“..In spite of everything I still believe ..people are really good at heart.” Anne Frank.
This picture alone represents what it means for me as most will see that in the fullest understanding of the term, The Holocaust, she is more recognisable that Tokele would be for me. Anne represents the Loss of Innocence and then the Resurrection of Memory by a Young Jewish Girl whose Diary confronts both the Horror of The Catastrophe and the need to accept Tolerance is a better way. What it also presents to History is continually being distorted by those who see in the one image of a Young Girl, cut down in her prime, and all because she was Jewish, an ugly Truth! It marks Hitler for what he was, a tiny minded Race Hater. Revisionists, deniers and antisemites scurry round in order to resurrect the image of a rabid hater of all People. Toward the end of the War that hatred was inclusive of the German people, once his ugliness was about to be revealed.
“..We assume that most of them are murdered. ..British radio speaks of their being gassed. Perhaps that’s ..quickest way to die.” Anne Frank.
What cannot be denied is Hitler’s Weltanschauung, a World view which saw, in die Endlosung der Judenfrage, the complete Destruction of World Jewry in The Final Solution. For those who revere the mention of a Fuhrer whose capacity to hate on such a world stage, ignores the very fact that 50 – 70 Million lives were lost in an attempt to stem the flow of such a Nazi hatred. 6,000,000 of that figure were Jews, chosen for their very Jewish antecedence. So when we read what Anne says about people being ‘good at heart’, she is aware that many Germans, are included in that assessment. But those threatened by a reality which threatens a perverse reading of History do not see a redemption in the Human spirit from a Young Girl whose non crime was to be born a Jew.
“..many officers ..generals are fed up with ..war and would like to see Hitler sink into a bottomless pit ..so they can establish a military dictatorship ..make peace with ..Allies ..rearm ..and ..start a new war.” Anne Frank.
There Were No Spectators.
The Holocaust is a collective Truth, based upon a known Fact in our History that Hitler targeted, selected and systematically Destroyed 6,000,000 Jews of Europe, Men, Women and Their Children. This has become an individual assault upon the conscience of All Humanity and is a slur on the altruistic concept of moral efficacy! The Holocaust has 6,000,000 accusers, all Murdered for the simple fact of their Jewish antecedence! There are, fortunately, Survivors from The Holocaust, intended Victims who would have joined their brethren had it not been for good luck, good fortune or a simple twist of fate! These Survivors tell their remarkable tale, full of foreboding, filled with Horror, punctuated in Terror, but for us, the custodians and curators of that History, we demand that they do so, over and over again! We require that knowledge so that we too can share, perhaps even know of, what it is they Know!
The Holocaust is a destructive term which has the ability to construct for People a toleration for all, if we are prepared to learn the lessons from 6,000,000 Murdered Jews of Europe. Within that, and if ever there is a need to get back to the Catholicism, which does not allow for the crimes as were committed by so called Catholics in The Holocaust, there is a need to confront what was done, why it was done and accept an admission of guilt for allowing it to be done. I myself want answers as to why so many of us allowed so much of what happened to proceed, which infects much of our History, and we require a term like The Holocaust, to correct ourselves? Why is it there remains a nagging doubt, a resolve to honestly apologise to the Jewish People?
There is a need too to admonish those Catholics who have held onto the truth of what they Perpetrated, Concealed and still refuse to admit to. So as I attempt to confront the issue of the Intolerance shown toward the Jewish People, through the latent hatred of anti-Semitism, I question my own adherence to a belief system which is this flawed! The issue is surely a simple one for Christianity. God chose to send his Son Jesus to this Earth to redeem us from original sin. Jesus chose to die so that we could be saved. In that device of choice, we are saved. Hence, the Jewish People did not have any role in the conviction of Jesus’ acceptance to die so that we might go to Him. In antisemitism there is more than the lie of the “Christ killer” to drive on this hatred.
After They Had Laboured.
