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Re: Hiroshima

5/9/2005 10:31 AM
pierre debs Re: Hiroshima
Thank you, Mark, for putting it very nicely in the second of your two paragraphs. THis is somehow lost on the vast majority of people who involve themselves with this matter.  
5/9/2005 10:46 AM
pierre debs
There are a few people in germany who use the holocaust and want that it IS forever the guilt of all germans, every single one including those that are not born yet. Whenever one mentions "getting beyond" the holocaust, the fires of hell are raised and everyone in german is an anti-semite and anti-semitism is on the rise.  
HIgh school, almost all german high school kids go to a concentration camp. I will not let my children when they become of age. Why? because I feel it is enough for them to spend a week reading about and then thatīs it. They do not need a life long education about the holocaust.  
As I was growing up in NYC, I never heard or learned ONCE about anything the US did, not vietnam nor stalin. All we heard was about the holocaust. Every week another show on the tube, every week another memorial opens up in some little town somewhere in the US.  
What the F§"$%?  
I am tired of it, every single paper in german rehashes and rehashes ad nauseum.  
I am sorry for those people and there families who where murdered by the Nazis. But I do not want to live with it every day of my life, I do not want to read about it everyday. I do not want my children to grow up feeling any sortt of guilt WHATSOEVER for the third Reich.  
In any case, I am moving my family to Italy.  
Part of my original post was that there is Hardly any mention of other mass murder and that I find on the news.  
5/9/2005 1:27 PM
Mark Hammer
Well, despite your politesse, here I would beg to differ with you. I think there is a difference between wallowing in self blame and comprehension. To visit camps and simply feel bad does little to avoid reprises in the future. The same can be said for a week of study.  
The value in more extensive remembrance and study of the Holocaust is not in the shock of bulldozers plowing bodies into ditches (see the Resnais film "Night and Fog" for those pleasantries), but rather in being able to recognize the very top of the slippery slope for what it is. The shock of the end-point underscores the importance of understanding the roots, but to focus exclusively on the endpoint robs succeeding generations of the skills to avoid it, much the same way that making every child in central Africa look at videotape of bodies floating down-river would not really help them to prevent and avoid the sorts of atrocities that took place there during the 90's and at other times.  
If there are those who obsess publically about the events of the 30's and 40's, one need only speak with them for a few minutes to understand why. At the same time, these same people have many stories of heroism and kindness of ordinary folks. It is every bit as important to know both the potential for human malfeasance and the potential for human defiance when all pressures point to knuckling under. To raise generation after generation in ignorance of how things like this particular holocaust occurred (including how some shrugged it off while it was going on), is tantamount to bringing generation after generation of them up to a cliff and mumbling "I *think* it's safe. I'm not sure, but what the heck, I havn't heard otherwise.".  
I might add that to attribute such human evil to specific groups without any suggestion that others could follow a similar path is ALSO part of leading those generations to the same cliff.  
At this point in history, one has to ask the question "What will happen when all those who were witness are gone?"
5/9/2005 1:50 PM
pierre debs
Do you really think that the amount of time spent on studying the holocaust, and all the memorials in nyc and sf, has or will prevented it from happening again? To date, I have not come across one reasonable explanation for the cause of the holocaust.( that it was easier for the soldiers to not have to shoot all those people is NOT what I am talking about) Pure antisemitism? Pure Hatred? The only thing that comes from the whole Holocaust remembrance is that 6 million jews died and this is the worst that mankind can ever achieve ( which sort of gives a few wackos in israel the right to do what they do, but that is another thread). This singularity supposedly prevents it from morally ever happening to another group. if it does, it is just plain different, not as bad as the holocaust. look how what is going on in dafur is refrained from being even called genocide, because in reality, it is a holocaust for those people. Nobody is LEARNING anything from the constant study of the holocaust because NOBODY understands that which cannot be understood. I never suggested that new generations be raised ignorant of the holocaust, but that it need not be the focal pont of their existence, the fiber of their nationality.  
5/9/2005 9:50 PM
Mark Hammer

It will be a bit of a pointless exercise, since clearly you're not exactly in the mood for it at this moment, but the Oscar nominated film "Shoah" is an excellent example of what you and many others have missed out on. What makes this 9-hour extravanganza so precious as a teaching instrument is the fact that virtually all the people interviewed are minor figures. These are people who "made the trains run on time", small-town guys in the German army who accepted another posting "somewhere in Poland" (e.g., Treblinka) because they were 19 and where they were was boring, people who had farms near Dachau whose fields were divided by traintracks and who had to wait for the trains to go by to get to the other side, guys who worked as "capos" in the camps and who had to lie to their newly-arrived best friend's wife about the reason they were giving them a haircut despite knowing that the gas "showers" were a mere 4 minutes off in the woman's future. I had the honour of speaking with one of those interviewed in the film, who was a mere 17 when interned at Auschwitz (and is now a retired chemistry prof at University of British Columbia). He was part of a group who attempted (but failed) to instigate a revolt and breakout. He and another fellow eventually DID escape and provided extensive reports to Allied authorities, which were essentially listened to politely and shelved.  
What makes the film so powerful and such a learning exercise is that there is not a single body anywhere in the film. Indeed, it is not until about 4 hours in that the word "victim" is ever mentioned. Until that point, it is "cargo", "loads", "shipments", etc., euphemism after euphemism on the part of minor officials and collaborators, and seemingly endles traintracks, retracing travel routes through densely populated areas. The quietness, banality, and ease of acceptance IS the most instructive part of the film. Like I said, it's not the *bottom* of the slippery slope that is so important to focus on, but the *top* of it. It's the way people can be deluded into thinking "well, I was just....". You tend to think a little differently when people say "Hey man, it was just a joke! I don't see what the big deal is." after viewing something like this.  
"I never suggested that new generations be raised ignorant of the holocaust, but that it need not be the focal point of their existence, the fiber of their nationality."  
Respectfully noted, and pretty much agreed upon. Sadly, the same way that it is possible for two people to receive what is nominally referred to as a "religious education" can leave one person feeling spiritual, uplifted, empowered, enriched, and open, and another feeling battered, harassed, hateful and bigoted, and cognitively rigid, can also occur when it comes to "Holocaust education". There are approaches that simply set people running away from it as fast as they can, and approaches that make people feel stronger and better prepared to protect what is best about the human condition and defend against what is worst, without being steeped in hatred. As many writers have indicated, if one thinks this is all about Jews and Germans, and the 1940's, one is missing the point and the lesson. Fortunately, the extensive documentation of this particular phase in human history is detailed enough that we can inspect the mechanisms of the downward slide in detail. We may have had excuses for our behaviour in the past. We can't claim ignorance any more though.
5/9/2005 2:14 PM
bubbles the chimp
somehow I think you will have problems in any country you decide to reside in, 'cept maybe Iraq.
5/9/2005 2:20 PM
pierre debs
thanks bubbles!

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