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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 8 of 8

Continued from page 7

While Zweig sees little of value in the US intelligence documents, other historians maintain otherwise. Aronson and Breitman, for example, say the records are filled with important material and have already shown that more people took part in killing Jews than previously realized.

The Chilean document will be fodder for two opposing camps of Holocaust historians who are split over whether Hitler always intended to massacre the Jews or not. Aronson believes Hitler was so convinced that the United States and Britain were under Jewish influence that he sped up the killings as the Allies inched closer to defeating the Reich. Other historians insist Hitler's intentions to exterminate the Jews were spelled out in his autobiography, ''Mein Kampf.''

Yet such debates have become as much an intellectual exercise as a research project, since it's impossible to know what Hitler was thinking, why Roosevelt made the decisions he made, or if the Holocaust could have been stopped without prolonging the war.

World War II historian Gerhard Weinberg, chairman of the experts advisory panel of the presidential commission, said the Allied invasion of Normandy halted the shipment of French Jews to Auschwitz, and that if the death camps had been liberated, say, 10 days after they were, thousands more lives would have been lost.

''The only answer is to whomp them as quickly as you can,'' Weinberg said.

Unlike historians who know how the story ends, Roosevelt could only guess at the consequences of his decisions.

''I can't pass judgment on a statesman who is at war,'' Aronson said of Roosevelt. ''When things are perceived from the hindsight of 2001, we can blame them and moralize about them, and they could care less.''

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