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The Holocaust Just Got More Shocking


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#21 swerve

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 0634 AM

Even when some scholars have attempted to calculate the total number of dead in the Holocaust, they have been castigated as "Holocaust Deniers" if they document X-2 million instead of X million dead. If you mention the numbers of Polish, Russian, or Gypsy victims, you are also a "Denier". If you note that the Japanese caused the deaths directly or indirectly of several times the numbers of Chinese dead during the war, you are also a "Denier".

That depends a lot on context. I haven't seen many folks getting upset at people bringing up the victims of other genocides and democides or quibbling about wether it's five million or over six, except when they try to use those numbers to criticize reaction to the Holocaust itself. These are the people who say things like the Jews control the media this is why we hear about the few million of them who died and not the bigger number of non-Jews - perferable of the speaker's favourite ethnicity.

I've seen examples of people being attacked for publishing figures which are less than 6 million, regardless of their ideology or lack of it, & people attacked for correcting the false claim (which I've often heard) that "the Nazis killed six million people" with reminders that as well as the six million (give or take a million or so) Jews killed, the Nazis also killed several million other civilians. One reaction I've encountered to the reminder that not only Jews were killed by the Nazis is an accusation of anti-semitism. I don't recall ever hearing this from a Jew, but I've heard it from American gentiles. But then, I was once accused (also by an American gentile) "anti-semitic hate speech", & "repeating Arab lies", when I quoted an official publication of the Israeli state statistical office, giving official Israeli estimates of Arab & Jewish populations in Palestine (as it was then called, & was called in that publication) in the last years of Turkish rule & under the British mandate.

Never underestimate the stupidity & bigotry out there.
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#22 swerve

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 0721 AM

I agree that if you get reductive enough you can start saying things like "how many Jews died just because there was an apocalyptic war going on," but it's pretty different than civilian deaths in E. European countries et al because killing Jews was intentional German policy vs. a side effect of the war.

Nazi policy was incoherent. Killing some categories of non-Jews was deliberate policy. Among the various plans that came & went, some of which started to be put into effect (though scrappily), were plans to reduce the population between Germany & the Urals drastically, to create room for a massive expansion of the German population. Depending on which plan, this could involve the killing of 100 million Slavs, Balts, etc. The expulsion of huge numbers of Poles from territories annexed to the Reich was part of the vaguely sketched out (in numerous contradictory versions) plan for a Greater German Reich. Many of those expelled died, as the lands they were expelled into couldn't support them. This was intended. Deaths from illness & outright starvation as a result of stripping some occupied territories of food, to maintain German food supplies, were also intended. They were seen as desirable by the Nazi leadership & their ideological theorists, part of the incoherent, self-contradictory master plan, which could, at the same time, envisage clearing vast tracts of land of their inhabitants & re-populating them with a self-reliant population of egalitarian German peasants, a hyper-modern industrial state with autobahns & high-speed railways linking the Atlantic to the Urals, a new junker class lording it over Slavic subjects in the very places that had been depopulated, moving all the scattered ethnic Germans of everywhere from Voivodina to the Volga to the newly expanded Reich to re-populate the areas cleared of Poles (a lot of this was done: Baltic & Bessarabian Germans were moved en masse), leaving those very same Germans in place as nuclei of the to-be-expanded German populations of lands not yet formally within the Reich but which would be one day, & sending settlers from Germany to settle parts of the east which had never before seen a German. Some poor buggers were shipped back east to the very same places they'd been shipped west from, just in time to face the fury of the returning Red Army.

Now, try to fit all that into the neat narrative of the Nazis exterminating Jews on ideological grounds & other deaths being collateral damage in a war fought with particular savagery. Doesn't work, does it?

