How did the global press cover the plight of European Jewry at the hands of the Nazis?


During the 1930s, there was extensive press coverage of Nazi Germany, including its treatment of the Jews. During the war, governments-in-exile received and transmitted reports from witnesses and survivors detailing the scale of the events in progress, and these were widely published, mostly sympathetically. While the atrocities committed by the Nazis received extensive coverage, the major newspapers mostly did not feature the persecution and mass-killings of Jews prominently, instead relegating the topic to small articles on inside pages.

In Britain and the United States, research suggests that “quality” newspapers covered the Nazi party from its electoral breakthrough in 1930 and ensured readers knew much of what was happening in Germany between 1933 and 1939. Responsible coverage had to contend, however, with popular attitudes and prejudices stoked by other media. As late as 1938, the Daily Mail ran a story entitled “German Jews Pouring Into this Country”. Earlier in the decade its proprietor had published an editorial praising the British Union of Fascists.

During the war the flow of information was disrupted although the governments-in-exile based in Britain received reports from home describing the arrests and deportations. The Polish government-in-exile also received and conveyed information about the atrocities in the ghettos and camps to other governments and the media. On June 30, 1942, The New York Times reported that according to the World Jewish Congress, based on information received by the Polish Government in London, “[t]he Germans have massacred more than 1,000,000 Jews since the war began.”

In contrast, the Jewish media prominently featured the German crimes against European Jewry both before and during the Holocaust. The Israeli historian Yosef Gorny has identified 2,500 references in the Jewish media to the suffering of European Jewry, and reporting of Nazi crimes “uninterruptedly and usually on the front pages” throughout the war. He cites examples of stories in Jewish publications in the United States, Britain and Mandate Palestine describing “lootings and murders, ghettoisation, starvation of the ghetto populations, mortality rates, massacres in the Nazi-occupied reaches of the Soviet Union, and the Germans’ intention of making Europe Judenrein.”

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