January 28, 2005


Katsav at Auschwitz: Mind won't grasp (David Horowitz, Jerusalem Post, January 28th, 2005)

President Moshe Katsav delivered his address at the ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auchwtiz-Birkenau Thursday in Poland. [...]

Earlier, Katsav delivered a blistering attack on the failure of the Allied forces to bomb Auschwitz and the railroad leading to it in the final months of WWII, at a time when hundreds of thousands of Jewish lives could still have been saved.

Speaking at a ceremony in Krakow's main theater shortly before traveling to Auschwitz-Birkenau, Katsav said, "sixty years later we still find it hard to believe that the world stood silent" as the killing went on. "The allies did not do enough to stop the Holocaust," he said, "To stop the destruction of Jewish people. The gates of countries around the world, the gates to Israel, were kept closed in the face of those who tried to escape."

"The Allies knew about the destruction of the Jews and didn't act to stop it," the president said. "Hundreds of thousands could have been saved." Katsav noted that air sorties passed next to Auschwitz-Birkenau, "but Auschwitz was not bombed bombing the railways would have prevented the destruction of the Jews. The Germans knew that they were going to lose, but they continued, even accelerated, the destruction of the Jews,' Katsav said, and the Allies did not stop them.

For about fifteen years after World War II, there was little public attention given to the Holocaust, even in Israel, where it was widely seen as a dark and even embarrassing counterpoint to the self-confident, forward-looking enthusiasm needed to build the country. But beginning with the Eichmann trial in 1960, the world slowly began to focus its historical gaze and started to try to speak of the unspeakable and explain the inexplicable. Over the last forty years innumerable scholarly and popular analyses have led to a plethora of accusations, political and historical controversies, testimonials, museums and memorials, academic disciplines, curriculum revisions, compensation claims and ever-widening circles of collective guilt for what has become the lodestone of evil incarnate.

We are now at the point where the actual victims and perpetrators will soon all be gone. The Holocaust is slowly passing from the realm of history to the realm of myth. In the popular, non-Jewish mind, the millions of individual stories with all their dramas, tears, terrors, heroism, cowardice, hopes, despairs and moral ambiguities are being subsumed by sharp and simplistic divisions of the world into good and bad collectivities, with the latter steadily outnumbering the former. We say that “Holland” was bad and “Bulgaria” good because most of us really don’t know anything about what actual Bulgarians and Dutch did or why, and so we just check the numbers. So searingly execrable is the story that we now routinely judge pre-Holocaust history on the basis of post-Holocaust knowledge and values, and have convinced ourselves that anyone with half a brain could have seen it all coming.

The notion of collective responsibility for the Holocaust has also changed the rules of international politics in ways that are troubling. The whole abstract concept of human rights that so dominates international discourse is a Holocaust-born disconnect between human slaughter and individual responsibility. UN-led peacekeeping and the sanction-loving ethos of the tranzis are based largely on the notion that atrocities can be prevented without displacing the atrocious governments that perpetrate them, which is why the left is comfortable believing that both Saddam’s crimes and Saddam’s ouster were evil. We stand in awe of the courageous Danes who saved their Jews and disdain the Poles, who did not. That the Danes did almost nothing to resist the Nazis while the Poles killed Germans a-plenty (and were killed a-plenty for it) does not interest us much because our post-Holocaust concept of the hero is no longer the man who resists the oppressive invader. That’s just politics and one government is much like another. The modern hero is the man who cares nothing for creed and country and seeks only to save the poor and innocent bystander.

The Holocaust has become a kind of secular Golgotha. To deny responsibility, or even demur in the face of rhetorical charges like President Katsav’s, is as unseemly and suspect as a Christian asserting he is sin free. We listen to these accusations respectfully and somberly because, even though they are very bad history, we sense we are in the realm of myth, that there are connections to us we can feel if not see and that we may somehow risk our souls and humanity if we disassociate ourselves completely from them. One hopes that the President would not level this charge to the face of an Allied veteran. He undoubtedly wouldn’t, for Holocaust dialogue operates on the general understanding that, while institutions and nations bear a crushing guilt that grows in both scope and intensity, the only individuals who do are the ones who actually did it–the same ones the world recognized in 1945.

