BURIED by THE TIMES
Buried by The Times: The Holocaust and America’s Most Important Newspaper is an in-depth look at how the New York Times failed in its coverage of the fate of European Jews from 1939 to 1945. It examines the many decisions that were made up and down the chain of command at the Times – decisions that ultimately resulted in the minimizing and misunderstanding of modern history’s worst genocide. The fascinating and tragic narrative of Buried by The Times is unfolded by Laurel Leff, a veteran journalist and professor of journalism. She recounts how personal relationships at the newspaper, the assimilationist tendencies of the Times’ Jewish owner, and the ethos of mid-century America all led the Times to consistently downplay news of the Holocaust. It recalls in precise detail how news of the Nazis’ “Final Solution” was hidden from Times readers and – because of the newspaper’s profound influence on other media – from the larger American public. Buried by The Times is thus required reading for anyone interested in the Holocaust and America’s response, as well as for anyone curious about how journalists determine what is newsworthy.
Laurel Leff has been a faculty member at Northeastern University since 1996. Prior to her university appointment, she was a professional journalist for 18 years, reporting for the Wall Street Journal and the Miami Herald. She also served as an editor for American Lawyer Media and the Hartford Courant.
“Laurel Leff has written an exceptional study of one of the darkest failures of the New York Times – its non-coverage of the Holocaust during World War II. How could the best newspaper in the United States, perhaps in the world, underestimate and underreport the mass killing of more than 6,000,000 Jews? Read this book, which provides answers and in the process stands tall in scholarship, style, and importance.”
– Marvin Kalb, Senior Fellow at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy
“This is the best book yet about American media coverage of the Holocaust, as well as an extremely important contribution to our understanding of America’s response to the mass murder of the Jews.”
– David S. Wyman, author of The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust
“This important book answers – in a compelling fashion – some of the questions which have long been asked about the New York Times’ coverage of the Holocaust. Probing far behind the headlines, Leff tells the fascinating story of how the Sulzberger family was rescuing its relatives from Germany at the same time that it was burying the story of the Holocaust in the inner recesses of the paper.”
– Deborah E. Lipstadt, author of Beyond Belief: The American Press and the Coming of the Holocaust
Buried by The Times
The Holocaust and America’s Most Important Newspaper
CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo
Cambridge University Press
40 West 20th Street, New York, NY 10011-4211, USA
Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/9780521812870
© Cambridge University Press 2005
This book is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception
and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements,
no reproduction of any part may take place without
the written permission of Cambridge University Press.
First published 2005
Printed in the United States of America
A catalog record for this publication is available from the British Library.
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Leff, Laurel, 1957–
Buried by the Times : the Holocaust and America’s most important newspaper / Laurel Leff.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0-521-81287-9 (hardback)
1. Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) – Press coverage – United States. 2. World War, 1939–1945 – Press coverage – United States. 3. New York Times Company. 4. Journalism – Social aspects – United States. I. Title.
070.4′499405318 – dc22 2004018271
ISBN–13 978-0-521-81287-0 hardback
ISBN–10 0-521-81287-9 hardback
Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for
the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or
third-party Internet Web sites referred to in this book
and does not guarantee that any content on such
Web sites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.
Dedicated to the Memory of
Sarai K. Ribicoff
Ricardo Hunter Garcia
|Introduction: “Last Voice from the Abyss”||1|
|PART I 1933–1941|
|1||“Not a Jewish Problem”: The Publisher’s Perspective on the Nazis’ Rise and the Refugee Crisis||19|
|2||“This Here Is Germany’: Reporting from the Berlin Bureau||49|
|3||“Worthy of France’: The Vichy Government’s Anti-Semitic Laws and Concentration Camps||77|
|4||“A New Life in Nazi-Built Ghettos’: German Domination of Poland, Rumania, and the Baltic States||107|
|PART II 1942–1945|
|5||“To Awaken the Conscience of Christendom”: Pressure to Publicize the First News of the Extermination Campaign||135|
|6||“Amidst the Advertisements on Page 19”: Placement Decisions and the Role of the News Editors||164|
|7||“All Jews Are Not Brothers”: The Publisher’s Fight with Zionists||192|
|8||“The Semitic Question Should Be Avoided”: German Atrocities and U.S. Government Propaganda||236|
|9||“Final Phase of Supreme Tragedy Has Begun”: The War Refugee Board and the Destruction of Hungary’s Jews||265|
|10||“Political Prisoners, Slave Laborers, and Civilians of Many Nationalities”: The Liberation of the Concentration Camps||294|
|11||“Lessons from the Hitler Tragedy”: The Publisher and the Aftermath of War||319|
|Conclusion: “The Horrible Story Was Not Told”||330|
|Appendix A: Key Individuals||359|
|Appendix B: Key Institutions||368|
|Appendix C: List of Front-Page Stories||373|
|Photographs located on pages 223–235|
Ilearned to be an editor by working with great ones: John McPhee at Princeton University; William Blundell and Byron Calame at the Wall Street Journal; Matthew Walsh and Edward Wasserman at the Miami Herald; Steven Brill, Eric Effron, Julie Lipkin, James Lyons, and Edward Wasserman at American Lawyer Media; and David Fink, Pamela Luecke and Lawrence Roberts at the Hartford Courant. I also had the fortune of working with a great editor on this book, Andrew Beck of Cambridge University Press, who praised, prodded, and improved in appropriate measure.