What is missing from most discussion is the realisation that the Jews were just the first step. Originally, the idea wasn't to kill them all, but remove them from Germany. That turned into killing them when it was decided that removal was impractical. The same applied to the Slavs, though with more nuances. There was an idea that some of them were really Aryan, slavified descendants of ancient Europeans of the same type as Germans, & could be assimilated, but this was a contentious area. Look at what happened to Poles, for example. Some German administrators turned to the idea of assimilation with relief, & gave out certificates of Germanness en masse, even to those who didn't want them, despite the personal advantages that went with them under German rule. Those administrators usually saw the whole thing as a sham. Some called every industrial worker 'German', for example, being practically minded. Others resisted the assimilation idea. The proportion of Poles in territories annexed to Germany suddenly turned into Germans thus varied enormously, & entirely due to different local policies.

But what of those who were not to be assimilated? Again, incoherence in policy. According to when, where, & who was in charge locally, they were to be expelled further east, prevented from breeding so they would eventually die out, turned into slaves, or murdered en masse - or some combination of any or all of these.

THAT was the Holocaust Nazi dreamers wanted, & started trying to implement. A ghastly nightmare in which half of Europe would be a killing ground, with entire peoples doomed to extinction, some biological, some cultural, & most a combination of the two, in which, if it had been implemented in its entirety, the poor bloody Jews would just be a footnote, swamped by those former peoples the Poles, Ukrainians, Czechs, etc.

Now, do you see why I think that it's wrong to focus too much on what the Nazis did to the Jews? They had the immense misfortune to be first on the Nazi list, partly because of Hitler's personal hatreds, partly for purely practical reasons (being a minority almost everywhere, & a local majority only in very tightly defined areas, i.e. particular towns & villages, & suffering from sever prejudice against them, they were easy victims). That made them the greatest sufferers from Nazi persecution in terms of the proportion of their population who were killed, followed by the Roma. For that, they deserve special sympathy. But the myth that they were the only people targeted is just that, a myth. They were the most intensely & efficiently targeted, but if time & circumstances had allowed, other peoples were meant to suffer much the same fate. This would not have been a side effect of the war: it was the purpose of the war.

When one thinks about that, it's a vision of something even more terrible than what actually happened.
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#23 shep854

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 0844 AM

When I saw the thread I wondered 'How?' Reading the posts clarified that; the Nazi's ideal endgame is bone-chilling. I think S.M. Stirling had that in mind when he penned his Draka science-fiction series.

Edited by shep854, 04 March 2013 - 0846 AM.

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#24 Dave Clark

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 0900 AM

Excellent post, swerve, thank you.

For an excellent discussion of the effects of the two "Tectonic Plates" of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union rubbing against each other in Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and the 3 Baltic states, have a look at

Snyder, Timothy. Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin. Basic Books, New York, 2010. ISBN 978-0-465-00239-9

Some of these areas were occupied 3 times; each occupation unleashing a new wave of deportation and slaughter.

Ironically enough, due to the slave labour programme, there were more Jews within the borders of the Reich in 1945 than there were in 1939!
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#25 Mikel2

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 0940 AM

I haven't read Mein Kampf, but in it, isn't Hitler surprisingly clear about his intention sof eliminating certain ethnicities?

I have read parts of the Soviet Constitution of 1936 and it is full of glowing guarantees of freedom that I don't think anyone saw at that time. At least Hitler was more sincere about his intentions.
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#26 seahawk

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 1124 AM

He also made a bg deal of Dresden death count and promotes the idea it was a war crime IIRC. AFAIR his death count (initially up to 250 000) was debunked some time ago already and his main source was proven to be a forgery.

As for archives, IIRC there is also strong suspicion he "disappeared" some documents during his archive visits.

