreign Office’s top adviser on Hungary at the time. According to Professor Lob  “Macartney believed that to champion the Jews would alienate the majority of the Hungarian population who at that time, he argued, were anti-Semitic. Given that British propaganda directors wanted to draw German troops into Hungary as an occupying force, the argument was that anti-Semitic Hungarians wouldn’t help the Allies if they seemed too pro-Jewish.”

Professor Lob continues: “From December 1942 the British government, the PWE and the BBC Hungarian Service knew what was happening to European Jews beyond Hungary, and the very likely fate of the Hungarian Jews if the Germans invaded.

“No one could have expected the staff at the Hungarian Service to predict the Germans’ March 1944 invasion of Hungary. But PWE documents do show that it was the aim of some of its broadcasts to provoke such an invasion.”

The conclusion the article arrives at is that Macartney’s  “policy of silence on the Jews was followed right up until the German invasion in March 1944. After the tanks rolled in, the Hungarian Service did then broadcast warnings. But by then it was too late.”

8 Comments

  • What a pile of misrepresentations!
    1. Zach Pontz: I did not “publish an article” as Mr Pontz claims. Some comments by me are quoted in the margin of the BBC online report. The statements attributed by Mr Pontz to me were made by others.
    2. Michal bat Ze’ev: It is not true that everyone on the train paid for a place, had to be invited by Kasztner and was a relative of Kasztner etc. It would take very little research to see what other categories of people were involved. The train was not diverted to Bergen-Belsen by “some Nazis not in the know”, but by Eichmann. The group was not liberated by the British but released to Switzerland four months before liberation. No judgment based on ignorance can be taken seriously.
    3. Mihai-Robert Soran: I don’t “call” myself a survivor of Bergen-Belsen: I am. My father and I were not “privileged” or “well-situated”. Kasztner’s “main interest” was not only to save the “richest or most renowned” but as many Jews as possible . To insinuate that Kasztner profited financially from the deal is close to libel. Does Mr Soran think he is a better judge of who is a “criminal” than the Supreme Court of Israel that cleared Kasztner of collaboration? It is Mr Soran who “manipulates history” . If he had read my book instead of throwing it in his recycling bin he might have argued from knowledge rather than prejudice and animosity.
    4. While the experience of this group cannot bear comparison to Auschwitz, the term “guest of Bergen-Belsen” is insulting and mischievous.

  • Hungary was remarkable and singular.
    The Hungarian Jewish community had more warning than any other. For almost 3 years the Holocaust raged in every neighboring country and the Hungarian Jewish community
    did————–nothing.
    No preparation—no obtaining of weapons—no organization
    for resistance. They were living in dreamland. And the
    secular and religious leadership was a hindrance and not a
    help.
    In parts of Europe, Jewish resistance was an inspiration for the ages. Hungary, in better circumstances and with
    the advantage of foreknowledge, is a sorry chapter in
    Jewish history.

  • How could anyone have been a preferential ‘guest’ of Bergen-Belsen?

    • Michal bat Ze'ev

      A “preferential guest” of Belsen was someone who had paid for a place on a train Kastner had organized with Eichmann. For payment of a high price, to be paid in gold or US dollars cash, one could get a place on this train which was supposed to go to Switzerland. Not only was payment required, one also had to be invited by Kastner. Places were limited; there were fewer than 2,000 places and Kastner filled them with relatives, in-laws, people from his hometown and certain Budapest Jewish Council bigwigs. After payment. The train to Switzerland began its trip loaded with rich, privileged Hungarian Jews. However, not everyone on the train’s route knew about the scheme and some Nazis not in the know, diverted the train and it ended up in Belsen. All the passengers were kept together at Belsen, where they did receive preferential treatment; they were allowed to eat the foods they had brought on the train. From Belsen, they urgently tried to reach Eichmann but they were eventually liberated with the rest of the camp by the Brits.

  • Fredric M. London

    So, I guess today’s BBC comes by it honestly.

  • Mihai-Robert Soran

    Professor Ladislaus Lob, Historian, writes:

    “Even if the BBC had warned everybody, it would not have helped the Jews in Hungary escape, resist or hide.
    Jews could quite easily have fled Hungary but nobody would have accepted them.
    People in Hungary did not know exactly what was happening in Auschwitz, but they knew something terrible was going on.
    They very often did not want to know because they could not do anything about it so they repressed it. They persuaded themselves that it could not happen in Hungary.”

    He calls himself “a Bergen-Belsen concentration camp survivor and author of Rezso Kasztner: The Daring Rescue of Hungarian Jews – A Survivor’s Account”.

    He’s manipulating history. Kasztner and the Judenrat have on full purpose REFUSED to warn the Hungarian Jews and Jewish communities although they had the DIRECT REPORT of two Jews who fled AUSCHWITZ because their main interest was to get out the richest or most renowned Jewish families through a deal with Eichmann for millions the Germans (and … you may imagine who who also cashed in …) got from the 1700 Jews offered the opportunity to leave in peace.

