SATURDAY, JUNE 30, 2012: As the Holocaust fades into history, one persistent cloud is the question of who knew what, when. People of a certain age probably remember stories of the shock and horror that overcame the first Western soldiers when they opened the death camps at the end of the War in 1945. In the fifties for a time, the chant of "we never knew! We never knew!" became a kind of bleakly comic tag line. My guess is that as time passes, the conviction grows that well, yes, Hitler did awful things but if we had known about it we would have done something.
For perspective, here's text from the New York Times for 70 years ago today, June 30, 1942.
A Vast Slaughterhouse: 1,000,000 Jews Slain by Nazis, Report Says
London, June 29 (U.P.)--The Germans have massacred more than 1,000,000 Jews since he war began in carrying out Adolf Hitler's proclaimed policy of exterminating the people, spokesmen for the World Jewish Congress charged today.
They said the Nazis had established a “vast slaughterhouse for Jews” in Eastern Europe and that reliable reports showed that 700,000 Jews already had been murdered in Lithuania and Poland, 125,000 in Rumania, 200,000 in Nazi-occupied parts of Russia and 100,000 in the rest of Europe. Thus about one-sixth of the pre-war Jewish population in Europe, estimated at 6,000,000 to 7,000.000 persons, had been wiped out in less than three years.
A report to the congress said that Jews, deported en masse to Central Poland from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and the Netherlands, were being shot by firing squads at the rate of 1,000 daily.
Information received by the Polish Government in London confirmed that the Nazis had executed “several hundred thousand” Jews in Poland and that almost another million were imprisoned in ghettos.
A spokesman said 10,232 persons died in the Warsaw ghetto from hunger, disease, and other causes between April and June last year and that 4,000 children between the ages of 12 and 15 recently were removed from there by the gestapo to work on slave-labor farms.
The pre-Nazi Jewish population of Germany, totaling about 600,000 persons, was said to have been reduced to a little more than 100,000.
The New York Times, June 30, 1942, as reprinted in the Library of America, Reporting World War II: Volume I (1995).