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Auschwitz 75th Anniversary

Posted in uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2020 by andelino

Auschwitz 75th Anniversary
1945-2020

The voices of victims are paramount, but for its betterment, mankind must also strive to comprehend the motivations of the killers. On a day when the news was a brim with the deadly potential of the Wuhan “coronavirus”, the world remembered the murderous impact of a deadlier virus: “humanity itself.”

The 75th anniversary of the “liberation” of Auschwitz, the most notorious of the “Nazi concentration and death camps”, was commemorated on ground zero itself, in Poland. European and Israeli leaders were present, but the most “searing” testimonies were delivered by survivors.

Victims remembered having hair “hacked” from their heads and numbers being “tattooed” on their arms. Of the cries of those being “shoved” into gas chambers. And of the stench of “incinerated” human flesh.

This is critically important to know. The voice of “victims” is paramount when it comes to the many, many “cruel crimes” committed at Auschwitz, one – “genocide” – is the most terrible in the judicial lexicon.

These “atrocities” have been burned onto the pages of history; they have also been enshrined in art. The literature of Eli Wiesel and Primo Levi provide eloquent testimonies to the unprecedented “suffering” of the Jews under the Nazis.

Given the sheer “scale” of what happened at Auschwitz, and the deliberate “intent” behind it, the world “deserves” the fullest possible accounting. Yet while world leaders and victims were “present”, two groups who could help deliver a complete accounting were glaringly “absent.”

One group was those who made the day as the “liberators” of the camp. The other group was the “perpetrators” who carried out a planned “slaughter of humans” in numbers so vast that if the victims were gathered together, their corpses would overflow scores of sport stadiums.

Where were the “Red Army” veterans who overran all of Germany’s “extermination” camps? Why was Russian President Vladimir Putin not present? And where were veterans of the  German “SS” political troops who carried out this unimaginable “slaughter?”

Many historic films have commemorated the “Nazi” genocides. The movie “Come and See” (1985) showed exactly how a “massacre” was undertaken, through the eyes of a teenager in Byelorussia.

The “liberators” should be lauded for obvious reasons. In the struggle against Nazism, the USSR took on the brunt of the German fighting force. The cost was virtually unimaginable: “27 million dead.” That metric alone should have granted Moscow a somber “voice at the table” of remembrance.

Certainly, there are historical complexities and issues. The Soviets not only liberated wartime Poland, they occupied post-war Poland and held it until the end of the Cold War. Even so: “Any accurate historical reckoning demands that they should not be pushed out of the picture.”

More broadly, the fact that the liberators of Auschwitz were “unrepresented” points to a gap in Western cultural memory. To this day, the machinery of the “Holocaust” is not well understood among Western public’s. In fact, every single one of the “extermination death camps” was liberated not by the Western Allies, but by the “Red Army.”

For those unfamiliar with the “Holocaust”, the line between “concentration camp” and “death camp” may be a fine distinction. After all, footage of British troops liberating “Belsen” and US troops liberating “Dachau” was so sickening that some believed, at the time the films were first shown, that they could only be products of over-wrought “Allied” propaganda. As we now know, they were not.

Yet these two camps – and others liberated by the Western Allies – were not extermination camps. They were “concentration” camps. In those camps, the heaped bodies, the stacks of dying in tiered bunks,  the crowds of skeletal survivors, were a result of exhaustion, malnutrition, disease. In short, they were very largely victims of mismanagement and callousness by Nazi authorities.

The “extermination camps” were different. There, “murder” was not a byproduct. It was the “sole” aim.  There were six of these man-made hells. “Belzek, Chelmo, Sobibor and Treblinka” were pure killing centers. Extermination sub-camps were also set up in concentration/labor camps: “Auschwitz-Birkenstock and Majdanek.”

All were in Poland. The “victims” in these camps were not conveyed to these places to be “slave” laborers. They were taken there, by the train load, for the express purpose of being “slaughtered.”

 Schindler’s List is a good clip about humanity amid horror.

