Thursday: 27.January.2005

Auschwitz: 60th anniversary

Today is the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Sixty years ago today, the Russian Red Army rolled into Auschwitz and liberated the infamous concentration camp from Nazi control. PBS is broadcasting a 6-part series (2 parts at a time) titled: Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State.

I've seen the first 4 parts so far. This series is particularly interesting because it attempts to reveal the Nazi mindset behind Auschwitz and their reasons for trying to exterminate a whole race of people.

••• continued •••

I've always been interested in understanding how things work .. like a nuclear reactor, for example, which is why I enlisted in the Navy's nuclear power program. (Dumb reason, I later discovered.)

But one thing I've never really been able to grasp is the mindset behind the Nazi passion to exterminate the Jews, even their children. I mean, if someone wrongs me (and I've been wronged plenty of times) we will have words. We might go to court to settle things. If wronged badly enough, we might even come to blows.

But you would have to be *really* angry to go after a person's entire family. And then if you extrapolate this anger to an entire race .. well, I'm simply not able to fathom that kind of anger or hatred.

And it wasn't just one man (Hitler), or even his feared SS division, or the Nazi state as a whole, but it seems an entire nation felt this way, or at least a good majority of them. So it's difficult for me to dismiss the notion, as some say, that Auschwitz is the result of a single deranged madman (Hitler).

Rather these were educated, rational people who felt this way. American soldiers who fought the Germans in WWII described them as well-trained & well-disciplined. I mean, they came frighteningly close to taking over the entire world. You don't conquer the world with a nation of crackpots.

I have no answers today, just more questions. I have asked some online-friends who live in Germany about this (why did it happen, the Nazi mindset, the national anger), and they were likewise unable to provide satisfactory answers.

Anyway, that PBS special is excellent. I've never been to Auschwitz myself, but friends who've visited say it's eerie there .. that you can feel things. I would like to go sometime. I hear Poland is beautiful. Nizkor's Layman's guide to Auschwitz is posted here. As usual, Wikipedia did a nice job here.

Posted by Rad at January 27, 2005 10:51 AM


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Hi. Thx for your comments. The PBS special I referenced said that "less than 1% of all Germans did anything to help the Jews." Do they have their facts wrong?

I am certainly no expert on the holocaust, but I can do simple math, and greater than 99% seems like an overwhelming majority to me.

Posted by: Rad at January 28, 2005 05:08 PM

When the jews tried to get entryvisa to usa fleeing from nazigermany - how many got visas? How many americans vouched for them ? less than 0.1% of the american people - that means >99% did not help.

Posted by: kniff at January 29, 2005 10:35 AM

Not sure what point you're making. Are you saying that every Jew applied for a entry visa to the US? Or that every American has the authority to grant an entry visa? The criteria for an entry visa has nothing to do with whether someone "vouches" for an individual. The process is a little more bureaucratic than that.

I'm not saying that there isn't plenty of culpability to go around. But I saw the film clips of crowds of angry German citizens beating Jews with big sticks and punching them in the face.

Again, I'm not looking to assign guilt. That's been done already. I'm merely trying to understand the mindset of the average German, at the time prior to and during the escalating anti-Semetic period leading up to and during WW11.

Posted by: Rad at January 29, 2005 11:47 AM

I've received mail on the subject from folks who prefer not to be identified, but they indicate one of the reasons behind german actions leading up to WW11 is that the German's got a raw deal in WW1, and that anger and resentment had built up over the years, and that this hostility, along with the relative properity of the Jews during this time is what enraged the average German.

Posted by: Rad at January 29, 2005 11:56 AM

Dear Rad, so you have seen a film showing Germans (SA most likely) beating up Jews. I have seen Americans beating up Moslems after 911. Does that mean the average American is beating up Moslems ?
I have seen Israeli soldiers shooting at kids. So are average Israelis shooting at kids ?
you have to keep one tvshow in perspective. I had expected a bid more mature reflection of what is shown on tv.

Posted by: zwerg at January 30, 2005 11:57 AM

I admit I'm no expert on the subject.

The documentary I referenced:

.. said that the Nazi government "encouraged German citizens to be mean to Jews" (that's a paraphrase) .. and then it showed clips of what looked like crowds of average German citizens beating up Jews.

It seems like you're saying that the average German citizen in the street had no qualms with the Jews and all anti-Semetic behavior came solely from Hilter, and members of his Nazi party.

Is this what you are saying?

Irealize that here in the US, where the media is largely controlled by Jews, we may not receive an unbiased account of the facts.

The general idea presented to us is that the vast majority of Germans, with few exceptions, welcomed the "removal" of the Jews.

Is this inaccurate?

Posted by: Rad at January 30, 2005 01:10 PM

I would resent even a question like that or would you say average israels approves of shooting of arab kids. I dont think so. Lots of people never dealed with jews so why should they have any opinion on them. Removal to a KZ was a threat every german faced for just making a joke about they. When you have to shut up or go to KZ not many people speak up. And having an enemy is alway good to suppress the people.

Posted by: zwerg at January 31, 2005 02:56 AM

"I realize that here in the US, where the media is largely controlled by Jews, we may not receive an unbiased account of the facts."

Wow. Think about the accuracy of this statement. By attempting to be understanding and compassionate to the Germans regarding their behavior during the Nazi era you perpetuate the same anti-Semitic message of the "media-controlling" Jew. Ted Turner (Christian), NPR (actually owned by Arabs and Muslims), etc. The whole Jewish/Illuminati references are tired and baseless. Sometimes I wish I were Jewish so I could get in on all the world-domination!

"The general idea presented to us is that the vast majority of Germans, with few exceptions, welcomed the "removal" of the Jews."

Very few Germans disagreed with the Nazi party's actions. The few who disagreed were too frightened to help or protest the actions of their government. Sure, the Treaty of Versailles was humiliating and placed far too much responsibility upon Germany (reparations, humiliating restrictions, etc.). However, rather than reflecting upon their own faults, corruptions and inefficiencies the Germans lashed out at a group who had always been hated, using the so-called "prosperity" of said group as a justification. Nothing excuses or even justifies the lack of human empathy required for such atrocity.

Posted by: NeilPeart at January 31, 2005 05:13 PM

Dear NeilPeart, you also make statement in such general terms
...Very few Germans disagreed with the Nazi party's actions....
that only shows that you have no idea what it was like in those days:

On 20th Dec 1934 a Heimtückegesetz was introduced in Germany that superceded a similar law dated March 21st 1933 that made every critisism against the state a crime . They locked you up when you disagreed. Thats why the whole opposition ended up in the KZ.(Schutzhaft).
I found this in a book by Hilde Kammer : Lexikon Nationalsozialismus. (p107).
Couldn't find an english version of this very informative book.

Auschwitz is the result of year of years of crime
that started in 1933. I tried to find out about the action of the Nazis when they came to power and there you find lots of lots similarities today.
Inprisonment without trial (Schutzhaft) is
practiced by u-sa today and the only protest comes
from us judges.
Not from the press not from the ordinary people just from a tiny minority and that
is very frightning because it shows people never learn from history. They make the mistake all over again.
And genocide happened in Ruanda a couple of years ago with the whole world looking on.

So please , please try to learn as much as you can
and than use the internet to probagate.

Posted by: berger at February 3, 2005 04:17 AM