"A terrible headache" - the Holocaust as seen by the New York Times

Rethinking The NY Times and the Holocaust. A surprising exchange between the writer and the editor of the NYTimes in 1994.

Jack Engelhard

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Chadian President Deby looks at pictures of Jews killed in Holocaust
צילום: מתוך האתר האישי

The word is out conclusively that The New York Times is in business for one reason only, to be the mouthpiece for the most radical elements of the Democrat Party. 

This became apparent, several days ago, when the paper headlined President Trump’s El Paso/Dayton speech quite objectively, fairly and coherently…a first. 

The mistake was immediately corrected after leftists came howling that the Times must be off its rocker, so the Times quickly changed the headline to appease the mob, and now we know who really runs the paper – and leads us to wonder who ran the paper up to and during the Holocaust. 

What mob in or out of the Times’ newsroom kept the truth from being told? To blame Arthur Hays Sulzberger is correct, but not enough.

Imagine the many Jewish lives that could have been saved if only the Times had spoken up. Roosevelt would have listened, and done more. 

“That history is being so terribly distorted, compels people like us to speak out.” So wrote legendary journalist A.M. Rosenthal to this writer June 21, 1994. 
One man knew that from the inside.

“That history is being so terribly distorted, compels people like us to speak out.” So wrote legendary journalist A.M. Rosenthal to this writer June 21, 1994. 

Rosenthal had been the Times’ executive editor, 1977-1988.  We’d been exchanging letters in regards to Israel’s being so unfairly treated in the press, and it was a surprise to find him “speaking out,” now as a columnist, on both Israel and the Holocaust, entirely critical of the Times for its failures…on Israel, for the bias; on the Holocaust, for the silence.  

He wrote to me, daringly on Times’ stationery, as if we were brothers and no one else would understand.

More amazing, was to find this once all-powerful editor, so helpless and despondent, actually wondering if what he has to say “is of any use” and “if it’s worth going on.”

He must have suspected that nothing was going to change…and the question is still what’s the use, as it was when the Holocaust was still fresh.

Back then, a woman named Ida went to visit a relative on Long Island, named Doris. They were aunt and niece, but had never met before. 

Doris, who had done well in America, knew just enough Yiddish to converse with her aunt Ida, so over coffee that one day, she asked what it had been like in Europe.

This was a mistake. Ida told the story, how Jews were being rounded up and sent to death camps. 

Doris said not a word as Ida continued upon a horror story that no one had ever heard before, except for awareness-raising from the likes of Ben Hecht and Peter Bergson (actually Hillel Kook.) But word had not yet fully reached Long Island – and in fact the word Holocaust was not in use until some time later.

Actually, the extent of the Holocaust did not come out except gradually over the years. Europe had slaughtered and buried Six Million Jews and the Times had buried the story.

No wonder Doris was kept in the dark, and as she listened to Ida (my mother) speak the unspeakable, she grew demonstrably irritable. She began to weep. Understandable.

She excused herself to make a phone call and Ida knew enough English to understand that this was a call to Doris’ husband, Doris saying, “I am so upset, I can’t breathe.”

Upset at the tragedy? 

Not this day. She had her husband phone the police to “get this woman out of the house with her unbearable stories. Maybe it’s all true, but it’s too much."

“She is giving me a terrible headache.”

So too it was for the Times and the Holocaust – a terrible headache. Not mentioning it would make it go away. 

Was this the policy of one man, Sulzberger, or was there a Deep State within the newsroom?

Why didn’t “Abe” Rosenthal do more to make amends, or more for Israel, while for so many years he had so much power? Or did he? Or did his awakening come too late?

If only the Times had been run by the right people at the right time…if only…if only…if only.

But thankfully Israel continues to be a terrible headache for The New York Times, and this is one headache that won’t go away…Amen.

New York-based bestselling American novelist Jack Engelhard writes regularly for Arutz Sheva.

He is the author of the international book-to-movie bestseller “Indecent Proposal.” His Holocaust to Montreal memoir “Escape from Mount Moriah” has been honored from page to screen at CANNES. His Inside Journalism thriller, “The Bathsheba Deadline,” is being prepared for the movies. Contemporaries have hailed him “The last Hemingway, a writer without peer, and the conscience of us all.” Website: www.jackengelhard.com