Oh how I hate those Dresden apologists. German TV just showed a documentary about it, with historians pointing out that it was not a military target (just the main transportation hub in the aera) and that the wholw strategic bombing campaign was only killing innocent civilians and that it did speed the end of the war by 6-12 months at best. In a discussion I had to remind some guys I know what 12c more months of war would have meant, not only to the allied soldiers, not to the allied civilians, surely not to the innocent people being killed in the concentration camps, but to the Germans. Germany would have been the testing ground of the atomic bomb and we would surely have taken more of them, as our leadership had no Teno who was sane enough to end it. That means at least 3 nukes, probably 5 on Germany, I wonder if that would have been better.
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#27 lucklucky

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 1131 AM

Even when some scholars have attempted to calculate the total number of dead in the Holocaust, they have been castigated as "Holocaust Deniers" if they document X-2 million instead of X million dead. If you mention the numbers of Polish, Russian, or Gypsy victims, you are also a "Denier". If you note that the Japanese caused the deaths directly or indirectly of several times the numbers of Chinese dead during the war, you are also a "Denier".


That is a lie.
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#28 Marek Tucan

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 1132 AM

Well, idiots are everywhere - to my shame the presidential election campaign in CZ took a nasty turn after one of the candidates just quoted the Czech-German declaration and was immediately swamped by dehonestating and nationalist campaign on the topic of Sudeten. And he didn't say anything more than that the deportations were accompanied by many cases of lawlessness. At times I was really ashamed for the kneejerk reactions of my countrymen :angry:

(At the same time, every time a bomb is found somewhere we have a ton of "experts" saying how it was evil ploy of the Capitaqlist Imperialists to cripple Czechoslovakian economy for post-war period. I always have to remind that Skoda factories were about the last large arms factory running still at 100% rate in spring of 1944, with much less faulty products or outright sabotages than factories in Reich.)
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#29 Ivanhoe

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 1210 PM

In fairness you DONT hear much reference to other than Jewish victims. No doubt the Jewish population of Europe did suffer the worst, but there is very little reference when talking of the Holocaust to Gypsys, the mentally handicapped, homosexuals or, and this I think must be a substantial number, Soviet Prisoners of war.


Here in the States, my impression is that historical coverage of the European Theater of WWII in the last couple of decades has been including a broader spectrum of Nazi victims. Initially, the Roma and homosexuals, and more lately including the Polish and Russians.

Less media conspiracy rather than an exercise in group think I would suggest. Its perhaps easier to refer to one ethnic group being murdered, rather an unhomogenous block of non Aryans, which is what the Nazis really seem to have been after.


Here in the US, I think its entirely possible that the leadup into 1939 and then the uglier aspects to the Allied alliance (i.e. Stalin and the stuff that Churchill and FDR chose to overlook) involved so much BS that American historians wanted to oversimplify and whitewash the whole debacle to avoid smearing sacred cows.

For example, Hitler's genocidal feelings towards folks of Slav ancestry. If you are a leftie historian and have decided to paint Germany v. Russia as a right-wing/left-wing battle, the last thing you want to do is bring up the minor little detail that Hitler hated Slavs. Or that Stalin wanted to subjugate pretty much everything on two legs.
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#30 thekirk

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 1305 PM

<snip>
Now, do you see why I think that it's wrong to focus too much on what the Nazis did to the Jews? They had the immense misfortune to be first on the Nazi list, partly because of Hitler's personal hatreds, partly for purely practical reasons (being a minority almost everywhere, & a local majority only in very tightly defined areas, i.e. particular towns & villages, & suffering from sever prejudice against them, they were easy victims). That made them the greatest sufferers from Nazi persecution in terms of the proportion of their population who were killed, followed by the Roma. For that, they deserve special sympathy. But the myth that they were the only people targeted is just that, a myth. They were the most intensely & efficiently targeted, but if time & circumstances had allowed, other peoples were meant to suffer much the same fate. This would not have been a side effect of the war: it was the purpose of the war.

When one thinks about that, it's a vision of something even more terrible than what actually happened.


This is by far the most well-reasoned writing I've seen on this issue, and I completely agree with it. I may borrow some of your line of thought, here, when discussing this in the future. You've quite crystallized some of my own somewhat incoherent thoughts on this issue, and done so with great pith.

The deaths of the Jews matter, because they were the first and most thoroughly realized victims of the Hitlerian ideology. What's often neglected, precisely as you mention, is that they were only the initial round of probable victims, which makes them both the most tragic and the most easily remembered. Had the Nazis gotten around to rounding up other groups their size, things might be remembered differently. As it is, it's quite like the usual lot of spree-killer victims--The most memorable and photogenic are the ones that get the attention and who stand out in common memory. Everyone remembers the beautiful Sharon Tate, but who really remembers the La Biancas? I've run into a lot of people who think that "La Bianca" was Sharon Tate's married name...
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#31 Colin

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 1515 PM

I think Swerve really hit the nail on the head, the fact that Mao may have outstripped both Hitler and Stalin, in the numbers department does not take away the absolute horror of what has been done by Hitler and Co. Nor does it absolve Stalin of his crimes. I hope hell for all of them is repenting of their sins to the their victims by eating their feces for eternity, while being trodden by each and every one of them.

Edited by Colin, 04 March 2013 - 1515 PM.

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#32 Stargrunt6

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 1551 PM


<snip>
Now, do you see why I think that it's wrong to focus too much on what the Nazis did to the Jews? They had the immense misfortune to be first on the Nazi list, partly because of Hitler's personal hatreds, partly for purely practical reasons (being a minority almost everywhere, & a local majority only in very tightly defined areas, i.e. particular towns & villages, & suffering from sever prejudice against them, they were easy victims). That made them the greatest sufferers from Nazi persecution in terms of the proportion of their population who were killed, followed by the Roma. For that, they deserve special sympathy. But the myth that they were the only people targeted is just that, a myth. They were the most intensely & efficiently targeted, but if time & circumstances had allowed, other peoples were meant to suffer much the same fate. This would not have been a side effect of the war: it was the purpose of the war.

When one thinks about that, it's a vision of something even more terrible than what actually happened.


This is by far the most well-reasoned writing I've seen on this issue, and I completely agree with it. I may borrow some of your line of thought, here, when discussing this in the future. You've quite crystallized some of my own somewhat incoherent thoughts on this issue, and done so with great pith.

The deaths of the Jews matter, because they were the first and most thoroughly realized victims of the Hitlerian ideology. What's often neglected, precisely as you mention, is that they were only the initial round of probable victims, which makes them both the most tragic and the most easily remembered. Had the Nazis gotten around to rounding up other groups their size, things might be remembered differently. As it is, it's quite like the usual lot of spree-killer victims--The most memorable and photogenic are the ones that get the attention and who stand out in common memory. Everyone remembers the beautiful Sharon Tate, but who really remembers the La Biancas? I've run into a lot of people who think that "La Bianca" was Sharon Tate's married name...


I took a holocaust class and the rabbi teaching it said "we jews are the yellow canary in the mineshaft."
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#33 Dave Clark

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 1604 PM

Pretty scary what can be done with file cabinets and index cards... Imagine what could be done with today's technology.


They were already ahead of the curve and using Hollerith punch card machines together with punch cards supplied directly by IBM via Dehomag, their subsidary in Berlin. Initially for the Reichs Statistical Office for both the 1933 and 1939 censuses, but later in 1937 the Wehrmacht (beating Remington to the contract) and, as from 1942, the SS for data capture of racial characteristics, followed in 1943/44 by the data of the concentration camp inmates.

See

Black, Edwin. IBM and the Holocaust. Three Rivers Press, New York, 2002. ISBN 978-0-609-80899-3

and

Aly, Götz; and Roth, Karl Heinz. Die Restlose Erfassung: Volkszählen, Identifizieren, Aussondern im Nationalsozialismus. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main, 2005. ISBN 978-3-596-14767-0

for further details
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#34 Dave Clark

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 1610 PM

I took a holocaust class and the rabbi teaching it said "we jews are the yellow canary in the mineshaft."


