Why didn’t Britain bomb the death camps?

Notes from a cabinet meeting between Prime Minister Churchill and senior commanders and politicians, November 1942

Catalogue ref: CAB 65/28

Extract a

[Prime Minister]

Private Secretary

Please see minutes on WR 823 attached.

So far as I can discover these plans never were in fact communicated to Air Ministry.

The Minister of State on Sep 1 (on behalf of the Secretary of State) agreed in writing to the Secretary of State for Air that in view of the difficulties of the operation of bombing the camps as requested by the Air Ministry (they said they had no detailed information of the topography [layout of the camps]) the idea of bombing them might be dropped.

We are therefore technically guilty of allowing the Air Ministry to get away with it without having given them (though we had it) the information they asked for as a prerequisite.

In all the circumstances I think perhaps (though I feel a little uneasy about it) we had better let this go by. PM 18/9

Extract b

[Private Secretary]

Don’t know enough about this to form a view. Surely this information was taken into consideration when the decision was taken not to pursue the matter?

Perhaps Service Liaison Dept [Government Department whose job was to help different government departments communicate effectively] could advise as to whether this info would have made any difference to the Air Ministry’s attitude? Sec 20/9

[Prime Minister - annotation]

That’s the whole point. It looks as though it wasn’t.
PM 21/9