Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Tuesday 6 September 2016

Abdicating Their Role

It's not often that I agree with Rav Avi Shafran but, the law of averages being what it must be, sometimes it does happen.  One of those incidents is his latest piece commenting on a recent initiative by the Polish government to make calling Auschwitz and other death and concentration camps from World War II "Polish" a crime.
As Rav Shafran notes, there is a point to their concern with the infamous camps being labelled as "Polish".  Building them wasn't a Polish idea.  What was carried out in them wasn't planned by the Poles.  They weren't in charge of running them either.  But as he cogently notes:
But the justice minister does truth an injustice. In implementing their genocidal program, German forces drew upon all-too-eager-to-help Polish police forces and railroad personnel, who guarded ghettos and helped deport Jews to the killing centers. Individual Poles often pitched in, identifying and hunting down Jews in hiding and then actively participated in the plunder of Jewish property.
In his book “The Coming of the Holocaust: From Antisemitism to Genocide,” University of California, Santa Cruz Professor Peter Kenez described Poles of German ethnicity as “welcome[ing] the [Nazi] conquerors with enthusiasm.”
Nor were ethnic Poles unhappy at the prospect of helping the invaders rid their country of Jews.
History Professor Jan T. Gross, who was born in Poland to a Polish mother and Jewish father, published “Neighbors” in 2001, in which he documented that atrocities long blamed on Nazi officials were in fact carried out by local Polish civilians.
Like the massacre of the Jews of Jedwabne in July 1941. Mere weeks after Nazi forces gained control of the town, its Polish mayor, Marian Karolak, and local Nazi officials gave orders to round up the town’s Jews – both long-term residents as well as Jews who were sheltering there. Some Jews were hunted down and gleefully killed by the town’s residents with clubs, axes and knives. Most were herded into a barn, emptied out for the purpose and set afire, killing all inside
I find the selective amnesia of Europeans, especially those from the eastern half, interesting.  On one hand, the most horrific crimes committed against our nation since the destruction of the Second Temple (may it be speedily rebuilt) occurred in Eastern Europe.  Until the full extent of the Holocaust was made known to the world there was great cultural pride in how Jews had been subjugated amongst the locals.  It was only when the enormity of the Holocaust became infamous that there was suddenly a shock and sense of embarrassment.  Sure they had hated us and taken great pleasure in persecuting us but mass murder?  That they weren't so proud of.
And so a certain sense of denial has taken hold of that culture.  The willingness of Germany to take responsibility for its crimes allowed other countries that had eagerly joined in the Nazi effort to implement the Final Solution to stand back, point and say "It was them!"  Austria, Poland, the Balkans, Ukraine and the rest to this day profess great offense if any suggestion is made that they played a role in the Holocaust.  They vigorously point out all their Righteous Gentiles, hoping we won't remember that there were 100 non-righteous ones for every 1 that endangered his or her life for us.  They point out various interwar initiatives to encourage Jewish emancipation and how great they were at encouraging and protecting Jewish communities in the face of testimonies from all the survivors about how such measures were window dressing and nothing more.
I can understand the need for this amnesia.  As recent history has shown, the core Jew hatred endemic in European culture, currently manifesting as anti-Israel'ism, has not abated despite the fires of the Holocaust.  It simply went underground for a while.  Europe may have been shocked by what happened on its territory but it is most without regret and would like very much to shed a tear over another one, this time in the Middle East.
Yes, the Holocaust was a German initiative and run by them but with willing and necessary help from local populations in western and eastern Europe.  This is a fact that we must not allow to be forgotten, lest the false piety of the children of our oppressors comes back to stab us again.


Mr. Cohen said...

Hitler's Willing Executioners by Daniel Goldhagen
year 1996, A.A. Knopf Publishers, New York
ISBN: 9780679446958 ISBN: 0679446958

Jean Marc Benoit said...

I gave a presentation on Nazi euthanasia to high school students a couple of years ago. A student said I had invoked "Godwin's Law", implying that by talking about Hitler I had invalidated my argument (the main thrust of which was to discuss current trends in Canada regarding physician-assisted suicide).

I would posit that the current generation of Gentiles is distant enough from the horrors of the Second World War that they regard them as mythical. Further, that few survivors of these horrors are still alive to give witness to the events, and so there is a real danger that the lessons are being forgotten. As such, the elder generations are far likelier to be able to push denialism in various forms without a backlash from the younger generation.

What to do?

Mr. Cohen said...

Quick quote about Jews and the Catholic Church in year 1933 CE: