My Fourth Book.
“..Belzec was ..first camp of Operation Reinhard where most of ..Jews from Krakow and Lvov regions were exterminated. It is less known from ..other camps because there was only one survivor which could testify what happend there or writes some memoirs ..contrary to other camps. One more reason is while in ..other camps were uprisings which got publicity in writings and in Belzec was no uprising. This ..according to my understanding ..is ..reason why Belzec had less publicity in spite ..as you wrote ..10% of ..victims of The Holocaust were murdered there.” Yitzhak Arad.
I will borrow again, and from a Jewish term, ‘zedakah’, but it will not be for God, it will be a righteousness ensuring that memory does not forget what was allowed to happen to the Jewish People. My words are in protest at Catholic’s in the Christian World who forgot to voice their outrage, or worse still, chose to ignore what was happening to these Jews of Europe. There had to be a motivation to write this, my fourth book on the subject of The Holocaust of The Jews of Europe. My sense of guilt over what has been achieved against the 884,700 Jews within Hitler’s Belzec, and certainly for all those 6,000,000 Jewish People of the entire Catastrophe, all is part of that reasoning. With hatred and atrocity it is a disgrace to all of humanity that this calamity was achieved at all and also, that we stood firmly by and lifted no finger to arrest the mounting enormity of the crimes. Clearly, what I have managed to state in all x3 of my previous Books has needed a different perspective added to them. Having visited Auschwitz/Birkenau, Belzec, Majdanek and Sobibor I realise the magnitude of loss requires a more personal endeavour than mere words can convey.
Immediately, and once you step out across these Death Camp sites, there is this immense sense of the devastation that took place in each of these pitiable settings. You actually feel at a loss to even begin to measure the significance of that desolation which occupies these spaces. That the individual Death Camp had the same function is consistent with Hitler’s demands to clear the Jewish People out of Europe. They differ though in so many other respects, not least of all their sizes. As with Auschwitz and Birkenau, the one, intended to be the holding Camp, which was for Auschwitz to facilitate the destructive end of the production line that was constructed at Birkenau. But both are Death Camps in their own right. Both deal with the capacity for Destruction of the Jewish People, and so many others, and on a monstrously industrialised scale. But this is not to say that Majdanek, Sobibor or even Belzec did not achieve a wholesale slaughter in definite comparison to Auschwitz and Birkenau.
But without the same or similar capacity to destroy any and all of humanity should it have so wished, each of these x3 Death Camps at Belzec, Sobibor and Majdanek were instrumental in bringing to Hitler his Final Solution. While it is hard though to imagine that the primitive nature of these x3 other Death Camps could have annihilated that many Jews within such tight confines, it is perfectly true what they achieved. As clearly as Auschwitz and Birkenau were designed to accomplish a murderous atrocity against the Jews and all of humanity, so too were Belzec, Majdanek and Sobibor conceived. Though Majdanek commands a size far larger than both Sobibor or Belzec, and while all appear diminutive once one emerges onto the vastness of Auschwitz and then Birkenau, their capacity to mass murder was not diminished. This struggle with capacity is all a remnant of my previous work, which is constantly running into an expression of dismay and even anger for what took place and what was allowed to happen.
But still, the capacity to murder and murder even more was moved away from The Aktion Reinhard Death Camps into a single marshalling of destruction. Hitler must surely have surveyed the outreaches of the Reich and recognised the future failings would soon crush his wider aspirations. So Hitler galvanised his efforts into a more mechanised production line which would deliver at Auschwitz and Birkenau a more complete resolve. Here, within Birkenau, while taking the human form from arrival to cremation and then oblivion in one space for action, Hoess achieved all that Hitler now expected for his Final Solution. However, Belzec accomplished in a small space of time what Auschwitz/Birkenau or even Treblinka could not accomplish. A kill rate so vast, the number of Jewish People swallowed up in such a short space of time has proved even more monstrous, if that is possible to conceive.