During my years teaching at Northeastern University in Boston, I have had a number of talented and inspiring graduate students, some of whom helped in researching this book. Among them are Lisa Eramo, Sarah McDonald, Nathan Fox, Hollie Gowen, Robert Greene, and most of all, Karen Fischer of Germany and Jacques Maes of France, who not only provided invaluable assistance, but who also exemplified the best of a generation of Europeans able to learn from the past. Among the many archivists who assisted me, Lora Korbut at The New York Times Company Archives stood out for her cheerfulness and her willingness to help me make full use of that priceless resource. In conducting my research, I received financial support from the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture and from Northeastern University’s Research and Scholarly Development Fund.
Although only a few people were available to be interviewed for this book, they more than made up for their small number by their generosity in terms of time and insights. They include Clark Abt, Neil MacNeil, Jr., Margarete Midas Meyers, Marylea Meyersohn, Ruth Nussbaum, Daniel Schwarz, Louis Shub, and Jacob Trobe. In addition, Eli and Shoshanna Eliat and Otto and Gizella Heda helped me understand my family’s involvement in the greater catastrophe of the Holocaust.
Several people encountered early incarnations of this book and offered encouragement when it was most needed: Nicholas Daniloff, Colette Fox, Debra Kaufman, Ada G. Leff, Ernest Leff, Thelma Magun, Bonita Miller, Eve Paul, Lawrence Roberts, James R. Ross, Vicki Schultz, Judyth Singer, Avi Soifer, Cassie Solomon-Gillis, Jerry Sontag, Sarah Tomlinson, Gillian Whitman, and my father-in-law, Robert D. Paul, who was the first person to read the entire manuscript and who sadly passed away before it was published. Still others devoted many hours to making this a better book through their penetrating criticisms: Nathan Fox, Ricardo Hunter Garcia, Julie Lipkin, Rafael Medoff, and Jeremy Paul, my best critic and best friend.
My children gave me hope during what was often a dark and disturbing endeavor: Jason Paul, through his dedication to tikkun olam (repairing the world), and Russell Paul, through his determination to recognize the best in others.
A final note in the interest of disclosure and remembrance. On June 26, 1942, the New York Times published a two-paragraph story on page five reporting that half of Slovakia’s estimated 100,000 Jews had been sent to ghettos in Poland and Russia. Among them were my great aunt and uncle, Anna and Jacob Heda; their daughter, Vilma Kaufmann; my great aunt and uncle, Rudolfina and Armin Grunmann; and their 13-year-old daughter, Judit. Only Vilma, who was in Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, survived.
|AJA||American Jewish Archives|
|AJHS||American Jewish Historical Society|
|CAHJP||Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People|
|CZA||Central Zionist Archives|
|FDRL||Franklin D. Roosevelt Library|
|JTS||Jewish Theological Seminary|
|LC||Library of Congress|
|NYTCA||New York Times Company Archives|
|WSHS||Wisconsin State Historical Society|
|YIVO||Yiddish Scientific Institute|
|ACJ||American Council for Judaism|
|AHS||Arthur Hays Sulzberger|
|AS||Abba Hillel Silver|
|BGR||Bernard G. Richards|
|CLS||Cyrus L. Sulzberger|
|ELJ||Edwin L. James|
|EPS||Ernest and Paul Sulzberger|
|FDR||Franklin D. Roosevelt|
|FMS||Fred M. Sulzberger|
|FTB||Frederick T. Birchall|
|GHA||Gaston H. Archaumbault|
|JGM||James G. McDonald|
|JJ||Jews and Judaism|
|JLM||Judah L. Magnes|
|JML||Joseph M. Levy|
|JSS||Jules S. Sauerwein|
|JTA||Jewish Telegraphic Agency|
|LCR||Leo C. Rosten|
|MSL||Morris S. Lazaron|
|OWI||Office of War Information|
|PZ||Palestine and Zionism|
|SSW||Stephen S. Wise|
|WRB||War Refugee Board|
|NYHT||New York Herald Tribune|
|NYT||New York Times|