I don’t suppose everyone will have watched all the Holocaust memorial programmes as assiduously as we have (chez Sue) There are several reasons why I felt compelled to watch every one. First, I wanted to know as much as possible about this unique historical event out of curiosity about ‘man’s inhumanity to man‘ and so on. Also, I couldn’t help switching on my - what’s the equivalent of ‘gaydar’ - you know, the antennae that twitches at the whiff of anti-Israel propaganda. Thirdly, I wondered how the BBC’s coverage would stack up in comparison to ITV / Channel 4’s.
One thing I did learn, something I hadn’t fully realised before, was how thoroughly Hitler’s propaganda machine had succeeded in making ordinary German people regard Jews as subhuman. I mean literally. It wasn’t as if they saw them as subversive, threatening, greedy malevolent people. They actually stopped regarding them as people. Not human beings at all.
I’m wondering how many Muslims are affected by this sort of psychological manipulation. After all, there are numerous videos of radical Islamist preachers translated by Memri showing that they regard Jews as ‘apes and pigs‘ despicable and subhuman.
I still feel a frisson of alarm at the way all Holocaust-related remarks must now be seen to be inclusive. There have indeed been other atrocities, genocides, massacres and examples of inhumanity, which we must all reflect upon and grieve over. Somehow, though, we are all scared to let the callous and calculated attempt to dispose of a whole ‘people’ and a specific racial prejudice that has never been fully explained, be considered unique. But it is.
The coverage of the Holocaust memorial day was pretty damned good. But I don’t think for one moment that it will make the slightest difference to the flibbertygibbet BBC.
Here’s something that kind of makes my point for me. (Thanks H/P.) The BBC, in its ratings-driven quest for exciting telly, has elected to invite George Galloway to appear on Question Time on February 5th. Imagine! It’s coming from Finchley, and even the Guardian recognises that this is at the very least ‘insensitive’.
We all know that Galloway refused to debate with an Israeli, and that he called for Bradford to be an Israeli-free zone, so any Galloway supporters who claim that opponents of their hero’s forthcoming Q. T. appearance are trying to suppress ‘free speech’ haven’t got a leg to stand on. But they’re still trying.
The slimy toad is astute enough to tailor-make his QT appearances to suit the occasion. For Q T, and Q.T. alone, he generally poses as the voice of reason, which doesn’t actually make for excitement.
The BBC says:
“Whilst Mr Galloway’s views are entirely his own, as an MP he has a right to appear on the programme and has done so previously. Subjects for discussion are chosen by our audience ahead of each show and this edition of Question Time will be no different.”
Gene at H/P has suggested we bombard the BBC with the suggestion that they invite Eylon Aslan-Levy on to the panel. Now that would make exciting telly.
It would be too much to hope that the rest of the panel boycotted the slime-bag en masse, and on screen, but it would be a wondrous sight to behold.ReplyDelete
On the history of the Jewish Holocaust, I think it doesn't really help to describe it as "unique".ReplyDelete
In terms of Hitler's plans for Eastern Europe, they were working on eliminating some 50 million people - the vast majority not Jews - through overwork, starvation rations, direct murder and ill treatment. The idea was Germans would then resettle the area, with some East Europeans left over as slaves.
Most East Europeans were considered to fall far short of the Aryan ideal and were thus "untermenschen" - people fit only to be slaves accroding to he Nazis' racist ideology.
Even though they didn't get the chance to put the general plan completely into operation, it is estimated (Wikipedia) that at least 3.3 million Soviet POWs died in Nazi custody, out of 5.7 million. Millions more of course died among the civilian population.
There was of course a particular animus towards the Jews in Nazi ideology but it seems to me invidious to talk of suffering as "unique".
To Anonymous (17:07)ReplyDelete
What does “it doesn’t really help” mean?
"likely to arouse or incur resentment or anger in others.
"unfairly discriminating; unjust.
Sorry, but your point isn’t very clear. No matter what Hitler’s plans might have been, the deliberate and specific attempt to exterminate an entire ‘people’ was unique.
The clinical, calculated methods the Nazis devised for putting their plan into practice was unique.
The propaganda that succeeded in making ‘the Jew’ responsible for the world’s woes was not unique. Antisemitism is always present.
The BBC's love affair with George Galloway is grotesque. It's just so much evidence of their twisted priorities.ReplyDelete
Sue - You ask:ReplyDelete
"What does “it doesn’t really help” mean? "
I mean it doesn't really help understanding of the whole experience of WW2.
You were indicating that "a callous and calculated attempt to dispose of a whole "people" must be considered "unique". "
Given all we know about the Nazis' plans to destroy various other "peoples" (Roma, Polish, Belorussian and Ukrainian for sure) through cold and calculated starvation, enslavement, dispersal and other policies including extermination in gas chambers (in the case of Roma), it cannot be claimed this was unique. Though I would fully accept the Nazis pursued the destruction of the Jews with more demonic energy than any other people.
I don't wish to have this sort of discussion, I should add - but if people want to have a Holocaust Memorial Day (not my choice at all) these sorts of discussions will inevitably arise. The idea people will simply bow their heads in respectful silence is not realistic in a modern internet-driven age.
My view is that one should talk about the equality of suffering and not seek to claim uniqueness for one stream of suffering. Further I don't see how if you say we must remember the Jewish Holocaust you can ignore the Tutsi genocide, the Armenian genocide or other unjust suffering.
"The clinical, calculated methods the Nazis devised for putting their plan into practice was unique."
There is more to this claim you make - but it does not relate exclusively to Jewish people. This "industrialised killing" method was also used on Russian POWs, secret agents, Roma, Blacks, and political prisoners.
It's true anti-semitism is a long-lived, baleful motif in human history. But we also see other hatreds extending over centuries: Muslim v Hindus; Shia v. Sunni; Arabs v. Blacks.
These hatreds are sometimes quite irrational e.g. why should Japanese people view Chinese people as inferior, almost sub-human, when they had borrowed so much of their culture from the Chinese (and revered it)? It's v. like Christian cultures hating Jewish culture despite Jewish culture having been the source of their own culture!
Sue, I am surprised that you have swallowed the Armenian propaganda about the so-called "Genocide", conveniently forgetting the Armenian massacres of Turks at the same time. Ironically, the fairest account of the events was written by a Jew , Prof. Guenther Lewy !ReplyDelete
You seem to be offering a rather extreme example of ‘whataboutery’.
In commemorating ‘the’ Holocaust it’s one thing to include other Nazi victims, Roma, homosexuals and the mentally impaired - they are already included in the commemoration - but it’s another thing altogether to bring in all other tribally or politically based conflicts because to do so takes inclusivity to the point of meaninglessness.
(Rendering the entire commemoration of the Holocaust meaningless is a possible motivation behind that argument.)
This argument shouldn’t morph into league tables; whose suffering merits the most sympathy. Compassion isn’t a finite commodity. There’s enough to go round so to speak. It’s not at all a case of ‘when it’s gone it’s gone’.
We could quibble till kingdom come over what we mean by ‘unique’. Some believe that the industrialised, factory-farming aspect of the Nazi’s method was ‘unprecedented’. i.e. the first time such a thing had been implemented. Being ‘first’ is one qualifier for being unique.
“Because it was the first time this had happened it will always be seen as unique in the same way as the dropping of an A bomb on Hiroshima is a unique event.” (Says a commenter on Harry’s Place.)
‘Scale’ being another qualifier. ‘The abject futility of it, yet another.
”The assembly line production of human corpses used in the death camps was unprecedented. That Nazi Heidegger compared it to the mass production of food in slaughter houses. Yet he doesn't go on to notice that the people the Nazis killed were not killed for any utilitarian purpose.
This too is unprecedented.” Says a commenter.
“the Nazi policy on the exploitation of Jewish labour was too irrational even to be ruthless.’ [...]“The more usual scenario involved lifting something heavy, carrying it somewhere else, putting it down, and carrying back something just like it, with beatings all the way if you dropped it. What the something was was immaterial: a big rock would do fine.”
It might seem to you that I’m redefining ‘unique’ as 'unprecedented', and thereby both moving the goalposts and minimising any genocides that came after. But another definition of unique is ‘special’.
An elderly relative passed away recently and we compiled a ‘memory’ of her life and her character, both for the funeral and as a memorial. We didn’t feel obliged to commemorate other deceased, or all others who had ever lived and died; neither did their ‘exclusion‘ infer or imply any slight on them and theirs So, she was special, unique, even though she was just one out of the whole human race.
We haven’t commemorated the Holocaust so ostentatiously till very recently.
Interestingly, (to me) Ben Kingsley (Sir) said something worth thinking about. (H/T “Israellycool”)
Sir Ben thinks that Europe hasn’t allowed itself to grieve till now. http://youtu.be/iGmxJVlp1lE
“I think we must be vigorously persistent in telling the story of grief-stricken Europe, but the tragedy is that Europe did not grieve in 1945. it moved on. The first step towards healing is for us to collectively grieve, and we missed that first crucial step.[...] We are in terrible danger (because of missing the step of grieving) of sliding back.”
So whilst you seem to be rigidly defining unique as ‘the only’, I’m defining it as ‘unprecedented’ and ‘special’.
If you are sincerely, ‘uniquely’ (your definition) concerned with semantics then we might just agree to differ, but if in all conscience your motive is a wish to minimise the particularity of antisemitism, then we’re never going to agree.
What are you on about?
The ultimate aim of the Nazis was a greater Germany that would, in Hitler’s poisoned mind, have stretched all the way to the Urals. The inhuman ruthlessness of this idea, which would have entailed the death through starvation of the entire Slavic population of the region, does indeed beggar belief. However, despite the contempt the Nazis felt for the Slavs, this was essentially about the acquisition of land. Perhaps if Hitler had actually carried this out we might view history differently, but the fact remains it was an unrealised plan.ReplyDelete
The Nazis position on Jews was quite different and this is why the holocaust should never be forgotten. In the Germany of Schiller and Beethoven, of modern science and enlightenment the Nazis tried, and almost succeeded by the most efficiently cold-blooded manner imaginable to murder all of the Jews in Europe, many of whom were Germans. This wasn’t for land or material gain but the expression of an utterly focussed hatred. This is somewhat different from saying the Nazis pursued the destruction of the Jews with more energy. Both world wars were catastrophic and the numbers and statistics are without comparison, yet the death camps still stand out as something uniquely horrific. But the Holocaust was not isolated, rather a terrible culmination of hundreds of years of anti-Semitism throughout Europe and Russia. And paradoxically it is within the context of this history that its uniqueness lies.
Of course there have always been enmities between people of different races and religions, and countless horrors have been committed, but this in no way diminishes the importance of remembering this dark phase in Europe’s history. It should stand as an awful lesson to all of humanity.