As I visited all of these Death Camps, I still have Treblinka and Chelmno to visit, I at once felt that I had gained access to an emotional reservoir that was being hidden under foot. For me, and I have waited a number of years to write this 4th. Book, and as part of that reasoning is the unwelcome attention I have drawn to myself for the material Facts which are contained within each of those previous works on The Holocaust, I now set aside those concerns. The Truth appears to distract all too many from reason, when the Factual Truth exists that Hitler had 6,000,000 Jews of Europe Exterminated, Annihilated, Slaughtered for no other reason than they were Jewish Men, Women and Their Children. That Fact alone, which shocks us even today, is a reminder that when the spiritual head of the Catholic Church bows his head before Auschwitz, he recognises and accepts the very reality which is acknowledging the destruction of 1,100,000 Jews alone Murdered within Auschwitz.
Those who would dispute this very pertinent and relevant Fact would discount 1,000,000,000 Catholics from that honest admission. While it remains for Christianity as a whole, a Blot on their religious perseverance, it means that the haters are clearly out of touch with reality. The deniers allow their hatred to distort the truth with their agenda to promote an antisemitism long since found irrelevant. In Hebrew ‘To da Raba’ translates back to Thank You very much, and I am thankful that I have been given a voice to speak out. It has proved essential, and on behalf of those 6,000,000 who have been deprived of their voice and lives, to add another voice concerned that our past must not blight our future. The words of this newer Book for me, which places Hitler’s Belzec as one more testimony still to be heard, it is once more an expression on the awful intolerance’s which dealt the Jews of The Holocaust such a murderous blow. For me, it is a very personal testimony of what I have come to know of.
“..As always it was good to hear from you again. A major part of ..problem is that there were only two confirmed survivor of Belzec Rudolf Reder and Chaim Hirszman. ..latter was killed in 1946 by an anti Russian Polish militia. ..battle for memory gets harder year after year as ..survivors as well as others on ..scene fade away. Our task is to keep it alive. This battle will go on long after we’re gone too. Hoping you are well and ..as always ..best regards.” Aaron Breitbart.
Here, I separate myself from all those who know The Holocaust, those who succumbed to its reach and those who Survived its intention. As a writer who remains outside that immediacy, I borrow heavily from the memory of those no longer available to us and from those still capable of delivering their evidence. For me, writing must be a pleasure, otherwise what is the sense in putting words down for other’s to read? But since establishing the need to write on the subject of The Holocaust, that demand to inform is filled with a pain which has been overwhelming at times. I shudder to think what 6,000,000 Human Beings went through to know of this tragedy so intimately. For Survivors too, the detail is a calamity of first hand experience and a knowledge of what happened to their Family’s, Community’s and People.
We on the outside cannot ever begin to understand the gravity of Jewish loss, the immensity of Jewish privation nor the incalculable devastation of Jewish dispossession as it relates to our World entire. Personally, the very exacting detail of the atrocity has proved exhausting, yet I am keenly aware that in that detail, I am spared a trauma so immense, I cannot yet comprehend how despairing it must have been. For those Jews who filed out of train carriages and landed in Belzec, in the other Death Camps or at the Killing Sites, the hopelessness resonates throughout time. Added to which, I am mindful that there is an urgent need to continue the attempt to comprehend what it is that The Holocaust means to us all. I have become, almost certain, that The Holocaust is longed to be forgotten by those who have no wish to Remember it. But my belief, which has become almost a mantra to continually work by continues to be is Always to Remember, Never to Forget
For those, whose urgency is in forgetting, be they the culprits of participation or perpetration, or the witnesses to an event so gruesome they wished to shake its recall from memory, forgetfulness cannot be allowed to prevail. Gladly, these recalcitrant deniers are the few and History has been well written by those who best exemplify the need for Remembrance. All too many who seek to place The Holocaust in the past, though few in number are still ramping up with loudness, and using the religious fervour for forgiveness to assuage the dissenting voice of memory. I am not alone in knowing the power which memory holds and thankfully, resources have been given over to copy the testimony, file the memory and record the evidence of what happened in our time to the Jewish People of Europe. There this a permanent discord which seeks to shut down the recording of the truth in favour of concealing and attempting to somehow redeem the lack of credibility Hitler has staked a claim to.
