“..I learned much from ..Jesuits. ..Until now ..there has never been anything more grandiose ..on ..earth ..than ..hierarchical organization of ..Catholic Church. I transferred much of this organization into my own party. .. I am founding an Order. ..we will raise up a youth which will make ..world tremble.” Adolf Hitler.
Clearly, while there is no comparative genocide, similarities occur which bind Victim and Perpetrator to the test of History. These can be legally and scientifically challenged as Academics pore over the evidence. That is not to say we can ever compare the suffering of one against the pain of another, or even on a like for like basis. However, exactly what lessons have been learned will signify the durability of the human species when catastrophe awaits a newer interpretation and these former examples are ignored. A World looks on, aghast at what it either hears, intercepts, witnesses, acknowledges or learns of. So what Hitler most certainly learned, in all of this experience from history, is that great crimes can be committed in the midst of War and they will be perpetrated by those willing to commit to atrocity.
“..I must in all modesty say that my own person is indispensable. Neither a military nor a civilian personality could replace me. ..I am convinced of ..strength of my brain and my resolution . ..fate of ..Reich ..dependent entirely upon me.” Adolf Hitler.
Dictatorially, Hitler could marshal his forces at his will and direct those who followed him subserviently toward all manner of unspeakable crimes. It is true also that Hitler could attach a greater significance to the pressures placed upon a World from his own vantage point at the head of a Reich ‘dependent entirely upon him’. It is an essential too that we recognise that Hitler was one of those who prospered while others dithered. As nations would seek to appease the beastly nature of Hitler, who spelled out his arrival on the World stage with a promise to issue forth a blood purge, World compliance and duplicity was assured. But such was Hitler’s arrogant outlook, his ‘Weltanschauung,’ that he not only clearly identified his will to atrocity but he inundated its articulation with consistency. To a World audience he was free with his declared intention and with announcement and pronouncements he was identifying exactly those he would seek out for Slaughter? The Jewish People!
“..Once I really am in power ..my first ..foremost task will be ..annihilation of ..Jews. As soon as I have ..power to do so ..I will have gallows built in rows ..at ..Marienplatz in Munich ..as many as traffic allows. ..Jews will be hanged indiscriminately ..they will remain hanging until they stink ..they will hang there as long as ..principles of hygiene permit. As soon as they have been untied ..next batch will be strung up ..and so on down ..line ..until ..last Jew in Munich has been exterminated. Other cities will follow suit ..precisely in this fashion ..until all Germany has been ..cleansed of Jews.” Adolf Hitler.
From the moment Hitler entered centre stage, history, which can and should be the Author of positive lessons from our past, should have corrected Hitler’s brinkmanship. For me, and I hope all that I have studied, researched and written about on the subject of The Holocaust will afford us all a lesson that is positive, hopefully redeeming and can be a testimonial of Remembrance for Million of The Irish Famine, the Million of The Armenian Tragedy and certainly for the Six Million Jews of The Holocaust. My involvement with the subject of The Holocaust of The Jews of Europe has made me realise that we do not learn these lessons of the past well. For Hitler perhaps, as the student of Military History, as an avid pupil of those like Genghis Khan whose brutality was boundless, he learned too much of a lesson in what formed hatred and what attracted others toward the detestation of others. It is certain that Hitler not only took from the model of Indifference, he accustomed himself to its clearly Intolerant tone. As Hitler blended his own awareness that hatred of one Person or thing could focus people’s attention away from what was of real concern, their Family, their Friends, their Neighbours, Hitler motioned toward World conflict.
“..Jenghiz Khan had millions ..women ..children killed. ..I have sent ..East my ‘Death’s Head Units’ ..to kill ..all men ..women ..children. ..win ..vital space ..we need.” Adolf Hitler.
There is much to suggest Hitler was much the admirer of Napoleon Bonaparte, whose tactics inspired many to contemplate a military mindset. We know Hitler knew of von Clauswewitz and he clearly advocated War in order to conceal from close scrutiny what his hatred had sought out for him? Perhaps too Hitler did learn that from the lessons of the past and in order to bolster a Nazi regime that was both dictatorial and ruthless, savage methods would be adapted and adopted. Toward that end, he chose and assumed as his Final Solution, the 2,000 year rage against the Jewish People. When he meets with the Catholic Bishop Berning and Monsignor Steinmann, Hitler explains that his own hatred for the Jews was merely the continuance of the Catholic Church’s own charge through a history of intolerance toward the Jewish People. These stalwarts of the Church, clearly in hearing distance of Hitler were also reminded that it was they who regarded the Jews as dangerous. It was, as these representatives of the Catholic Church are reluctant to acknowledge, the Church who had forced the Jews into ghettos. In the first instance the Jewish People were segregated and then geographically removed and away from all Christian areas. While this meeting might have been recorded in history, this was not in any way a cordial nor succinct meeting of minds.
