The Holocaust´s enduring lessons (CHICAGO TRIBUNE OP-ED) By William Choslovsky 04/19/12)
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The Final Solution: Auschwitz, Treblinka, Bergen-Belsen, Dachau,
Buchenwald, Terezin, Chelmno, Sobibor, Majdanek, Belzec, Polish
Adolf Hitler´sNazis murdered 6 million Jews 6 million girls, men,
grandmothers, babies, uncles, neighbors, women, fathers, friends,
sisters, colleagues, cousins, lovers, boys, mothers, aunts 6
million human beings. Though Hitler´s main target was Jews, he also
exterminated 5 million other people, mostly Catholics, homosexuals,
gypsies and the handicapped, to support his master race ambition.
For perspective, and to humanize each of the 6 million victims,
consider this: If you read each victim´s name taking just two
seconds per name it would take you 139 days to complete the task.
Start today and you will not finish until September. But that is only
if you never stop to eat, drink or sleep, much like the conditions
the victims endured.
Most perished (were murdered) quickly in the gas chambers, gallows or
execution lines. The rest were forced to perform labor so
excruciating the likes of which adjectives do no justice in
describing. Then there were the rapes, beatings, heinous
medical "experiments" and brutal, arbitrary tortures.
None of this happened by accident. Quite the contrary, it was
planned, it was designed. It took the participation or active
indifference of an entire country to accomplish, not the workings
of just a few evil leaders. It happened in the "modern era" in the
most civilized of countries, and it happened for only one reason:
because they were Jews.
Somehow, a few survived.
Note, the above description is hollow, it is weak, it is inadequate.
But it is all I can offer in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day,
which is today.
Amazingly, there is a group of individuals who deny the Holocaust
occurred. They are called "Holocaust revisionists." If they are
Holocaust revisionists, I suppose someone who claims two plus two is
five is a "mathematical revisionist." We call the person ignorant,
stupid or some other less than flattering word, but not a revisionist.
Calling Holocaust deniers revisionists wrongly suggests there is room
for debate. It lends credence to asinine assertions. We are talking
historical fact, not policy debates or competing historical theories.
Ideally, the revisionists would not warrant any attention. As my
grandmother Baba Bella used to say, "If you argue with a fool, that
Unfortunately however, some of the revisionists possess an air of
credibility. Take Northwestern University engineering professor
Arthur Butz, who penned a book in 1976 denying the Holocaust.
In a world that is often ill-informed, ignorance can pass as fact if
left unchallenged. If supposedly credible individuals like Butz are
not condemned, then the perpetual lie soon becomes "truth." Our
silence is the source of their strength.
Consider for shock value what the reaction would be if a group
of "antebellum revisionists" claimed African-Americans were never
slaves? That blacks were never sold, lynched, beaten, raped and
bartered? Suppose these "scholars" claimed the whole idea of a black
slave trade was simply a hoax devised by blacks to garner sympathy.
How would we respond?
I would like to think that I would be joined by everyone, no matter
their ethnicity, in obliterating such a lie. I would like to think
that the revisionists would be called racists.
It´s been 67 years since the war ended, so soon there will be no
survivors left. The events will truly be "history," meaning no
different than the Civil War for most of us.
Even so, the lessons of the Holocaust are hardly static. Today not
1944 synagogues are vandalized in Europe. The Arab press publishes
articles stating that Jews use the blood of Muslim children in
Passover festivals. Arab children use textbooks demonizing Jews.
Foreign "news" organizations "report" America and Israel orchestrated
the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Likewise, the lessons of the Holocaust are not limited to Jews. Long
before Darfur, upward of 2 million Christians were butchered in the
Sudan under the command, "convert or die." Trains carrying Hindus are
set afire in India. Jehovah´s Witnesses are beheaded in the
Philippines. More than 800,000 Tutsis were murdered in Rwanda in 100
days in 1994. Coptic Christians are persecuted to near extinction in
Egypt. Muslims were persecuted in Bosnia two decades ago. Saddam
Hussein gassed Kurds.
And so it goes. Millions killed not for anything they did, but
because of who they were.
I relish the day when Holocaust revisionists can be scorned. Until
then remember, two plus two is four. Do not forget it lest the
victims of the Holocaust died in vain.
William Choslovsky is a Chicago attorney. (Copyright © 2012, Chicago
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