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© The Boston Globe 2001.  Used by permission.
The Secret History of World War II

by Mark Fritz / Globe Staff / July 1, 2001

Page 6 of 8

Continued from page 5

''Daily, hourly, the greatest crime of all time is being committed: a defenseless and innocent people is being slaughtered in a wholesale massacre of millions,'' it said. ''The Germans dared to undertake this process because they knew that the Jews are defenseless; that the Jews are forgotten and deserted even by the democratic powers.''

The ad recounts in horrific detail things that were true but disbelieved by many at the time: mass shootings, doctors injecting air bubbles into bloodstreams, corpses being rendered to make soap and fertilizer, death rooms with electrified floors or vents spewing poison gas.

Included is a list of names of college presidents, military commanders, and at least two dozen US senators - including Harry Truman of Missouri - who supported the creation of a Jewish army and Jewish nation made up only of stateless Jews and refugees with no place to go.

The OSS' Penrose proceeded to write to many of the people listed on the petition, successfully urging many of them to recant. ''I was unhappily surprised to see in the New York Times of December your name listed....'' he wrote Ernest Holland, president of Washington State College, three days after the ad was published.

Holland subsequently wrote the organizers of the campaign, using a draft prepared by Penrose, asking that his name be removed from the list. Penrose pushed the matter further, asking Holland if he could share his letter with the Arabic press, though Holland recoiled at the idea of his turnabout becoming too public.

Yet the Zionist movement created sharp rifts within the Jewish community itself. Arthur Hays Sulzberger, publisher of The New York Times, urged Jews and non-Jews to abandon the quest for a separate army and a Jewish state after the war, a stand that Penrose cited often in his correspondence. Penrose told one supporter of a Jewish state that Sulzberger would be happy to publish his letter reconsidering his position.

In a memo, Penrose said the pro-Israel movement and Nazi propaganda were eroding the trust and respect the Arab world had always had for the United States, and would undoubtedly irritate Christians who held sacred the Palestinian cities of Jerusalem, Nazareth, and Bethlehem.

Aronson and Zweig both said that Penrose, though decidedly pro-Arab, was likely not acting on his own. ''He's not some crackpot out to sway the course of history,'' said Zweig, the Tel Aviv University historian. ''He's someone entirely in agreement with the policy of the American State Department.

''The entire American Middle East establishment are all Arabist,'' Zweig said. ''And their case was perfectly understandable. And the population [in Palestine] was only about a half million Jews. Most Jews were against Zionism.''

Zweig, a member of the experts panel created as an adjunct to the declassification commission, has little regard for the US intelligence files being released. He believes many of the files have been destroyed by disorganization, because dossiers have been literally released in pieces over the last 20 years.

''Why was it necessary to keep them closed for 50 or 60 years until Congress wrestled them to the ground? The atmosphere of secrecy would leave you to believe there is something there. But when you read them, you realize why they were hidden, which is that they are a mess. A lot of spies chasing each other, and a lot of this was not terribly important at all.''

More fertile ground is in the KGB files in Russia and the Gestapo records that were seized by the Communists in former East Germany, he said.

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