This brings us to the “perpetrators.” At Auschwitz there were no elderly men or women in faded black uniforms with death’s heads on their caps and the double lightning flash of the SS on their collars.

Of course, their absence is understandable. Were any SS to appear – perhaps to offer excuses; perhaps to beg for forgiveness; perhaps to defiantly croak a final voice to their murderous creed – they would be arrested on sight. And such arrests would be just. Yet humanity – if it is to learn anything from its darkest hour – should give history’s worst “killers” a hearing.

History is an academic discipline. It teaches the young and the interested. As with criminology, it analyzes why things happen. We absolutely must try to understand why our fellow humans could act as they did in “Treblinka.”

To create a dedicated rail station in a forest clearing, complete with a faux ticket office, a clock with painted hands and even a band playing to welcome to arriving trains. To cheerfully “separate” men from women and children on the platform; to politely explain to them why they needed to “divest” themselves of their belongings; and to then to suggest they “strip” themselves for a shower.

“We need to understand why these same men could change in an instant – brandishing weapons and attack dogs to herd the naked, defenseless people through a corridor of barbed wire into a chamber set behind the platform. There, doors would be slammed, fumes released. Subsequently, the cadavers would be placed on giant griddles made of rail lines and incinerated.”

I am not arguing that understanding should replace justice. Some crimes are only punishable with a bullet or a noose.

Adolf Eichmann was renditioned from South America to Israel by Israeli agents to account for himself. A uniformed “bureaucrat” who did not pull a trigger, but who delivered millions of “victims” into the maw of the murder machine, Eichmann went to his “executioner” unrepentant. Other SS leaders, confronted with the “gravity” of their crimes, opened their eyes.

Rudolf Höss, the Auschwitz commandant, was granted the opportunity to pen his memoirs – subsequently published as Death Dealer with an introduction by Primo Levi – and confession by his Polish captors. In a West German prison, Franz Stangl, the commandant of Treblinka, agreed to extensive interviews with journalist Gitta Sereny for her research into the death camps, Into That Darkness.

Höss was “hanged” after penning his confession. Stangl died of “heart failure” less than one day after his last interview with Sereny.

The movie “The Painted Bird” (2019) compelled some audiences to “flee” theaters, while others applauded its unflinching gaze into the “face of horror.” Watch it at your peril.

“Never forget” requires accurate remembrance. It is easy to intone the clichés, “Never forget.” But without a basic understanding of what happened, what is to be forgotten? Today, there are multiple “misunderstandings” about the Nazi murder machine.

  • That it only impacted Jews. Actually, millions of other victims, notably Slavs, and including Gypsies and homosexuals, were also devoured.
  • That it was conducted by brutal thugs. Actually, Stangl was considered a gentleman by West German prison staff, and most commanders of the SS Einzatzgruppe death squads held PhD.
  • That “the commies were just as bad.” Actually, there were no industrialized extermination camps like Auschwitz-Birkenstock or Treblinka even in the worst of Stalin’s gulags, and even amid Mao Zedong’s most manic policies.

The Nazi “genocide” was the end terminus of prejudice. Prejudice, and mob mentality, remains rife across the world. To prevent prejudice from transitioning to a “Final Solution” we need a fully informed comprehension. That comprehension must extend beyond the barriers of “ethnicity, nationality and politics.”

And it must include the voices of the ”perpetrators”, for to prevent crime, the motivations of “criminals” must be understood.  Only by “hearing” these voices can such voices be “recognized, acknowledged, debated and defended” against.

Yet, there is a trend underway worldwide to “eradicate or whitewash” brutal history, with the intention of obviating “offense.” This trend extends from the destruction of “Confederate statuary to a refusal to countenance Swastikas, SS runes or Rising Sun emblems.”

It may be driven by good intentions, but is problematic. It is reminiscent of stabbing fingers into ears or thrusting heads into sand. At worst, it destroys evidence of crimes.