  • Mihai-Robert Soran

    BBC certainly has no blood on its hands. And certainly could have acted better. But the Zionist leader Simon Wise and people like Rezzö Kasztner, Hungarian Jewish “Judenraete” and Zionist leader had blood on their hands, much, very much …
    Largest part of my family perished due to Rezso Kasztner’s betrayal and cold-blooded inner Jewish and Zionist policies. This is a fact, especially since my grandfather and him were working partners and my family didn’t leave in time Hungary because of Kasztner’s intrigues, exploitation of his personal acquaintances with Eichmann and other high ranking SS officers and false promises which were made for large financial advantage.
    The author did what he can – as many other privileged, well situated Jews and Zionists from the Hungarian elite who got tickets out of the Holocaust, on board of a train very different from the trains heading for Auschwitz gas chambers and Co.
    Kasztner and his gang were the most hideous Hungarian Jews known to history. And the book belongs into a recycling bin

  • Mihai-Robert Soran

    Pro. Ladislaus L̦b is not a Bergen-Belsen camp survivor Рas claimed (b y himself) in the BBC article. He was a PREFERENTIAL GUEST, one of more than 1,600 rich Jews that were housed in Bergen-Bergen for five months , waiting for the closure of the Kasztner business with Eichmann, before being sent with a large, long train to Switzerland.
    And Kasztner was the biggest Hungarian Jewish criminal. He has “sent” 10% (600,000) of the 6 million WORLDWIDE Holocaust Jewish victims into the gas and fire death by not warning them just in order to save 0,2% of the 800,000 Hungarian Jews.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Jewish former CNN host Larry King asked a Saudi Arabian fan if taking pictures with Jews is allowed in his country, before agreeing to pose for a photo with the man, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. The world-famous interviewer was leaving the Ritz Carlton hotel in Washington, D.C. with a New York Times reporter when a “dark-skinned man” approached and asked to take a picture with him, according to the publication. Whereupon, King asked the fan where he was from. When the man said Saudi […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    British-Jewish business tycoon Lord Alan Sugar joked on Wednesday that London synagogues will likely be empty during Yom Kippur with congregants fleeing to watch the match-up of two leading English soccer teams known for having hordes of Jewish fans. “Spurs V Arsenal cup game drawn on most important Jewish festival,” Lord Sugar pointed out on Twitter. “Both teams have loads of Jewish fans. Conclusion Synagogues will be empty.” North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal FC will go head-to-head in the Capital One Cup third-round […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Two Jewish men were the only unwitting participants in a social experiment conducted by Jimmy Kimmel, for his popular TV show. As part of a candid-camera-like sketch featured Monday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the host devised different street scenes to observe human behavior — in particular, to see how long it would take people walking down California’s bustling Hollywood Boulevard to notice and interact with others in distress. One scene involved a man in a Spongebob Squarepants costume who had “fallen down” on the sidewalk and needed help […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    A major Jewish organization rebuked actress Natalie Portman on Monday for saying in a recent interview that Jews put too much emphasis on teaching about the Holocaust relative to other genocides. The Israeli-born movie star told the U.K.’s Independent that the Jewish community needs to examine how much focus it puts on Holocaust education over other issues. She said she was shocked when she learned that a genocide was taking place in Rwanda while she was in school learning only about the horrors of the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    JNS.org – A new book that draws parallels between the Holocaust and the Palestinian Nakba (the Arabic term for the displacement of Palestinian refugees during Israel’s War of Independence) has sparked outrage ahead of an official book launch, to be hosted by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute on Sept. 7. The Zionist organization Im Tirtzu wrote a letter to the institute demanding that it cancel an event it planned in honor of the book’s authors, under the title The Holocaust and […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Famed actress Natalie Portman warned on Friday against the use of Holocaust education to evoke fear and paranoia. In an interview with the U.K. Independent she added that the trauma should make Jews more empathetic to others who have also experienced hatred. “Sometimes it can be subverted to fearmongering and like ‘Another Holocaust is going to happen,’” the Israeli-American star said. “We need to, of course, be aware that hatred exists, antisemitism exists against all sorts of people, not in the same way. I […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    The Tribalist, by Louis Marano, is ostensibly a work of fiction but at its core a kind of love song by a gentile journalist for the State of Israel, and especially its secular Zionist core. (Because of the relentless attacks by left-wing polemicists on Israel’s allegedly “messianic” fringe, it’s often forgotten that most of Israel’s founders and all its leaders have been secular Zionists.) The author, the product of an Italian-American family in Buffalo, served two tours of duty in […]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    JNS.org – Rugelach (singular: rugala) are a beloved traditional Jewish pastry, with a quirky history to boot, but they often present a kosher conundrum. Though parve rugelach are often a preferred dessert after a meat meal for those observing kosher laws (which stipulate a waiting period between eating meat and dairy), some of today’s most popular rugelach are known for their dairy fillings. Pastry chef Paula Shoyer—author of the books “The Kosher Baker: Over 160 Dairy-free Recipes from Traditional to Trendy” and […]

    Read more →