Thursday, January 27, 2005


The Shadow of Auschwitz

Please read this entire, long article. I can excerpt only a few paragraphs.
The shadow of Auschwitz

By John Lichfield


Today, politicians from 40 countries will travel to the Birkenau camp to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the discovery of Auschwitz by Soviet troops in January 1945. Up to 400 survivors - the remaining, fit survivors of the maybe 60,000 survivors in 1945 - are expected to be there.

Among those at the Birkenau commemoration will be Raphael Esrail, 80, who was taken to Auschwitz from France in February 1944, at the age of 19, and is now secretary general of the French association of Auschwitz victims. "There have been other anniversaries and there will be others still to come," he said, "but this is maybe the most important. First, because it will be the last big anniversary to have so many living eyewitnesses. Most of us are already in our eighties."

Although I am Jewish, I did not lose, as far as I can tell, any relatives in the Holocaust. (If I did lose any, they were so distant that no one in my family here in the USA was aware of them.) That does not make me any less connected to Auschwitz than a survivor, or the families of the victims, or indeed of the rest of humanity. As Lichfield points out, "The Holocaust began three years after Walt Disney made Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; 20 years before The Beatles and Swinging London. Auschwitz is part of Modern Times."

And the fact that it happened 64 years ago does not mean it is not part of our times, either. Esrail, quoted above, goes on to say,
"But it is crucial also for another reason. The world has changed. And not in the way we had hoped. After the war, we comforted ourselves that this terrible experience might finally teach mankind to love mankind, but what do we see now? We see again the rise of anti-Semitism and we see a world torn apart by fanatical hatreds and by absolute certainties."
(We also see the rise of a kind of corporate, religious proto-fascism in the USA, but that's for another post.)

We have seen Bosnia and Kosovo and Rwanda and now the Sudan. We have seen Tienanmin Square and Chechnya. We have learned nothing.

Please read the entire article. The Holocaust deniers must not be permitted to succeed.
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