"Let's liberate Europe earlier" as a factor in Wallied decision-making?

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"Let's liberate Europe earlier" as a factor in Wallied decision-making?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 20 Jan 2022 04:40

I've read a fair bit of secondary and primary sources on the timing and urgency of the Second Front. What I can't recall coming across is high-level decision-makers (political or military) arguing something like, "Hey the Germans are killing the Jews (etc.), some in Europe are helping them find their victims, an earlier invasion will save lives."

I'm not saying that these voices weren't present, just that I can't think of a prominent example. Can somebody prove me ignorant (I hope)?

-------------------------------------------------

I don't, btw, want to discuss the moral issue of whether Allied polities had a moral duty to trade their soldiers' lives to save European victims, nor the political/moral issue of whether the relevant historical polities recognized such a duty or should reasonably have been expected so to recognize. Just pure historical question.
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Re: "Let's liberate Europe earlier" as a factor in Wallied decision-making?

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 20 Jan 2022 20:36

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
20 Jan 2022 04:40
Just pure historical question.
Some documents in UK National Archives here:

https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/edu ... holocaust/

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Re: "Let's liberate Europe earlier" as a factor in Wallied decision-making?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 20 Jan 2022 21:12

In Parliament on February 23, 1943, Lord Beaverbrook pressed a motion for a second front. His speech did not specifically mention a need to free occupied Europe (focused on helping Russia) but a subsequent defense of the motion by Lord Strabolgi briefly did:
Every month of delay means more and more destruction of European culture. Every further delay of a month that allows these brutes to dominate in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Western Europe means more and more of the future leaders of the European renaissance, which must come, being slaughtered.
https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hans ... -in-europe

Beaverbrook and Strabolgi seem not to have been taken very seriously within the circles deciding military policy, however (Attlee remarked that Churchill always listened to Beaverbrook's advice but had the good sense not to take it).
Tom from Cornwall wrote:
20 Jan 2022 20:36
Some documents in UK National Archives here:
None of these seem to involve a nexus between the timing of the Second Front and concern over the Holocaust etc...
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Re: "Let's liberate Europe earlier" as a factor in Wallied decision-making?

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 20 Jan 2022 22:38

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
20 Jan 2022 21:12
None of these seem to involve a nexus between the timing of the Second Front and concern over the Holocaust etc...
The minutes of the British War Cabinet meetings and the British Chiefs of Staff Committee meetings (with much of the supporting documentation - planning papers, intelligence reports, foreign and domestic policy correspondence, etc) are available on-line at the UK National Archives website. You might find reference there to the knowledge that the British had of the evolution of the Holocaust during the war and of any policy response that resulted.

I do think, however, that you will likely find that the military advice given to Churchill by his professional military advisors (and which he much grumbled against) was that the Second Front in North-west Europe was launched at the earliest possible time at which, in their professional opinion, it wouldn’t have been an unacceptably high risk operation.

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Re: "Let's liberate Europe earlier" as a factor in Wallied decision-making?

Post by histan » 21 Jan 2022 04:02

According to the link provided by Tom, it was in late 1942 that the UK Foreign Office was presented with reliable evidence that the extermination of the Jews was being proposed and planned.
It seems to me that this information would have been available in time to be considered at the Casablanca Conference should the allied leadership wish to do so. There is extensive documentation on this conference. I have only skip read parts of it that relate to my main interest (air power) so can't comment on whether there is any mention at all.

With regard to planning the invasion.
Following the Arcadia Conference (held in Washington in December 1941), the UK Chiefs of Staff in January 1942 tasked C in C Home Forces with preparing an invasion plan. Planning proceeded throughout 1942. In July 1942 the plan for Operation Round Up was rejected as impractical. Planning continued at C in C Home Forces, who produced a plan in March 1943 which was remarkably similar to Overlord as mounted. This was rejected by the Chiefs of Staff and in April 1943, as agreed at the Casablanca Conference, a joint planning staff was established.
The saga of the COSSAC planning and the major changes made by Montgomery and Eisenhower is well known.

My assessment is that the Casablanca Conference was probably the only time that any such consideration could have taken place. At that point all of the major strategic decisions had been made and an invasion date of around May 1944 pretty much set in stone.

