How did The New York Times report on the Nazi genocide of some six million Jews during World War II?
This question is especially pertinent given that the news organization has apparently ignored the current historic rates of antisemitism in the United States. In addition, the NYT recently published a fawning obituary of the mastermind of Iran’s nuclear program. The “newspaper of record” highlighted Mohsen Fakhrizadeh’s love of driving through the countryside.
Meanwhile, the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader has repeatedly threatened to annihilate Israel, and Fakhrizadeh headed the initiative that could give the mullahs in Tehran the means to actualize their genocidal ambitions.
Related Reading: The Iran Regime’s Incitement to Destroy Israel
Did The New York Times Minimize the Holocaust?
Buried by the Times: The Holocaust and America’s Most Important Newspaper, a 2005 book by Laurel Leff, took a deep dive into the news outlet’s coverage of the Shoah. Leff found that articles focusing on the discrimination, deportation and, ultimately, destruction of much of European Jewry made The New York Times’ front page only 26 times.
In just six of those pieces were Jews identified as the primary victims of Adolf Hitler’s ‘final solution.’
According to Leff’s research, NYT editors went to painstaking lengths to downplay the plight of Jews in Europe. For example, the publication included a story about the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising that did not even mention Jews. More broadly, Jewish victims of Nazi persecution were often referred to as ‘refugees,’ or by their nationalities, rather than their religious identity.
As Leff wrote:
You could have read the front page of The New York Times in 1939 and 1940 without knowing that millions of Jews were being sent to Poland, imprisoned in ghettos, and dying of disease and starvation by the tens of thousands. You could have read the front page in 1941 without knowing that the Nazis were machine-gunning hundreds of thousands of Jews in the Soviet Union.”
The New York Times’ reporting, or lack thereof, on the Holocaust as it unfolded had significant ramifications. As a result of its obfuscation, one of the preeminent news outlets of the day effectively cut off readers from learning in real time about the worst genocide in modern human history.
What is less known, however, is that the NYT during Hitler’s rise to power discontinued republishing articles from The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), which was often the only source reporting on the tragedies befalling Jews in Europe.
Bridge From Nazi-Occupied Europe to the Outside World: Jewish Telegraphic Agency
In fact, the JTA’s coverage from Nazi-ruled Germany was often dimissed as “Jewish anti-Nazi propaganda,” JTA’s founder, Jacob Landau, conveyed years later.
“About 1933… a resistance began to develop in the world press to the acceptance of news involving Jews and others from what was considered a partisan (Jewish) source,” Landau wrote.
The New York Times stopped using JTA’s content altogether in 1937, with the Associated Press following suit shortly thereafter.
This, even as JTA correspondents were chronicling anti-Jewish legislation, property confiscations, deportations, pogroms and mass murder in Germany, Austria, and, eventually, Nazi-run death camps across Europe.
As Leff notes in her book, even though most of JTA’s dozen or so correspondents in Europe were Jewish by the time World War II broke out in 1939, some remained on the continent. And when they could no longer operate inside certain nations, journalists relied on accounts from diplomats, the anti-Nazi underground and Jews evading the German war machine to formulate and communicate a more complete picture of the calamities that were transpiring.
Related Reading: ‘A Memorial And A Name’: The Story Of Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum
For example, following the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, JTA reported on the fate of Jewry in the USSR and Poland and provided the first accounts of the gruesome murder of tens of thousands of Jews in Kiev, which came to be known as the Babi Yar Massacre.
None of this coverage appeared in The New York Times, which was published by Arthur Hays Sulzberger, who blamed Jewish deaths during the Holocaust on Zionism: that is, the movement to establish a Jewish state in Israel.
Unfortunately, The New York Times has seemingly retained its anti-Jewish editorial line. Today, articles appearing in the paper regularly denounce Israel while giving a pass or burying facts related to those who only 75 years after the Holocaust once again seek the Jewish people’s destruction (see, for example, here, here, here, here, here and here).
By: Mike Waggenheim