Whether that denial desire is to remonstrate with the guilty for their guilt or with the perpetrators for having perpetrated these crimes, truth will prevail and we will know the weight of a truth that has been marked in 6,000,000 different ways. There are also those who seek to assuage the guilt of the one man Adolf Hitler, without whom The Holocaust could not have happened. Hitler’s place in the midst of The Holocaust is an unforgivable act of brutal savagery. No one, not one single person has the right to forgive what Hitler has done to the Jewish People. Purely, the grant of pardon belongs to those who have had The Holocaust inflicted upon them. That those, the imposed upon are these 6,000,000 Murdered Jews of Europe, theirs has no voice to render such absolution. The quelled voice of these 6,000,000 Jews has been permanently stilled. There are 6,000,000 Jewish People who have had their memories quashed and their exclusive right to forgive is for them to deliver.
The very existence of all 6,000,000 innocent Jewish Men, Women and Their Children has been culled from perpetuity. We must reflect upon the fact of their passing and where we can, extract as much detail as we can so as to afford them a more substantial evidence of their passage through our time. For these 6,000,000 Jewish lives have entered into a pact now with History which must forever protect them from forgetfulness, denial and the hatred which destroyed them in the first place. Each of my Books in turn has been extracted from the other to present a more in depth analysis of the subject contained within its previous host. Hence out of that first inception of Testimony and Fading Memory in The Holocaust, der Einsatzgruppe and The Destruction of European Jewry emerged. This was intended to define more closely the role of these roving bands of murderers which Hitler sent against the innocent Jews of Russia, the Ukraine and the Baltic States.
For me, the Jews of The Holocaust persisted only as long as Hitler required for them that moment of freedom that he allowed them. When der Einsatzgruppe entered the field, 1,250,000 Jews perished, were extinguished, were Murdered, and in full view of elements of the Reich administrative and civilian population, Wehrmacht and any one else who chose to see what was to be seen. After this Book, I sought to extract a work which could deliver to the reader an insight into the most despicable single event in all The Holocaust. This was the atrocity which was raged against the Jews of Kiev. Babi Yar A Jewish Catastrophe is that Book and here, 33,771 Jews of Kiev were taken from their homes and Slaughtered in this ravine in the space of 2 days. This single atrocity marked Hitler’s clear intention for what remained of European Jewry and the bureaucracy for implementing Hitler’s final solution was enacted upon. With the exception of my first book, the subsequent two Books have gained from what I had previously written.
“..Never a chore reading your work Dad. I take my biased head off and realise it’s still great stuff. Very interesting ..well researched and well-intended. No rehashing ..as your narrative is very refreshing. Survivor’s tales are riveting ..but limited. Historical textbooks are dry. Your books are alive and come from an uncharted viewpoint.” Russell Dempsey.
That initial work, while it stood alone as a testimony to what I perceived was the fading from memory of those who could afford us the first hand evidence of what they had been threatened with, has gained for me a knowledge I had sought out. With the passing of time, which was gradually diminishing our access to the Survivor, we still have dug a deep furrow into what is a troubling and tortuous period in all of history. The presence of those Survivors who could lend us so much was fast escalating toward an ending. With the Survivor no longer being with us to deliver their first hand evidence, a direct connection to the atrocity was being lost. While Hitler ruled over the very existence of the Jewish People, the Survivor has never been free of Hitler’s clear intention to destroy them. While the Jews were not immediately made aware of that designated atrocity, it rolled out over them in a steady torrent of abuse, brutality and eventual destruction.
