Declaration on German Atrocities
November 1, 1943

The Times-Picayune, November 2, 1943, p. 3

“…including Crete and other islands.”

In the autumn of 1943, while representatives of the three major Allies convened in Moscow to plan for the post-war era, our survivor Anne Levy and her family, living on the Aryan side of Warsaw, were betrayed by a Polish neighbor. In a way, they were also betrayed by the diplomats at Moscow.


The Allied representatives in Moscow in October 1943 were U. S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull, British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, and Russian Foreign Minister V. Molotov. It likely did not go unnoticed by the Western visitors that Ribbentrop himself had sat in this place a few short years before. That was the occasion when the Nazi foreign minister and V. Molotov signed off on Poland, launching the world war. By the autumn of 1943 the situation was quite different. The Red Army was rolling over the Germans and the Western Allies felt a great deal of indebtedness to Stalin. It did not help their position that they had been unable to meet his insistent demands for the opening of a “second front” in the West.

The Times-Picayune, Cartoon, November 1, 1943

The result of this conference was The Moscow Declaration, presented to the world on November 1, 1943 and summarized in The Times-Picayune the following day. The Moscow Declaration actually consisted of four declarations, one being The Declaration on German Atrocities. This declaration, measuring no more than a paragraph, was remarkable for what it did not say: not a single word was devoted to the tragic fate of the Jews.

What did the minister accomplish at Moscow? They pledged to finish the war against Germany. That was the most important thing. They also pledged to maintain peaceful relations after the war. Democracy would be returned to Italy, and Austria would again be independent. The latter was described as “the first free country to fall victim to Hitlerite aggressions.” The truth was a different story: great numbers of Austrians had been the first collaborators of the Nazis and among the leading “experts” in the destruction of the Jews. The Moscow Declaration on Austria became that country’s alibi.

The three ministers further agreed that after the war their governments would “not employ their military forces within the territories of other states except for the purpose envisaged in this declaration and after joint consultations.” The Russians would not keep that promise. Their troops and tanks had conquered Central and Eastern Europe and would remain there for the next fifty years.

The Declaration on German Atrocities made it clear to “the Germans” that they would be made to pay for their crimes, “for most assuredly the three Allied Powers will pursue them to the uttermost ends of the earth and will deliver them to their accusers in order that justice may be done.” That turned out to be wishful thinking. Not a few of the German war criminals would be employed by the Americans against the Soviets in the post-war era.

And who were the guilty? They were “those German officers and men and members of the Nazi party” who were “responsible” or played a “consenting part” in the “atrocities, massacres, and execution.” Nothing untoward was said about the countries that had collaborated with the Nazis. The Allies were eager to detach these countries from the Axis and did not want to give them any more reason to fight to the last.

And who were the victims? Here are the key passages of The Declaration on German Atrocities, published in The Times-Picayune. The victims are listed.

The victims were many, including Italian officers, hostages in France, Holland, Belgium, and Norway, the “people of Poland and the territories of the Soviet Union,” Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Italy, and Greece, “including Crete and other islands.” The “Italian officers” referred to had been waging war against the British and Americans only a few months earlier. The island of Crete (“Cretan peasants”) was mentioned twice.

Nowhere on the list are the Jews. The very word “Jew” is not mentioned. This was not by accident. The British and Americans wanted no mention of Jews because they wanted no publicity given to Jewish suffering. The diplomats lived in fear of a shift in public opinion that would compel them to do something on behalf of the Jews. It’s hard to believe that the AP reporter did not notice that Jews were left out, but he kept silent, too.

The Declaration on German Atrocities was a devastating setback for the advocates of Jewish rescue. Their tireless effort had been unsuccessful.