Once we have accepted there is this hatred, which is against God and all the precepts and teachings of Christ, we might afford this world a safer haven for all of its peoples. I would like to explain too, a little about why I wanted to write about The Holocaust, and after writing 3 Books on the subject, I guess I have achieved an ambition. I am grateful for the opportunity to relay to you my concerns which are centred around the subject of The Holocaust. My interest in history, and Holocaust history in particular, asks only that the truth be employed to reconstruct the facts that are pertinent to the integrity of that study. Documented proof, testimony and memory must all converge to present a living truth that does honour to those events we attempt to describe. When asked:-
What do I know about the Holocaust?
I have to earnestly reply, with honesty, and with all due deference to the memory of the 6,000,000 Jews murdered in The Holocaust, that I know only of The Holocaust through my research and study of the subject. For those that Know, and for whom I am attempting to eulogise in my work, it is in large part a study hopefully leading to that greater essential, adding toward the Jewish memory that has been lost. I thought of the 4 year old Tokele, and the 6,000,000 Jews of The Holocaust every time I began a page of that study. I could never imagine the anguish of Anne Frank, or the distraught nature of a Mother faced with the brutal murder of her Child. How then could I ever look at the picture of Tokele and not feel for the grief of the whole of the Jewish Nation? Such is that grief, which could so engulf me, I had to seek a release, and this work has been my opportunity to lament an awful catastrophe.
“..BBC has always told ..truth. ..even if ..news is slightly exaggerated ..facts are bad enough as they are. You can’t deny that Millions of peace-loving citizens in Poland and Russia have been murdered or gassed.” Anne Frank.
The reader, I do feel, will always be better served by the words of those who have survived the Holocaust. I feel morally obligated though, by certain historical omissions, which have driven me to write to attempt to redress these concerns:-
1) There was a less than generous Christian response, an Indifference to what was happening to the Jewish People,
2) There was a clear Christian duplicity, a complicity in the murders of the Jewish People,
3) There was an Irish neutrality which stands in stark relief against the destructive capacity and is an indictment within Holocaust History,
4) There is still a deceit that welds Christians to the indifference shown toward the Jews, and
5) There is a refusal, by many, to come to terms with their crimes, or with their own omissions and with their clear betrayals of what Morality should hold dear.
There is the gradual emergence of a will to suggest a way forward, to fight bigotry and racism and to make positive gains for humanity. In The Holocaust, research into a Christian failure to respond adequately, is an indictment I seek to respond to. We should not take continually from History, without giving something back. We have a responsibility toward tomorrow for what we write today. Before non-seeing eyes The Holocaust was played out and I hope my work will have a relevance today within a world still resonating with intolerant aggressions and indifferences. I am as damning of the perpetrators as those others who chose to look the other way! Are not those who stood by and witnessed the progression of disorder, toward methodical mass murder, as reprehensible?
The truth for tomorrow should not be distorted by what we know to be true today. That plain fact of truth must owe an enormous debt to those others who stood up and were counted and carried a Christian charity forward. Any reluctance to learn from these calamitous crimes will allow the future for our Children to bleed openly from the wounds of hatred. Hatred has a way of ensuring that no other perspective is given to an outlook which can only fashion turmoil, can only condone disarray and can only breed discord. I was struck, as a matter of probity, to ensure that the words of those who saw, who witnessed, who participated or who perpetrated these unfolding crimes, that these were not misrepresented.
My work is a persistent indictment of what was done, of what was allowed to be done and what has not been fully attested to. The debt which civilisation owes to The Jewish People of Europe, 6,000,000 of whom, Men, Women and Their Children will not allow us to move forward in a World which still claims lives through such an indifference to an awakened intolerance. I choose my words cautiously, and I choose the words of the Survivor and the destroyed, even more carefully. From within The Holocaust, from within the confines of Warsaw itself, Chaim Aron Kaplan reflects upon the coming destruction and the abandonment of His own People.
It is Tuesday 15th. October 1940:-
“..I gazed at ..Dantean scenes in ..streets of Warsaw ..and could not stop thinking ..Are we guiltier than any nation? Have we sinned more than any people? Will we really die? Are we doomed to total destruction? Nobody in ..world is concerned for us ..nobody shares our plight.” Chaim Aron Kaplan
Sadly, all of that was true, and all that Chaim Aron Kaplan foretold, came to pass, and maybe I am a little late but I am concerned that nobody shared His and Their plight. From such insight I chose to allow the words in my work to conduct the reader through The Holocaust without becoming caught up in interpretation. My work is, in very many ways, an apology for what was allowed to happen. It is also a celebration of the 4 year old girl, Tokele, who came this way, and who will not be forgotten. For those other 6,000,000 Jews, now lost to us, I hope my work too is a fitting tribute to their Memory. We so often see the figures, that are supposedly representative of the Slaughter, a capacity for evil which fully engulfed these Jewish People and which now seeks to disguise and hide the despicable crimes they actually depict.
Perhaps we have great difficulty in comprehending the scale of the atrocity, as it was meted out to the Jews of Treblinka or to the Jews of Auschwitz and Birkenau or to those Jews murdered by der Einsatzgruppe at Babi Yar? I would also like to suggest to you, and if we take the calamitous loss to humanity with the 2 day assault upon the Jews at Babi Yar, and attempt to appreciate that 33,771 Jewish lives were cast aside, how do we then contemplate the murders at Treblinka, where some 900,000 Jewish lives were destroyed? Or how do we contemplate the ‘Aktionen der Einsatzgruppe,’ which alone murdered 1,250,000 Jewish lives, and even more, how do we comprehend such a figure?
At Auschwitz and Birkenau, The Holocaust account could include some 1,100,000 more Jewish lives. What in our intellect will allow us to conceive of such a catastrophe or come close to comprehending their very meaning for us all? When Simon Wiesenthal points to a Map of Europe and asks us to appreciate the calamity he too faced, he begs us to look, but not as Eichmann would do, with the figures in statistical relief. Look though at the People that Wiesenthal once knew, and as the world must now mourn, as integral to a loss all humanity must face.
” ..Murder of 6,000,000 Jews must never be reduced to a statistic.” Simon Wiesenthal.
The human dimension to the crimes I have written about, only have words and intentions to fill the void created by the murders of these 6,000,000 Jews. With humanity in question, the words I continually use in that work confront the reader, and are the proving ground for the Factual Truth, the very veracity of The Holocaust. Words do indeed have a harmonising effect for what has happened and for what needs to be said, but they can also be utilised to distort. The reader, unaffected by any previous impression or even bias, is not given over to contentious argument, at least in the context of the facts which I relay. My work is certainly written with a rage against the Intolerant. But also, with what was a measure of the indifference shown, the reader will hopefully understand that The Holocaust is an outrage that was perpetrated against the Jewish People.
The Holocaust rages too against humanity, as we are the bystander to these crimes. A little understanding might point us toward an urging, which will never allow such atrocities to happen again! Sadly, that slender hope has been quashed, in the Balkans and Central Africa! So while I hope I have managed to untangle some of the distortions that are presented today, and from amongst the ‘intentionalist’ and ‘functionalist’ studies, which I believe are irrelevant in the midst of a scene, shot where 6,000,000 Jews are murdered, my study of The Holocaust is best served. I contend with what Hitler intended for the Jewish People was their eventual Destruction and toward that end, the Reich functioned toward that final commitment, with a resolve which brought about die Endlosung der Jundenfrage.
Pointedly, and by the will of one man, and with the concentrated hatred of so many more, we have to accept that this outrage was committed against the Jewish People, and against what humanises us. I am cognisant of the feelings of Elie Wiesel and he has stated in his book:
A Jew Today:-
“..We became witnesses to a huge simplification. On ..one side there were ..executioners and on ..other ..victims. What about ..onlookers ..those who remained neutral ..those who served ..executioner simply by not interfering? To be a Jew then meant to fight both ..complacency of ..neutral and ..hate of ..killers.” Elie Wiesel.
Elie Wiesel knows that we should not diminish the importance of the Jewish Survivor’s voice in The Holocaust and we must respect that position. Clearly, my personal attempt to comprehend how a small part of humanity could demonise our civilising name, is part of the endeavour to redress that imbalance. I wish also to add to that urgent need to learn from our past mistakes, in order that we do not repeat them. How tragic it all seems that Humanity can sink so low, and to such a depraved state that it has not the capacity to learn from this degeneration! There is a strata of evil which has been breached on every level when we look to The Holocaust! Human beings pored over the body of the Jewish People and consigned them to oblivion.