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Re: "Let's liberate Europe earlier" as a factor in Wallied decision-making?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 21 Jan 2022 08:28

Histan wrote:According to the link provided by Tom, it was in late 1942 that the UK Foreign Office was presented with reliable evidence that the extermination of the Jews was being proposed and planned.
Churchill certainly knew of the "Holocaust by bullets" in 1941 because his government was reading SS intercepts bragging about how many Jewish people they were killing. From Churchill and the Jews: A Lifelong Friendship:
Top-secret German police radio messages about this, and about the mass murder
of non-Jewish Soviet citizens, were intercepted by British Intelligence, and
shown to Churchill. He had to be careful not to reveal his source, for fear of
alerting the Germans to the fact that their most secret communications –
including many of their daily military, naval and air force instructions –
were being read by the code-breakers at Bletchley Park. Although he could
not therefore mention Jews directly, Churchill, in his broadcast on 24
August when speaking about German atrocities in Russia, stated without
prevarication that ‘whole districts are being exterminated.’ He added, ‘We
are in the presence of a crime without a name.’1

That crime continued. On 27 August Churchill was shown a German
police decrypt reporting the execution of 367 Jews in South Russia; on 1
September a report of the shooting of 1,246 Jews; on 6 September of the
shooting of 3,000 Jews; on 11 September, more than five thousand Jews
near Kamenets-Podolsk. Churchill was informed that day by Bletchley
Park: ‘The fact that the Police are killing all Jews that fall into their hands
should by now be sufficiently well appreciated. It is not therefore proposed
to continue reporting these butcheries specially, unless so requested.’
To the extent that Ultra restrictions limited dissemination of this knowledge, it may have impeded cabinet discussions? (not sure on that point, anyone know?) It certainly would not have impeded discussions between Churchill and top military figures like Brooke.
Histan wrote:My assessment is that the Casablanca Conference was probably the only time that any such consideration could have taken place.
Far from it. There were myriad discussions/memoranda internal to US/UK in which decision-makers could have raised this pursuant to strident debates about the proper war course. Even after Casablanca, the numerous times that Britain urged a peripheral strategy and American figures vociferously objected gave them opportunity to invoke prospective European victims of delay.
Tom from Cornwall wrote:I do think, however, that you will likely find that the military advice given to Churchill by his professional military advisors (and which he much grumbled against) was that the Second Front in North-west Europe was launched at the earliest possible time at which, in their professional opinion, it wouldn’t have been an unacceptably high risk operation.
Acceptability of risk isn't a narrowly military decision, nor must we accept that men like Brooke (or Marshall, or Halder) gave advice so narrowly professional that no scope for plenary human considerations arose.

----------------------------------------------------

Mark A. Stoler's excellent book The Politics of the Second Front is an illustrative example. This book is deeply grounded in Stoler's mastery of the archival material, yet the only mention of Jew/Jews/Jewish comes when Sir Alexander Cadogan, Permanent Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs, calls the Soviets, "the most stinking creepy set of Jews I've ever come across.”
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Re: "Let's liberate Europe earlier" as a factor in Wallied decision-making?

Post by Sheldrake » 21 Jan 2022 10:17

The term Wallies is a misleading term for the Anglo -American alliancde at the heart of the United Nations formed to oppose the Axis powers. The decision making body was Combined Chiefs of Staff subject to approval by the US President and British PM. They were not always united. The individual members of this body had different views about how the war should be won. Arguably Admiral King did not accept the idea of Germany First and the heads of the air forces considered the Second Front unnecessary.

Until the US were brought into the war the British Government's policy could be described by Churchill's comment - keep on buggering on. Churchill hoped that the Special Operations Executive could ferment a revolt across Europe and popular risings could provide light infantry that could then be supported by mechanised British Expeditionary forces. Occupied Europe by and large did not rise in rebellion except in inconvenient places such as Yugoslavia or Warsaw. The only way Britian could liberate Europe was with American or Soviet support.

After Pearl Harbour the American soldiers were keen to undertake a cross channel operation as soon as possible. THis coincided with a public movemment in the UK for "Second Front Now" supported by Beaverbrooke and his newspapers the Daily and Sunday Express. The British public admired the endurance and achievmeents of the Red Army and the Soviet people.

