Welcome to the new version of European Tribune. It's just a new layout, so everything should work as before - please report bugs here.

Holocaust Denial, legitimate debate and racism.

by MarekNYC Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 12:30:10 AM EST

The fact that Jews were targeted and killed is not denied by (almost) anyone.  The question that the Iranian president is referring to is, how many and under what circumstances.  There are serious questions about the numbers of those killed and under what circumstances.  Why is it illegal to examine these issues?
[...]
the issue of the holocaust and questions about it are not solely the province of nuts, anti-Semites and hate mongers.
Soj at BooTrib

Soj's remarks illustrate a common misunderstanding of Europe's laws against Holocaust denial. In reality, raising serious questions, examining the issues relating to the Holocaust is not illegal.  On the contrary, it is a thriving academic subdiscipline with many articles and books being released each year.  What is illegal is denying the basic facts, and the only ones who risk  prosecution are racists. Let me explain, starting with what is and what isn't a matter of debate, and from there go on to the question of Holocaust denial.


The Holocaust is arguably the single best researched event in Western history. Hundreds, maybe thousands of historians have devoted large portions of their lives to understanding what happened, how it happened, and why. There are also countless memoirs devoted to the subject (more on this below).  No single person could possibly read all the books and articles on the subject - that's what annotated bibliographies, syntheses, and footnotes are for.

The research has amassed a body of incontrovertible facts, as well as other assertions that are subject to more or less debate. Examples of the established facts are that by the end of 1941 the German leadership had decided on the complete extermination of Jews in those parts of Europe under its control; that this decision was carried out with a ruthless efficiency leading to the murder of the overwhelming majority of Jews living in German occupied lands - roughly five to seven million in total; that the Germans steadily refined their technology of annihilation from mass shootings to an assembly line of death culminating in the gas chambers and crematoria; that many Jews died of starvation and disease before being caught up in the machinery of death.  

There are also issues subject to considerable debate. A prominent one is the question of when the Nazi leadership decided that the Jews should be exterminated. Was it in 1941, in 1939, or was it always an essential part of Nazi doctrine, only waiting for the right moment to be enacted?  On the one hand is the obvious fact that it was only in the fall of 1941 that the Germans began to kill Jews in a systematic manner. Before that there was plenty of persecution and violence but with the invasion of the Soviet Union came a qualitative change in Nazi policies.  In the thirties their persecution of Jews in Germany and then Austria was directed and putting pressure on Jews to leave. The considerable violence that accompanied it did not take the form of systematic extermination. In other words it was a classic example of ethnic cleansing.  At the end of 1940 they reversed course, blocking the flight of Jews from areas under their control.  By the end of 1941 the policy of extermination was in full swing and it formed a sharp contrast to what had preceded it.  On the other hand are the numerous writings and speeches by Nazis speaking of the need for the elimination of Jews from the world - a natural corollary of their belief that the Jews were the primary source of evil in the world, not so much subhuman but an anti-human parasitic element;  a cancer that fed on, corrupted, and in the end destroyed all societies that it touched.  Other debates include the relative roles played by the organized formally Nazi organizations like the SS apparatus and the traditional German civil and military bureaucracies; the relationship between the eschatological antisemitism of the Nazis and the much milder racism that was espoused to one degree or another by most Germans; was the Nazis' antisemtism a source of their popularity or were they popular in spite of it... There are many such debates that will probably never be definitively settled, though varying degrees of consensus may be reached.

There are also details that are revised in light of new evidence - e.g. shifting the number of Jews killed in the mass executions of the early stages of the Holocaust vs. the numbers gassed in the death camps, the support by academics, specific policies in individual countries or ghettos. Nazi Germany was a highly bureaucratized modern state and it left behind an enormous pile of documents; since 1989 the archives of Eastern Europe have become much more accessible.

What is Holocaust Denial and why is it criminalized in Europe?

Holocaust denial is the rejection of the basic facts discussed in the first paragraph below the fold. Those facts are not subject to debate anymore than, say, that there was an attack on Pearl Harbour on December 1941, that the earth is not ten thousand years old, that the moon is not made out of cheese. That historians therefore have absolutely no inclination to debate those who deny those facts is not a refusal to allow for a free discussion of historical events but rather the natural feeling that there is no reason to engage obvious nutballs.

But, you might ask, why criminalize such statements?  Nobody goes to jail for putting up a website asserting that the moon is made of cheese, if a politician said so we'd be a bit worried about his sanity, but we wouldn't see him as morally abhorrent.  The problem is that unless a person is genuinely clinically insane, the delusion known as Holocaust denial is virtually automatically tied to racism. That's because it requires the person claiming that the Holocaust is a myth to come up with an explanation of why all experts in the field reject  their beliefs as utter nonsense, why politicians in Europe and North America all accept the Holocaust as historical fact. The reaction to that reality is generally that they're all in thrall to the Jews, that indeed the Jews secretly control all Western governments and universities. An example would be the Iranian president's recent remarks, another, or for a no holds barred version go here.  And that's racism. Europe makes racist speech a crime, and as Holocaust denial, even when not initially motivated by racism, almost inevitably leads to racist beliefs, it is illegal as well. One can argue that freedom of speech should be absolute, that racists should be allowed to express their beliefs as they can in America. I would support that, but one cannot simply single out the ban on one specific form of racist speech.  Nor is it fair to draw a strict analogy to Turkey's restrictions on speaking about the Armenian genocide. Yes, both are restrictions on free speech, but there is a difference between making lies illegal, and criminalizing the truth, between laws against racist speech, and laws against anti-racist speech.

Note on survivors' memoirs

Most popular knowledge of the Holocaust rests on the experiences of survivors. The stories are human ones, not the impersonal, dry accounts based on bureaucratic memos. They also satisfy a certain need for at least a partial happy ending - among the horror recounted, at least some survived. Unfortunately the experiences of survivors is generally not representative of the Jewish experience in Nazi occupied Europe. I'm not referring so much to the fact of their survival - though there is that, but to the way in which the experience of a survivor was mostly non-typical. Thus, for example, when we think of the Nazi death camps we think of the memoirs written by Auschwitz survivors.  The problem is that what they survived was not the Auschwitz death camp (Birkenau) but the concentration camp. The latter was a slave labour camp where prisoners were held under such appalling conditions that they generally died within a year of arrival, but some lasted longer - a matter of luck, physical endurance, and resourcefulness. The death camp proper was a simple death factory - you arrived, were herded to the `showers' (the gas chamber', died, and were then cremated. There were several such camps, and with the exception of Auschwitz none had an attached concentration camp.  The only survivors were a handful of slave laborers in Treblinka who managed to grab some guns from the guards and stage a revolt.  Some escaped, a few of the escapees survived the war. Most survivors lived through the Holocaust either in hiding or passing as Aryans, an even more atypical experience than that of the former concentration camp prisoners.

Display:
Let's remember the forgotten holocausts that have occurred so frequently in our history too. Let's remember the indigineous peoples of North, Central and South America. Let's remember the victims of Pol Pot. Let's remember the Armenians. Let's remember the Belgian Congo. Let's remember.....
by observer393 on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 12:55:36 AM EST
Yes indeed, let's remember these. But the effect of your comment is to insinuate that we hear quite enough about the genocide of the Jews. If it's what you mean, why don't you come out and say it?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 07:52:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thou shalt not comment.

For one - and I am not speaking from floyd's mouth but my own.

As a Native Canadian (with Cree status) who is half Dutch - I resent that you fire at people who dare to bring the legitimacy of our history into comparison as somehow 'less' than that of the holocaust and label those who dare bring in the millions of Gays and Gypsies who were slaughtered alongside the Jews into the argument as somehow being anti-anti-anti-anything.

My people, historically, were raped, and killed, systematically not long ago.

Jewish people don't hold the 'brand' of wholesale slaughter and the holocaust. It's history that should be never forgotten but it's not exclusive to the Tribe of Israel.

Atlantic Free Press

by ghandi (expatforums@gmail.com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 11:47:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think you read my comment. I in no way insinuated there was a question of degree, or that other genocides were "less" than that of the European Jews. I am certainly aware of the centuries-long genocide of Native Americans, and sincerely do not mean to belittle it.

However, you mention "millions" of Gays and Gypsies who were slaughtered along with the Jews. It's absolutely true that the Nazis targeted these groups and murdered a great many. But I don't see what purpose is served by talking about millions. That is not historical at all. Millions of Jews were murdered. The main thrust of the murderous Nazi impulse was directed towards the goal of exterminating the Jews.

