Buried by the Times: The Holo­caust and Amer­i­ca’s Most Impor­tant Newspaper

Lau­rel Leff
  • Review
By – July 26, 2012

Lau­rel Leff, the author of this sad and sober­ing account of a major and delib­er­ate effort by The New York Times to with­hold news of Hitler’s destruc­tion of Euro­pean Jew­ry, has pre­sent­ed a com­pelling exposé. Accord­ing to Leff, The Times was guilty not only of obfus­ca­tion, but of main­tain­ing a Berlin bureau of cor­re­spon­dents which clear­ly offered an unapolo­getic defense of Nazism. Any news con­cern­ing Jews was deemed to be un-news­wor­thy, so much so, that the hor­rors in Europe actu­al­ly were cov­ered by The Times, such infor­ma­tion was buried in obscure places in the newspaper. 

How much a vig­i­lant and con­cert­ed effort to com­mu­ni­cate the events of the Nazi ter­ror and plight of Euro­pean Jew­ry to the Amer­i­can read­ing pub­lic might have saved some of the vic­tims, is beyond our pow­ers of imag­i­na­tion. What we do know with a degree of cer­tain­ty is that The Times had no incli­na­tion to present the deba­cle of Jew­ish victimization. 

The Ochs – Sulzberg­ers, own­ers of the paper and titans in the world of news­pa­per pub­lish­ing, had their own overt and clear­ly enun­ci­at­ed pur­pose in declin­ing appro­pri­ate cov­er­age of the unfold­ing events: It would be dis­as­trous to ask Amer­i­cans to fight a Jew­ish war.” The Ochs – Sulzberg­ers felt no duty to present accounts of Jew­ish suf­fer­ing mere­ly because they them­selves were Jew­ish. Theodore Bern­stein, a cable edi­tor for The Times, con­sid­ered his own Jew­ish ori­gins a bur­den he had to bear. Arthur Hays Sulzberg­er, pub­lish­er of The Times from 1935 – 1961, main­tained a strong dis­dain for Israel, and was vehe­ment­ly anti-Zion­ist, and a thor­ough assim­i­la­tion­ist. After Israel, became a state, Sulzberg­er wrote, I feel no clos­er to the state of Israel than I do to Britain or Chi­na.” At one point, Win­ston Churchill addressed him stat­ing, I know you are not a Zion­ist, but I am.” 

After Arthur Sulzberger’s death, among oth­er trib­utes, his wife estab­lished a schol­ar­ship in his name at Hebrew Uni­ver­si­ty in Jerusalem. How hor­ri­fied he must have been by that trib­ute even after his death.

Paula Lubin is a human­i­ties teacher at the North Shore Hebrew Acad­e­my Mid­dle School. She has writ­ten for a vari­ety of pub­li­ca­tions, most recent­ly the New York Health­care Law Update.

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