History

SHOULD WE BOMB AUSCHWITZ?

In April 1944 two Jewish prisoners miraculously escaped from Auschwitz. When they recounted what they had left behind their harrowing testimony revealed the true horror of the Holocaust to the outside world for the first time. They described in forensic detail the gas chambers and the full extent of the extermination programme. The news they brought presented the Allies with one of the greatest moral questions of the 20th Century: Should We Bomb Auschwitz?

While the Allies deliberated in London and Washington, the killing machine ground on in Southern Poland. One month after the men’s escape almost 800,000 Hungarian Jews had been rounded up awaiting transport to Auschwitz. By early July 1944, the majority had been transported. Most of them were murdered on arrival.

As the killing at Auschwitz reached its frenzied climax, the outcome of the Second World War hung in the balance.  Millions of troops were fighting on both fronts and battling for supremacy in the air. Should the Allies use their resources to push on and win the war? Or to stop the industrial slaughter at Auschwitz?

The request to bomb the camp, with 30,000 captive prisoners, was remarkable and came from a place of utter desperation. But it was a direct response to the destruction of an entire people.

For the first time on television, we tell the whole of this incredible story.

Combining drama that relives the arguments that took place at the highest levels with first-hand testimony from survivors, archive and expert voices, this film explores a moral dilemma that continues to resonate today: how should we act in the face of genocide?

DURATION

1 x 60

YEAR OF PRODUCTION

2019

PRODUCED BY

Oxford Film and TV

BROADCASTER

BBC2
WNET

COUNTRY OF PRODUCTION

UK

Reviews

A grimly fascinating study of the 20th century’s biggest moral question: should the Allies have destroyed the Nazi concentration camp.

Television Review, The Times

The harrowing testimony of two escapes from Auschwitz who revealed the truth of the concentration camps existence is dramatized with expert narration

Television Review, The Guardian

Suggested Programmes