Book Reveals: New York Times Buried Holocaust News

The New York Times consistently buried Holocaust news in its back pages and downplayed the victims' Jewish identity. So states the first scholarly study of how the Times covered the Nazi genocide.

, | updated: 10:16

"Buried by The Times: The Holocaust and America's Most Important Newspaper," by Prof. Laurel Leff, has just been published by Cambridge University Press.

Among the book's key findings, according to The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, are the following:

* Holocaust news was consistently relegated to the Times' back pages. Of the 1,186 articles that the Times published during 1939-1945 about Europe's Jews, only 26 (about two percent) of them appeared on the front page, and even those articles "obscured the fact that most of the victims were Jews."

* New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, an assimilated Jew of German descent, feared that the newspaper would be engaging in special pleading and thus deliberately downplayed news of the Holocaust and the Jewish identity of the victims.

* The Times only rarely published editorials about the annihilation of Europe's Jews, and only once ran a lead editorial about the Nazi genocide.

* Because of its importance, the Times helped set the tone for the rest of the media's coverage of Holocaust news; the Times "might have been able to help bring the facts about the extermination of the Jews to public consciousness ... [instead,] the Times helped drown out the last cry from the abyss."

* When the Nazi death camps were liberated, the Times' coverage downplayed the fact that the victims and survivors were overwhelmingly Jews.

Author Prof. Leff, a former reporter and editor who teaches journalism at Northeastern University, is a leading member of the Academic Council of The Wyman Institute. The Wyman Institute is organizing Prof. Leff's speaking appearances around the United States.

Stuart Eizenstat, formerly the U.S. ambassador for Holocaust-era issues, called the book "engrossing and important," adding, "One can only wonder in great sorrow how many lives might have been saved if the nation's and the world's conscience had been touched by full and complete coverage by the Times of what remains the greatest crime of world history."

Marvin Kalb, elder statesman of American journalism, said that Buried by The Times "stands tall in scholarship, style and importance ... it is an exceptional study of one of the darkest failures of the New York Times..."

Prof. David S. Wyman, author of The Abandonment of the Jews, praised Buried by the Times as "the best book yet about American media coverage of the Holocaust, and an extremely important contribution to our understanding of America's response to the mass murder of the Jews."

The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, located on the campus of Gratz College near Philadelphia, is a research and education institute focusing on America's response to the Holocaust.