“..greatest change I was ever to experience took place in me. From a feeble cosmopolite I had turned into a fanatical antisemite.” Adolf Hitler
With hatred of the Jews at the forefront of all that Hitler now pronounced, the concern for Jewry was not taken seriously enough, not by the Jewish People and not by the World at large. For this despotic ruler, Hitler was to not only promote his own hatred for the Jews, but he was to exemplify and demand what a boundless brutality could tactically inspire and conspire to achieve. Once a military conquest was under way, Hitler’s final resolve could conceal that deliberate intention at annihilation. Barbarossa, the name given to the exercise against Russia was to haunt Hitler. Russia had previously denied Napoleon much of a lasting foothold upon Russian soil! Russia would deny Hitler a military victory, but would secure for him a final solution with his single most important purpose, the resettlement measures toward the Destruction of all the Jews of Europe.
“..essential ..we do not proclaim our views ..before ..world. ..no need for that ..main thing ..we ourselves know what we want. ..all necessary measures ..shooting ..resettlement ..we shall take them.” Adolf Hitler.
For me, as I am concerned for the world we all inhabit, it is apparent that where an organism can grow which is so intolerant that it seeks to murder others with impunity, there will be those who fill a void in which some form of Nazism will emerge. There is a neo-Nazism which persists which has still to be destroyed as an idea. Whether you are a Catholic, Jew, Christian, Muslim or Medieval Sun Worshipper, the Nazi organism has many like-minded exponents of such hatreds they subsist off its disease. Today, while there is an organism like Isis, with that same will to murder any of those who do not fit the criteria it has set itself, the wrong lesson has been learned. With the same impunity the Nazis assumed was gifted to them by Hitler, future Intolerances are present for us all in History today. Tragically, these same lessons of what Nazism dealt out in Hitler’s conquest is being recalled, adopted and adapted to meet newer hatreds and against the Jewish People, but no longer exclusively.
“..Conquest ..gives no title ..if it exists over ..body ..it fails over ..mind. It can exert no empire over men’s reason ..judgement ..affections.” Roger Casement.
Perhaps for me, and from the passages of an era in Irish times, when life was equally bleak, I can see comparisons with the struggle for any disparate People. We Irish have developed an altruistic nature, most of us! So in seeking to understand a fate that presents no way out for those caught within some maelstrom, and for the many absorbed and detained within restrictions imposed upon them, answers are sought. Conceivably, when reading through our own literary heritage, we Irish can see compassion for what it is and hatred for what it indelibly becomes? Within the content of these following words, which separate an Irish Famine experience from a Jewish Holocaust experience, there are stresses and strains which similarly infect our sensitivity. For instance, when a Mother’s position is so undermined that she cannot provide sustenance for her Children, as in the Famine, a Mother’s position from within The Holocaust looks upon the Child of her abiding concern with equally measured desperation. We too are gauged as we lose so much of the humanity we should preserve, and with a lasting imagery that our very sensitivity provokes.
“..anyone ..attempting to write ..on ..nature of Nazism ..will not be able to express ..truth ..Nazism’s cruelty and barbarism. ..no writer among ..gentiles is qualified for this task. ..a Jewish writer who lives ..life of his people ..who feels ..suffers their agony ..cannot find a true path here. Only one who feels ..taste of Nazi rule ..only one who ..bared his back to ..lashes ..only ..a writer ..if he is a man of sensitivity ..might be able to.” Chaim Aron Kaplan.
Ireland was somewhat naive at the outset of World War 2. They believed a neutral stance against Germany would restrict the demands of a character like Hitler. They were wrong! As Hitler had surveyed the need to destroy Britain, we know that he would use any means necessary to do so. Ireland would have merely been a port of call, a stepping stone in that assessment. Irish ports, running the full length of its Eastern coast line would have become the launch pad for an imminent invasion of Britain. Such an invasion was to coincide with the specific detail of Operation ‘Sealion’. That is what Hitler’s Operation Green had intended for a back door offensive against Britain. Merely as a pawn, Ireland would have been swallowed up whole by Hitler’s malevolence! Mindful then of what Ireland had endured under an empirical rule, Hitler would have been certain to use that niggling anti British sensibility. While that antagonism had blended itself into the Irish psyche, its culture, its heritage and had clearly defined its Foreign Policy, Hitler did not consider the Irish hatred of – and for – forms of totalitarianism.
