2.28.2009

Denial



I suppose it should come as no surprise to me that many people in this country continue to ignore the continental plate sized mounds of evidence for evolution when we still have this vocal minority who deny the facts of the Holocaust. After all, how hard can it be to ignore biology, geology and all those moldy old fossils when people can ignore the mounds of the dead whose stench still permeates the ground in Europe, having lived as contemporaries of many who yet live.

The latest bit of historical revisionism (the polite word for unconscionable denial) has erupted around the words of Bishop Richard Williamson, the excommunicated heretic who belongs to the Society of St. Pius X who has repeatedly denied the scope and intent of the Holocaust. I watched a tape of him talking about the 'fact' that only 200,000 - 300,000 Jews died in the camps, not through gassing or official policy of Hitler. Only 200,000-300,000... Reminded me bit of the Auschwitz commandant who allegedly who shot back at those who claimed he had overseen the murders of 5000 Jews per day. With sinister Teutonic efficiency he responded that such was pure fantasy - the rail system feeding the camps was unable to process more than a couple of thousand per day. As if that made a difference to his case.

Having visited Dachau (admitted not technically a death camp, though of little solace to the thousands who died there) and Birkenau, it's hard to believe that one could deny the Holocaust. If I live to be a thousand years old I will never forget the mounds of shoes and eye glasses. Each an echo of a victim long murdered. George Santayana's words are inscribed into a sculpture at Dachau - "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it". And if we can barely remember events within our own lives, those of our parents, or those of our grandparents, what hope is there.

5 comments:

pboyfloyd said...

I guess it's just their way of saying that they still don't like the Jews?

Stacy said...

I think it's a form of denial - but what part of their emotions are they trying to protect?

Do they have relatives that took a part in the slaughter?

I don't get it. sigh.

Harvey said...

Denying the Holocaust has multiple possible underpinnings. For some, perhaps like Bishop Williamson, it is because the Catholic Church at the time found it convenient or perhaps even necessary to turn a blind eye to what Hitler was perpetrating on the Jews. As ugly as it may seem, the Vatican found itself surrounded by Fascisti, first Italian and later the Germans themselves and, as a result, was understanably concerned about its own survival. Pope Pius X has been accused of complicity in, if not outright support of the Nazi agenda. Whether or not this was so, revisionist Churchmen like the Bishop wish to go back to the Vatican policies and dogma of the war years. In order to do this, denial of the Holocaust (or at least its diminution) seems necessary. ALternatively, Holocaust deniers tend to be antisemites, who would be just as happy if Hitler had succeeded in wiping out every last Jew on earth. These are the skinheads and neoNazis, who, by the way, do not limit their hatred to Jews. Anyone who is not Christian and/or white will do. Ironically, they are not all that sure that Catholics are "real" Christans. These attitudes may help to explain why it is so important that there be at least one place on Earth where a Jew can depend upon acceptance, not only because it is a democracy where all ethnic groups and religions have equal rights (which was generally true of the Weimar republic before Hitler took over), but where the simple fact of declaring oneself to be Jewish will result in citizenship and the protection of the State.

oneblood said...

The Holocaust museum in D.C. is worth a look if you're ever there pliny.

While attending a rabbi's community class, he talked about the purpose of the death camps. We went over the Wannsee conference and its chilling general reference -its generality referred to by deniers- to Jews and what to do with them. But rabbi didn't just want to go over the unbelievable amount of human life destroyed. He wanted to teach about the desecration of human rights, the violation of decency, and the filth (always the filth). He noted that disease was one of the most prolific killers (by way of the Nazis) in the camps.

Nazis were there to break the humanity, or spirit, of the Jewish people.

I hope you're wrong Pliny. I hope that as humans we are recognizing more and more the sameness in eachother. The 'oneness' that befits humanity better than factions.

I know. It seems to be the exact opposite sometimes.

mac said...

I am also a visiter to Dachua.

You're right. While not a true Death Camp, the place was still strong enough to give me a case of the willies that has not left me to this day, some twenty years later.