Lastly, what do you mean by "Thou shalt not comment"?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 12:00:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wikipedia: Death Toll of the Holocaust

  • 5.1-6.0 million Jews, including 3.0-3.5 million Polish Jews[9]
  • 1.8 -1.9 million Gentile Poles (includes all those killed in executions or those that died in prisons, labor, and concentration camps, as well as civilians killed in the 1939 invasion and the 1944 Warsaw Uprising)[10]
  • 200,000-800,000 Roma & Sinti
  • 200,000-300,000 people with disabilities
  • 10,000-25,000 homosexual men
  • 2,000 Jehovah's Witnesses
Almost two million Poles, 400K Gypsies. Maybe not "millions" of gay men, but they were specifically targeted for extermination and the nazis killed all those they could get their hands on. The insistence on the 6 million ignores 2 million others who were systematically exterminated in the same locations because of their belonging to certain groups. The jews were not the only group that was specifically targeted for extermination.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 12:09:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The jews were not the only group that was specifically targeted for extermination.
Although it is entirely possible that, had it not been for the decision to "find a final solution to the Jewish question", the machinery of extermination would not have been in place for the other groups, who would have just been killed by the conditions of slave labour in the concentration camps.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 12:18:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Only Jewish gay men were sent to the death camps. The high death rate of gay men had to do with their low status, not with their being "specifically targeted for extermination." In fact, some gay men won release from the camps ... by agreeing to be castrated and sent to serve in a Penal Regiment, where the death rate wasn't much lower than in the camps. And others were made guinea pigs in barbaric experiments to "cure" them and save their Teutonic genes for the Master Race.

Horrible as the persecution of gay men under the Third Reich was, it does NOT qualify as a Holocaust. Only about 50,000 of Germany's millions of gay men were imprisoned, and, as you point out, less than half of this number died.

I would also argue that the Nazis did not kill "all those [gay men] they could get their hands on." Not only did most German gay men survive the Nazi regime; Nazis never bothered to incarcerate even "known" Slavic homosexuals since there was no "danger" of their damaging the supposedly superior Aryan gene pool.
 

by Matt in NYC on Fri Jan 20th, 2006 at 08:41:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I stand corrected. Thanks.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 20th, 2006 at 08:44:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was a little surprised to see the totals you list did not include non-Polish Slavs and Communists who I believe were slaughtered in fairly high numbers.
by observer393 on Fri Jan 20th, 2006 at 09:19:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Saying that Gipsies and homosexuals were slaughtered by the nazis does not reduce in anyway the massacre of the jews.

Saying that the holocaust is no worse than the many massacres of other ethnicities or people that have taken place throughout history does attempt to reduce it as a more banal and/or mundane act of war, which it (and the parallel murder of gypsies and homosexuals) is not.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 12:05:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have been to the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. Alongside with the remembrance of the 6 million who died, there is not even a footnote about the 2 million others who also died in the same fashion in the same locations.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 12:12:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's an unpleasant piece of news, I must admit.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 05:36:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well my only point is - criticism of the State of Israel and it's policies should be debatable without being tagged anti-semitic. Period. I am, frankly, sick of it. Sick of being attacked for being something I am not.

Most of the world cheered in 1992 to 'celebrate' the beginning of the demise of Europe's rape of the Americas and systematic genocide of its people.

We had to watch 'specials' on TV.

Can you imagine that with the holocaust?

The irony is - Columbus was not the first - the Vikings were or maybe even the Chinese.

So let's segue into another subject. And see if I get labelled again.

From Daily Kos.
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/1/19/114321/175#16

Hard to believe, but the Jerusalem Post is reporting that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are ready to attack Iran's nuclear facilities:

    IAF [i.e., Israeli Air Force] pilots have completed their mission training and fighter jets have been prepared for an Israeli attack on Iran, the British Sunday Times reported.

More after the fold . . .

    * Steven D's diary :: ::
*

    The article reported that "the elite 69 strategic F-15 I squadron" had been equipped with weapons that will be tested in combat for the first time, and that two missile submarines were on standby: one in the Persian Gulf and the second in Haifa Bay.

    The Times also said that special IDF forces would be helicoptered into Iran to take out targets that could not be destroyed in an air strike. [...]

    Col. [res] Ze'ev Raz, the former IAF pilot who led the Osirak mission, was quoted by the Times as saying, "What we now have is a lot of targets, which makes the operation much more difficult."

    Raz believes an aerial assault on Iran's nuclear facilities is possible. There are many things that the IAF has done over the past few years that the public is not aware of, and it has made many important advances in mid-air refueling. Israel can strike the Iranian nuclear program, Raz said on Israel's Channel 1 TV's Politika program last week.

Here's the link to the Sunday Times article cited by the Jerusalem Post's story.   Here's what the Sunday Times' report has to say about Israel's readiness to proceed with this attack:

    Before the massive stroke that left him in a coma, Sharon had declared: "Israel will not accept a nuclear weapon equipped Iran." He had quietly ordered the Israeli Defence Forces to be ready to launch airstrikes against nuclear sites in the Islamic republic if necessary.

    "The whole issue is now with the Americans," said an Israeli defence source. "Once we get the green light, we're ready." [...]

    Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the right-wing Likud party, has backed the destruction of Iranian nuclear facilities, although Olmert's Kadima party looks the more likely election winner.

    At the Hatzerim air base on the edge of the Negev desert, the elite 69 strategic F-15 I squadron is ready to attack. Months of preparations have been completed and the young pilots have finished training for the long-haul flights that will be necessary to reach Iran and back without refuelling.



Atlantic Free Press
by ghandi (expatforums@gmail.com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 12:26:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Very good point. Suggested slogan:

The biggest insult to the victims of the Holocaust is to equate criticism of Israel's policies with anti-semitism.

On a similar note: When Sweden was a great power in the 17th century our wars caused the deaths of millions of Poles and Germans. Guess if that period still gets praise in our national anthem?

by Johannes on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 12:46:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ghandi, I entirely agree that no one should be called antisemitic for criticizing Israel. If that were so, I'd be an antisemite.

Next, as to American/Israeli intentions re Iran, I also agree with you. I'm very much afraid there'll be an attack. I'm opposed to that. I'm opposed to the entire neocon/US imperialist scheme for the Middle East.

What I don't get is why you say you're tired of being tagged antisemite. "Let's see if I get labelled again". I'm only a user here, like you, and there are things I may have missed. Has this happened to you here?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 01:54:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why?

Because I have been posting a long time.

I own and run a forum for expatriates that predates this commmuntiy by years. expatforums.org EST 2002

So I am, frankly, tired of chasing the same tail over and over and over again.

But this is the Net and that is the way. CTRL C leads to CTRL V.

Atlantic Free Press

by ghandi (expatforums@gmail.com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 04:20:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Over here, it's more Apple C and Apple V...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 05:38:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fucking right.  Cast aside thy Ctrl key, ghandi!

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 06:38:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
actually I double click on your address to mark it and then I drag it onto  my tabfield and voila, an new tab opens in the background, I can write this comment, while the side loads in the background, ready for me, when I finish posting...
by PeWi on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 08:49:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not in my world.

Sure I use Firefox.

But, to be frank, anybody working in intelligence who uses MAC is nuts.

Period. If only for the fact that half the software needed does not run on Mac machines.

That's clear knowledge for anyone in the biz'.

Atlantic Free Press

by ghandi (expatforums@gmail.com) on Fri Jan 20th, 2006 at 10:45:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
sorry, but that is just plain wrong, 99.5% of all software that is written for any form of dos runs on any! Apple MAC.
Get your facts straight, please!

You apparently have not heard of Virtual PC?
 notice this is a Microsoft page

while this is the apple page

or have a look at all the Operating systems that you can run on a Mac, with virtual PC.

just about 1000. Operating systems that is, not just programms.

So, please inform all those knowledgeable people in the biz, rather than further spouting your half-information.

Sorry for being so forceful about this, but this is actually my standard reply to Windows users, that realise their only defence is the rehashing of this single issue talkingpoint.

by PeWi on Fri Jan 20th, 2006 at 08:55:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All I can say to that is that awareness of Spain's actions in America after 1492 is fortunately better in Spain today than it used to, but unfortunately still not  very widespread. And our lack of awareness is necessarily willful, given what Columbus himself wrote about his own trip (an old thread on that).

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 12:40:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess I read it just the other way around.  Not that we should STOP talking about the genocide of the Jews, but acknowledge that systematic genocides have occured throughout history and that no one group of victims deserves attention/sympathy/studying more than others.