“..a speech by DeValera ..does not charge Germany with oppressing Ireland ..reproaches England with subjecting Ireland to continuous aggression.” Adolf Hitler.
While Irish Men volunteered for the British army against Hitler and the Nazis, Hitler surely learned that between the years 1845 and 1852, the period of the Great Famine, the Potato Famine ravaged the people of Ireland. This was a further stage in our history with Britain, that was a source of continuous aggression. Here though, where about half of Ireland’s population was either killed, due to many divergent reasons, or were dispersed to the far corners of the Earth, all were migrants away from hunger, starvation and an indifference to the trauma that was inflicting them. It is too simplistic to merely state that the Irish were the victims of a greed which saw an other nation’s gain. But that is what happened and 1 Million Irish died. Though there are consistencies within genocides that can be levelled against each protruding event, any systematic assault upon those People involved was reserved for The Jews of Europe. What had been inflicted upon the Irish People were those same conditions which, when calculated, would bring about their physical destruction. It is not as a comparison with The Holocaust that we draw any parallells. While boat-loads of food stuffs were shipped to Britain, 1 Million Irish died of starvation. Merely 100 years later Lemkin adjudged the criteria that would deal any genocidal blow to any body of People.
“..present destruction of Europe would not be complete and thorough had ..German people not accepted freely ..Nazi plan ..participated voluntarily in its execution and ..profited greatly therefrom” Raphael Lemkin.
History must square itself with the facts of what conspired to allow to die the Irish of this imposed Famine. Tragically, for these my fellow Irish of the Famine, it presents a page in history which many have requested that I comment upon. Though I was asked before, and it was stated as a given of the Irish situation(sic) and as I had no wish to be accused of any bias in a work I would write about, I could not write of the Irish situation. So here I stand. With a dilemma! I am at the cross roads of an intolerable situation where I chose to write about an indifference which can become a utility in a much more savage and brutal affair. With two millennia of hatred for Judaism and the Jewish People, and attributable in large part to Christianity, where could I start. I was sent a Photo of the 4 year old Jewish Girl Tokele which not only provoked me, but swayed me to write about The Holocaust. Just before I get to The Holocaust though, history from the Irish Famine moved in stages toward what was an aberration unlike any that time had previously recorded. This was to be The Armenian Tragedy.
“..Who ..after all ..speaks today of ..annihilation of ..Armenians” Adolf Hitler.
Clearly, Hitler recognised the placation within history of those who claim some moral constituency over the rights of others. With any Intolerance, which is recognisable in any Genocide, progressed with the slaughter of innocents that might just be overlooked, tolerated and tolerable, food deprivation was added to water shortages for those of the Armenian people. Consequently, for what the Irish had suffered and the Armenians were forced to endure, the Jews of Europe would succumb, by a 6 fold margin, to a slaughter few could have imagined but those like Hitler could foresee it coming! Without adequate food, with little or no sanitation to speak of, with no water to assist in the midst of ‘desert suns’, the Armenian People were driven by the Turks to certain death. A march, which culminated in the destruction of over 1 Million of their People, it was a devastation on a scale that had genocidal intent and an annihilatory climax. Clearly Hitler had learned the lessons of what neglect could realise and from both these periods in history. Whether a nation wishes to accept its responsibility in the carnage of human loss of those people in its charge or simply deny it, Hitler took this as a green light to act and against the Jews of Europe.
“..shameful spectacle to see how ..whole democratic world is oozing sympathy for ..poor ..tormented Jewish people ..but remains hard hearted and obdurate when it comes to helping them.” Adolf Hitler.
