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Post for Holocaust remembrance day


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Since today is Yom HaShoa (Holocaust Remembrance Day), I wanted to repost a tribute to Janusz Korczak. Korczak was a renowed doctor, author and child advocate. In a world gone crazy with Nazism and racism and brutal violence and fascism and an emphasis on blind obedience, he stood out as the exact opposite. He was profoundly sensitive to the needs and feelings of children, and ran his orphanage as a children's republic. Korczak was well-known and could have saved himself, but instead chose to stay with the children who needed him - even though that meant being sent together with them to the death camp Treblinka. The Nazis were able physically exterminate Korczak and his orphans, but we can make sure that the story of his life and his message about children's rights lives on:

http://www.januszkorczak.ca/biography.html

http://korczak.com/Biography/kap-38.htm

http://korczak.com/Biography/kap-0.htm

[Not breaking links since these are certainly not fundie sites]

I had also done a post previously on what I call "Post-Holocaust Anti-Nazi theology". I know that's a mouthful, but it's basically my attempt to explain to others the overwhelming message that I was given as I was growing up. It was so pervasive that even now, I'm always a bit startled when I discover that not everyone was raised with this message, and periodically need to explain to others why the Jews that I know will embrace certain causes (like support for Roma ("Gypsies") and gay rights, because Hitler also sent Roma and homosexuals to the concentration camps), or frown so much on child obedience training. In my mind, I can't read about a fundie stressing the importance of absolute obedience to authority without thinking that this is a Nazi technique and that Eichmann (architect of the Holocaust) claimed that he was "just following orders". Any comments or feedback are welcome - I know that I could probably flesh out the ideas a bit more.

http://jrkmommy-personalandpolitical.bl ... ology.html

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After my classes, I will look over your links.

My husband's grandparents escaped from Austria in 1939. Although I never met them, their story is very courageous and self sacrificing. They sent their oldest daughter to England to protect her. I can't imagine how painful it was to send their daughter to strangers. When they finally gave up everything to come to America, someone in authority tried to talk them into giving their baby, my MIL, up for adoption!

When my MIL died, my husband's sister gave him some of their grandparents' old photos. One photo shows an attractive, young lady sitting with an adorable little boy on her lap. No one knows who this woman is but most of my the family of husband's grandparents died in the Holocaust so she probably died a few years after that photo was taken. :cry:

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Each year the impact of what has happened hits me harder, and the amazement at people who were able to re-build their lives grows.

My (paternal) grandfather's family suffered heavily, as well as FIL's family. Extended families were the single most important support system back then. Survivors have emerged with literally no one who knew them alive. Most have seen an amount of death and devastation in a single day we wouldn't witness in a lifetime. And yet, they started families after the war, had kids, raised them to the best of their abilities. (Not all of them, of course. For some, the trauma was too much).

The Shoah is very present at our house, even though we are the third and fourth generation to bear the consequences. Each year there are less and less survivors still alive who are able to tell their stories, and now it's our duty to remember and remind the world what could happen when hatred and de-humanization warps society.

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I'll check out the links soon. Thanks for sharing.

My step-grandfather could speak fluent English, French, and German. One time he was helping hide a Jewish family in a barn so the Nazis couldn't find them. He was able to tell them to go to certain areas where they wouldn't be found and would be able to escape.

The Nazis caught him and said if he didn't reveal the location of the families he helped hid they would kill him. He said he straightened his back, looked the man right in the eye, and said "Kill me because I'll never tell you a word!"

They took him to a POW camp where he escaped and went right back to work with helping families escape.

It was very shortly after I was born the family that he helped save tracked him down and sent him a letter. He said he cried the day that he received the letter and stayed in touch with the family until his death.

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Thank you for sharing. My paternal grandfather was a Nazi. He joined the party as a teenager, and went to war, still as a teenager to defend a regime that I can't find words to describe. He survived the war, and became a pacifist. That he was ashamed till his death for what he'd done, doesn't make it better, but I will say that he never tried excusing himself. It shocks me, when I hear how little people know about the Holocaust now. It shocks me, when I hear the word "Nazi" randomly thrown around. And, I know that we Germans trot this out so frequently that it almost becomes meaningless, but I am truly sorry for what my ancestors did to yours (including the Roma and Sinti, gay people, and those who just didn't agree). But more importantly, I hope we never forget.

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Thank you for sharing. My paternal grandfather was a Nazi. He joined the party as a teenager, and went to war, still as a teenager to defend a regime that I can't find words to describe. He survived the war, and became a pacifist. That he was ashamed till his death for what he'd done, doesn't make it better, but I will say that he never tried excusing himself. It shocks me, when I hear how little people know about the Holocaust now. It shocks me, when I hear the word "Nazi" randomly thrown around. And, I know that we Germans trot this out so frequently that it almost becomes meaningless, but I am truly sorry for what my ancestors did to yours (including the Roma and Sinti, gay people, and those who just didn't agree). But more importantly, I hope we never forget.

Thank you.

