Saturday, November 11, 2006

Holocaust

I've been following a programme on television called Hitler's Holocaust.

It's been quite moving for me, more so than any other documentary in its genre ever has before - and I was wondering why.

I think I've cracked it. The show doesn't feel like a history lesson. It's simply first hand witnesses recounting their experiences, peppered, here and there, with original footage.

Although, from both sides of the argument, I saw a lot of contradictory evidence, my belief that hatred stems from jealousy is strengthened. Many Jews stated they were Jews, yes, but German first. They were aware of their traditions, values and religious history, but they also celebrated their nationality, the richness they brought to the German state and the sophistication and diversity which the cosmopolitan state enveloped them in. Many Germans with Nazi leanings claimed all the Jews were well off, stuck together, only helped themselves and, as things got worse in the 20s and 30s, the power of the Nazi party grew and the Jews clung together with an ever stronger grip watching as real German people perished.

Of course, as things did get worse, the German government looked for someone to blame, lest they themselves be blamed. As the accusations stacked ever higher on the shoulders of the Jewish population, the German state grew stronger. From a German's perspective, I suppose one might see the economy getting stronger as the Jews were removed from society. One and one might make two - if it weren't for the fact that the economy and war machine were being built on the backs of the Jews in slave labour camps.

If Germany had won the war and exterminated all Jews, Gypsies, gays and disabled people, I wonder what might have happened. Who would they have picked on next before things started going wrong again? Would there have ever been an end? Was it always a matter of time? It's not that they didn't have their supporters.
In 1933, the Vatican signed a concordat agreeing to support Hitler in exchange for freedom for the Roman Catholic Church in Germany.

The worst, in my eyes was yet to come:

On 10th May 1933,
Nazi gangs raided the main library in Berlin and burned many of its books.

Any society that burns books or sanctions the burning of books is a sick society.

I firmly believe, even if Germany had won the war, had all the resources and land it needed to support itself and had friends and supporters outwith itself, the body of the Third Reich was sick. The sick tend not to last too long and soon die.

It was never going to work. Thank goodness.

Take heart. This year, the first rabbis to be trained in Germany since the Nazi period were ordained in Berlin. Jews are German again and Germans are Jewish again. The fabric of the European ideal is as interwoven and as tightly knit as it ever was. And long may it continue.

A cliché, I know, but when will we ever learn that war has never got any of us anywhere and forging friendships is far more beneficial than making enemies?

Today is Armistice Day. I heard one of the few remaining soldiers of The Great War speak on television recently. He reitterated the words of the many in 1914, that The Great War would be the war to end all wars. He met with a German with whom he'd probably fought. They both agreed that no war had ever had a good outcome and if the pair of them could be friends, why couldn't the whole world?

6 comments:

Lex Ham Rand said...

Beautiful post, Minge. Well said.

stickola said...

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above:
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love:
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan's poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.
WB Yeats

Pretty much sums up how every one of our men must have felt while fighting in the war.

RIC said...

Thank you, Minge, for this post.
Some of us may have forgiven, but I believe we shouldn't ever forget.
I wish I could share that hope with you about that «fabric of the European ideal being as interwoven and as tightly knit as it ever was.» I wish I weren't so sceptical as I am now...

Moncrief Speaks said...

Really, ric? I find it impossible to imagine the European Union unraveling in a serious way, let alone any kind of war against powers in Western Europe (and at this point, Eastern Europe too).

Of course I'm not European so I may be missing some subtleties, but I find it remarkable what has happened in Europe in the past 50 years -- and mostly the past dozen. It seems an utterly interwoven place to me, but again I'm an outsider.

Moncrief Speaks said...

I meant "BETWEEN powers" above, not "against."

RIC said...

Being sceptical desn't mean one's immediately thinking of a war situation. Heaven, no!
Without Jacques Delors the EU dream has lost a lot... And goes on losing.
I wish I could understand how such a moron as that Barroso guy became president of the commission...
Just an example...