Jewish Denial Family of Blogsites

An index of all Affiliated Links, Current and Archived Postings by Topic (below and to the right) provides access to all articles currently appearing according to topic of interest.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A response to David Engel's recorded lecture series, Understanding the Holocaust

Monday, February 18, 2008

For additional materials regarding Israel, the Diaspora and Jewish Denial:

Dear Professor Engel,

I greatly appreciate your recorded course, Understanding the Holocaust. You bring together much information in a highly accessible manner. It helped me to better define my own thinking about the events as they unfolded during the Hitler years, and for this I am in your debt. But in the end I find myself disagreeing with your conclusions.

In its simplest form I believe you grant too much influence in the unfolding of events leading up to Auschwitz the result of “facts on the ground.” Certainly those charged with actually carrying out their orders, from foot soldiers to generals, were forced to improvise. And often the successful improvisations would find application in other locations, under different commanders. Certainly too the conquest of Poland (or Austria, Rumania and Czechoslovakia for that matter) created logistical problems, speeded up the innovation process. You point out that among the plans for “resettlement” were zones in Poland and Madagascar and, when that later became a possibility, eastern Russia. You describe favorably the behavior of the western democracies as the main recipients of refugees, offering refuge until such countries from which Jews were fleeing came under German control. Once those countries were under German control those refugees now became “enemy aliens” and so, you seem to agree, the Democracies were justified in refusing them refuge.

These are, if I represent you correctly, some of your conclusions. And I do not disagree with the facts as presented, nor with your interpretation of them. I do feel that, for example, had you accepted as literal Hitler’s plan, well described by you in your lectures, as his true intention rather than as the general outline you imply, your conclusions would necessarily have been much different. According to your lectures Hitler’s closest lieutenants such as Himmler, Goebels, even Frank, did not read Mein Kampf as gospel, but merely as a reference in formulating German policy in the field. So, for example, those proposed Jewish reservations such as Madagascar, etc., were meant as a sort of antisemitic Zionist response to the Jewish Problem, a state of the Jews safely distanced from their tormentors. In fact, if we accept what I suggest as the true intent of Hitler’s tome, a literal blueprint for action, those “reservations” become something far more sinister, expanded ghettos, temporary concentration zones, clearing houses for the fate so well defined by the fuehrer twenty year earlier. Unlike you I accept that when Frank referred to “the final solution” he meant The Final Solution; when Himmler gave his pep talk to his depressed SS einsatsgruppen troops “depressed” at having to murder Jews “up front and personal,” that when Himmler referred to that “glorious page in history” which will ever be unwritten, that he too meant the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem. Both leaders were openly referring to the strategic aim of the regime, the total annihilation of Jewish existence from the planet.

Dr. Engel, I feel we are obliged to accept Hitler at his more youthful and honest word, that his lieutenants understood his intention and were committed to carry it through. Once accepted as fact we can also understand their reticence regarding disclosing their true intentions until achieving final success. We may dismiss, as you do, Frank’s reference to a “final solution”, Himmler’s to a “glorious page in history” as literal because “vague” at risk. In light of the facts, even limited to those you present in your lectures I, for one, do not find your conclusions acceptable or justified.

Certainly the extermination of the Jews was an action composed of a series of improvisations, as you correctly describe. But to my understanding the complete elimination of this population was also and always the strategic, if for tactical reasons not publicly admitted, aim of the regime. Did the bureaucrats, did the train conductors you mention know this for “fact;” did the foot soldiers tasked to carry out the slaughter? Did the residents of the towns nearby the killing fields, hearing the machineguns in the distance which soon followed the roundup of their Jewish neighbors; did those living downwind and smelling the sweet smoke from the crematoria? Probably not as open “fact.” But they knew.

Of course paper was kept to a minimum, open admission a rarity. When mentioned in public, usually an accidental slip of the tongue. Still, the German people knew, Europe knew. And, yes, so did the allies. And in their silence, in their failure to act, all mentioned were complicit. And this complicity continues today, a “conspiracy of silence” evidenced in our denial of the true meaning of the facts.

In your lectures you minimize, it seems to me, even justify inaction by the US and England, Roosevelt and Churchill. You make passing reference to when and how our leaders learned the facts, justify, to my ears, their reasons for disbelieving, for too late accepting their significance of those facts. Yet according to the historical record, the facts of the German persecution and its eventual lethal consequence were available and known to these countries and their leaders as they unfolded, from the ascent of Hitler until the world passivity allowed the opening of Auschwitz. You refer to the US and England as carrying the greatest burden in accepting refugees between Kristalnacht and the occupation of Austria. But you fail to indicate the paltry numbers of refugees they allowed in, numbers, at least in the United States, well below that allowable by law! You make only passing reference to the climate of antisemitism, particularly in the United States, of the time, a parallel to the that occurring in Germany and Europe which resulted in the Holocaust; you entirely overlook such American contributors to the Holocaust as American eugenics, the basis of German racial antisemitism; of Hitler’s idol, Henry Ford, first in providing the model of mechanization and efficiency necessary for successful mass murder, and also for providing the German army Ford vehicles with which to conduct its war on the Jews, and also against the allies; of IBM in providing the computers needed to trace Jewish lineage back to a single grandparent, then to pinpoint their location for purposes of collection and elimination.

And perhaps most problematic from my viewpoint is your near total absence of reference to the prominence of Christianity as precursor, as contributor to both the theory and practice of antisemitism; to the participation of Christendom as perpetrator in finally solving its Jewish Problem. Not that you entirely overlook Christianity’s role as pre-history, but you gloss over it, give it scant mention, even seem to dismiss its significance. Certainly, you aver, people hated the Jews in the past, and yes there were instances of murder, even on a mass scale; you acknowledge proto-antisemitic ideologies existed among Christian leaders, even references to Jews as bacilli, as being distinguishable due to their “bad blood.” But where else but the Church and the emergent Christian sects, where but Christianity’s revolutionary and secular transformation during the so-called Enlightenment discover the source of a truly lethal antisemitism. A novel event, an event owing its existence to the new emphasis on science and logic; an event separate from the Christian animus which gave it birth? How avoid the fact that antisemitism is the successor to Christian anti-Judaism? And for what purpose study the Jewish Holocaust and its sources if not to confront directly the possibility (likelihood, in my judgment) of the next such lethal antisemitic event? Your preface and conclusions point at the need to confront continuing holocausts in the world, a worthy intention. But what of your responsibility to our selves, to our people continuing to subject our selves and our children to the dangers so ably described in your lectures. Does your conclusion, the universalizing of the horror, serve as warning for us? After all, you undertook to contribute to an understanding of a specifically Jewish victimization at the hands of a community among whom we continue to reside. Have you nothing to offer us?

We who choose life in Diaspora defend our homeland as exceptional, seek to excuse our country and leaders passive complicity six decades ago in our murder. But then, barely eighty years ago and pre-Hitler most German Jews insisted that THEIR fatherland was the exception. You are a Jew, a historian of the Holocaust. You have lived and taught in Israel. I suspect that nothing I have written is new or novel, nothing not previously considered, and dismissed. From you I have learned an important lesson regarding History, that it is the marshalling of facts subject to interpretation. History is not fact but story, objectivity impossible. Each of us is free to interpret it, according to our personal understanding or agenda, Objectivity nothing but temporary and transient consensus.

Still an admirer, I am,


David Turner

No comments: