Why did world leaders ignore Hitler's genocide against the Jews during the war?

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Quite simply, people could not be brought to care in any meaningful way about the Jews. This is not unique to the Jews, however, almost every group that suffers from genocides or democides has found the world similarly unresponsive in most instances.
There are a number of issues which must be understand to respond to the question regarding why world leaders seemingly ignored Hitler's "Final Solution" [Ger. 'Endlosung] regarding the Jews.


To begin with, the leaders did not ignore the plight of the Jews, and most were too well aware of at least some of what was going on despite intense efforts of the Third Reich to hide the mass exterminations of the Jews of Europe. The information regarding what was happening came from several sources:



1. International and National Intelligence Sources
2. Jewish 'watchdog' organizations
3. Journalists and other Media
4. The Red Cross [allowed into several of the camps to report on prisoners]
5. Information transferred by German soldiers and soldiers of Axis and Allied powers
6. References of the German government in the press
7. A few 'escapees' who managed to get back from incarceration in camps such as Auschwitz, along with church/dissident leaders imprisoned for a time who were released
8. Vatican reports including reports of nunciatures (offices of Vatican representation in the countries), and internal letters and reports, as well as 'lobbying' efforts in the US.
9. The convening of several conferences most notably the 'Evian Conference' to discuss the fate and possible resettlement of the Jews or 'political asylum' for some of the Jews.


The Evian Conference, attended by representatives of a number of nations though was not promising: only a few nations were willing to allow a few Jews refuge since many believed that any nation allowing large numbers of Jews to escape would incur the wrath of Hitler, and bring them into a war they did not want to enter. The US would only take about 900 refugees in Safe haven in Oswego, due to the efforts of a photojournalist, Ruth Gruber. The debate about the immigration of the Jews raged in Congress, with only a few advocates such as Senator Claude Pepper, but with an over-representation of German-heritage senators, most were opposed to opening the door to many Jews and some lobbied for complete closure of all immigration.



Costa Rica and Singapore agreed to take refugees but they still had to be able to get to safe haven, a very difficult task since any Jews wishing to leave had to check with their police departments for background checks to leave the country, and most of the police were SS shortly into the war. Even the US does not appear to have been as responsive as one would hope, since early in the war, viewing both the British and Germans as too imperialistic (we were also) the decision had not been made which side to ally with.


Hitler's army (Wehrmacht*) was one of the world's best trained and most systematic, and ruthless armies the world has known. The Reich would first send troops into an area to 'advise' governments and policing efforts, then set up puppet governments of their own people, and then send in troops so that few nations which were overtaken met with much in the form of resistance though many tried, such as the Netherlands, France, and Greece. The Germans did not readily adhere to any international law nor the Geneva Treaty, so there was no appeal when they came into an area, demanding the roundup of Jewish citizens. Hungary initially refused any aid in the endeavor, but the Reich army marched the Jews of Budapest to borders over which they had more control.


One remarkable little nation, Denmark, under King Christian when the Reich came to arrest the Jews, had almost the entire populace put on yellow stars making the Jews more difficult to detect and thwarting the efforts at least for a time.


It was not that the nations ignored Hitler's genocide, but that they were constantly wary of being brought into a war they had no resources to fight, afraid for their own general populations, and unfortunately, the Jews have always suffered from feelings of anti-Semitism in many countries, so that even the knowledge of their plight did not bring help.


There should have been much more help and protest than there was, but individuals, some churches and other agencies worked behind the scene in rescue efforts, but the effect was minimal: attempts to aid the Jews were met with violence against the Jews and those who tried to help, so it was like walking a tightrope to try to save as many lives as possible without making matters worse. This does not excuse the lack of support which could have stopped the war and genocide, but it helps one to understand their reasoning.


By the end of the war, by January of 1945 when Auschwitz was liberated by the Russians, and later when Nordhausen, Dachau and others were liberated by the US, it became clear that the Reich had committed atrocities unheard of in human history against innocent people on the basis of their religion and race.


There is yet one other unfortunate truth: many nations, the US in particular, had contributed to the Nazi war effort early in the war, and some large US corporations had benefitted from slave labor of the Jews, as had some churches. This very sad commentary on why the war against the Jews did not end earlier, is a lesson to be taken into account regarding what is important in the life of a nation.

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*The Wehrmacht was always the name for the German army. When Hitler took over, many SA members joined (brownshirts) and other Nazi party members. All of the soldiers were required to hold party membership and sign loyalty oaths.
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