I actually commend the way the Jewish people have been able to keep their history alive as a constant reminder, as a narrative we can all use to learn some valuable lessons.  So I don't think we should just move along now from their story.  No way.  From a purely psychological point of view, they have accomplished an amazing service to us all by telling their story over and over, forcing the rest of us to listen to them rather than move along to the next news story, making their plight not just an unfortunate chapter in human history, but crucial to our understanding of ourselves, what we are capable of both at our very worst (genocide) and our very best (survivors).  The process they have gone through in trying to heal has, I hope, made us all better people.

So, if I say that my people were also victims & survivors of systematic state-sponsored genocide, that doesn't make the Holocaust any less important.

It's not like we have a quota of sympathy, lessons to learn, history to be told and that the Holocaust leaves no room for the rest.  Or that all genocides are bad but the Holocaust is extraspecial bad.  They are all equally horrific for those who experience them.  And everyone who has been on the receiving end of them deserves our attention, sympathy, and our help to ensure it never happens again.  

The Jewish people have been remarkably successfull in getting their story told, no small feat.  But there are those whose stories have been relegated to the history books or burried deep in the newspaper.  That says more about the people who write our history than the people who've been victims of it.

(Full disclosure: My great grandmother was Cherokee.  My boyfriend is Jewish.)

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 01:19:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My original post was not trying to play down the Nazi led holocaust or to deny it. The ost was aimed at trying to awaken some awareness of other holocausts, which it seems most in the world are happy to deny.
When was the last time when spent a minute remembering the 11.6 million africans of the Belgian Congo? There are many other examples.  
by observer393 on Fri Jan 20th, 2006 at 08:59:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for making your intentions clearer.

The point about denying genocides, imho, is that (though we may be forgetful, and in some cases countries and peoples may be happy to forget), the principal case where there is an outright, organized effort to deny, or reduce, or relativize, a genocide concerns that of the European Jews. I'm referring to the movement known as "revisionism" or more properly "negationism". The overall tendency of negationism is antisemitic in that it promotes the notion of a Jewish plot to publicize, exaggerate, or (for the extremos) downright fabricate the history of the genocide. Secondly, it's a movement which favours the racist extreme right by inducing a state of confusion in people's minds as to the ultra-right's past crimes, thus disculpating the racist/fascist elements today and encouraging them to be more extremist and have the "courage" of their "convictions".

Europeans may be sensitive to this because we see the emergence of extreme-right parties and groups, of skinheads and neo-Nazis, things we thought we would never see again. And to be sensitive to how the genocide of the Jews is discussed does not imply insensitivity to other genocides and massacres, including those perpetrated by the Nazis on other groups than the Jews.

On the Congo, though the topic was not specifically genocide, here's a comment I made in a diary by Richard Drayton some time back.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jan 20th, 2006 at 09:39:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think we more or less agree on this one ;)
by observer393 on Fri Jan 20th, 2006 at 08:38:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Or the statement could simply mean what it says. In talking about the genocide perpetrated against the Jews in Nazi Germany, let's not forget those victims of the other genocides.

The Left End of the Dial
by James Benjamin on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 02:01:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am saddened you feel this way. My whole point was aimed at trying to raise awareness of the denial of many holocausts througout history. The diary was about holocaust denial. I really fail to see how this detracts from the suffering of the Jewish and other peoples in Hitler's genocidal campaigns.
by observer393 on Fri Jan 20th, 2006 at 09:26:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I saw this too late, please see above.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jan 20th, 2006 at 09:43:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The more I read the response to your sane, thoughtful, respectful comment, the more upset I am getting.

I have to say, this thread has truly dissapointed me. :(

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 05:38:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Really? It's more or less exactly what I'd expect.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 05:46:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
(C: And don't even get me started on the Irish Famine...)

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 05:53:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't think throwing that into the mix would be constructive.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 05:55:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No.  Would not.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 05:56:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Then why did you bring it up?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 05:59:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Ben P (wbp@u.washington.edu) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 01:44:35 AM EST
Thank you for this diary Marek, I hope it will be widely read.  The levels of bad faith and/or confusion on the subject anger and sadden me.  Your diary is a blow well struck in the name of clear thinking.
by Guillaume on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 04:49:55 AM EST
Most survivors lived through the Holocaust either in hiding or passing as Aryans, an even more atypical experience than that of the former concentration camp prisoners.
This reminds me of Agnieszka Holland's (1990) film Europa, Europa.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 06:40:13 AM EST
To add to the movie, there are two books on the experience of hiding "as an Aryan" that I found both enlightening and sensitive, Saul Friedländer's Quand vient le souvenir (English title When memory Comes), and Aharon Appelfeld's The Story of a Life.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 08:21:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree wholeheartedly with your entire diary, Marek.

I'd particularly like to underline that Holocaust denial (as you say) goes hand in hand with the Vast Jewish Plot Theory. In other words, the one the Nazis believed in, and did so much to promote.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 07:58:25 AM EST
Fine diary. You clarified many matters for me, particularly the European definition of 'holocaust denial'. The crackpots! Do you know when and how the word 'holocuast' became exclusively attached to the Nazi genocide of Jews as it is understood nowadays? In my childhood we lived under the threat of the nuclear holcaust, literally. The location of the museum of the Jewish genocide on the Washington Mall, though, still irritates me. It commemorates something which happened outside the U.S.A. and is thus not formally U.S. history. Now don't kid me into accepting that the U.S. entered the second world war to save the Jews. Where is the museum of black slavery? Or have I missed something?
by Quentin on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 09:35:46 AM EST
Wikipedia documents nearly twenty meanings of the word Holocaust. But The Holocaust is the Nazi Holocaust which was not limited to the Jewish Holocaust (Shoah).

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 09:48:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Aren't there exhibits on black history in America at the Smithsonian American History Museum?  I haven't been to the museum in years, but I thought I remembered there being an entire section on it.

There shouldn't be, though.  Why should black history be separated from American history?  Are they not Americans, too, or is that a Whites-Only thing?  We need to cut the bullshit and stop segregating blacks from whites in our history.  Morgan Freeman was absolutely right on that, in my opinion.

The Civil Rights Movement did, after all, involve a lot of young white kids fighting for the rights of blacks.  One of them is a senator named Joe Lieberman.  The other is a former presidential candidate, and also a current senator, named John Kerry.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 09:49:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, don't the native Americans have a museum on the Mall? Aren't they also 'just' U.S. persons. The Jewish genocide is equally 'just' part of general world history. So what's the point of such a museum: so we will never forget? Good, let's hope that we and future generations will also never forget the plight of the African people who were taken by force by white people to what is now the U.S. (and other places), had to live there as the PRIVATE PROPERTY of white people until emancipation, suffered the white people's denial of their basic civil rights until only 40/50 years ago, and I don't know what else. They have as much if not more of a right than the victims of Nazi barbarism to a monumental institution on the U.S. Mall: so we will remember, never forget. Or not? Yes, there is the museum on Ellis Island for the European immigrants. What does this have to do with the forbears of black Americans? Generosity. The quaint U.S. melting-pot stuff we all learned in primary school is far from the truth.
by Quentin on Fri Jan 20th, 2006 at 05:28:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow.  That was a frightening interview.  And frustrating, because it seems like so many of the issues we're dealing with today could be solved through dialogue between the masses on each side.

I still stand by my view that freedom of speech must be near-absolute, and that the only exception should come when that speech is designed to incite violence.  Racism is horrible, but freedom includes the freedom to think as you wish.  Pat Robertson is a homophobic piece of garbage, but he should not be thrown into jail for it.

It does seem as though the laws in Europe may be doing more harm than good on the international level, because the politicians and reporters are clearly more than willing to use this issue as a weapon.

One way or another, that interview serves to show how dangerous organized religion is and has always been.  It encourages Groupthink and implies a belief in each person that his God is the "right" God.  And when you start from that point, there is no end to what you can justify to yourself.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 09:41:26 AM EST
What interview are you referring to?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 09:49:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This one.  Second paragraph from the bottom.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 09:51:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That was a frightening interview.  And frustrating, because it seems like so many of the issues we're dealing with today could be solved through dialogue between the masses on each side.

Which masses do you mean?

In case you mean the sane and the anti-semitic masses, the problem is thast the latter aren't at all interested in dialogue, and use paranoid logic. You can't reason with those who will wilfully ignore facts or make up extra hypotheses to bolster a silly theory. A good example is what I referred to below, the trial of David Irving.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 09:54:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No.  I didn't mean the sane vs. the anti-Semitic masses.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 01:56:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent diary! Also, British historian and holocaust denier David Irving once sued other historians for defamation, and lost the trial.

...the murder of the overwhelming majority of Jews living in German occupied lands - roughly five to seven million in total...
...shifting the number of Jews killed in the mass executions of the early stages of the Holocaust vs. the numbers gassed in the death camps...

Could you go into some details on the current consensus figures? Most books and encyclopedia only quote the same early estimates from the nineteen-forties, which anti-semites (including work collagues...) use as 'argument' - it would be good if I had 'current stand of research' figures handy for a retort.

The only survivors were a handful of slave laborers in Treblinka who managed to grab some guns from the guards and stage a revolt.

I seem to recall some survivor's accounts from Sobibor and Treblinka that came from kapos.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 09:48:43 AM EST
personally i think that denying the holocaust is stupid, plain and simple. not only is there enough evidence and documentation present in many forms, including oral descriptions by contemporaries of WW2, but it is offensive to people who had half their aunts and uncles murdered somewhere during that particular time in european history. only deeply ignorant and insensitive people would deny that the holocaust took place.

but that is not the issue, at least not to me.

first issue are the laws against holocaust denial which have been passed in many countries in europe. i am against those laws for many reasons. first of all is that, contrary to marek's assertion, they stifle legitimate debate; as things stand now, the "legitimate" debate is 100% in the hands of those partial to the victims. i only know the austria law ("verbotsgesetz") wherein not only is it forbidden to to sympatize or take part in the nazi party or movement, but any mention of the holocaust other than in terms of deep contrition and awe is verboten. the part about forbidding the nazis goes ok with me, not so the part against comment. the first legitimate question which comes to mind when reviewing that law is, why would anybody want to forbid even the mention of a contrary opinion, as factually or morally wrong it may be ? the effect of these laws is that eventually people who look into the issue will ask themselves what is it that those who passed the laws wanted to hide.

i think that all the counterproductive and immoral "anti holocaust-denial" laws should be repelled. they are every bit as offensive as the turkish law forbidding the mention of the holocaust of the armenians at the begin of last century.

second issue is that in the official holocaust "debate" jews are placed onto a pedestal of salient and exalted uniqueness of victimhood. so why are they "better" victims than, say, the native peoples of the americas, the filipinos, indonesian, palestinians, the russian kulaks, the africans, ... ?

when there is speak of genocide, it almost always defaults to the poor, poor jews, but the issue of these many other past and ongoing genocides is studiously avoided. having been involved in politics myself, i've seen various events and conferences around the issue of human rights hijacked from their original purpose and retasked to lament the many many injustices done to jews alone, to protest the "dangerous dormant anti-semitism" and to urge for more reparations to be paid to the victims of the holocaust (never mind that it was 60 years ago). this brings me to the related ...

third issue, again with the "prohibition of denial" laws. here my issue is that in these laws it is specifically forbidden to deny the jewish holocaust.

          my question: why only them ?

why can't we have laws which put under penalty of jail the denial of ALL genocides and the denigration of their respective victims ? why should belgians be able to deny that their king murdered about 10M people in congo and even still celebrate this (and other) genocides with a giant monument smack in the center of brussels ? or also, why dont we start to own up to the (still ongoing) genocide against the peoples of america during the last 500 years, including restitution of stolen goods to the survivors ? why is this conquest mostly depicted as a noble enterprise ? should not spaniards and english (and others ...) alike be sent to the gallows for mentioning this despicable business in favorable terms ? just asking.

this brings me to my fourth contention: marek asserts

     ... Europe makes racist speech a crime ...

but this is not true (a hint to marek: what is forbidden in europe is not "racism" but specifically to be against jews; racist speech is mostly deterred by way of strong social censorship). AFAIK racism (or racist speech) is not forbidden in europe, but there are some initiatives underway to illegalize "hate speech". if you dont believe me, ask any black person who has been under arrest how he was called by police ("nigger", "bimbo", "monkey" are some examples i know of).

lets look at some examples of racism, up close and personal as they come. among my acquaintances are a black guy from congo who was beaten into hospital by skinheads (culprits never found) and a guy from egypt who has been repeatedly slapped or spat at on the street just because he looks arab (illegal but who cares), i also know black and not-really-white girls who are routinely asked for sex for pay, the white/european women i know have never told me of such disrespect; there are also more subtle ways to be racist than to insult somebody for his/her looks, like not renting out flats to non-european foreigners (legal, seen first-person while helping somebody find a flat), denying blacks entry to a discotheques, not attending brown people in a restaurant, reducing brown and black people to crappy low-pay jobs despite existing qualification far above that - all examples of perfectly legal yet inmoral racist attitudes, all witnessed by me. all these things never happen to jews.

what is forbidden is violence against brown peoples for racist motives, but even in these cases authorities are, lets say, "lazy". and even here violence is forbidden because it is violence, not because it is against not-so-white people. while there is some advance in social mechanisms to curb racism, brown peoples still are discriminated against in all walks of life here in europe, but not so jews.

the treatment of racism by authorities is also interesting: if somebody tries and drags somebody into court and accuses the perp of wronging them for racist motives they'll get laughed out of court, unless it is a high-profile case or the victim is a jew. before jumping on me please check the sentencing records of your favorite jurisdiction. most countries have them online in these days.

fifth issue i have around "holocaust denial" and "anti-semitism" and "racism" is that the terms have become, by abuse, synonym with anybody or any idea not on par with the exalted self-image of jews - the logic goes more or less this way: racism is a less bad form of anti-semitism, anybody who criticizes israel is an anti-semite. thus perfectly legitimate debate - and indignation and disgust - around the deeply injust treatment of palestinians by jews is stifled by way of smearing anybody critical of israels regime of crime as an "anti-semite" and by implication a racist. i wont go into that more than to say that it strikes me as deeply immoral to use the injustices done to someones ancestors to cover their own equally disgusting crimes.

in the end the whole issue of holocaust denial rests on the arguable premise that jews are in some way important, or more important than other peoples. if we take away that aura from the current lopsided debate we'd have the where it belongs, namely a forgotten object of study for historians like so many other disgusting chapters along the history of humanity. participants in blogs, and other media, could finally dedicate their time and energy to more rewarding and constructive debates.

--- the last refuge of scoundrels is in the law ---

by name (name@spammez_moi_sivouplait.org) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 11:33:34 AM EST
Why can't we have laws which put under penalty of jail the denial of ALL genocides and the denigration of their respective victims?

Putting aside the rest of your comment, I think this is an excellent question.

Anyone want to bite?

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 01:25:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because it is plain stupid to turn idiots into martyrs of free speech.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 05:05:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Idiots? Do you think David Irving is just an idiot?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 05:18:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As much of an idiot as creationists, which is part of why historians won't debate him just like biologists won't debate creationists or cosmologists won't debate flat-earthers.

As Marek points out, holocaust denial is not just crackpot history, but a potentially dangerous ideology, but you don't fight an ideology by making it illegal.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 05:22:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, Irving was debated at the trial (and in the book that gave rise to Irving's claim of defamation), some biologists set up archives of creationism-debunking material and also appear fighting rearguard battles at the hearings on school curriculum, and creationism certainly shouldn't be made 'legal' by calling it and allowing teaching it as science. These analogies aren't too helpful.

you don't fight an ideology by making it illegal

You can fight its spread that way. Holocaust denial is not just crackpot history and ideology.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 05:36:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The consummate asshole, David Irving, is awaiting trial in Austria. He is now hedging on his denial, putting in some substantial modifications there...

So let's hear it for the Austrians! A far cry from the vermin that govern Italy who invited the jerk to speak in Italy a few years ago.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 06:03:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
those partial to the victims

How can one be 'partial' to the victims? Aren't you mixing two issues here?

i only know the austria law... jews... why are they "better" victims than, say, the native peoples of the americas, the filipinos, indonesian, palestinians, the russian kulaks, the africans, ... ?

Have Austrians (some living, some the 'dear' parents of those living) killed the native peoples of the americas, the filipinos, indonesian, palestinians, the russian kulaks, the africans? You see, that's why.

more reparations to be paid to the victims of the holocaust (never mind that it was 60 years ago)

And then what? What is your true goal - to get as much attention for other past genocides that still have survivors as the Jewish part of the Holocaust, or to have the latter share the treatment of the survivors of the others?

why can't we have laws which put under penalty of jail the denial of ALL genocides and the denigration of their respective victims ?

In Austria, indeed it may make sense to include the mentally retarded, homosexual and Gypsy parts of the Holocaust, as well as the slaughters of POWs etc. on the Easter Front. But what you seem to loose sight of is that no one (or at least no one heard of) is busy denying the latter, while for some reason Holocaust deniers too like to focus on the Jewish part.

(still ongoing) genocide against the peoples of america

Now come on. If there's genocide, then Austria is still continuing the genocide of the 15 Years War against Hungarians.

a hint to marek: what is forbidden in europe is not "racism" but specifically to be against jews

You said before that you only know Austria. Please keep it by that. Other countries have laws not that narrow.

ask any black person who has been under arrest how he was called by police ("nigger", "bimbo", "monkey" are some examples i know of).

You may also want to ask a Jewish person, say one from Budapest or Antwerp. They also get their share of daily insults (in sokme cases also from policemen). But just like much of petty crimes, most daily insults won't have a consequence in practice.

what is forbidden is violence against brown peoples for racist motives, but even in these cases authorities are, lets say, "lazy".

The same often happens in the case of anti-semitic crimes, especially in CEE. It happened in Austria a few decades ago (when judges absolved even major Nazi criminals). Your rhetoric is tendentious.

exalted self-image of jews

Jews? 'Jews'? Can you distinguish Jews from Jews?

deeply injust treatment of palestinians by jews

Again: Jews? 'Jews'? Can you distinguish Jews from Jews?

name, 95% of what you wrote I'd agree with, but there is a pattern, a framing in the remaining 5% that spoils it all. Why do you insist on copying the Zionists' intractable linking of the Holocaust, Jews and Israel, why do you have to oppose it with a total mirror image?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 04:01:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Think about it: is there such a person as a Palestinian Jew? Or is Palestinian synonymous with Muslim 'Arab'. Just wondering.
by Quentin on Fri Jan 20th, 2006 at 11:20:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What distinguishes the Holocaust from any other mass slaughter in the history of mankind is not, that it was against the Jews, not that so many people were killed, not that it was racist.

It is the systematic side of the holocaust that make it so unique. The indiscriminate, bureaucratic and therefore predicatable, factory killing of people that were deemed unworthy of living by the democratically elected Governance of the country (this includes: Gays, Roma and Sinti, Jews, to name the three biggest groups).

People knew why they were being procecuted, because they had been classed as subhuman, there was nothing random about it, it was state philosophy, all machine cogs of the apparatus worked towards it. Independently, maybe, without order, maybe, but with the clear understanding and blessing from the hierarchie.

Thank you Marek for making it clear that Holocaust denier don;t have to be rascists, but very often are - since their motivation is to denigrade the experience and existance of suffering among people that they couldn't care less about.

by PeWi on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 12:23:53 PM EST
I forgot one group: not able-bodied persons.
by PeWi on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 12:26:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the case of the Jews any possible independence of action among the different branches of state power ended at Wannsee.  

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 12:28:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, it is not very clear - even at Wannsee, there is no single piece of paper that says, our five year target is to eliminate all Jews, or somthing similar.
You have to read between the lines of their planning instructions and railway building plans. Albert Speer plays a much bigger role in this, and his real role is only now really becoming obvious.

But how soon it was know in German municipal bureaucracies that there was violent solution to the "Question about the Jews" I know from a story in my family. Apparently my Grandmother, who was working as office manager for the major in her hometown, was able to warn jewish families in the town of the impending deportation, and this story, which I have never been able to verify with my gran, must have happened before 1936, since she stopped working there, when she had my mother.

by PeWi on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 12:39:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Systematic was unique?

Bullshit.

Those nice warm blankets given out by Hudson's Bay Company were not clean. They were diseased.

And that's a fact - well at least in my history - what I have read. And what my grandparents told me.

Atlantic Free Press

by ghandi (expatforums@gmail.com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 12:30:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Call it industrial.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 12:31:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is that a snark?

Sorry, I just don't get it. I just don't like to see barbs out at SOJ. She's an analyist - a brilliant one. My first reaction is to defend her - because I have been reading her for a year now and there's not trail of anti-semitic behaviour at all.

And I did my time in the Native Press in the N.W.T. in Canada - not not Chris Floyd... his Injun webmaster. Me.

Yeah as a 'cub' reporter. Up north. Way up North.

Atlantic Free Press

by ghandi (expatforums@gmail.com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 12:37:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not writing this against soj. I am simply describing what I understand is the unique character of the holocaust.

Yes, they gave the blankets systematically. But was that Government policy? Where the people distributing it majors and other elected officials, or where they done systematically by a company, maybe with the blessing of the governance?

I want to make one thing very clear here!

The slaughter of the native americans is dreadful as the holocaust is dreadful. But that does not mean the memory of all people involved suffers when you compare it.

They were unique in their ways, one might have killed more people, one less. But in each case the slaughter was of innocent people and ought to be condempt on that ground alone. That is all.

People that compare the suffering of people in the Gulag and in the extermination camps with American Indians tend to say, you see, that is not that bad, he killed 3.000.001 person 2 people less then he. So it cannot be that bad and anyway they were just ... (put in what ever group you want)

People that compare numbers forgett want you to forget the suffering of the individual.
That is racist, what ever the group is.

by PeWi on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 12:48:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, it's not a snark. Something that is absolutely shocking about the Nazi Holocaust is the assembly-line quality of it.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 12:54:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
one other thing regarding soj, Marek is writing about the perceived(?), apparent(?), missunderstanding of European law. and makes the point that it is no problem to discuss figures and say maybe there were 6.31 that died in concentration camps and the other researcher says, no my calculation gives 6.32 million. That is not the problem. The problem is that very often, those that discuss these numbers only do it to minimise them in regard to the impact and to distract from the underlying factors that lead to the extermination, namely racism.
In my experience, those that get agitated about the numbers are always revisionists and to some extend in favour of the general policies displayed in the holocaust.
by PeWi on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 01:04:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Racism is to say that 6.000.000 jews were killed while we do not include the other 6.000.000 or so, non-jews that ere exterminated.

I am sick and tiered of hearing:6 million jews were killed. The holocaust was not a jew thing. It was an aberration against humanity.So please, lets stop that discrimination against non-jews!!!

If you want me to go back to the place I was born , tell your corporations to leave my country (Leon Gieco)

by cruz del sur (chenicodk@sbcglobal.net) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 03:34:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually. According to the reserch I made on the subject. The Hudson bay company never did that.

The Blanket myth was indeed based on fact. There was an attempt to use smallpox infected blankets during the 18th century in Virginia. Nobody was hurt except the perpetrator, who was hanged.

by messy on Sat Feb 4th, 2006 at 06:51:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I forgot to add, the blanket thing happened a grand total of ONCE.
by messy on Sat Feb 4th, 2006 at 06:53:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with everything you said except...

I´m just a tiny bit uncomfortable with the phrase "the democratically elected Governance of the country".

Note that the Nazi party "NSDAP" in free elections never got a majority. For an overview of the election results look here:
http://www.gonschior.de/weimar/Deutschland/Uebersicht_RTW.html

I consider "32 II" the last free elections just to be clear. Hitler came to power in January 1933 because the then German President Hindenburg made him Chancellor (The Weimar Republic constitution gave a lot of power to the President). In fact Hitler still needed the help of the (stupid) nationalist and conservative DNVP even in the last (April) 1933 elections just to get a majority. And that elections weren´t free anymore because:

  1. then the Nazi SA could intimidate people without fear of police action and
  2. soon after the elections the communist "KPD" party was forbidden.

Likewise in the last free Presidential elections 1932 Hitler lost to Hindenburg by a wide margin (53%-37%).
http://www.zum.de/psm/weimar/tab1.php
by Detlef (Detlef1961_at_yahoo_dot_de) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 02:37:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
sorry, cannot find the discussion where I was discussing this with Marek some time back. Of course Hitler never got the majority seats in the German parliament under non-Ermaechtigungsgesetz conditions, as you rightly pointed out. But that's not what I said. On January 30th 1933 Hitler was democratically elected by the parliament to become Kanzler. My point was more, there was no revolution there or military putsch that swept him to power, but he stayed within the existing German election law, once in power he changed all the laws necessary to stay in power. But his government was accepted, and there has never (as far as I can tell) been any doubt over his legitimacy as a Kanzler on the 30th of January 1933.

Of course he exercised powers of suppression towards the social democrats and he excluded the communists and the DVNP, were willing grooms (in the Steigbuegelhalter meaning).

I was so careful in parsing the words, because I get equally annoyed about the statements, that go: All Germans voted for Hitler.

by PeWi on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 08:40:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And that's a fact - well at least in my history - what I have read. And what my grandparents told me.

Or is that considered 'revisionist' history too?

Atlantic Free Press

by ghandi (expatforums@gmail.com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 12:32:07 PM EST
I thought of including a discussion of whether the extermination of the European Jews should be considered unique, if so why and to what extent, and which other atrocities it can reasonably be compared to. But this is a controversial question which gives rise to heated emotions and I did not want to distract from the point of my diary, that is explaining which debates about the Holocaust are legitimate, which clearly aren't, and why the latter are tied to racism. (The note on survivor's stories was a bit of a digression but it somehow wrote itself so I decided to put it on at the end as a sort of extended footnote.)  Just to make things clear, this is my personal take on the question, not an expression of a strong consensus. Some specific details are, others far from it.

