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Friday, October 18, 2013

Holocaust Deniers are Gaining Momentum!

     It was only seventy years ago that my Jewish paternal grandfather who fought in the Great War of 1914-1918 as a French soldier was asked to bring his bicycle and his radio to the local police station. It was only seventy years ago that my mother was forced to wear a yellow star on all of her garments when she left her house. It was only seventy years ago that the Gestapo snatched her dad from under her eyes in the summer of 1942 to send him to Auschwitz where he perished with the rest of the 6,000,000.
     The Holocaust left an indelible stain on the Jewish psyche and much baggage on a large cross-section of the global community. It cannot be forgotten, it cannot be avoided, and yet if we are honest with ourselves, it cannot really be explained.
     As if the numbers were not horrendous enough, a recent series of documents released by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) after years of further research showed that original death estimates were way off.
     How can the horrors of the Holocaust be any worse than what had been gathered for the last seventy years? The new findings are absolutely mind boggling as the team of researchers just reported:
     "There were more than 42,500 Nazi ghettos and camps throughout Europe from 1933 to 1945.
There were 30,000 slave labor camps; 1,150 Jewish ghettos; 980 concentration camps; 1000 prisoner of war camps; 500 brothels filled with sex slaves; and thousands of other camps used for euthanizing the elderly and infirm, performing forced abortions, "Germanizing" prisoners or transporting victims to killing centers. The best estimate using current information available is 15 to 20 million people* who died or were imprisoned in sites controlled by the Germans throughout the European continent.

     This chilling report from recent findings based on years of research and fact finding should undoubtedly reinforce the idea that the Jewish Catastrophe was the worst human genocide of all times. And in the mind of decent people around the world it is, and it compels them to never forget. Many of them rightfully join the ranks of Jews everywhere already united by the post- Holocaust motto "NEVER AGAIN". 
     While the additional evidence about the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust keeps piling up, another group of people is gaining momentum. They are the Holocaust deniers whose agenda is to change "NEVER AGAIN" into "NEVER HAPPENED". How can these people possibly live with themselves as they claim that the Holocaust was a "myth", a "hoax" or was "grossly exaggerated"?
     Why is it that in spite of all the evidence AND of the recent new findings, Holocaust deniers seem to be gaining momentum? I see four factors contributing to these people's despicable attempt at erasing or re-writing history:

     • The Time Factor
     Depending on whom you ask, the number of Holocaust survivors today fluctuates between 250,000 and 500,000 worldwide. Steven Spielberg, who started the Shoah Foundation after making the movie Schindler's List in 1993, estimated that there were 350,000 survivors in 1994 (20 years ago). Some estimate the numbers at 260,000 in 2012, others as high as 500,000 in 2012. It is hard to tell, considering that many survivors have been so physically and mentally affected that they haven't even spoken of their ordeal. But one thing is for certain, whatever the numbers were after the war, they are rapidly decreasing. Consider the fact that a child born in the camps during the last year of the Holocaust in 1945 would be 68 today had he/she survived. The vast majority of survivors today are in their 80s and dying. Very soon, all the eyewitnesses of a terrible era will be gone forever.

     • The Communication Factor
     The 21st Century is the epitome of fast communication. Hand-written letters benefited from the typewriter, then came the computer and word processor, the email, texting, Facebook, Twitter and hashtags. Each bringing our civilization a step closer to a brand of fast communication further and further distilled into just a few characters. Philosophies, Ideologies and concepts became phrases, then just words or even characters.
     This makes for an amazing ability to communicate globally in real time, but what are we really communicating? How can we convey fully developed ideas with just a few words? How can we teach history or any topic for that matter, without full testimonies, journals, reports and documents? I am afraid that we can't. This morphing of the way we communicate has been detrimental to proper teaching in schools and this of course includes the Holocaust, because the way we communicate today has created a generation of people with a very, very short attention span.

     • The Apathy/Illiteracy Factor
     The short attention span created by our postmodern communication methods runs the danger of further leading this new generation to apathy and illiteracy. It is a fact that Americans are learning much less in school today that they were several decades ago. A recent survey done with college students in Pennsylvannia, showed that many of them couldn't explain what the Holocaust was and where or when it took place. Some didn't even know what country Hitler was the leader of. We are talking college students here, not junior High! They might be wearing a pair of Tom's shoes because they feel good about providing a free pair of shoes to a needy child somewhere in the world (and there is nothing wrong with that), but they live for today in complete ignorance of yesterday and utter apathy about tomorrow. If our current audience is disconnected from reality, who is left to be taught about the Holocaust?

     • The Antisemitism Factor
     In his new book The Devil That Never Dies: The Rise and Threat of Global Antisemitism, Daniel Goldhagen posits that anti-Semitism is the only form of racism that, against all logic,  transcends time, geographical boundaries and cultural differences to target the Jews as the unwanted scapegoats of humanity. But Jewish people are so different from one country to the next and sometimes from one community to the next that it defies logic to have a hatred for them unless it is based on a fabricated approach to who they are. Holocaust deniers are plagued by xenophobic tendencies as they try their hand at historical revisionism. They militate in favor of the eradication of an event of history that should instead be taught to all age levels throughout our educational system.

     These four factors greatly contribute to the growth of Holocaust denial globally. Deniers will continue to gain momentum if those of us who know the truth just throw our hands in the air. They benefit from an audience too often uneducated and apathetic. But we do not have the right to complain unless we do our part to wake a generation up from their postmodern journey towards irrelevancy. 
     Holocaust deniers are gaining momentum because the next generation is moving through life on cruise control, oblivious of their heritage and too often ignored by the current generation.
We know that the Holocaust is far from being a myth, yet we might not be so far from it becoming a myth. Wake up people!


* These new numbers include all people not just the Jewish people.

3 comments:

  1. How very true—the rapid development of communication has reduced our levels of thoughtful discourse to fewer and fewer words, the “dumbing down” of our society. Americans are awash in every kind of entertainment, sports, gaming, etc. to benumb them from what is happening in the world at large.

    As for those who ignorantly deny the holocaust, in spite of irrefutable physical evidence, shame on them! As Martin Niemoller was addressing a church on January 6, 1946, he said:

    “When the Nazis came for the communists,
    I remained silent; I was not a communist.

    When they locked up the social democrats,
    I remained silent; I was not a social democrat.

    When they came for the trade unionists,
    I did not speak out; I was not a trade unionist.

    When they came for the Jews,
    I remained silent; I wasn't a Jew.

    When they came for me,
    there was no one left to speak out.”

    Those who are Holocaust deniers do not realize they are denying the deaths of millions of human beings—what kind of human beings are they? They surely have hearts of stone.

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  2. Shocking!! As if 6 million wasn't bad enough! I'm so glad it is fully documented and photographed but, as you say, if the younger generations are not being taught, I fear that history is bound to repeat itself. I pray the Lord will return before that happens but the bible says that 2/3rds of the Jews will die in the next and last one. Are you ready?

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  3. When I was a kid in the '80's our middle school showed us the movie, "The Diary of Anne Frank". My children are 8 and 10 and both have seen it too. We also have the book on our shelf. Every Christian house should have the movie and book. The world is too concerned about proving the existance of dinosaurs rather than learning from history. If we ignore it, it will repeat itself.

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