But not before depriving them of every possession they ever owned and even then, robbed them of their respect and dignity to the last moment of their existence. If that wasn’t enough, the vultures descended and took every morsel of what was left of that Jewish presence. It was a gain too few of the larcenous few have relinquished to this day. True, some has been returned to the rightful ownership of a Jewish Community decimated and deprived of even those whose ownership has been recognised. But this does nothing to alleviate the pain which must be felt by All Jews for what happened. Also, and for what has been done to ensure a level of Tolerance is preached with the lessons to be gained from The Holocaust, is being undone within the level of Intolerance that besieges us today.
What we find problematic in the failure to learn from what was so catastrophically wrong back then, is in the total lack of respect many have for the sanctity of all life of the very many, here and now. I am indebted to Professor Yehuda Bauer, of Yad Vashem, who reminds us in:
Jews for Sale:-
“..That our heroes were ordinary humans ..perhaps more gifted with insight and courage than ..rest of us ..they did ..correct thing at ..right time.” Yehuda Bauer.
It is a burden of History that reminds us, that far too little was done by far too many to save the 6,000,000 Jews of The Holocaust. When a World offers up platitudes to divest itself of responsibility, when the World seeks to hide behind the screen of lack of knowledge then the World really is in trouble. When we have that voice of reason, and it arrives from many angles, Professor Deborah E. Lipstadt’s commentary in:
Denying the Holocaust:-
“..All those who value truth ..particularly truths that are subject to attack by ..plague of hatred ..must remain ever vigilant.” Deborah E. Lipstadt.
is a chilling indictment of our present ambivalence to these past crimes. All of which seemingly allows for a growth in equal intolerances, from a neo-form of Nazism, from ‘religious’ fundamentalism (sic) whose intention is to add to the segregation of more communities, and once more the Jewish People are sought out almost exclusively for a renewed hatred. All of which appears to emerge and an almost apologetic acceptance that somehow The Holocaust was inevitable sweeps through a litany of works and suggestions? So I look for examples where Survivors bring to the table a level of compassion and forgiveness we could barely accommodate for ourselves.
In that, I also owe much to, Primo Levi who has an immeasurable strength and a decency which suggests a way forward that is without hatred and revenge. Levi is also aware that the account of The Holocaust is not as scientifically exact in detail as it might be and he offers the writer in:
Moments of Reprieve:-
“..It is possible that ..distance in time has accentuated ..tendency to round out ..facts or heighten ..colours. ..this tendency ..or temptation ..is an integral part of writing.” Primo Levi.
Remembering that past, and toward influencing our future is deeply reflective in all of Levi’s works. I hope I take from that lead and reflect well on what should have been. I hope also, that I have afforded the memory of so many People, a positive condemnation of our own guilt and a sense of a grief for what was done. Ostensibly, The Holocaust was enacted by Christians as Perpetrators in the forefront of the crimes and by way of an indifference or a suggested neutrality, which we should not have afforded the Nazis, we become culpable. With a clear indictment of that indifference shown by so many toward their fellow Human Beings, and by a so-called civilised people we should have expected more from, a burdensome debt must be repaid.
My work is a detailed study, and exacting account that propels toward the progression and the completion of The Holocaust. From the burning of selected Books to the systematic destruction of the 6,000,000 innocent Jewish People, I lend words to voices taken from us. Personally, I wanted an Irish expression which sought to damn those who perpetrated these crimes. I was sent a picture one day, of a young girl, Tokele, whose life was taken from us, because she was Jewish and even after The Holocaust had supposedly ended.
I was vexed into a reply which could not make sense of a world decayed by an expression of such antisemitic hatred. I wanted to condemn those ‘christians’, who sought to take the life of a 4 year old Child for the fact of her Jewishness. I wanted my work to also confront the Irish response to the tragedy of the Jewish Holocaust by its intrinsic neutrality affording Hitler a feigned sponsorship. From the terms of The Wannsee Conference, 4,000 Irish Citizens were targeted for extinction and I felt that the Irish Government should at least admit to that fact and declare its past neutrality a betrayal of Christian values. In England we have to remember that 330,000 of her Citizens would have been murdered because they were Jewish?
