How the American Jews Spread the Word of the Tragedy

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The American Hebrew, New York, December 4, 1942

Report on Extermination


EXISTENCE OF an official order by Adolf Hitler[1] calling for the extermination of all Jews in Germany and the territories occupied by the Nazis which, if carried out, would mean the death of five million Jews, has been confirmed in documents made available by the State Department to Dr. Stephen S. Wise.

The documents submitted by the State Department were received, following the effort undertaken at the request of Dr. Stephen S. Wise, President of the American Jewish Congress, to authenticate reports from abroad that mass massacres were occurring or were about to occur. In making this request Dr Wise acted in behalf of a special conference which was attended by representatives of the American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, American Jewish Labor Committee, Agudath Harabonim, Agudah Israel, B'nai B'rith, Synagogue Council of America, and the World Jewish Congress.

Mass Massacre

The confirmatory reports were made public recently in behalf of all the organizations. The reports received indicate that the Hitler policy of decimation of the Jews has already advanced so far as to have resulted in the mass massacre of more than 1,500,000. According to these documents, made available through the State Department, confirmation of the Hitler order was obtained from high German officials. This information, supplementing advices first received from the European offices of the World Jewish Congress, and transmitted to its American offices through the State Department, indicates that mass deportations have been taking place to Eastern Europe from all countries under Nazi domination.

Since the beginning of August, according to these reports, trains en route to the East have arrived at the German frontier filled with corpses.

"The corpses are used in special factories for the manufacture of soap[2], glue, and train oil. Jews have been killed according to a new procedure. Gas chambers have been replaced by the injection of air into the veins. The injection of the air leads to general poisoning. One hundred injections per hour is the record of German physicians." Since the end of 1932, it is further revealed, Nazi Party physicians have been experimenting in scientific methods for the "extermination and utilization of corpses. The value of corpses is now estimated at 50 Reichsmarks."

These advices simplified the information with respect to Hitler's order of extermination. This order has been discussed, according to these advices, since August 1942. The plan was originally submitted to Hitler's general headquarters by Herman Backe, Secretary of State for Economics[3]. Under the plan, "all Jews living in Germany and German-occupied and controlled countries, numbering some five million, should, after deportation and concentration in certain regions of Eastern Europe, be exterminated at one stroke, in order to solve once and for all the Jewish question in Europe."


The time of execution was set for the fall of 1943. In anticipation of the execution of this plan, large-scale deportations from all European countries began. The plan of Herman Backe, submitted directly to Adolf Hitler, was based on economic reasons, in order to ease in part the difficult food situation buy the annihilation of at least four million persons who would otherwise have had to be fed.

The adoption of this plan was delayed through the opposition of a number of leaders of the Nazi Party. These include Dr Frank, Governor-General of the occupied Polish territories, who opposed the plan, not on humanitarian grounds, but on the grounds that the Jews were artisans or specialists in industries and could ease the shortage of labor in Poland. The plan was also opposed on the same grounds by Heinrich Himmler, Chief of the Gestapo. Despite this opposition, however, the plan was finally accepted, and Hitler signed the order calling for the mass deportation ofd Jews, with a view to their ultimate extermination.


IN MAKING these facts public in behalf of the conference Dr. Wise, as its chairman, stated:

"It is our purpose in making these facts known to accomplish two purposes: One, to acquaint the world at large with the exact nature of Nazi bestiality; and two, to insure, as already pledged by our Government and the United Nations, that the perpetrators of the anti-Jewish crimes shall be held to strict accountability by the tribunals which the United Nations, are already setting up."

In East European countries, says the reports, particularly in Poland, "pogroms and mass-executions on a large scale are constantly taking place." Thus the policy of extermination of European Jews is systematically carried out in accordance with the pronouncements made in the last speeches of the head of the German Government. Those unfit for work are killed. Those engaged in slave labor are worked to death. Persistent reports have it that young Jewish girls and women having been sterilized are brought to the military brothels."

Actual Conditions

The information received through the State Department cites the actual condition of the Jews in various countries under Hitler since the outbreak of the war in 1939.

Taken country by country, the reports indicate:

  • GERMANY. Of the 200,000 Jews who lived in Germany at the outbreak of the war in 1939, mass deportation, suicides and starvation have reduced their number to 40,000.
  • AUSTRIA. Of 75,000 Jews in Austria at the outbreak of the war, no more than 12,000 to 15,000 remain.
  • BOHEMIA AND MORAVIA. Of the 80,000 in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, 15,000 Jews remain, the remainder have been deported either to Poland or Terezin.
  • POLAND. Of the 3,300,000 Jews living in Poland at the beginning of war, there were left following the German invasion 1,300,000 in the General Government and 700,000 in the Polish towns annexed by Germany, the remainder having fled to Soviet Russia or remained in the territories occupied by Russia, which have been reoccupied by Germany. The total number of Jews under German domination in Poland, after a deduction of 500,000 refugees in Russia, therefore, should have approximated 2,000,000. At the beginning of the Summer of 1942, there were still in Poland only 2,200,000, 600,000 having perished, but in the meantime large scale evacuations and massacres took place so that, for instance, the Ghetto of Warsaw, with a normal population of at least 550,000 harbors today not more than 100,000.
  • BELGIUM. It is reported that only 5,000 Jews remain in Brussels, and 3,000 in Antwerp, of the 85,000 who resided in Belgium at the beginning of the war in 1940.
  • HOLLAND. Sixty thousand of the 180,000 Jews of the Netherlands have already been deported.


  1. The origin of the spurious "official order by Adolf Hitler" was a story from Switzerland telegraphed by Dr Gerhart Riegner, the World Jewish Congress representative in Switzerland, to London and New York in August 1942. (See British Foreign Office papers in the Public Record Office, file FO.371/30917)
  2. The "Jewish soap" legend was finally refuted by Israeli historians in 1990.
  3. "Herman Backe" is a reference to Dr Herbert Backe, Under-Secretary for Agriculture; his widow Ursula confirmed to me that the allegations against him are ludicrous -- as ludicrous as the suggestion that Frank (hanged at Nuremberg in 1946) and Himmler were opposed to the Final Solution. Frau Backe made his papers and her diaries available to me when writing Hitler's War.
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