Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day.  The war ended 62 years ago, and the vast majority of the survivors and perpetrators are dead.  Why do we still care?

Is it, as the Muslims want the world to believe, a Zionist ploy to garner the sympathy vote in world politics?  Aside from the fact that such a ploy, if it existed, is failing miserably, only someone utterly incapable of understanding the human condition would either advance or believe that kind of logic.

Is it so Jews can glory in their “special” victim status?  There may be an element of that, because Jews have been victimized for racial/ethnic/religious reasons in a way that is still unparalleled.  There have been other mass killings genocidal killings but either the numbers haven’t been as “impressive” (Armenians, Tutsis) or the other killings, while “boasting” way more impressive killing numbers, haven’t reflected a determinedly genocidal goal to stamp out an entire race of human beings (communist excesses, everywhere).  But I still don’t think that’s the answer.

So why do we still make a big deal of the Holocaust?  I think we do because it was the Germans who did it.  And I don’t mean by this that we should make Germans suffer to the third and fourth and umpteenth generation, no matter that these generations have no blood on their hands.  Modern Germans are no more culpable than modern Americans.

No.  That it was the Germans who did it matters because they were considered at the time, by themselves and by many others around the world, to be the world’s most civilized nation.  Their culture gave birth to unparalleled levels of cultural beauty and scientific knowledge.  They were friendly, organized, sophisticated, thoughtful, musical — you name it.  And they were the ones who came up with the idea to wipe out an entire race — not just to purge it from their geographic boundaries, as nations have done forever, but to hunt this race down at every point on the earth and destroy it.  And they bent their extraordinary capabilities to that task — their science, their organizational skills, everything.

And if the Germans, the sophisticated, charming Germans, could do that, any nation can.  Massacres are not reserved to decaying cultures and tribal people.  It can happen here.  So we remember — we refuse to forget — to make sure that it doesn’t happen here.

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  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ ymarsakar

    Is it so Jews can glory in their “special” victim status? There may be an element of that, because Jews have been victimized for racial/ethnic/religious reasons in a way that is still unparalleled.

    Book, that’s like Hamas saying they are the victims. That’s like the Left saying they are the ones being oppressed by Bush’s intimidation and prosecutorial tactics.

    Just cause you’re projecting, doesn’t make the accused out to be whatever is projected unto him.

    And they were the ones who came up with the idea to wipe out an entire race — not just to purge it from their geographic boundaries

    They didn’t come up with the idea, after all. Wasn’t Hitler Austrian and not even Aryan?

    The Jacobins with their Reign of Terror had to be given some prior cred for a good try.

    And they bent their extraordinary capabilities to that task — their science, their organizational skills, everything.

    I think the rise of Nazism in Germany due to economic destabilization and the world wide Economic Depression (which was really world wide if you went back and checked, like say for Japan) explains a lot about how good systems fall into ruin and chaos.

    There were two links here

    http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/2007/04/15/war-and-economies-fall-of-empires/

    One from Thomas and one from Grim, that I think you might find interesting to read, if you haven’t already of course.

    They go lot more into depth about the power of the “Fall” (s)

  • Danny Lemieux

    “And if the Germans, the sophisticated, charming Germans, could do that, any nation can.”

    Actually, to add to the list, certain American Indian tribes regularly committed genocide against others and let’s not forget the Conquistadors in South America. So, it’s not just Germans.

    What frustrates me is how many people, including many Jews, never really learned the deeper root causes and implications of Nazi genocide – I like to tell people that each of us is a potential Nazi, given the right circumstances and belief systems. This gets us back to the posts below (Ann versus Susan)and the spirit-versus-material dualism of human nature (a dualism recognized by many disparate and unconnected societies and religions across the tapestry of human history). A human society without moral absolutes (which I happen to believe to be given us by a Deity)is a society where anything can be justified. So, let’s put it to the test and answer this question: why, if there is no superior moral authority to whom we are answerable, is it “wrong” to kill a person or commit genocide?

  • rockdalian

    In case you have not seen this, the Instapundit has a link to this beautiful and truely amazing story.

    IMAGES OF A LOST COMMUNITY: “178 family pictures, which were hidden in the walls of a house in Poland just before the Holocaust, only to be found some 60 years later and be returned to their rightful owners.”

    There is also a link to these photos. A good story for a day of remembrance.

  • Marguerite

    I agree w/Danny. If there is no superior moral authority – who I believe is God and can be known – and no immutable right or wrong, then humans are reduced to the level of the beasts and there are no human rights – just the law of the jungle.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ ymarsakar

    Danny’s perspective on the Celestial Heirarchy is interesting. More or less compatible with my own beliefs. One of the reasons why I even thought up the Celestial Heirarchy is because of ethical debates. You know, the basic question of “why is this thing right and this thing wrong”. What makes one action ethical as opposed to another?

    Big philosophical debate, people. Big. Epistemology+Metaphysics=Ethics.

    The reason is simple. To get ethics right, you both have to not only know the truth but know why your way to get to the truth is correct. Not only that, but you also have to get the physical consequences of actions correctly as well, by knowing what goes on in reality, because you know what is real. And you know what is real through epistemology.

    That’s why the Left is so fundamentally wrong. Not only is their epistemologically fundamentally flawed, but they can’t even get the metaphysics right concerning who is a real fascist or not. They say Bush is a fascist and Assad is their buddy. They say people they should talk to their enemies, while talking with Syria and censoring Fox News. This is not a very robost epistemological system people. This isn’t about knowledge, but about manipulating humans for the Left.

