The Holocaust Happened

Time to remind you again that my blog is my property and my views are just that: my views and not the views of my employer.

In the Sunday edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, there is an opinion piece by Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post. The front page of the opinion section shows a woman by the name of Frances Irwin displaying the concentration camp marking on her arm during a protest in New York. The photo, taken by Don Emmert of AFP/Getty Images, is another stark reminder that despite the best efforts of Iran President Mahmound Ahmadinejad to try to change 60 years of historical accounts of the brutal death of millions of Jews at the hands of Nazi butchers, the truth is as blunt as is Mr. Emmert’s photo.

Anne Applebaum states the obvious: we cannot dismiss the musings of a Hitler wannabe who wants to gain attention by stating the Holocaust never happened.

I would add that a man who has the chutzpah to make such statements also tells everyone he has the right to a nuclear bomb. Not a comfort for those living within missile range of Iran…especially if you are living in Israel right now.

According to Applebaum’s article, Mr. Ahmadinejad invited a select group of anti-Zionist rabbis as well as notables of the likes of David Duke of Klu Klux Klan fame, Georges Theil, a Frenchman who has, according to Applebaum, called the Holocaust “an enormous lie” and Fredrick Toebern, a German-born Australian who denies Nazi use of gas chambers and others to attend his “international conference” to help support his position that the Holocaust never happened.

The description of this “conference” struck me similar to types of “conferences” that Adolph Hitler held to support his theories of the Aryan supremacy. Hitler played on the emotions of a war-weary population who longed for a time when Germany was a prominent force in Europe. It’s not to hard to draw the parallel with Ahmadinejad trying to bring back a country that once boasted a strong economy and was a power in the region.

I remember a middle school teacher by the name of James Barth who showed us a number of old 35mm films about WWII and the Holocaust. He told us many times that it was important for us to learn the truth about what happened to the millions of Jews who were murdered in the name of racial purity to make sure it never happened again. Mr. Barth told us that as those who witnessed first hand the terrible things associated with the Nazis and their mission of murder died, it was important for our generation not to let those who came after us forget. Barth prophetically told us that history has a way of forgetting, especially at the convenience of another fanatic who wants to try it all over again.

It is with the memory of Mr. Barth’s words and the reminder of the images reviewed nearly 40 years ago in the classroom stirred by the visual depiction of Emmert’s photo in Sunday’s paper that I find myself compelled to voice my concern today. I also spent some time in Germany a few years ago and I can assure you that there is no question there that the Holocaust happened.

I take Mr. Ahmadinejad’s comments seriously: so should you.

I know people who have immigrated to the United States from Iran. They have told me repeatedly that Mr. Ahmadinejad does not represent the voice of the majority of the Iranian people. I believe them.

I’ve also talked to individuals who lived during the time of Nazi rule in Germany in the 1930’s and 1940’s who said the majority of people in Germany at the time didn’t believe that Adolph Hitler represented the people of Germany. I believe them.

I have met individuals who were survivors of Nazi prison camps, who survived the death camps, and who to this day, grieve with their families for sons, daughters, mothers and fathers who disappeared during Nazi relocation actions never to be seen or heard from again. I’ve heard the first hand accounts that described how the Nazis removed gold fillings from the teeth of imprisoned Jews for “salvage” before they sent them to their death in gas chambers…their very ashes collected and used for fertilizer. I believe them.

The Holocaust Happened

I vividly see in my mind the black and white photograph of a young girl who appeared to be about 12 years old, staring between the slats of the cattle car that carried her away with hundreds of others to concentration camps and death camps. The dark, hollow eyes on the expressionless face of a child who had witnessed more in her short life than anyone should have to witness in a lifetime.

I know friends who have told me how their grandparents had survived the Holocaust and had always kept money hidden in their home, the gas always full in the tank of their car, just in case they had to flee suddenly.

Forty years after the war, they still lived in fear. A fear that I see transcended through generations and a justifiable concern of those people who preach bigotry and hatred. What is so very sad is that there will be bigots throughout the world who will find encouragement in Ahmadinejad’s words and actions.

History repeats itself again as a whole race of individuals find themselves out in the cold while many of us read the stories, shake our heads, maybe even chuckle a bit at the “little man in Iran” who is trying to make a name for himself.

It’s not funny.

According to Applebaum’s article, the questioning of the Holocaust is another means of questioning the legitimacy of Israel itself. Additionally, Applebaum goes on to say that there is a historical precedent in the early history of an Iranian Shaw who raised the legitimacy of the Holocaust by influence of Nazi doctrine. Ahmadinejad can claim an Iranian precedence for his “position.”

We all can make a difference. Do not tolerate any words of hatred in any form in any venue. Take a stand against bias and racism. Don’t wait for the other guy to do it. Each person must have a voice so that together, we can drown out the voices of hatred and denial. I owe it to my friends and the memories of their family members to do so in every venue I can. So do you.

About Gary Smith

Chief Smith has served over 31 years in the criminal justice field. He is currently a consultant assisting public and private organizations better establish community goals and ethical conduct with the members of their organizations. Chief Smith serves as a facilitator, lecturer, professor and other capacities both inside and outside the criminal justice field.
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