In 1946 Jews were again being put in camps in Berlin - this time as refugees fleeing the pogroms in eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

Edited by Dave Clark, 04 March 2013 - 1618 PM.

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#35 Marcello

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 1647 PM

As it was pointed out by the Band of Brothers series, how could they [Germans] not have known what was going on under their very noses.


As far as I can tell what people could see for the most part would be the istitutional anti semitism, jews being arrested, trains packed with prisoners and maybe slave laborers being marched to work sites and the concentration camps in the Reich. That the regime was up to no good with the jews and a number of others categories had been obvious for years, but it was still quite a jump to go from there to the wholesale industrial grade extermination that was undertaken; one could have reasonably believed they were employed as forced labour to make up for shortage of manpower.
Likely only a minority would have know the full truth: sure, the nasty wife of a nazi apparatchik would occasionally lecture her unfortunate shelter companions on how the jews they were gassed, a Reichsbahn conductor would connect the dots and let it slip with trusted friends, a soldier on leave would share tales of jews being shot en masse in the east and the hillbillies around Mauthausen would have certainly seen plenty enough. But in general while bits and pieces were out in the open the full picture was probobaly outside of most people view and there would be reasons to be skeptic of rumors. The bigger extermination camps like Auschwitz or Sobibor were conveniently outside Germany proper for the most part; throw in a big war and a fairly repressive regime and it would be possible to contain the spread of information.

Edited by Marcello, 04 March 2013 - 1709 PM.

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#36 Dave Clark

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 1914 PM

A couple of hundred metres up the road from my flat is a small quiet park called Kopper Park. It commemorates a guy called Jochen Kopper, his wife and step daughter. A perfectly normal German family - except that in 1942 it was not as Frau Kopper and her daughter were Jewish. As the women had been ordered to report for deportation, the three of them committed suicide - also victims of the Holocaust.
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#37 R011

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 1934 PM

. . . it would be possible to contain the spread of information.


And a lot of reluctance to connect dots. Not only because the Gestapo would take an interest if you did, but no one wants to think of their own people committing egregious acts of such evil.
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#38 R011

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 1940 PM

I've seen examples of people being attacked . . .

Never underestimate the stupidity & bigotry out there.

Then I stand corrected - and sadly not very surprised.
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#39 toysoldier

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 2303 PM

Now, do you see why I think that it's wrong to focus too much on what the Nazis did to the Jews? They had the immense misfortune to be first on the Nazi list, partly because of Hitler's personal hatreds, partly for purely practical reasons (being a minority almost everywhere, & a local majority only in very tightly defined areas, i.e. particular towns & villages, & suffering from sever prejudice against them, they were easy victims). That made them the greatest sufferers from Nazi persecution in terms of the proportion of their population who were killed, followed by the Roma. For that, they deserve special sympathy. But the myth that they were the only people targeted is just that, a myth. They were the most intensely & efficiently targeted, but if time & circumstances had allowed, other peoples were meant to suffer much the same fate. This would not have been a side effect of the war: it was the purpose of the war.


There was also the fact that not many in Eastern Europe, nor all in Western Europe for that matter, decried the deaths of jews, gypsies and homosexuals. IIRC, some even helped the nazis with those particular groups, and some helped the nazis against other groups against whom the had a grudge. Like Ken said, is not a nazi thing, is a human thing.
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#40 baboon6

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 0457 AM

Excellent post, swerve, thank you.

For an excellent discussion of the effects of the two "Tectonic Plates" of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union rubbing against each other in Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and the 3 Baltic states, have a look at

Snyder, Timothy. Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin. Basic Books, New York, 2010. ISBN 978-0-465-00239-9

Some of these areas were occupied 3 times; each occupation unleashing a new wave of deportation and slaughter.

Ironically enough, due to the slave labour programme, there were more Jews within the borders of the Reich in 1945 than there were in 1939!


Very very good book. Essential reading on this subject.
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