FWIW, from what I've heard, the German government has made a real effort to confront what was done, acknowledge it and even make Holocaust denial a crime. While I blame those who were part of the Nazi regime and who supported them or failed to oppose them at the time, I also recognize the efforts to deal with the past and consciously change society so I don't hold your generation morally responsible for what your ancestors did.

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Thank you for sharing. My paternal grandfather was a Nazi. He joined the party as a teenager, and went to war, still as a teenager to defend a regime that I can't find words to describe. He survived the war, and became a pacifist. That he was ashamed till his death for what he'd done, doesn't make it better, but I will say that he never tried excusing himself. It shocks me, when I hear how little people know about the Holocaust now. It shocks me, when I hear the word "Nazi" randomly thrown around. And, I know that we Germans trot this out so frequently that it almost becomes meaningless, but I am truly sorry for what my ancestors did to yours (including the Roma and Sinti, gay people, and those who just didn't agree). But more importantly, I hope we never forget.

Don't feel quilty please.

You know I am Dutch half French. My mum's house was bombarded, her entire maternal family was eradicated for being jewish. My father was nineteen when the Germans occupied the country and obviously he had to fight and has been a prisoner of war.

In short they were not particularly fond of our neighbours. My father refused to travel to Germany until long after the war was over.

But, at a certain point in the seventies, they said enough is enough, time to forgive and let's leave the animosity behind us. There is an entire new generation who are not in the least accountable for what their (grand) parents did. Of course we must never forget and we won't. So in honour of my late parents, stop feeling quilty!

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Thank you.

FWIW, from what I've heard, the German government has made a real effort to confront what was done, acknowledge it and even make Holocaust denial a crime. While I blame those who were part of the Nazi regime and who supported them or failed to oppose them at the time, I also recognize the efforts to deal with the past and consciously change society so I don't hold your generation morally responsible for what your ancestors did.

Thank you!

@latraviata:

Thanks. And don't worry, I don't feel personally guilty. :) After all, *I* haven't done anything, but I do feel that it's important that no one forgets. Like yours, my family history is complicated, and a bit all over the place, but I personally think that it's important for me to say sorry. Not because I'm guilty, but because I want to acknowledge the pain and suffering my ancestors have caused, which includes the occupied people and those who lost family members to the war my nation started.

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Thank you for your post. For whatever reason, the story of Janusz Korzack was the one I most "connected" with from the entire war. There were countless other stories of heroism and tragedy, of course, but this one stuck with me. Stories like his, and the millions of others who suffered under the Nazis, should never be forgotten - and never repeated, though unfortunately they are to this day. Tonight I will get my roommates to join me in a prayer for peace. Even seventy years later, it is so hard to grasp.

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I would like to remember Alma Rosé, Anita Lasker-Walfisch, Fania Fenelon and the other member of the women's orchestra of Auschwitz - whether they died or survived.

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Ok I am glad you don't. I have some G

erman friends and they suffer from vicarious guilt.

Thank you!

@latraviata:

Thanks. And don't worry, I don't feel personally guilty. :) After all, *I* haven't done anything, but I do feel that it's important that no one forgets. Like yours, my family history is complicated, and a bit all over the place, but I personally think that it's important for me to say sorry. Not because I'm guilty, but because I want to acknowledge the pain and suffering my ancestors have caused, which includes the occupied people and those who lost family members to the war my nation started.

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I would like to remember Alma Rosé, Anita Lasker-Walfisch, Fania Fenelon and the other member of the women's orchestra of Auschwitz - whether they died or survived.

My last holocaust survivor relative died about 3 years ago. As I sit here I cannot remember the names of her family, thus my family, killed. I am ashamed.

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He joined the party as a teenager, and went to war, still as a teenager to defend a regime that I can't find words to describe.
I was under the impression that young German males didn't have much of a choice? I don't know about your grandpa, but far from every German male went to war willingly. I was once assigned to care for an older man who had been a German soldier during WWII. We chatted quite a lot, and I was horrified to learn that he had fighted for the Nazi regime 70 years earlier. He was quite sympathic and friendly, so it puzzled me that he had once stood on the side of evil. I figured he must have been forced to. He sort of confirmed that... I don't really know though. (Maybe I didn't really want to know.)
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I know that six million Jews were killed in the holocaust but people seem to forget that there were three million Christian Poles who were killed during that time, too. I am of Polish ancestry and I am ashamed that I just discovered this recently.

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I know that six million Jews were killed in the holocaust but people seem to forget that there were three million Christian Poles who were killed during that time, too. I am of Polish ancestry and I am ashamed that I just discovered this recently.

And Roma, homosexuals, mentally handicapped and the list goes on and on....

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And Roma, homosexuals, mentally handicapped and the list goes on and on....

It surely does. I remember when I was a child and the TV showed the liberation of some of the camps and my mom said that even though we were children, this was something that we needed to know happened.

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I was under the impression that young German males didn't have much of a choice? I don't know about your grandpa, but far from every German male went to war willingly. I was once assigned to care for an older man who had been a German soldier during WWII. We chatted quite a lot, and I was horrified to learn that he had fighted for the Nazi regime 70 years earlier. He was quite sympathic and friendly, so it puzzled me that he had once stood on the side of evil. I figured he must have been forced to. He sort of confirmed that... I don't really know though. (Maybe I didn't really want to know.)