Case in point? “Treblinka.” The forested extermination zone where 800,000 men, women and children were “slaughtered” was destroyed and its site “camouflaged” with farm buildings, not by do-gooders eager to prevent “hurt” feelings, but by Nazis making a vain effort to “hide” evidence.

Fortunately for “humanity”, Auschwitz stands today as the ultimate “memorial of man’s inhumanity to man.” It is a hopefully everlasting monument that “reminds” us that the very worst can, indeed, happen “anytime” again.

Related issues cannot be “censored”; they must be “confronted.” Justices confront the “crimes of today”; historians confront the “crimes of yesterday.” Judgments, sentencing and condemnation must be informed by “free information and free debate” – the hallmarks of a moral civilization.

Above all, we must not “blind” ourselves to realities. The starkest reality of the Holocaust is simple but damning: “The Nazi genocide was not carried out by phantoms, aliens or monsters. It was perpetrated by our fellow humans.”

“To refuse to accept this, to refuse to interrogate the perpetrators; to decline to divine their motivations; to be blind to the potential of today’s prejudices becoming tomorrow’s Final Solutions, willfully denies ourselves critical knowledge for mankind’s betterment, and perhaps, its survival.”

75th ANNIVERSARY OF THE LIBERATION OF GERMAN NAZI CONCENTRATION AND EXTERMINATION CAMP AUSCHWITZ  27 JANUARY 2020
75th anniversary of liberation of Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz

Merkel’s Warning to Germany

Posted in uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on January 4, 2020 by andelino

German Chancellor Angela Merkel visits the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz on December 6, 2019.

Angela Merkel knows she’s entering the “twilight” of her chancellorship. But before any “political crisis” sets in there was one more “speech” she wanted to make. And to do so, she needed to visit “Auschwitz.”

Her trip was unusual. Only two previous “chancellors” have visited the “notorious death camp.” But apparently, she had something important she wanted to say before she was “kicked out of office.”

Merkel has been unusually “strong” for a German leader in “confronting” her country’s past.

She has visited “Yad Vashem” the Holocaust Remembrance Center in Israel, five times.

She has been to “Dachau” twice and also to “Buchenwald” but this was her first trip to the most “infamous” camp of them all “Auschwitz.”

In May 2008, she became the first German leader to address the “Israeli Knesset” where she said, “The mass murder of 6 million Jews, carried out in the name of Germany, has brought indescribable suffering to the Jewish people, Europe and the entire world.”

Germans, she said, were “filled with shame” over the Holocaust. Considering Germany’s “Nazi” past, Angela Merkel’s speech was indeed “a significant speech made by any German leader since World War II.”

At the time, the Jerusalem Post warned, “Few in Israel realize that a majority of Germans probably disagree with several key statements she made here about her country’s past—including the mention of shame and guilt ….”

That was in 2008—and “anti-Semitism” has skyrocketed since then. This time she delivered a similar message.

“I am deeply ashamed of the barbaric crimes perpetrated here by Germans,” she said. But her speech was more than an apology. It was more a “warning” that Germany must keep the “memory” of what happened at “Auschwitz” alive, otherwise it could “happen” again.

“Remembering the crimes, naming the perpetrators, and giving the victims a dignified commemoration—that is a responsibility that does not end. It is not negotiable; and it is inseparable from our country,” she said.

She spoke about the worrying rise in “anti-Semitism” and the “revisionism of history” within Germany that seeks to “downplay” the Holocaust.

She quoted Primo Levi, an Auschwitz survivor, who warned: “It has happened. Consequently, it can happen again.”

“Therefore,” said Merkel, “we must not close our eyes and ears when people are being killed, mobbed, humiliated or marginalized.”

“These crimes are and remain part of German history. This story must be told, over and over again, so that we remain alert, so that such crimes cannot be repeated in any way, so that we can act resolutely against racism and anti-Semitism in all their disgusting appearances. This story must be told so that today and tomorrow we will preserve the dignity of every human being, and that we may honor the victims with an honorable memory,” she said.

