Monday, February 23, 2015

Auschwitz 70 Years Ago Reminds Us of Iran Today

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                       

Germany established Auschwitz Concentration Camp as part of their "Jewish Solution"  in Poland in June 1940.  The Allies freed it 70 years ago in 1945.   One hears the regret and pledges of "never again" but anti-Semitism has returned to Europe with a vengeance. It had become the largest Nazi Jewish extermination camp.  The Jews living in Auschwitz numbered about 4,000 and they all were either expelled or exterminated in 1940.

 This camp was organized by the SS men with experience of similar camps in Germany.  It was intended to serve as a place of punishment for Polish political prisoners.  It was in East Upper Silesia, a region Germany had annexed.  The town it was in was Oswiecim, known in German as Auschwitz, which was 30 miles from Cracow.

Rudolf Hoess   was the commandant who had arrived on April 29th with 5 other SS men.
 " From 4 May 1940 to November 1943, and again from 8 May 1944 to 18 January 1945, he was the commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp, where it is estimated that more than a million people were killed. He was hanged in 1947 following a trial in Warsaw."

 On May 30, 30 more Germans who were convicted criminals had arrived to be the barrack chiefs or Kapos, as they were called.  In the first 2 weeks of June, 300 Jews from Auschwitz were brought in to clean the site which had been the Austro-Hungarian artillery barracks of WWI.  The Jews were sent back after working under 15 SS cavalarymen.  6,000 Jews from Auschwitz were sent to other towns in the region.

The first people to be deported to the Auschwitz Concentration camp came from the city of Tarnow.  They were Poles, imprisoned because they had tried tried to get out of the area by going south to Slovakia, because some were community leaders, priests and schoolteachers.  20 Jews were in this first group; a director of the local Hebrew school, 2 lawyers and others.  These luckier people came there by passenger train and heard that Paris had just fallen.  Upon arrival they had to work digging ditches and moving earth.  728 had arrived but only 137 survived the war.  The Jews had all died.

It had held prisoners of virtually every occupied European nation as well as Jews of all nationalities.  Those not Jewish were assigned to slave labor, but up to 90% of the Jews were selected on their arrival for immediate extermination.  The rest died from hunger, disease and maltreatment like horrific beatings.
At first prisoners were slaughtered by mass shootings, beatings, poisonous injections, and then gassing which was first experimented with in September 1941.  The Nazis acted like animals in their fury to tear apart babies and slaughter Jews, and the Ukranians, Poles and Lithuanians sometimes acted even worse in their zeal to assist the slaughter.

Soon the gassing chambers were able to process thousands of human beings daily.  About 1.6 million persons lost their lives to Auschwitz-Birkenau and the satellite camps.  This included 1,350,000 Jews, 83,000 Poles, 20,000 Gypsies and 12,000 Russians.  When the Russian troops liberated the camp on January 27, 1945, they found 7,650 survivors.

The Jews who were killed didn't realize it was possible for the Germans to want to exterminate all Jews in the whole world starting with them.  Who could ever expect such a thing?  It was unknown to the world as far as they knew.  Back in 722 BCE when Assyria had attacked Israel, they fought and then took away the best of the people as slaves, and for a trade of people.  The same by 586 BCE when the Babylonians did the same thing, take away the best of the people as slaves and a transfer and planting of different people.  Even the Romans didn't try to extinguish all the Jews by 70 CE though they burned down the Temple and took over the destroyed city.  After several years the news leaked out to remaining Jews of exterminations, so they began to fight back as best they could.  They gained a few hours, days, and sometimes even weeks more of life by fighting.

What was the hardest in all the cruelty was of how the children were killed, and usually were the first selected.  The evilness of the murderers were methods unbelievable; bashing babies against something hard, catching them on the ends of bayonets, thrown into fires:   the most innocent of all life slaughtered by the most cruel  of humanity.

Now, Israel, born again in 1948, has 6 million Jews in its population, the amount lost in the Holocaust.  We need to make 'NEVER AGAIN" more than an empty phrase.  It is the Muslim Middle East today that is the heart of the global anti-Semitism that has arisen.  There is a factory of anti-Jewish literature, films, blood libels and calls for violence against Jews which calls for another genocide against Jews who are only 0.02% of the world population as it is.

Albert Camus wrote The Plague,  an allegory with 2 levels of meaning.  The historical allegory  signifies the plague as when the Germans occupied France from 1940 to 1944 during WWII.  The plague are the rats which invade with the citizens of the town being very slow to realize the magnitude of the danger because they do not believe in pestilence or that it could happen to them, just as the French were complacent at the beginning of the war.  They could not imagine that the Germans, who they had defeated 20 years before, could defeat them in a mere 6 weeks which happened to France.  At the allegorical level, the plague carries people off unexpectedly which was the reality of the occupation where people were snatched from their homes by the Gestapo and imprisoned or sent to work as slave labor, or gassed if they were Jewish.

But by being so allegorical, it does not imbue the reader of the terror, the horror that the Nazis brought nor their blood-thirsty acts of savagery that were let loose.  As I read this short story, the longest I've ever read in this category, I was utterly bored to death.  A popular story in literature classes, the students get none of the horrors, only a ho hum and one would see drowsy students.

Hamas terrorists who rule half or more of the Palestinian Arabs and have been living in Gaza have a founding charter.  It calls for the eradication of Israel and for the killing of Jews everywhere.  They feed on old Nazi literature.  That is their godly  literature, possibly  more swaying than Islam..

Yet such nice people, I call them do-gooders, have sided with Hamas, such as the 26 year old Kayla Mueller of Arizona  who was just killed by IS in Syria.  She had been in Gaza helping the "poor people" who voted Hamas in, and then finding them a tough nut to crack, went to Syria with her Syrian boyfriend to help bring peace there. She was taken prisoner on August 4, 2013.   Her parents just found out from ISIS that she had been killed in a Jordanian strike.  Kayla meant well but went into a hot spot without understanding the dangers and had not been really prepared at all, stated a woman journalist interviewed on CNN last week.                                                                

Hizbullah chief Hassan Nazrallah welcomes Jewish emigration to Israel for his own evil purposes, as he thinks it makes killing Jews easier.  "If Jews all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide."  His interpretation of the present position of Arabs in the Middle East is shared by most who will not accept the fall of the Ottoman Empire in WWI.  He said, "I believe that Palestine is an occupied land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, and this is the right of the entire Palestinian people, this land."  He also said, "However, there is no legal and legitimate state called Israel."

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,  Past President of  Iran 

Present President of Iran Hassan Rouhani 
Religious leader  Ali Khamenei, more powerful than the president.

Iran openly declares as its sacred mission the annihilation of Israel.    

For Israel, the threat of atomic weapons made by Iran is direct, immediate and mortal.  It took Nazi Germany 7 years to kill 6 million Jews.  It would take a nuclear Iran one day.  These 3 men above have not been kidding! They have also been Holocaust deniers while demanding nuclear power. 
Update:  "According to leaked details of the talks, the US is reportedly softening in its stance towards Iran and allowing a higher number centrifuges to remain in Iranian possession. In a stunning admission, the White House said that it was purposely leaving Israel in the dark regarding details of nuclear talks so that Israel would not have any opportunity to torpedo the agreement."  Iran is threatening to walk away from talks.  Why not?  It has worked with the Palestinians to get their own way.  

Resource: The Jewish Press, February 13, 2015 "Do We Really Mean "Never Again"? by Charles Krauthammer
The Holocaust by Martin Gilbert
Albert Camus;  The Plague, by Everyman's Library

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