Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Montage of images and link description. America and the Holocaust Imagemap: linked to kids and home
The Film and More
Imagemap(text links below) of menu items
The American Experience
The Film & More
Interview Transcripts | Bibliography | Primary Sources

In January 1943, the American legation in Switzerland sends information to Sumner Welles, Undersecretary of State, confirming reports of mass executions of Jews in Poland.


TO: Under Secretary of State, Washington, D.C.
DATE: January 21, 1943

The following is for your information and to be transmitted to Rabbi Stephen Wise, if you so determine. Reference Department's 2314 of October 5.

"It has now been confirmed from different sources that mass executions have taken place in Poland and it is reported from one source that 6,000 are killed daily. The Jews are required, before execution, to strip themselves of all clothing, which is then sent to Germany. The remaining Jews in Poland are now confined to approximately fifty-five ghettoes - in the old ghetto insofar as the larger towns are concerned, and in small places transformed into ghettoes in other localities. Some Jews, both Polish and those deported from other countries, are in labor camps in Silesia and Poland. No news is received from the ghettoes, although occasional reports are received from some people in the labor camp and in the Resienstadt. The ghetto in Poland is comparatively worse than the Resienstadt, insofar as those remaining and working there are concerned. The Resienstadt is a self-governing Jewish community under Edelstein, Stricker, Friedmann, Zucker, among others. No delegate is allowed to be sent to the Resienstadt by the International Red Cross. Reports about the situation in Germany indicate as of the end of November and the middle of December, that deportations are continuing. Special agents of the Gestapo, having completed the job of arranging deportations from Vienna, have been sent to Holland and Berlin for the purpose of speeding up the job in those localities. Female war workers in Berlin, whose parents have already been deported, were suddenly deported after arrest, and occasionally parents returned from work to find their children have been deported during their absence. About 2000 are in hiding, and there have been many cases of suicide. People who have been arrested, and whose deportation is pending are put in buildings which have neither furniture nor beds. Twenty-one members of the German Community Council and members of the German Jewish Representation who were arrested on November 9, and held as hostages have disappeared, and it is reported that eight of them have been shot in reprisal for the fleeing of some Jews from the locality.

Jews in Czechoslovakia, Germany and Austria are not allowed to buy live fish, poultry, vegetables or rationed food stuffs, and under a new order, the local authorities are empowered to withdraw their rationing cards. Thus, Jews in Berlin are unable to buy milk, meat or eggs. It is reported from Prague and Berlin that no Jews will be left in either city by the end of March.

Fildermann has filed a special report from Rumania stating that in the fall of 1941, 130,000 Rumanian Jews were deported to Trananistria. Of these, 15,000 came from the district of Dorohoi, 30,000 from Gernauti, 45,000 from Bessarabia, and 40,000 from other parts of Bucovina. During the summer of 1942, 6,000 were deported from other parts of Rumania. These deported people have been distributed among ninety places in five districts, and some of them are confined to ghettoes which are comparatively free Jewish settlements, while others are in labor camps. The living conditions are indescribable. They are deprived of all money, food stuffs and possessions, and are housed in deserted cellars, and occasionally twenty to thirty people sleep on the floor of one unheated room. Disease is rift, particularly spotted fever. These conditions have resulted in the death of approximately 60,000 while 70,000 are starving.

Fildermann insists that the community requires urgent assistance, because the Jews in old Rumania have been ejected from most provisions and property has been confiscated, and the have been deprived of money and are therefore unable to provide large amounts.

This report is signed by Richard Lichthim and Gerhars [sic] Riegner of Geneva, and is dated January 19, 1943."

Back to Primary Sources | next