May the Lord give special care to the souls of the victims and may He one day reveal the meaning and purpose of it all.

Posted by Peter Burnet at January 28, 2005 11:07 AM

"UN-led peacekeeping and the sanction-loving ethos of the tranzis are based largely on the notion that atrocities can be prevented without displacing the atrocious governments that perpetrate them, which is why the left is comfortable believing that both Saddams crimes and Saddams ouster were evil."

Excellent insight and well put.

Posted by: Rick T. at January 28, 2005 9:20 AM

I am a Jew by choice. My mother-in-law fled Germany in 1937. I stand second to none in my loathing of the Germans and other Europeans who did these things. Yet, I think that the President was totally out of line. I have heard this bombing the camp and railroad stuff for years. I have never seen how it would have saved any Jews. Knowing the Germans, it would have only accelerated the killing.

I know that there was and there remains anti-Semitic beliefs in the US. I know we should have done more to help Jews. Yet, if it was not for the US and the other allies, no Jews would have survived any camp. There would be no Israel.

So, lets blame those who actually killed, not those who helped, even if the help was too little.

Posted by: Bob at January 28, 2005 9:34 AM

"The Holocaust has become a kind of secular Golgotha."

Truer words were never spoken.

Posted by: Dan at January 28, 2005 9:46 AM

Mr. Burnet: I rarely agree with your posts to this blog, but this one marks a major exception. Your comments are insightful and thought-provoking, from "secular Golgotha" right through your comment on "the Left," as quoted by Rick T., above, but especially your contention that the Holocaust is passing from the realm of history to that of myth.

I will be printing this one out, for future reference. Many thanks.

Posted by: M. Bulger at January 28, 2005 10:21 AM

Only a minor quibble. The notion that the passing of the last survivors means that the Holocaust is moving from history to myth strikes me as simply wrong. I would say, rather, that it marks the passing from news to history.

Posted by: Bill at January 28, 2005 12:37 PM

I've written about visiting Dachau 13 years after it closed. What I found there was absolute reverence. The place was decked with fresh flowers and it seem to have been done daily. This was done by the locals I presume. They knew long before closure what was happening there. But, and heres a big but, I don't think the allies really knew until the last days. They knew they were there of course, but not the extent of the horrendous purpose. They didn't have satellite pics, no major overflights, no real reason to bomb the raillines. In retrospect if was probably the thing to do but at the time maybe the thinking was that to bomb their only link may have sealed their fate. I can't accept that the allies really knew the whole scope.

Posted by: TW at January 28, 2005 1:18 PM

Secularism has co-opted the story for it's own purposes. The result is the tragic reoccurance of the practice of state sponsored murder or its relative acceptance when practiced under other auspices. I sometimes wonder if humanity is capable of truly understanding what happened and why.If we did, one would think the practice, in all its forms, would have ended rather than having been rationalized away. It is interesting to note that all of those "atrocious governments" found support among many, even in the West, who still do not seem understand.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at January 28, 2005 3:09 PM

There was plenty of information from reliable sources about the camps. All you needed to do was smell them, the odor of burning human flesh is quite distinctive.

Bomber Harris claimed that they could have bombed the rail lines successfully and recommended that it be done. McCloy, a man who directed Japanese internment, who profited from Aryanized property in Europe before, during and after the war, and elevated former Nazis to high positions when he was the High Commissioner in Germany after the war, did not believe it could be done. To no surprise for anyone who knew how FDR's mind worked, the views of the despicable McCloy prevailed.

Wall Street slimeballs are absolutely more knowledgeable about military strategy than RAF generals. (sarcasm intended)

Posted by: Bart at January 28, 2005 6:26 PM

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us and grant us your peace.

May unceasing light shine upon the souls of all holocaust victims.


Posted by: Dave W. at January 29, 2005 1:39 AM