    Without a correct epistemology (critical thinking) and without a correct metaphysics (Celestial Hierarchy), ethics cannot be derived. Or it could, but it would be rather monstrous. Like say Pelosi saying it is good to negotiate with so and so, because she is the One True Ring of Power…

  • Scott in SF

    The holocaust happened in 20 countries. That is one of the things that makes it the holocaust. It most certianly was not just the Germans.
    Bookworm, that’s a big mistake in my book. Germany was the center of it, certainly in the methodical sense, but more died in Poland. Some would argue that it started at Baba Yar. Also, the Soviets really continued it for years after the war.

  • http://bdroppings.blogspot.com/ Bill C

    I like to tell people that each of us is a potential Nazi, given the right circumstances and belief systems.

    Thomas Sowell’s book Black Rednecks and White Liberals has a chapter about anti-semitism in Germany and Eastern Europe before WWII. Germany was considered far more enlightened than the rest of Europe and far easier for Jews to live within. I think this is what caught so many German Jews by surprise. They just did not imagine that the German people could turn on them in such a way.

    I would like to think that the Holocaust was not supported by the majority but there is enough evidence that the majority of Germans chose to do nothing when it came to Hitler’s rise to power. American Jews should not be complacent. I fear that there are enough anti-semites on the left and right that a prolonged economic downturn in this country could give rise to the same disassociation from civility that happened in Germany. I am not trying to be alarmist but the call to never forget does not apply only to the German people.

  • http://bookwormroom.wordpress.com/ Bookworm

    I agree about the Holocaust happening all over. I’ve always had a tremendously difficult time forgiving the Poles for turning their Jewish population over wholesale to the Nazis. The only ones who behaved decently were some of the Nordic countries, which makes their modern anti-Semitic behavior all the more behavior.

    Nevertheless, the genesis for scientific genocide, as opposed to garden-variety, age old anti-Semitic violence, was German. Before, countries had been happy to slaughter a few, and then dispossess the rest. It was the Germans who had the idea and the energy simply to destroy the whole race. Countries such as Poland, France, Belgium, Holland, etc., simply jumped on a bandwagon that seemed an efficient way to destroy a, to them, vexing centuries old problem of having a stranger in their midst. I don’t forgive them, certainly, but I don’t overlook the fact that it was Germany that added a demonic new twist to the old pastime of Jew baiting and Jew hating.

  • Al

    I don’t think many of the Holocaust memorial events address the issue that it could happen again. Or that the most hideous edition of Holocaust occurred in the acknowledged most “civilized” society of the age. Just to say “Never again” does not connect the dots of delusional thought or deteriorating social behavior. And after thinking more about it, the chance of a repeat may be more likely than less. The way the MSM can manipulate large numbers of citizens with blatantly false information makes any national behavior possible.
    I remember discussing the issue of why American bombers did not take out the ovens of the camps with my father. He was in the Army Air Corps in WWII. His reply was that we were in a death match, and we lacked the ability to divert even one mission from the effort to defeat Hitler. I wonder if that was an accurate perception at the time.
    Al

  • Danny Lemieux

    “Just to say “Never again” does not connect the dots of delusional thought or deteriorating social behavior” – good insight, Al. The problem that I have with that slogan is that, as we have all seen, it does happen again and again and again. Another problem is that it assumes “others” must be prevented from doing “it”.

    The crucial question, to me anyway, is what brings people (any people) to do these things. I hardly think the Germans were unique in what they did, although, as Book points out, they certainly were organized than their predecessors, (though not as organized as the more-modern day Rwandan Hutus).

    By the way…nobody answered my question (post #2): “why, if there is no superior moral authority to whom we are answerable, is it “wrong” to kill a person or commit genocide? Doesn’t somebody have a rational answer to put on the table?

  • JJ

    The moral absolutes mostly come from us. They aren’t all that absolute, either, there have been societies throughout history (including our own frontiers) where killing those who irritated or endangered the rest was perfectly acceptable,and conscience didn’t enter into it.

    But the moral absolutes tend to be our own invention. Most gods, up to and including the triple on we currently have – (Al-lah, JHVH and “God” are after all the same guy, according to their believers) – seem to have no problem at all with murder and genocide. The Muslim crusades for 500 years were launched in the name of God; the European crusades to counter and stop them were launched in the name of God; the stamping out of “heresies,” burning of witches, and smashing of planes into the World Trade Center – all done in the name of God.

    But plain old people, left to their own devices (to which they have just about never been left, thanks) might turn out to be fairly kind to each other. Don’t know, and there’s no way to make the experiment, but I agree with Mark Twain: we might be far better than any of our gods.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ ymarsakar

    The German efficiency model, Book, is like civilization. Either civilization is truly good… or truly evil. While barbarian living hand to mouth is “always bad”.

    The energies of an efficient and organized civilization or nation (with all its attendant production of weapons, material, suicide bombers, and innate human resources) is a terrible weapon to wield by those unworthy of such power.

  • immigrantskid

    Well, you’re all too deep for me! I think that it is inherently obvious to all right-thinking (ethical) people that killing others for being “different” or “chosen” should be obviously wrong and I think the Germans knew that themselves, since after the war, suddenly there were no nazis at all left! Who, me? No, not a nazi and I know no nazis — there are no nazis here. Riiight.

    People of that generation, who lived through it, have expressed some impatience with the constant urge to “never forget” but I agree — Never Forget! Never let it happen again.

    Personally, I think a lot of people hate Jews simply because they Are God’s Chosen People — some (or a lot) of people have a problem with that. I would call it jealousy of the unconscious kind.

  • http://shilohmusings.blogspot.com/ muse

    well-though post