The British CIGS 1942-45 Alanbrooke considered a 1942 operation hopelessly risky. Brooke documented his thoughts daily. These and his post war comments can be found in his diaries.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Alanbrooke-War ... C62&sr=1-2



For a modern view of policy formation in the UK try DanTodmans Britian's War a New World.https://www.amazon.co.uk/Britains-War-N ... 120625316

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Re: "Let's liberate Europe earlier" as a factor in Wallied decision-making?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 21 Jan 2022 10:30

Sheldrake wrote:The decision making body was Combined Chiefs of Staff subject to approval by the US President and British PM.
Irrelevant to what I'm asking. Did anybody in any of the national-level, service-level, international-level, or other higher-level decision-making bodies of either the US or UK (or Dominions) - or combined bodies thereof - at any time invoke, as one important aspect of the strategic calculus, how many Europeans (Jews or other targeted groups, or just Europeans in general) the Nazis would murder under different invasion-timing scenarios?
Sheldrake wrote:The only way Britian could liberate Europe was with American [AND] Soviet support.
FTFY
Sheldrake wrote:The British CIGS 1942-45 Alanbrooke considered a 1942 operation hopelessly risky. Brooke documented his thoughts daily. These and his post war comments can be found in his diaries.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Alanbrooke-War ... C62&sr=1-2

For a modern view of policy formation in the UK try DanTodmans Britian's War a New World.https://www.amazon.co.uk/Britains-War-N ... 120625316
I've read them both, don't recall either mentioning high-level discussion on my point. Then again, when I read them I wasn't asking this particular question, which only occurred to me in the form posted around when I posted it. So maybe I missed something.
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Re: "Let's liberate Europe earlier" as a factor in Wallied decision-making?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 21 Jan 2022 10:39

I get the sense that some here take me as arguing that the American earlier-invasion PoV was morally superior or something. Not so. I have seen no evidence whatsoever that Marshall et. al. favored earlier Cross-Channel out of concern for Nazi victims, were invasion delayed. Rather, Marshall thought as he did for other reasons, some military (e.g. concentration of forces on the decisive point) and some political (wanting more resources for the core Army vs. Navy and AAF, suspicion of British motives in Med/Mideast).

This sense is reinforced by focus on inter-Allied talks: Histan's on Casablanca and Sheldrake's on the CCS. It's not a matter of British-American talks; it's a matter of whether high-level decision-makers, internally or internationally, were saying to each other that truncating the Holocaust etc. was worth considering in the strategic calculus.

To be clear - I know I said I wanted to avoid moral issues but that was a far-fetched hope - the outcome of this discussion doesn't bear on whether the decision to go to war with Hitler was influenced by revulsion at his clear evil. I don't think that's really in doubt. Even were one to consider Wallied leaders completely apathetic personally to the fate of Europe's disfavored groups (I don't so consider), political pressure from Wallied polities would still inarguably have figured in mobilizing the political will to war against Hitlerism. So I don't see this as in any way challenging the rightness or justice of WW2 or its outcome.

So maybe we can set those moral issues aside and just focus on the historical question posed. I've read a lot of stuff on these issues but certainly not all (probably nobody has). My dilemma is that, having realized recently that since joining AHF 3 years ago I've read a lot of stuff, I'm struck that I haven't read about any explicit nexus in "the room where it happens" between the Holocaust and timing Hitler's death. This can be as slight as a greater appetite for military risk. Some of you point out professional/military risk evaluations but that leaves aside the anterior question of risk/reward calculus to which the Holocaust is relevant. One is not willing to risk military setback if prudent delay mitigates risk at the cost of, say, Iraq having more time to set oil wells ablaze. If the cost of delay, OTOH, is significantly greater than blazing oil wells (e.g. endurance of modern history's greatest crime), however, then that arguably could be a significant thumb on the scale of the risk/reward calculus.

Conscious that absence of proof isn't proof of absence, I'm asking if the AHF community can show me to be ignorant (hopefully).
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Re: "Let's liberate Europe earlier" as a factor in Wallied decision-making?

Post by Sheldrake » 21 Jan 2022 18:42

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
21 Jan 2022 10:30
Sheldrake wrote:The decision making body was Combined Chiefs of Staff subject to approval by the US President and British PM.
Irrelevant to what I'm asking. Did anybody in any of the national-level, service-level, international-level, or other higher-level decision-making bodies of either the US or UK (or Dominions) - or combined bodies thereof - at any time invoke, as one important aspect of the strategic calculus, how many Europeans (Jews or other targeted groups, or just Europeans in general) the Nazis would murder under different invasion-timing scenarios?
Sheldrake wrote:The only way Britian could liberate Europe was with American [AND] Soviet support.
FTFY
Sheldrake wrote:The British CIGS 1942-45 Alanbrooke considered a 1942 operation hopelessly risky. Brooke documented his thoughts daily. These and his post war comments can be found in his diaries.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Alanbrooke-War ... C62&sr=1-2

For a modern view of policy formation in the UK try DanTodmans Britian's War a New World.https://www.amazon.co.uk/Britains-War-N ... 120625316
I've read them both, don't recall either mentioning high-level discussion on my point. Then again, when I read them I wasn't asking this particular question, which only occurred to me in the form posted around when I posted it. So maybe I missed something.
Sorry to appear churlish, but I feel a little miffed at your dismissive response.

I was trying to point you in the direction of sources. The decision making body is far from irrelevant. These are the people who made the decsions. The absence of discussion is evidence in itself. In short the senior decison makers did not think along the lines you postulate.

I am not sure what point you are trying to make. Do you think that the Allies should have accepted a bigger risk and gambled on a cross channel invasion in 1942 or 1943? If so the answer is No they did not. It was not a factor under considerationby the governments of either leading allied power.

The evil rule of the Germans was something to be overturned at the first opportunity. However, the debate at the highets levels was about how best to achieve this aim. An early re-entry to Europe that resulted in defeat would not help the oppressed populations of occupied Europe, nor would a lengthy land campaign prevent the Nazis from completing their extermination policies.

Nor was the holocaust the central issue of the war. Neither Britain did nor the US went to war to save European jewry, and its protection was not a core war aim. Indeed the fate of the jews complicated allied strategy.

I note that you claim to have read Britian's War. You might like to re-read Chapter 16, in which Todman makes the point that "There was a commonly held belief that jews in particular were profiting from the black market, and understanding this is crucial to understanding British reactions to the Nazi assault on the Jewish population of Europe. Before 1939 anti -semitism was casual, persistent and widespread.... Newspapers, particularly the Daily Express and Daily Telegraph, persistently over reported jewish criminality. Readers of their pages would have got the impression that about a quarter of all prosecutions involved people with jewish sounding names. The presumption of black marketeering affected popular responses to news of Nazi crimes against humanity in Europe."

Despite this, the British did not shrink from telling people what was happening. In 1942 the the British media carried reports of the escalation of the extermination programme. Anthony Eden the Foreign Secretary told the House of Commons on 17 December 1942 that "..the Jews of occupied Europe were being transported in conditions of appalling cruelty... None of those tranported are ever heard of again." https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/1 ... rbarities)

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Re: "Let's liberate Europe earlier" as a factor in Wallied decision-making?

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 21 Jan 2022 18:48

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
21 Jan 2022 08:28
Acceptability of risk isn't a narrowly military decision, nor must we accept that men like Brooke (or Marshall, or Halder) gave advice so narrowly professional that no scope for plenary human considerations arose.
As I said, you would need to work through the UK Cabinet Papers to see if there are any references that would help your historical research.

One example in which a military response was considered as a result of information being received during one period of the Holocaust is here though (CAB79/58 - COS (42) 211th Meeting - 31 Dec 42:
CAB79-58-61 - COS (42) 211 Mtg - 31 Dec 42 - Polish Request - bombing.JPG
I have no idea what Gen. Sikorski's letter said though nor if bombing raids were conducted in response. I expect you would find those in the War Cabinet papers around this date.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
20 Jan 2022 21:12
None of these seem to involve a nexus between the timing of the Second Front and concern over the Holocaust etc...
True, but perhaps Churchill's comment in his letter of 13 July 1944 in reference to information about German plans for Hungarian Jews reflects his position:
WSC letter - 13 Jul 44 - Hungarian Jews.JPG
...the principal hope of terminating it [i.e the Holocaust] must remain the speedy victory of the Allied Nations.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
21 Jan 2022 08:28
Churchill certainly knew of the "Holocaust by bullets" in 1941 because his government was reading SS intercepts bragging about how many Jewish people they were killing.
I think that is widely accepted as is the fact that the British (and their allies) were sadly helpless to do anything about it at the time other than to warn that war crimes would be subsequently investigated and punished. Once the war was won.

Regards

Tom
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Re: "Let's liberate Europe earlier" as a factor in Wallied decision-making?

Post by Michael Kenny » 21 Jan 2022 20:31

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
21 Jan 2022 18:48


I think that is widely accepted as is the fact that the British (and their allies) were sadly helpless to do anything about it at the time other than to warn that war crimes would be subsequently investigated and punished. Once the war was won.

You would think it blindingly obvious that a nation engaged in a war with another has no leverage over any matter inside territory occupied by the other. Perhaps it is just another attempt to 'dilute' the blame for the holocaust?

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Re: "Let's liberate Europe earlier" as a factor in Wallied decision-making?

Post by rcocean » 22 Jan 2022 00:46

The only way to stop any killing of civilians in Eastern Europe - Poles, Slavs, Jews, etc. - was to win the war. Churchill and Alanbrooke didn't think invading France in 1942 or 1943 was the way to do it.

You're also assuming Churchill had perfect, verified, knowledge of how many people were being Killed in Eastern Europe. The Germans kept this a secret and even Ultra was not clear cut.

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Re: "Let's liberate Europe earlier" as a factor in Wallied decision-making?

Post by rcocean » 22 Jan 2022 00:50

We seem to be going into "They didn't do enough" territory. To which I say, there is plenty of injustice and unlawful killing going on right NOW all over the world. Strangely, the number of people willing to quit their jobs, grab a rifle, and go help the oppressed in other countries s pretty close to ZERO.

However, their seems to be an infinite number of people who think OTHERS should do it. Funny dat.

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Re: "Let's liberate Europe earlier" as a factor in Wallied decision-making?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 22 Jan 2022 02:27

Sheldrake wrote:Sorry to appear churlish, but I feel a little miffed at your dismissive response.

I was trying to point you in the direction of sources. The decision making body is far from irrelevant. These are the people who made the decsions. The absence of discussion is evidence in itself. In short the senior decison makers did not think along the lines you postulate.
No offense intended, I'm all for polite discussion. I may have been a little miffed by a suggestion that I was unaware of the CCS's existence or role.

I agree that the senior leaders did not think along the lines I postulate. I'm just asking whether there is any evidence that I am wrong in so believing. I don't expect to be wrong about this, having read extensively the area. But one never knows...
Sheldrake wrote:I am not sure what point you are trying to make.
I've tried my hardest to avoid making a point and just to ask a question.

To the extent I had one point in mind, it's not really intended for an AHF audience. Rather, it's intended for discussions elsewhere regarding contemporary ahistorical invocations of WW2 to justify contemporary exercises of American power.
Sheldrake wrote:You might like to re-read Chapter 16, in which Todman makes the point that "There was a commonly held belief that jews in particular were profiting from the black market, and understanding this is crucial to understanding British reactions to the Nazi assault on the Jewish population of Europe.
The examples of Anglo-American anti-semitism are legion, of course not rising to Nazi levels of intensity or prevalence.
Tom from Cornwall wrote:I have no idea what Gen. Sikorski's letter said though nor if bombing raids were conducted in response.
The raids were not undertaken out of concern that retaliation explicitly on behalf of the Jews would favor enemy propaganda (presumably meaning it would tie Germans closer to the Nazis?).
Tom from Cornwall wrote:the British (and their allies) were sadly helpless to do anything about it at the time other than to warn that war crimes would be subsequently investigated and punished. Once the war was won.
We disagree about that; I believe the West could have won the war more quickly by making different strategic decisions (primarily focusing on earlier invasion). This isn't the appropriate thread to discuss that, however, and there's plenty of others in which we have/can.

As we both believe (I take it) that truncating the Holocaust was not a risk/reward factor in Wallied grand strategic deliberations (internal or external), I have no grounds to criticize Wallied strategy - distinct from Wallied aims - on the grounds that a different strategy would have truncated the Holocaust. These questions are distinct: (1) For what and how much were the Wallies willing to spend blood and treasure and (2) given #1, via which military strategy should blood and treasure be expended?

My OP addresses only question #1.
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