Once Hitler had gained power, a relentless forward motion progressed the Jewish People steadily toward the very gates of destruction. Here at Hitler’s Belzec, and elsewhere where Hitler had planted the seed of his final resolve, a massive destruction of the Jewish People was undertaken. The Jews of Europe, and wherever Hitler’s forces ranged freely they had little choice other than to conform to what they initially considered was some form of work placement. Indeed, the prospect of Slave Labour had dawned upon the Jews as a survival mechanism. But that was far removed from what Hitler expected for them. As a civilised and cultured nation, Germany could not be seen as other than enlightened, refined and the arbiters of justice and integrity. How could the Jews of the 20th. Century see other than the prospect of a value placed upon them that was other than commensurate with their potential.
No one in the enlightened world could have possibly believed that Hitler could so assuage a German nation to barbarity that 6,000,000 Jews would be annihilated. But the evidential and factual proof of this certainty is clearly written 6,000,000 times over in Jewish blood. The choice that the Jewish People were given, within such a confined configuration of space and time was limited and it eventually proved choice-less. It is not the duty of history to reproach these Jews for what was enacted upon them. It is a testimony to their persistence that there would be any Jew whatsoever who managed to survive, escape and claw their way out of Hitler’s reach. For their endeavour, these Jews who were so restricted in what they could achieve and that achievement was forced from their hands. What Hitler allowed for, with regards to the existence of any Jewish presence is damnable enough. If we then resort to accusing the persistence of some of these Jews in their Survival, we are to be disingenuous with what must have been an awful reality for any and all Jews faced with what Hitler resolved for them.
What Hitler would ensure would be a very final and conclusive solution to any Jewish existence. As with all of my work, please be aware that within these newer pages there are the faint echoes of a Jewish past now taken from us. There is still that same obscenity written within Hitler’s Belzec which seeks to account for the Destruction of the 884,700 Jewish People entrained there. Certain that no less than 600,000 Jewish People were Murdered within Belzec alone, can we assess in an account the loss? What was made self evident to me as I stood atop the fields of a Death Camps destruction is the very pertinent Fact that the destructive capacity here was truly visible to all who went past the gates of Hitler’s Belzec. The World of indifference which allowed for these Jews to be led along the path toward abandonment and annihilation struck deeply. So if The Holocaust is to teach us anything I would suggest it has taught the Jewish People far more.
For our part, we must never be swayed ever again to deliver to hatred any People, whatever their creed, race or colour to the destructive capacity of hatred. We can never descend that far again that we treat any People with such utter disdain. The Jewish People must never be allowed to become separated from each other, to become divided or to become conquered without our most stringent protest. There is far too much hatred toward them and their vilification must be repelled with a unity unmatched in all of their history. Agreed! I am an idealist and ideally there is to be no hatred in the World, let alone an antisemitic hatred founded on Biblical misinterpretation. History and The Holocaust should now have guarded the Jewish People from this hatred, but they are not immune to those who still wish a solution to what Hitler could not finally manage, totally!
But are the Jews guarded against the dissent amongst themselves which might well allow their enemies to once more strike at their very core? The Jews and Israel have the lessens of History to teach them what it is we were prepared to allow happen to them. For us, The Holocaust must teach us the meaning of Tolerance as it tutors the Jews in the singularly effective and collective defence of their being. The problem from History is in not acknowledging that 6,000,000 Jews of Europe are The Holocaust, exclusively. The term was sought to bridge the divide between what was perpetrated and what we should endeavour to comprehend. No only that, it is in assessing that these are 6,000,000 Jewish People for whom Hitler systematically sought out for destruction that we will find our own resolve to learn. There is this unfortunate aspect toward retribution which has availed The Holocaust of such an omission. Also, and we magnify the catastrophe for the Jews but that singular failing.
History will continue to remind us of what was achieved in our time, what was allowed to happen during that period and what we could have stood more firmly against. There are the children of the Perpetrators who will have no history while their presence is based upon the concealment from History of the truth of participation. Many of the Death Camp guards, even the members of der Einsatzgruppe have sought to deceive their kinship with lies and a rejection of their clear responsibility. Who can know a Parent if there is such a lie between them? Eight million Germans and Austrians were committed Nazi’s and were pledged to that cause. Within Hitler’s Belzec alone that cause drove perhaps 884,700 Jews to their deaths and availed all of History with an account, in totalling some 6,000,000 Jewish lives that is an accusation far graver than we can ever come to terms with. With a great sense of that blending together of coming to terms with what we allowed to happen and aligned with a form of comprehension we still struggle with, we have moved relentlessly forward.
