Explore the Moral Dilemma of ‘Secrets of the Dead: Bombing Auschwitz’

Courtesy of Oxford Films

In April 1944, Jewish prisoners Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler miraculously escaped from Auschwitz concentration camp and fled through Nazi-occupied Poland to find refuge in Žilina, Slovakia, where they connected with the Jewish Underground. Once safe, they recounted what they left behind. Their harrowing testimony revealed the true horror of the Holocaust to the outside world, describing in forensic detail the gas chambers and the full extent of the Nazi extermination program.

Secrets of the Dead: Bombing Auschwitz premieres Tuesday, January 21 on PBS, to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

Courtesy of Oxford Films

As Vrba and Wetzler’s account made its way to Allies, the idea of bombing the camp was discussed at the highest levels of government.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Allied Air Commanders, the American War Refugee Board and the Jewish Agency were presented with one of the greatest moral questions of the 20th century: Should we bomb Auschwitz and risk killing Jewish prisoners in the camp to stop future atrocities? The episode explores this dilemma through dramatic recreations of arguments that took place on both sides of the Atlantic and first-hand testimony from historians, survivors and expert voices.

Secrets of the Dead: Bombing Auschwitz, Premiere, Tuesday, January 21, 9/8c, PBS (Check your local listings)