Two more on Riegner, 1st here, and 2nd at link following quote.
full text: http://codoh.com/library/document/2090
The ‘Holocaust’ and the Failure of Allied and Jewish Responses
The Logic of Disbelief
By K. C. Gleason
Like Roswell McClelland, the World Jewish Congress (WJC) representative in Switzerland, Gerhard Riegner, was apparently a man who “could not believe, yet did believe” information on exterminations. He made many protestations to Allied governments on the basis of a report he allegedly obtained from an anti-Nazi German industrialist in the Summer of 1942.
In that report, Riegner was quoted recently as saying, were somber warnings that Hitler had prepared for the total physical annihilation of European Jews. Authorities in the U.S. and Britain were asked to believe that the industrialist (who owned factories employing 30,000 workers) had access to the highest counsels of the German government, and was invited to a secret meeting at which the Nazi extermination plan was laid out.
In the first of several messages to American and British diplomatic representatives in Switzerland, Riegner asked that the data be transmitted to their governments and to key Jewish leaders. As is now well known, the information was dismissed as fantasy by the foreign service establishments of both countries. A typical reaction was that these allegations were merely “the opinion of one Jew in Geneva.” As Riegner himself told the Washington Post: “No one really believed it. Not even the Jews who knew it [?]… I counted 4 million Jews as dead.” (How they were counted is not indicated.) “My own World Jewish Congress office in New York – where I sent all my reports – published the figure of only 1.5 million.”
While he has reportedly “struggled” long and hard with the reasons his industrialist’s – and by extension, others’ – reports were suspect, Riegner concludes that the human mind simply could not accept claims of such magnitude.
There are, of course, less metaphysical reasons why Riegner’s claims were viewed as little more than rumor. The most obvious is their unsubstantiated character. As Martin Gilbert made plain in his 1981 book Auschwitz and the Allies, Washington and London were “disinclined” to believe Riegner’s “fantastic” tales, in part because no others had been as strikingly grandiose. Although Riegner spoke of interrogating the mysterious industrialist (it was two full days before he believed the man’s accounts himself), authorities in the West remained dubious. Much of this attitude appears to have hinged on the phrase “at one blow exterminated,” found in Riegner’s first urgent telegram, of 8 August 1942. To be sure, some officials, including the American Vice-Consul in Geneva, Howard Elting, considered the 30-year-old lawyer “a serious and balanced individual,” but inside the State Department skepticism prevailed.
Against Vice-Consul Elting’s view that Riegner would not have asked to see him had Riegner “lacked confidence in his informant,” must be weighed the questions of Elting’s colleagues about the messenger. Riegner was, in fact, an entirely unknown quantity either in Foggy Bottom or in Whitehall. When the Riegner correspondence was forwarded from Switzerland to London, the response of Richard Law, Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs, was to ask: “What do we know of Mr. Riegner?” After pouring over refugee files and consulting with British Zionists, the answer was: nothing. As Gilbert notes, “the Foreign Office drew a blank.”
Owing to such official reservations the Riegner report was not made public. On 17 August the U.S. Minister in Bern, Leland Harrison, was told by Washington that the report also had not been delivered – as requested by Riegner – to World Jewish Congress President Rabbi Stephen Wise. The reason, according to U.S. documents quoted extensively in Gilbert’s book, was “the unsubstantiated nature of the information.”
The American Consul in Geneva, Paul Squire, bluntly echoed this language in communicating to Riegner a week later. Until “corroboratory information” on the extermination of the Jews was received, Squire told a frustrated Riegner, the State Department was “disinclined to deliver the message in question in view of the apparently unsubstantiated character in the information that forms its main theme.”
There was another reason for this disinclination. The report repeated some of the most gruesome atrocity canards of the First World War. Some stories retained the discredited charges intact, others dropped certain elements and replaced them with ones which may have had a plausible basis. The result was an incomprehensible hash of fact and fancy.
And Isak Lieber’s testimony to Riegner can be read (in French) in Dubitando, no. 14, January 2008, here:http://www.vho.org/aaargh/fran/revu/dub ... ando14.pdf
The tide is turning.