I feel that all neutral Countries, who I insist have the right to their own neutrality, must still stand up against what is wrong, vile or harmful to this world we all share. I am concerned at what is owed to Survivors who have already suffered Too much. I look at what was achieved by Sweden and the Danish People and I wonder why more wasn’t done by us all? Today we see too much evidence of what has leeched from these times to add further expression to a continuing genocide. The Kurds and the Bosnian Muslims are groups of People who have paid with their lives, for unaltered attitudes and an abstract of human indifference that has no place in our time. It is never easy to write, using your own words, and to apply them to that grief which is the experience of others.
My concern, for a tragedy that happened to a Jewish People I did not know, a Jewish People I had no experience of, or of whom I was not acquainted with, has been a redeeming factor in my struggle to meet the words with those concerns I have. A scythe was taken to a People, fully decapitated from the body of humanity, and it remains to the writer to suture that amputation with words of condolence. A statement of grief that is valued by its sense of remorse, and which is a true comment upon a deep sadness and is clearly attempting of empathy and compassion, will not suffice however. For one single voice that is missing from within those dark days of The Holocaust, it is ultimately necessary to add a resonance that befits the Remembrance for 6,000,000 Murdered Jews.
As with many ideas, it should be with the consent of all People that change is brought about, and People have to be willing to accept change is good for all. That the Jews of The Holocaust were murdered by an inertia which was then interpreted, in some hideous way, as compliance, is because of that very fact of all People not voicing their concern or disapproval. There is a redemption in the publication of so many books on The Holocaust, as they lend their own voice and hold true to the memory of a People who were so devoid of our concern when they needed it most.
The written word, which is gradually becoming omitted from this world, for the space of newer technologies, still has a resonance which can not be allowed to fade. The study of The Holocaust must be taken forward and if we cannot find from within the remnants of those Jewish People who were murdered, any sense of our loss, we can at least articulate our concern at that privation! Now too we must argue over what belongs to those who were destroyed? It worries me deeply that we are still debating what is owed to the Jews of The Holocaust. 80 years on, when we know what we owe, when we know what was taken, we are in their debt.
We know that and we should be aware that we continually fail, in a judicious manner, to repay for what was taken from them! After all! It is not as if we can give them their lives back. While we hold honesty and decency with high regard, we can be untouched by the hatred in the world. When we profess those qualities audibly, hatred will become limiting in its outpourings! Feeling is entwined in comprehension, so for us to comprehend the tragedy of The Holocaust, we must feel for the terrible atrocity done to the Jewish People. Finally, at the cost of 6,000,000 Jewish lives, how do we impose the penalties that are owed to their passing? I can never be satisfied that we will ever repay that debt to so many murdered People, nor can we easily regain our previously held humanity.
If we can at least learn from the past we might just learn for the Future! Finally, and I make no excuses for using the words of Primo Levi, who is one of my favourite writers from and on The Holocaust, when he reminds us:-
“..If ..world would become convinced that Auschwitz never existed ..it would be easier to build a second Auschwitz ..and there is no assurance it would devour only Jews.” Primo Levi.
For Tokele and the 6,000,000!
There is a postscript to this journey I have commenced. I received an e-mail from Israel. A cousin of my correspondent had known the girl Tokele! It was fortunate for his cousin, she was visiting elsewhere at the time, or she too would have been murdered on that night. I had managed to reach back into History and resurrect from a girl’s name, Tokele became a tangible link with the Holocaust! It is ironic that from my search, and that part of my dedication to Tokele’s name, that this should lead full circle to a person who had known her and could add substance to a Child so betrayed by history. I want the memory of Tokele to become a beacon, as Anne Frank has become, toward gaining newer tolerances and understanding. As with all that is reflected from within the Holocaust, there is a cautious note and it is for that continuing requirement to listen, and to seek out and ask about The Holocaust, and ask those who might know as to why it was allowed to occur?