Well, it seems to be a bit complicated.

On the one hand, they did have compulsory military service and also compulsory membership in the youth party organizations. You could wiggle out of it (or weren't invited to join), but this would mean that your family and you were regarded with distrust. So not too many people kept their children out of the party organizations, even if they were opposed to Nazi ideology.

Compulsory military service could mean you were put in positions where you would be asked to commit atrocities (I'm sure, sometimes they just happened, as everywhere, but as a rule, as far I know, they were ordered to kill the civilian population of a village, or example. Some officers within the Wehrmacht and soldiers were horrfied when they learned that their army was used to slaughter civilians - that ran counter to the idea of honour in war. Still, the Wehrmacht did commit their share of atrocities - there was a big exhibition on that a couple of years ago which showed this (and which was heavily critizised by some groups).

To some extend, the Nazis tried to keep much of the Wehrmacht out of atrocities - this was what special forces like SS and SD were for. At the beginning, the SS was supposed to be an elite group and not everybody could join them. At the end of the war, however, you could be forced to be part of the SS even if you were conscripted as a barely eighteen-year-old teenager.

However, if you read "Polizeibatallion 101" by Christopher Browning, you'll find that you didn't have to be a fanatic SS Nazi to commit atrocities. The police batallion 101 consisted of rather average people, not very keen on war, not necessarily Nazis, average age 39. These people joined the police batallion partly hoping they wouldn't see action.

But in June 1942 they were sent to Poland and told they were to shoot Jewish civilians. They were also told that whoever didn't want to participate in the killing could step away from the group and would not have to do it. About 10 to 12 stepped aside. The rest did the killing. They hated it, they had nothing against the victims at all, but did it.

I've read a book on what setups make people do what they're told and what setups help them to resist - I can't remember the title - and this setup made it hard for people to say no and refuse their orders.

However, they could have done so and didn't.

So, yes, you had little chance about going to war, and sometimes were ordered to take part in atrocities even as an ordinary soldier (or a policeman), but sometimes you had a choice.

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Well, it seems to be a bit complicated.

On the one hand, they did have compulsory military service and also compulsory membership in the youth party organizations. You could wiggle out of it (or weren't invited to join), but this would mean that your family and you were regarded with distrust. So not too many people kept their children out of the party organizations, even if they were opposed to Nazi ideology.

Compulsory military service could mean you were put in positions where you would be asked to commit atrocities (I'm sure, sometimes they just happened, as everywhere, but as a rule, as far I know, they were ordered to kill the civilian population of a village, or example. Some officers within the Wehrmacht and soldiers were horrfied when they learned that their army was used to slaughter civilians - that ran counter to the idea of honour in war. Still, the Wehrmacht did commit their share of atrocities - there was a big exhibition on that a couple of years ago which showed this (and which was heavily critizised by some groups).

To some extend, the Nazis tried to keep much of the Wehrmacht out of atrocities - this was what special forces like SS and SD were for. At the beginning, the SS was supposed to be an elite group and not everybody could join them. At the end of the war, however, you could be forced to be part of the SS even if you were conscripted as a barely eighteen-year-old teenager.

However, if you read "Polizeibatallion 101" by Christopher Browning, you'll find that you didn't have to be a fanatic SS Nazi to commit atrocities. The police batallion 101 consisted of rather average people, not very keen on war, not necessarily Nazis, average age 39. These people joined the police batallion partly hoping they wouldn't see action.

But in June 1942 they were sent to Poland and told they were to shoot Jewish civilians. They were also told that whoever didn't want to participate in the killing could step away from the group and would not have to do it. About 10 to 12 stepped aside. The rest did the killing. They hated it, they had nothing against the victims at all, but did it.

I've read a book on what setups make people do what they're told and what setups help them to resist - I can't remember the title - and this setup made it hard for people to say no and refuse their orders.

However, they could have done so and didn't.

So, yes, you had little chance about going to war, and sometimes were ordered to take part in atrocities even as an ordinary soldier (or a policeman), but sometimes you had a choice.

Part of the strategy was to use rewards and threats - including threats against family members - as a means of keeping control. 1 evil person, on his own, couldn't manage a genocide. It required a chain of command, and a system where the average person lived in fear of not just soldiers, but also their neighbors.

Within the Warsaw Ghetto, the Nazis set up a Jewish council (Judenrat), which was responsible for rounding up Jews for transport to death camps. Members of the council had better access to resources and were temporarily spared death, but the lives of their families were threatened if they disobeyed. The head of the Judenrat in Warsaw committed suicide after being ordered to round up Jews, including the orphans from Korczak's orphanage. While suicide is not permitted by Jewish law, I was told that this particular example was seen as a heroic act.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Czerniak%C3%B3w

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Korczak said that there are no children, only people. He was talking about the need to respect children as individuals. I had never heard about him before. How interesting and sad.

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