An incomplete list of atrocities that are arguably comparable to the Holocaust includes the fate of Native Americans in the US, Belgium's actions in the Congo, the Germans in Southwest Africa (present day Namibia), the extermination of the Roma during WWII, and the Rwandan genocide.  Those which aren't include what happened to the Poles during WWII, to the Ukrainians in the thirties, the Chinese at the hands of the Japanese or Mao, the Palestinians under the Israelis, the Bosnian Muslims under the Serbs, the Algerians during the Algerian War.

For American readers an analogy might be helpful. Occasionally one hears people complaining that one speaks too much about the discrimination against blacks in the Jim Crow South, and that one forgets that, say, the Jews and the Irish also suffered from pervasive discrimination. Of course they did, but to see it as being of a comparable level and nature to that of African Americans is ludicrous. On the other hand saying so about the Japanese and Chinese is arguable. However, arguable and comparable does not mean the same, and one could say that the differences were so large that it doesn't make sense to see the two as equivalent.

What characterizes the comparable genocides is systematic slaughter that either clearly aimed at total extermination (with at least a semi-credible effort to do so) or even if that aim wasn't clear it killed off at least a bare majority of the targeted group.  Thus regardless of whether or not Americans aimed to exterminate all Native Americans or simply aimed at ethnic cleansing, the result was that most Native Americans died. On the other hand, whatever the Nazis long term aims were, there was no policy of total extermination of Poles during WWII, but instead one of reducing them to a nation of slaves and the total death toll was on the order of ten percent.

In my opinion the best argument for the uniqueness of the extermination of the European Jews is its motivation, the methodology argument somehow strikes me as of minor importance. It was done on behalf of an ideology that didn't merely see them as subhuman, nor did it have practical aims such as getting territory. Rather it was carried out as the result of a metaphysical belief that a particular race was the mortal enemy of all mankind and that its extermination was necessary if humanity was to be saved. The best argument against its uniqueness is that regardless of motive, history has seen various examples of atrocities either aiming at or reaching close to total extermination and as a practical matter the details of the ideology that lies behind  such acts are secondary to what actually happened.  

by MarekNYC on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 02:58:03 PM EST
In my view, there is a uniqueness of the Holocaust, but not as a global quality, instead as one in 'Western' culture, in the self-image of 'Western' culture.

It was the height of barbarity in the middle of civilisation, using all the industrial efficiency of civilisation. Whereas colonial massacres (whether with industrial efficiency or not) were safely far away for 'Western' public consciousness to stay ignorant, and other massacres in the 'West' could be categorised as throwbacks to barbarity.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 03:20:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhabs a good comparison is with aerial bombing. In the European consciousness, Guernica is the archetype of the horror of 'fighting' against a civilian population from high above. However, in Guernica, the Nazis only applied a colonial method for thr firt time in Europe. It was pioneered in the North African colonies by the Spanish, Italian and French colonialists (and their ocassional US hired guns) before WWI, and  brought to its full bloom by the British Empire (under none other than WWII 'hero' "Bomber" Harris).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 03:26:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Then why does the firebombing of Dresden not occupy the same place in Western consciousness as the carpet bombing of Gernika?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 05:10:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why would it? Dresden was not a 'first'.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 05:17:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually I'm not sure it doesn't. In America the Dresden bombing is better known than Guernica, perhaps in part due to Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five.  Dresden is far more part of the German consciousness than Guernica is, or for that matter the German destruction of various cities during WWII. In Poland Dresden is also better known than Guernica.  On the other hand it makes sense for Guernica to be a larger part of Spanish collective memory than Dresden - it was the Spanish who were its victims (or Basques I guess if one wishes to quibble)
by MarekNYC on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 05:19:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Regarding Gernika, it pissed me off to no end when a Basque nationalist leader whose father fought alongside Franco said something like "for us the bombs and for Madrid the paintings" in reference to the Gernika painting being in a Madrid museum, conveniently forgetting that Madrid endured almost 3 years of Franco's siege and aerial bombings.

The history of a people is too often just a list of grievances.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 05:27:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]

(Second from left)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 05:42:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, we all thought we were civilized 200 years ago too...

I think you hit it on the head: what seems to frighten us the most about the Holocaust was that it happened in 20th Century Europe, righ under our modern noses.  

Says more about how much we overestimate our supposed civility than the uniqueness of the Holocaust, I think.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 04:31:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, we all thought we were civilized 200 years ago too...

Do you mean the Napoleonic Wars? Methinks those were less terrible even compared to WWI. Same for the Seven Years' War. You'd have to go back to the Thirty Years' War. And that indeed is a good comparison: it brought a lot of changes.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 04:41:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Poemless, on second thought, I possibly misunderstood what you meant.

However, the Thirty Years' War comparison might still be worth to expound on. That war faced up Christian Europe with the ugliness of romanticised feudal wars and heroised religious wars. In this case, the source of ignorance was not so much the distance of colonies, but (a) the small circle of effect of previous wars and (b) the effectiveness of victors' writing of history. But the Thirty Years' War laid waste to a very large area, included even more countries among the warring parties, and ended in a stalemate. The results included the appearance of rules of war, the rise of diplomacy, the final break of the unity of the Church, thus the spread of secularism, and the rise of the Enlightement.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 04:53:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Was referring to The United States.  The Trail of Tears was in the early 1800's.  But to be fair, the killing off of Native Americas began as soon as Europeans set foot on the continent, 300 years earlier.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 04:53:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, that's what you meant. However, that was on the periphery of 'Western' civilisation, one of the many colonial crimes I referred to, which it was easy to ignore for the masses at the center.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 05:00:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What's the difference.

Between over 100,000 dead Iraqis and six million dead Jews?

Time? Body Count?

Where do you draw the border? Millions of dead Jews are more legitimate than millions of dead Native Americans? Because of time?

Why do MY people and MY history have to be buried?

Because of... time?

The Normans killed the Saxons and the who killed the Picts in return for killing the Celts.

Atlantic Free Press

by ghandi (expatforums@gmail.com) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 04:52:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you responding to DoDo?  I'm in agreement with you.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 04:55:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No one spoke of this or that being more legitimate.

In fact, we were speaking about the very same hypocrisy you protest against. Please read it back.

The Normans killed the Saxons and the who killed the Picts in return for killing the Celts.

Well, neither of those were genocides (nowhere near what was done to Native Americans), as today's English people's DNA shows. But even if true, the modern Western sense of 'civilisation' is of something after the Dark Ages, thus yes time is a factor.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 04:57:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What's the difference.

Between over 100,000 dead Iraqis and six million dead Jews?

Where do you draw the line?  Does the sentence "What's the difference between three thousand dead New Yorkers and millions of dead Native Americans" strike you as a reasonable statement? If not then again I ask, where should the line be drawn?

You might also notice that I explicitly included the extermination of Native Americans as one of those cases where one can sensibly argue that they are comparable to the Shoah. At the same time the two events played out in a very different manner so one can compare and contrast away. For example, the Native Americans were subject to a centuries long persecution that was much more intense than that suffered by the European Jews prior to the Nazis. Another example - there was no concerted, all encompassing period of extermination of Native Americans comparable to what happened to the Jews in 1941-5.

(A couple commenters seem to have a problem with my use of the term 'Holocaust' in its common colloquial sense of the extermination of European Jews by the Nazis, perhaps a substitution of the term 'Shoah' will placate them)

by MarekNYC on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 05:10:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think anyone is suggesting the circumstances in any genocide are identical, that they are not all unique in their own way.  Or that some occurred in far away places or a long long time ago.

That's hardly the point.

The point is that they are all legitimate, all horrid, and no one group of victims can, or should want to, claim some title of "worst genocide ever."  Although I imagine that many FEEL that their situation was worst.  And feeling that is ok; it is expected.  But asking others to feel that way too is NOT ok.

This shouldn't some kind of contest where the winner of the most exceptional genocide award gets the most exceptional treatment.  How offensive.  

It's history, it's life, it's about gaining understanding and receiving acknowledgement and allowing everyone's story to be told (er, not here on ET, of course.  Not enough room.  But you get the picture).


Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 05:22:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by MarekNYC: "Rather it (the holocaust) was carried out as the result of a metaphysical belief that a particular race was the mortal enemy of all mankind and that its extermination was necessary if humanity was to be saved."

I think that this was the official version for the populace, but not the reason why the nazis wanted to totally exterminate the Jewish people.

