Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Speaking of 1938...

...Blackfive reports that Simon Wiesenthal has died. He suggests that you read this entire article and so do I.

As I wrote the post "1938" late last night, I was thinking that the veterans are dying and the concentration camp survivors are dying, it becomes easier to forget. And, today, there are too many people who due to distance or ideological differences, want to mitigate the disaster that was the holocaust.

In England, Europe, the United States, Russia and especially the Middle East, people deny that it happened or that many people were murdered.

I shake my head over the number of people that believe this that get legitimate press time to air their denials or bizarre conspiracy theories.

David Hirsch addresses one such person. In Britain, the Muslim Council of Britain are not only holocaust deniers, but actively work to deligitimize Jews and Israel, insisting that the Palestinians are victims of "genocide" and the Israelis are the new "Nazis". As I said in "1938", these ideas and groups get far too much acceptance on universities that are supposedly institutions of higher learning. Where once in Nazi Germany, Jewish professors were forced from their positions and replaced by men who who taught eugenics and racial purity, the evilness of "the Jew", in American Universities, where the far left prevail ( a left that was also excoriated by the Nazis), "alternative" history is taught where the holocaust is either denied or is "mitigated" by alleged atrocities of the Israeli state. And, no one laughs these entities from the campus.

As I read the article from the Chicago Tribune, these words struck me the most:

"When history looks back," Wiesenthal said, "I want people to know the Nazis weren't able to kill millions of people and get away with it." He warned on many occasions: "If we pardon this genocide, it will be repeated, and not only on Jews. If we don't learn this lesson, then millions died for nothing."[snip]

His experiences with Kohlrautz and Gunthert [prison guards who helped Wiesenthal stay alive] would later influence Wiesenthal to reject collective guilt. Jews "are the eternal scapegoat," he wrote in "The Murderers Among Us." "We know that we are not collectively guilty, so how can we accuse any other nation, no matter what some of its people have done, of being collectively guilty?"[snip]

Merz[prison guard] asked what he would do if he ever got to New York and people inquired about the concentration camps.

Haltingly, Wiesenthal replied, "I believe I would tell the people the truth."

"You know what would happen, Wiesenthal?" Merz asked, smiling. "They wouldn't believe you. They'd say you were crazy. Might even put you into a madhouse. How can anyone believe this terrible business -- unless they lived through it?"[snip]

"The last day at Mauthausen," Wiesenthal told The Times during a July 2000 interview in Vienna, "I say to my friends in the death block, 'I wish to live another 15 minutes, because I want to see the look on the Nazis' faces when the Americans come.'."[snip]

Seibel and his troops found as many as 10,000 bodies in a single grave. Among the living "were thousands who had been starved, beaten and cruelly tortured," Seibel told his superiors in a report quoted in Pick's book. "I viewed the gas chambers where people were packed so tightly they couldn't move and little children were thrown on top of their heads before they were gassed. I saw the dissection rooms and the cooling rooms where the bodies were stacked like planks of wood

"I viewed the private execution rooms where prisoners were hanged or shot by the commandant. I saw the highly charged electric fences where prisoners, who could no longer endure the suffering, threw themselves for a swift death. I saw the bunkheads [sic] in the barracks, bunks made for one man, where prisoners so emaciated could sleep three to a bed.

"Mauthausen did exist. Man's inhumanity to man did exist. The world must not be allowed to forget the depths to which mankind can sink, lest it should happen again."

That is our heritage. That is what we should remember. The world must not be allowed to forget the depths to which mankind can sink." And it is easy to forget or at least push it far away in our minds so that Rwanda, Sudan, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Cambodia and all others become some how acceptable or "not our problem" because we are told by the internationalist that we should not intervene because these nations are "sovreign" and these things are "internal affairs". Then there are those that sit around and debate what constitutes "genocide". All this after we declared "never again."

More important than the outcome of the trial, Wiesenthal wrote, was Eichmann's testimony.

It "destroyed the fairy tale that Auschwitz was just a lie," Wiesenthal said referring to the infamous death camp where historians say the Nazis murdered 1.1 million people. "Since then," he added, "the world has been familiar with the concept of the 'murderer at his desk.' We know that fanatical, near-pathological sadism is not necessary for millions of people to be murdered; that all that is needed is dutiful obedience to some leader."

This is also the reality of Iraq under Saddam and Iraq under attack by Islamic terrorists. They destroy and build nothing but grave yards and monuments to their own egos or proclaim their righteous cause sanctioned by history and religion on internet sites convincing young men that to die and to kill civillians is sanctioned by God. And like the executioner who paused for mass in Wiesenthal's story, the new killers pause for prayers, get up and go out to do it again. They have their own torture and execution chambers, choosing their victims based on ethnicity and religion.

And here, decades away from the sin of the holocaust, some choose to forget.

I found the end of the piece to be the most compelling:

Well into his 90s, Wiesenthal worked in his office regularly for at least half a day.

"Maybe it's my craziness," he told the Los Angeles Times in 1990. "Because I will never stop. I tell my wife, 'The great things in life are never done by normal people. They're done by crazy people.'."

Wiesenthal spoke often of a Sabbath dinner he had spent at the home of another survivor of Mauthausen, who had become a wealthy jeweler. The man speculated that Wiesenthal could have become a millionaire if he had gone back to architecture instead of hunting Nazis.

"When we come to the other world," Wiesenthal said he responded, "and meet the millions of Jews who died in the camps, and they ask us, 'What have you done?' there will be many answers.

"You will tell them, 'I became a jeweler.'

"Another will say, 'I smuggled coffee and American cigarettes.'

"Another will say, 'I built houses.'

"But I will say, 'I didn't forget you.'."

Don't forget.


Gadfly said...

I always admired him. No, he's NOT going to get over it. He's NOT going to find acceptance and closure. He's going to hunt those bastards to the ends of the earth. He's going to go completely Captain Ahab on their sorry asses for the rest of his life. He will never give up. He will chase them through perdition's flames before he'll give them up. This world lost the greatest Crusader of the 20th Century with his passing.

Never forget.

Kat said...

I turned to my brother and said, "Simon Wiesenthal died." he said, "Who?" I said, "The Nazi Hunter." He said, "Who's that?"

I wonder if people felt this way about Gettysburg, or General Grant. Or Harriet Beecher Stowe. You watch the entire defining moment or person of your life slip away and people don't remember it anymore.

FbL said...

Fabulous post, Kat! I'm going to link to it at Fuzzilicious Thinking.

Gadfly said...

Who is that?

Oh dear God. I think that knocked the wind out of me for a minute.

riceburner147 said...

Kat: A great man. We should also keep in mind the thanks we owe to Israel for the bombing of the Osiriak reactor in Iraq. They have b***s. "Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat its mistakes" (Author forgotten)