WWII Knowledge of the KZs

Discussion in 'The Holocaust' started by Jedburgh22, Jan 18, 2011.

  1. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    During WWII the Allies in the upper command echelons had a good knowledge of what was happening in the KZs from several sources the most notable being the Enigma Decrypts, others included testimony from escaped KZ prisoners and POWs as well as 'ransomed' jews.

    As late as 1945 many of the Allied troops at formation level had no idea of the horrors being perpetrated in the camps - one of the reasons given for this was the protection of the Enigma Secret. Also I think the case existed for compartmentalising intelligence - an intelligence unit may have knowledge but it would not be passed on for general consumption.

    There were many groupings of prisoners in the KZs including SOE/OSS agents, Bomber Aircrew (classed as terrorfliegers), commandos etc. In some cases their fates was not known for several years post war.
  2. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    I have a soft spot for appearently orphaned posts....

    It can be a difficult issue to separate the Nazi treatment of agents, commandos, and airmen caught seeking to evade capture. You seem to be adding to the confusion with the Nazi use of concentration camps (KZ's I guess) for political prisoners, ... and all other "un-desirables". Add to that the massive slave labor system. Now you have to separate all that from the murder of the Jews in extermination camps in occupied Poland, normally termed Holocaust or Shoah.

    Certainly the vicious nature of the Nazi regime tainted all the 'normal' handling of prisoners of any sort. And once there exists that massive prison system it was probably natural they ended up combining operations or turning over the small number of 'saboteur' prisoners to the larger political prisoner system, unless the individual was considered 'high value'. I also suspect there was punishment for 'troublesome' Allied POW's to be 're-classified' as 'saboteurs'. And then there might be some gray areas.

    The Allies, of course, expected terrible treatment for SOE/OSS agents, anyone not in uniform. The best they could hope for were trials and executions, the same treatment the Allies had for German agents.

    The other topic you bring up is the knowledge by Allied command and the use of ULTRA. As you indicate they only passed on information that was deemed useful to the recipient, with further limitations for guarding the ULTRA secret. Until the Allied armies reached the border of Germany, I can understand not passing-on a lot of information. Once they reached the borders then the information was probably passed on because of the expected humanitarian needs that might effect military logistics. Even so, given the mass confusion in the end, either the projected scale fell short of reality or the reality just overwhelmed the Allied capacity or both.

    So that's my understanding as I have absorbed it, without any real study. I'm sure there are holes that you could drive a lorrie through, but that's the fun of the forums if handled right. I hope I have, I hope follow-on posts will.

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