My theory goes like this:

The nazis believed that in 1933 their Führer had established an empire of the German people that would last at least 1000 years ('Tausendjähriges Reich'). But this would have proved nothing, because the longevity of this Aryan empire of the German people would have been dwarfed in the year 2933 when compared to the plurimillenial existence of the Jewish people. Thus it would not have been a demonstration of German superiority. So the Jews had to be killed.

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 03:58:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that this was the official version for the populace, but not the reason why the nazis wanted to totally exterminate the Jewish people.

I'm inclined to agree.  I really can't think of any instance of racism rooted absolutely in ideology.  It inevitably has something to do with the subjected minority perceived as being in the way, or a threat to the ruling class's pursuit of wealth, land, power, and their general "way of life", etc.  

Which is not to say that people don't also hold that metaphysical belief.  A lot of people truly believed also that Native Americans and Africans were a disgusting class of subhumans.  Not to mention accounts of Nazis taking Jewish women as secret lovers.  Anyway, ideology is usually what you feed the masses when you're trying to rally support for your plan to acquire as much personal power as possible.  It is a means to an end, not the end itself.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 04:24:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem with your analysis is that the Nazi leadership believed in their extreme antisemitic ideology  back when they were part of 'the masses'. The same was true of a substantial minority in many parts of Europe (France, Poland, Hungary etc.). It is true that ideologies are related to socioeconomic circumstances - in this case the break down of traditional social structures as a result of industrialization and the other aspects of what is commonly known as 'modernity'. Radical antisemitism offered an all encompassing explanation of the disruption. In that sense it is analogous to Marxism, though unlike Marxism it was not a rational and cogent analysis of what was going on. But it is no accident that socialist leaders referred to antisemitism as the 'socialism of idiots'.

The Nazi leadership and much of its rank and file sincerely believed the hodge-podge of quack ideas that constituted their ideology. Ideology was a means to power, but power was simultaneously a means to put that ideology into practice.

by MarekNYC on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 04:51:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hitler was obsessed with the idea of creating an empire that would be considered at the par with those of the Romans and Egyptians. He even spoke with Speer about the aesthetics of nazi buildings as ruins in 1000 years from now and how to build them and what materials to use to ensure that they would look more grandios to posteriority than the Colosseo Romano and Limes.

Relict of the nazi Limes on the French coast:


 

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 05:20:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't have references handy, but IIRC it was more compex for at least some Nazi leaders - I recall some quote (Goebbels?) half-acknowledging that the 'Jewish problem' is their creation and 'solving' it is a means to forge national coherence rather than a goal into itself.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 05:25:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What makes the systematic extermination of human groups unique in the Nazi Germany is that it was the aberrant core of the Nazi state. The Nazi state simply made permanent a body of laws known as the laws of exception a norm of governance. Laws of exception entail the creation of zones where law does not apply, now referred to as concentration camps, where humans may be killed without the executioners being subject to law. Germany was the first modern state to create laws of exception in the 1860's but was not the only nation to do so. Laws of exception are usually evoked in a period of grave state crisis, whether internal or external, and should be, as their name implies, temporary.

The Weimar Republic had already decreed the state of exception before the Nazi power seizure. The fundamental force and consequent horror of the Nazi regime is that it could only exist in a permanent state of siege and exclusion. It could not have ended in any other way but with the systematic slaughter of tens of millions of humans.

That is precisely why the Nazi regime is a stark mirror for all modern states, an admonition to "know thyself" as was written on the temple walls of Delphos.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 05:54:41 PM EST
troubled waters indeed.

recommended reading:  Finkelstein Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, and his other smaller book The Holocaust Industry.  these two books probably contain enough detailed information to establish a couple of basic points:

  1. the historical reality of the Shoah is irrefutable, no matter what niggling may be done about body counts.  the real existence of anti-Semitism is also irrefutable, well documented and attested.

  2. it is also irrefutable that, inevitably, certain elements have moved to capitalise on that historical reality to acquire secular power or personal profit, or to fortify questionable ideological ground.

and neither of these points invalidates the other.  

a good case can be made that the Likudniks shamelessly exploit the Shoah, and shamelessly promote a Jewish exceptionalism (very similar to American exceptionalism and perhaps for that reason palatable particularly to American Jews?) that does indeed lay claim to a uniqueness of suffering and thus a unique deservingness of reparations;  and this deservingness, mixed with religious sentiment, is used to cloak and to justify brutal landgrabbing in the OT, policies verging on genocidal towards the Palestinians, plus any rightwingnut policies the Likud wants to sell from one week to the next.  (much as BushCo keep harping on 911, Pearl Harbour, etc. -- or as McCarthy kept waving Stalin to keep Americans docile and scared)... various profitmaking scams have also been uncovered masquerading as legitimate war crimes reparations.

obviously none of this is unique to Shoah or to Jews.  if you recall, the scam artists were quick to leap out of the woodwork and present false survivor and kin claims for alleged (nonexistent) victims of 911.  same has been true in the aftermath of every disaster or tragedy -- there are always opportunists and parasites.  because a mass murder is being exploited -- whether by shady operators trying to make a buck, or sleazy pols trying to bulldoze public opinion -- doesn't somehow reduce its tragedy or its reality.

as to why we Anglo/Euro types are so shocked by Shoah as opposed to other genocides -- why it does seem exceptional to us -- I think it hinges on two essential points already raised:  first, the killing took place within the (roughly drawn) boundaries of Europe, i.e. "fouling our own nest," bringing colonial brutality home instead of keeping it deniably on the periphery;  and second, the majority opinion shifted from the 1800s to the 1940s so that most Anglos thought of Jews as white, or nearly-white.  the official Nazi ideology was closer to the 1800s or 19-teens and 20s, when Jews were considered by most Anglos to be non-white.  "white" means "us," and for most people I think the shock and horror of the Holocaust was that the people being killed were "Europeans" -- they were like us.  they could have been us. they wore clothes like ours and (some) owned businesses and homes.  cf How the Jews Became White Folks by Brodkin.

a third reinforcement of exceptional visibility for Shoah is the historical accident of a strong American Jewish presence in literature and entertainment, particularly Hollywood;  this meant that both Jewish culture and Shoah got a lot more media coverage, were absorbed into the national myth and narrative, in a way that other cultures (save maybe the Irish?) and other genocides never have been.  and American media dominate the world.  there was a brief period in the late 60s and early 70s when the native american tragedy almost made it to the cultural bigtime, with movies, books, folk singers, etc -- and did indeed achieve a kind of secondary iconic status.  but it could not compete.  'Dances With Wolves' never got the same cultural traction as 'Fiddler on the Roof'.

a fourth reinforcement was the urgent ideological need on the part of the American hegemony to write out of history the socialist, labour, and communist opposition to the Nazis;  a sidelight on which I've mused from time to time is that most of those who escaped from the Nazi exterminations had resources -- wealth, in other words -- and that most of progressive/radical Jewry was wiped out.  certainly Jewish feminism in Europe was interrupted for decades, as progressive/labour/radical Jewish intellectuals, union leaders, dissident intellectuals (and the first woman rabbi) all fell victim to the Nazi regime while wealthier, less "political" or better connected Jewish families managed to get at least some of their relatives out in time...  this rightward culling of European Jewry and the 2nd wave American diaspora may explain something about Israel's slide from a kind of communitarian socialism to militarist rightism, though of course there are many other factors...

Finkelstein btw points out that the "Holocaust cult," as he sometimes calls it, did not emerge until the 60's  -- not coincidentally at the moment when the US suddenly decided (after the 6 day war) that Israel was in fact a useful satrapy in the region.  Israel had made its bones and was now looking like a promising provincial capo.  and that's when the mass media Holocaust frenzy really kicked into gear.