With x3 of our Popes, who have now visited Auschwitz, that move is taking stock of the silence! A Polish Pope, a German and an Argentinean Pope must not allow for this enormous stride to ignore the responsibility to History owed by frankness, truth and honesty. These Popes each command the respect of the World and led 1 Billion people who know they are not being duped by the lies that deniers perpetuate. When there are 80 Million Germans who insist on accepting their historical responsibility, they are not so gullible as to be duped by the denial nonsense. Who to believe. No need to think. The Factual Truth that 6,000,000 Jews were Murdered, Gassed, Shot, Hanged, Starved and Killed is a Factual Truth. At Hitler’s Belzec that truth was maintained in a murderous detail which secured for all of eternity a certainty which will be repeated in genocidal terms and from a lesson we have chosen not to heed.
“..if ..world could become convinced ..Auschwitz never existed ..it would be easier to build ..second Auschwitz .. and ..no assurance it would devour only Jews”. Primo Levi.
All Survivors, Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel included, are the advocates of a Remembrance we must take with us. The Survivor’s no longer keep quiet and they face a relentless and exhausting rendition of a terrible trauma we cannot begin to comprehend. Their stated aim, to recall and remember, which is forever challenged by those filled with hate, needs to be listened to in order for us all to learn from such an atrocity. There are 6,000,000 voices which have already been stilled and now is not the time to remain silent in the face of historical accusation. The voice of reason is being shouted down by the angry voice of hatred, denial and a quest to both forget that The Holocaust happened and that Hitler is the main culprit. We cannot allow for the voices which stir the hatred to gain the upper hand. That is to be a legacy of testimony and I lend the words of Hitler’s Belzec to ensure we recall and remember. We cannot renege on the duty we are bound to, toward a Memory for 6,000,000 Jewish Murdered for whom we are morally bound, Always to Remember, Never to Forget.
“..I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps ..oppressor ..never ..victim. Silence encourages ..tormentor ..never ..tormented.” Elie Wiesel.
I wish to point out that the quotes at the end of Hitler’s Belzec are not in any way an endorsement of the work itself. They are from those for whom I asked a question and mainly is response to that question as to the space of Belzec within the context of The Holocaust. As for all of those who responded, I have barely quoted a few who fix their own assessment of what Hitler’s Belzec represents for us. I thank them profusely for their time, for their advice and for their comments. I have been involved in a commentary of The Holocaust for more than 20 years and have barely scratched the surface of what it must have been like for the Jewish People to feel abandoned, to feel forgotten and to feel that somehow we did not care enough to forestall any part of Hitler’s intention for them within Belzec, the other Death Camps and wherever the Jewish People had persisted for Century’s.
“..wringing endorsement of Hitler’s Belzec will be orders must be obeyed. ..land of Philosophers ..Composers ..set about ..destruction of future People of Curer’s ..Scientisits ..Researchers ..World Changers ..all because Hitler hated ..Jewish People. ..thought processes composed ..destructive enterprise on such a systematic ..uniquely genocidal stage it is wrongly historic. Hitler’s confrontation with ..Jewish People in The Holocaust and here at Belzec on an academically monstrous level leaves me troubled. I am walking upon hallowed ground. As I walk ..perimeter of destruction at Hitler’s Belzec ..I hear ..traffic flow of by passing cars ..vans ..lorries making their way toward Lvov or Tomaszow. I hear ..faint hum of people in ..distance sharing ..detail of daily life. Transported back 74 years who could not hear ..emissions of pain ..sorrow ..anxiety ..fear ..dread ..march of 847,400 Jews condemned ..shot ..killed ..gassed. These Jews ..battered ..beaten ..brutalised metres from lines which communicated other’s life and their death. Who did not hear. Who could not see. Who would not smell. Who sensed nothing.”