That’s the message Merkel wanted to be sure to get out before she is “pushed” from the scene, that Germans must “remain alert, so that such crimes cannot be repeated in any way.”

Deutsche Welle described how “out of tune” this message is in many parts of modern Germany.

“For several years now, calls have been getting louder for Germany to let the past become history and for the country finally to stop being preoccupied with the historical guilt the country has been saddled with by the Nazis. At the same time, hate crimes against Jews have been on the rise. The two, of course, are closely linked …. Jews in Germany once again must fear for their lives. That is the awful truth,” it wrote. 

Just two months ago, an anti-Semitic “gunman” attacked a synagogue in the city of Halle. Those inside managed to “barricade” the door, but he “killed” two people.

Anti-Semitic “attacks” in Germany were up 10 percent in 2018 compared to 2017. Violent attacks are up 60 percent. Merkel “warned” in May that every synagogue and Jewish school in Germany requires constant “police” protection.

“Germany has always had a certain number of anti-Semites among us, unfortunately. There is to this day not a single synagogue, not a single daycare center for Jewish children, not a single school for Jewish children that does not need to be guarded by German policemen,” she said.

Germany’s “anti-Semitism” commissioner, Felix Klein, said Jews should avoid wearing their kippahs in many areas to avoid attack.

The Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party is now a significant “force” in German politics. One of its leaders, Alexander Gauland, dismissed the “Holocaust” as a “speck of bird muck” on an otherwise glorious history. He even said that Germany should be “proud of the achievements of the German soldiers in two world wars.”

Another AfD leader, Björn Höcke, has called for a complete turnaround from remembering the “Holocaust.” He lamented that Germans are “the only people in the world to plant a monument of shame in the heart of its capital,” referring to Berlin’s Memorial of the “Murdered Jews of Europe.”

Meanwhile, memories are “fading.” Forty percent of German youth said they know little-to-nothing about the “Holocaust.” A recent survey by the World Jewish Congress showed that 25 percent of Germans believe another “Holocaust” could happen.

“We thought serious anti-Semitism was the past. But now we’re rethinking things,” said Andreas Eberhardt, director of the German government organization “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future.”

AfD members in Parliament “speak about foreigners, the Holocaust and Muslims in a way that a decade ago would have triggered a full-blown scandal—but that today is commonplace,” she said.

“They downplay the significance of the Nazi era and demean efforts to reconcile with the past, like the Holocaust memorial in Berlin. Popular TV shows and bestsellers set in the Nazi era treat Germans as victims, not perpetrators.”

In one important way, Merkel’s recent speech may not be as “praiseworthy” as her 2008 speech. Back then, she had only been chancellor for 2½ years. Now she’s led Germany for 14. The rise in “anti-Semitism” has happened under her watch. And in many ways, she’s contributed to it with the “Islamization” of Germany.

She opened the floodgates to “migrants” from the Middle East but closed her “ears and eyes” to the genuine problems it caused. Only the far right would talk about these problems and so Merkel has driven millions of “voters” into the arms of those who hold “anti-Semitic” views.

And many of those “migrants” themselves brought “anti-Semitic” views with them. Even Merkel herself has shown a “blind spot” when it comes to those who target their “hatred” against the Jewish state of Israel in the Middle East.

The day after her speech, prominent supporters of the terrorist group “Hamas” met in Berlin. Local government officials said there was nothing they could do to stop it because Germany has not “banned” Hamas.

In the past, “anti-Semitic” activists have received visas to travel to Germany to participate in “anti-Israel” protests. Perhaps Merkel would like to have done more “on this front” but was stopped by other government members. Or perhaps this “failing” is all her own fault. Either way, it is a worrying “sign” from modern Germany that even those at the very top will “tolerate this form of anti-Semitism.”

Anyone who knows Germany’s history has to take this “anti-Semitism” and these “warnings” by Germany’s chancellor very seriously. She, and many others sounding the alarm, doesn’t believe that the “Holocaust” could never happen again.

Angela Merkel is an old-time Communist and Nazi

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