I don't buy the "shockingness of mass production" argument, though the plodding bureaucracy of the Nazi killing machine is indeed chilling.  (but any more chilling than the dispassionate calculations being made at White Sands and Los Alamos?  cool and technocratic approaches to mass killing must always give us a shudder, I hope.)  mass production had already been tried -- the proto-Nazi war machine tried out its tricks in the Spanish civil war, and their extermination and concentration techniques were learned from the Boers and the Brits in Africa (ironically the Israelis consulted White South Africa later in history for tips and notes on the control and containment of indigenes).  WWI was the beginning of truly industrial warfare, aerial bombardment, chemical weapons:  that trend was already in place.

moral lesson, I guess:  suffering doesn't necessarily make anyone nice.  conversely, exploitation of a tragedy doesn't make it any less tragic.  every death by violence is about as senseless and terrifying as any other.  to say that the Holocaust industry has tried to eclipse or downgrade all other mass human tragedies and claim centre stage in history may be true, but this in turn doesn't somehow erase the terror and pain felt by victims of Shoah... it is unworthy of their memory.  Finkelstein, who lost family to the Nazi terror, expresses at one point his deep rage at having his own family's grief and loss exploited by Likudniks and other opportunists.

there's infinitely more to be said but I had better stop here... except to note that if there were a law against denying that the earth is more than 10K years old, there'd be a lot of fines being paid in the US these days.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 07:27:07 PM EST
a fourth reinforcement was the urgent ideological need on the part of the American hegemony to write out of history the socialist, labour, and communist opposition to the Nazis;  a sidelight on which I've mused from time to time is that most of those who escaped from the Nazi exterminations had resources -- wealth, in other words -- and that most of progressive/radical Jewry was wiped out.  certainly Jewish feminism in Europe was interrupted for decades, as progressive/labour/radical Jewish intellectuals, union leaders, dissident intellectuals (and the first woman rabbi) all fell victim to the Nazi regime while wealthier, less "political" or better connected Jewish families managed to get at least some of their relatives out in time...  this rightward culling of European Jewry and the 2nd wave American diaspora may explain something about Israel's slide from a kind of communitarian socialism to militarist rightism, though of course there are many other factors...

With respect to German Jews your point about who managed to get out is partially true, but only partially. The emigration of German Jews can be roughly divided into several phases. The first came immediately after the Nazis came to power. Then the numbers fell dramatically but slowly rose until the Anschluss and especially Kristallnacht when suddenly almost every German and Austrian Jew wanted to leave, with the exception of the elderly. In that first phase it was precisely the politically and socially active who were most likely to emigrate - those who weren't caught up in the sweeps of Communists and SD's or who were released from the concentration camps soon afterward. Until the final flood, finding a place to go wasn't that hard. It was only in the final phase that the wealthy and/or connected had a real advantage.

In the case of the Jews of Poland and the Soviet Union - the large majority of the victims of the Shoah - you  are more wrong than right. Wealth was no advantage. On the other hand being a communist activist was since you were likely to flee along with the Soviet authorities in 1941. As a result communist activists survived in very disproportionate numbers. You are right for Poland  in two ways - the assimilated Jews (roughly ten percent of the Jewish population) were more likely to have friends who could hide them or their children, and they were also able to 'pass' as Aryans.  Better off Jews, along with non-communist activists of any political stripe were also more likely to end up in the Gulag where as it turned out their chances of survival were higher than in German occupied Poland. Assimilated Jews tended to be middle class, but considering that some three quarters of the Polish Shoah survivors survived in the USSR, and the vast majority of assimilated Jews in occupied Poland died, the net effect favored left wing activists. (some 200,000-250,000 survived in the USSR vs 60,000-80,000 in Poland)

by MarekNYC on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 08:12:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
good points Marek, many thanks for a substantial refutation and expansion of my half-baked notion.  it will take me some reflection to absorb the many ironies in your accounting of the fate of Polish Jews...  much appreciated.

I wonder if there were subtle demographic shifts also in the destinations of the different waves of refugees... for example the father of a friend of mine, a fairly late-phase escapee, went first to Turkey, then S America, where he married a fellow refugee;  after some time they managed to get into the US.  they were both from affluent urban Jewish families;  family businesses and properties had been confiscated by the Nazis, but cash, jewelry, clothing, etc. could be sold to finance their escape.  I wonder if the earlier progressive/labour refugees would have followed similar paths, or if they would have perhaps gone only as far as the USSR or France, and how many perished there in the Resistance or on the eastern front...  another friend's father was Ukrainian, a survivor of the Stalinist starvation programme;  he married a German refugee after fleeing from conscription in both Stalin's army and the German army, and somehow obtained entry to Canada... and settled in an area where there was a small concentration of Greek Orthodox Ukrainians.

so many millions of individual stories, each one so complex and full of drama and weighty choices and good and bad luck -- in the end determining who would survive and who would not, and what diasporic microcommunities would raise fortunate children in lands of relative plenty and safety, teaching them family histories that could barely be comprehensible by the 2nd generation...  it is mind-boggling, no?

as I watch the Bush Regime laying in place the bricks and mortar of their Kaiser Presidency, the emerging doctrine of absolute presidential power, I wonder whether future historians will discuss the waves of emigration of intellectuals and dissidents from the emerging Bible/Police State...  [only half in jest]

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 09:01:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When I was in Australia, I stayed with two Jewish families, and they had fascinating stories. One left Lithuania in 1917 when the Russian Revolution took place - going to China, which they then left after 1949 to go to Australia. (Nothing to do with the nazis). The other family was coming from South Africa which they left in protest against apartheid in the 70s - but I am not sure how they got there.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 20th, 2006 at 04:21:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
one very small niggle, and I know that could be discussed at length as well. I learned in school that the night on the 9 of November should be called Reichsprogromnacht and not Reichskristallnacht, since that was a glorifying term the Nazi's used themselves (even though its origin itself, was a satirical expression of opposition of the events through the "Berliner Schnauze"Wikipedi Entry in German
by PeWi on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 09:16:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
in the Gulag where as it turned out their chances of survival were higher than in German occupied Poland
Just to put the nature of the German occupation of Poland in perspective...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 20th, 2006 at 06:44:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You have this amazing way of saying concisely in one comment what I fumble though a whole thread trying to express...


Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 08:54:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
recommended reading:  Finkelstein [...] These two books probably contain enough detailed information
Wikipedia: Norman Finkelstein
Finkelstein is considered to be a Holocaust Denier by the Anti-Defamation League.
Finkelstein has frequently criticized the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as an organization dedicated not to defense against anti-semitism, but to defamation of critics of Israel.
Wikipedia: Raul Hilberg
Raul Hilberg (born June 2, 1926 in Vienna), is one of the best-known and most distinguished of the Holocaust historians.
he has been supportive of Norman Finkelstein's thesis on the Holocaust industry, with whose "breakthrough" he "totally agree[s]".
Any comments?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 20th, 2006 at 09:44:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've read "The Holocaust Industry" and a few short things by him. Holocaust denier? - Ridiculous. I also think he makes a lot of good points. However, what I've read is quite polemical and one sided and thus ends up giving a distorted picture. By the way, I haven't seen the ADL call him a Holocaust denier, and while I may have missed it, there is nothing of the sort in the head of the ADL's diatribeagainst Finkelstein - one sided and unfair, but no claims of Holocaust denial.

In some ways he reminds of black writers, most often but not always right wing, who inveigh against the black leadership, affirmative action,  'gangster culture', worship of victimhood, etc. They also often have interesting arguments to make, but they are horribly one sided and tend to make things look a lot worse than they actually are.  There is also the unfortunate reality that any such polemics will inevitably be hijacked by racists. It's unfair and isn't the fault of the writers. However, seeing a person's writings routinely used by racists in support of their garbage tends to enrage members of the minority group and colour their view of the writer.

by MarekNYC on Fri Jan 20th, 2006 at 10:59:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is the ADL source quoted in the wikipedia article. In mu humble opinion, the ADL has lost its marbles just like the Spanish Asociacion de Victimas del Terrorismo. They both started out with praiseworthy goals but have been freeped.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 20th, 2006 at 11:03:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, same article I linked to. Doesn't call him a holocaust denier. That Wikipedia entry would seem to have a problem.
by MarekNYC on Fri Jan 20th, 2006 at 11:17:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would use my wikipedia account to correct it if 1) I actually felt I could write about this controversy with some authority; 2) I did not expect a flame/revert war if I got involved with the Finkelstein article in that way.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 20th, 2006 at 11:21:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I did not expect a flame/revert war if I got involved with the Finkelstein article in that way.

Yes, well, saying anything about Finkelstein is risky - defend him on something and you risk getting called a racist Islamofascist sympathiser, attack him on something and you risk getting called a racist Likudnik sympathiser. Not a safe topic.

by MarekNYC on Fri Jan 20th, 2006 at 11:45:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not even the Normal Distribution is a safe topic over at wikipedia, I swear.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 20th, 2006 at 11:46:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(Independently of wikipedia), Raul Hilberg is indeed a very high historical authority (his two-volume Destruction of the European Jews is probably the major exhaustive account), and he has in fact voiced his agreement with Finkelstein on certain points, in particular the abuse of claims of survivor status by some American Jews (and some of their organizations) to obtain reparations through class action suits (particular case of the Swiss banks). There is no suggestion of Holocaust denial concerning Finkelstein -- if there were, I'd expect Hilberg would take a very different attitude to his work.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jan 20th, 2006 at 11:54:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]