The Final Solution: Auschwitz, Treblinka, Bergen-Belsen, Dachau, Buchenwald, Terezin, Chelmno, Sobibor, Majdanek, Belzec, Polish ghettos.
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 makes two.”
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.