So History had not completely finished visiting destruction upon People, and it would fail to do so even after we realised what The Holocaust meant. For 6,000,000 Jews of Europe, the scale and scope of this genocide ushered in a term that has proven causal in acknowledging the descent of man. For the capacity of fellow human beings to destroy, on an industrial, mechanised and methodical scale, another People we do not have to search too far back in our own History. This term of reference that is The Holocaust, has proven problematic in defining all genocides. The degree to which the German nation sank, as an organic antisemitism has fed an homogenous hatred that drove the Jewish People into pits and Death Camps, spells out a defining term for mass execution. Perhaps though the uniqueness of The Holocaust, as an unparalleled assault upon the body of The Jewish People places an added burden on such a definition. It has become laced with such denial that some seek to entitle these Jews of The Holocaust a more fitting Testimony, The Shoah!
“..On ..October 5th. 1942 ..I visited ..building office at Dubno ..my foreman told me that in ..vicinity of ..site Jews from Dubno ..had been shot in 3 large pits ..each about 30 metres long ..3 metres deep. About 1,500 persons ..killed daily. All ..to be liquidated. As ..shootings had taken place in his presence he was still very upset. Moennikes and I went straight to .. pits. Nobody prevented us. I heard a quick succession of shots from behind one of ..mounds of earth. ..people ..got off .. lorries ..men ..women ..children ..all ages ..undress upon ..order of ..SS man ..who carried ..whip. They had to put their clothes on separate piles ..shoes ..top clothing ..underclothing. I saw ..heap of shoes ..800 to 1,000 pairs ..great piles of clothes and undergarments. Without screaming or weeping these people undressed ..stood in family groups ..kissed each other ..said their farewells ..waited for a sign from another SS man ..who stood near ..pit ..also with ..whip in ..hand. During ..15 minutes that I stood near ..pit ..I did not hear anyone complain or beg for mercy. I watched a family of about 8 ..man ..woman ..both about 50 ..with their children ..aged about 1 ..8 ..10 ..and 2 grown up daughters ..about 20 to 24. An old woman with snow white hair was holding ..1 year old child in her arms ..singing something to it ..tickling it. ..child was crowing with delight. ..man and wife were looking on with tears in their eyes. ..father was holding ..hand of a boy about 10 ..speaking to him softly. ..boy was fighting back his tears. ..father pointed to ..sky ..stroked ..boy’s head and seemed to explain something to him. At that moment ..SS man at ..pit shouted something to his comrade ..who separated off about 20 persons and ordered them to go behind ..mound of earth. Among them .. family I have mentioned. I still clearly remember a dark haired ..slim girl who pointed to herself as she passed close to me and said ..’23’ I walked to ..other side of ..mound and found myself standing before an enormous grave. ..people lay so closely packed ..one on top of ..other ..only their heads ..visible. Nearly all had blood running over their shoulders from their heads. Some ..still moving. Some lifted an arm and turned a head to show that they were still alive. ..pit was already two-thirds full. I estimated that it already contained about 1,000 people. I looked round for ..man who had shot them. He was ..SS man ..sitting on ..edge of ..pit ..legs dangling into it. He had a sub machine gun ..smoking a cigarette. ..people ..completely naked ..went down ..steps ..cut in .. clay wall of ..pit ..climbed over ..heads of those already lying there ..to ..place indicated by ..SS man. They laid down in front of ..dead or injured people. Some of them caressed those who were still alive and spoke to them softly. Then I heard a series of shots. I looked into ..pit and saw ..bodies were twitching or ..heads lay motionless on top of ..bodies which lay before them. Blood was pouring from their necks. I was surprised I was not ordered away ..but saw there were also 2 or 3 uniformed policemen standing nearby. ..next batch was already approaching. They climbed into ..pit lined up against ..previous victims and were shot. When I walked back round ..mound I noticed another lorry load of people ..had just arrived. ..it included sick ..infirm people. A very thin old woman ..with terribly thin legs ..was undressed by others who were already naked ..while 2 people supported her. ..woman appeared to be paralysed. ..naked people carried ..woman around ..mound. I left with Moennikes ..drove back to Dubno. ..morning of ..next day ..I visited ..site ..saw about 30 naked people lying near ..pit ..about 30 to 50 metres ..from it. Some ..still alive ..looked straight in front of them with a fixed stare ..seemed not to notice ..chillness nor ..workers of my firm who stood around. A girl of about 20 spoke to me and asked me to give her clothes and help her escape. At that moment we heard a fast car approach and I noticed it was an SS detail. I moved away to my site. 10 minutes later we heard shots from ..vicinity of ..pit. Those Jews who were still alive had been ordered to throw ..corpses into ..pit then they themselves had to lie down in ..pit to be shot in ..neck.” Hermann Graebe.