Asher Izrael claims that bombing the train tracks during WWII would not have prevented or significantly reduced the number of Jews murdered in extermination camps.
I am not convinced. It is a standard military tactic to disrupt the enemy’s supply lines, and even if the enemy is efficient and quickly repairs the damage, it is relatively low hanging fruit that does disrupt the enemy army. Even short term disruptions are valuable, otherwise, why bother bombing those tracks that would have carried German soldiers to Normandy, which he mentions in his article? And bomb the same tracks often enough, and they won’t be repaired anymore.
Could the bombing of railway lines really have prevented the Holocaust? The Americans bombed the city of Cluj in Transylvania at midday on June 2, 1944. I was there that day, in a temporary concentration camp located inside a brick factory.
Most of the Jews were no longer there because they had been deported to the camps in Poland, on transports that left by train every other day. The bombing was something that can never be forgotten. Twelve hundred bombs were dropped on Cluj in less than half an hour. The industrial zone where the remaining Jews were – including my mother and myself – was bombed. So was the downtown area and the train station, as well as the railway lines leading outside the city.
The purpose of the bombardment that day was not to stop the deportation of Jews, but rather to stop the transportation of German reinforcements three days before the Normandy invasion. Cluj suffered heavy losses and damage, but despite the damage to the railway terminal and the lines, the last transport of Jews to Auschwitz left the brick factory two days later.
Throughout the war, and particularly in 1943, one of the main strategic goals of the heavy Allied bombing was to damage the railway network. Despite the Allies’ enormous effort, the Germans – whose efficiency is beyond dispute – managed to repair the damage quickly, and the trains functioned on all fronts to the end of the war. So did the arms industry, which, despite heavy aerial bombardments, continued to manufacture and even increased its output. We saw that very well when we were in Bergen-Belsen and on the way there, when we passed through large sections of Germany in the summer of 1944.