World War II
World War II
The Germans used many different ways of killing the Jews in Europe. For one, they thought it very clever to make it seem as if thousands of Jews were dying a natural death. Thus, whenever an infectious disease developed among the imprisoned Jews in one of the death camps, the warders would make sure that the sick were kept among the crowded inmates – they themselves kept their distance from everybody with their weapons – and that no doctors would attend to anyone. In this way they saw to it that the disease spread throughout the entire camp; thousands would then die. The killers would then be able to say to those not in the know that it was necessary to burn masses of corpses for reasons of health as a measure to prevent the epidemic from reaching non-Jews. No-one was concerned about the fact that the disease had originated in camps where many thousands of people were herded together.
The weak, the sick, the old were easily killed in large numbers in the icy winter by exposing them to the bitter cold for many hours on end, clad thinly or not at all. And when they died of fever and lung damage, the murderers would say that they had died a natural death.
The strong, the health and the young were also killed in large numbers. The method now was overwork. Beaten and threatened, these Jews were forced to endure hard labour for so long, on a minimum of food and sleep, that they died of exhaustion. The Jews were driven to labour on and on, to carry the heaviest loads and to persist in the toughest tasks, day in day out, for weeks and months on end until even the young and the strong among them succumbed.
But all these methods were too slow for the task of killing the huge number of Jews. And the ruler of Germany needed whole armies of murderers to effect the death of so many Jews, young men and women, old men and women, children and babies. And in the war against his enemies, he needed these murderers as soldiers. What is more, many regiments would be required as gravediggers for so many corpses. Then the ruler of Germany decided that he would not need to have all those bodies buried by his soldiers. Together with his assistants, he worked out a plan. He ordered men skilled in technology to devise a method of murdering vast numbers of Jews very fast. The bodies would then be burnt. And the men skilled in technology designed a room with sealed walls, into which no air could penetrate and from which no air could escape. And the room had the appearance of a bathroom, from the ceiling of which a pipe might pour a jet of water. Instead of a jet of water, however, a jet of deadly poison would flow from the pipe.
And the men skilled in technology designed enormous ovens in the camps in which to burn the corpses. And thousands of workmen built the sealed rooms and their fittings. And many others built the ovens in the camps where the Jews were awaiting death.
The murderers would select groups of people for death, take away their clothes and their shoes and crowd them into the death chambers. This was done in the various camps to thousands of Jews every day, murdering and burning husbands and wives, old men and pregnant women, children and babies. By the end of the war, the number of Jews killed in this way by the man called Hitler and his underlings was four million. It was the greatest number of unarmed people ever massacred. They were not killed in combat. They were killed for no reason other than the madness of a ruler of a great nation.
And still, even with all these devices for killing, the ruler of Germany required huge numbers of Germans and of citizens from other countries to massacre the Jews. In every country, whole armies of trackers were active hunting down Jews, chasing and catching them. More were needed to guard the millions for months, even years, until they could be put to death. Yet more hordes were needed to kill and burn the millions. And yet more hordes were employed in the camps to design and install the fittings for the massacres.
Every one in these armies of murderers gave allegiance to the man called Hitler and served him in his plan to annihilate the Jews. And while they served his madness, killing unarmed people, hunting them down, guarding them or setting up the fittings for their death, they were tied down and kept from fighting against the armed enemies of Germany.
And all the nations at war with Germany heard of the massacre of the Jews in the lands under the German control. And they thought: The ruler of Germany and his underlings are indeed evil in the extreme. But what can we do other than fight against him? The death of hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings is indeed terrible. But war takes many victims and the lives of many innocent victims. Do not the German planes throw down bombs on our cities and kill indiscriminately, husbands and wives, young and old and the newborn of our people? And are we not being forced to do likewise, to throw bombs on German cities and let our planes kill innocent people? And the nations at war with Germany did not consider themselves guilty in allowing themselves to be forced to commit such dreadful deeds, all because they had not wanted to see the symptoms of the man in his ways with the Jews. A wrong does not become right because a person has allowed him or herself to be forced to it and has not seen the evidence of evil at its beginning. All these nations had allowed themselves to be forced into wrongdoing. And so they were condemned to justifying a wrong. And it became a part of them.
For not on account of the Jews, but because their countries were threatened did the nations stand up against the man who was demented .They had indeed heard that the ruler of Germany had decreed the death of all Jews and also the Germans had indeed heard it. And they knew that it was not death in war that he meant. But neither the nations nor the Germans were concerned by that decree. For the Jews seemed very insignificant in a war of mankind. People were not concerned that the Jews were the victims, not of war but of the man’s madness. And when the nations heard and saw that he was carrying out his threats, they felt no guilt concerning the Jews, but saw them only as victims of war. Consequently, the nations took no special action to save the Jews; they did nothing exceptional to counter the exceptional annihilation. They did what was expected of them and they threatened that they would exact punishment for all those guilty of shedding innocent blood once they had won the war. And they knew that these threats carried no weight with the ruler of Germany or with his aides.
Those who were charged by the man called Hitler to carry out the mass murder of the Jews knew that the enormity they were committing could not be carried out within sight of the whole nation, not even the German nation. And so the death trains ran by night and were covered. The death camps were built in isolated locations, away from cities and villages. Entrance to the camps was barred to all those who were not themselves killers or involved in the killing. Many of the death camps were located beyond the frontiers of Germany, in Poland. The armies involved in that huge project of murder, the helpers, the killers, the torturers, the guards, were enjoined to keep silent. Those who worked in the visibly gruelling transportations were given false information – nor did they ask for exact information; they sensed the truth in their hearts. The facts of the unimaginable massacre were not disclosed. They were not made public, for they could not be justified by the necessity of war. The ruler of Germany and his helpers knew that the German capacity to fight would be weakened if such deeds were to be disclosed and made public. People would not be told that such horrors were for the good of Germany. The war did not necessitate them. On the contrary, they frequently diminished the strength needed to wage war. Only by turning its back was the nation able to tolerate the horror; it was not capable of actually looking. And therefore the rule of Germany and his helpers ensured that the terrible massacre remained shrouded in silence. Only whispers and rumours penetrated outside.
At some point, the nations at war with Germany heard about the threats made by the Germans against the Jews. They also heard that the task of wiping out the Jews of Europe was actually in hand. They heard all of this from people who had managed to escape or from prisoners that fell into their hands. And again they did nothing to counter the German ban of silence and make the deeds public in Germany. They did broadcast to the allies of Germany and to them they did report on the enormity. However, they knew that their voice was ineffectual and would not be heard in Germany.
There came a time in the war when the ruler of Germany and his most senior aides deliberated whether they should simply murder the many hundreds of thousands of prisoners of war in their hands, British, American, Russian, Polish and French. Were this to have been put into effect and had the nations discovered that all prisoners of war in Germany were being slaughtered and gassed, no one doubts that the nations would have set up so loud a cry in the world that it would have reached the ears of the German people. Every people on earth, even those not at war with Germany, would have been roused and would have called on the ruler of Germany, in the name of their people. Then the thing could not have been withheld and kept hidden from the German people. A statement made publicly by the government of one people to the government of another cannot be kept hidden; that would sow the seeds of division between a people and its government.
And the rulers of those nations which were not at war with Germany and traded with that country did not raise their voices in the name of their people concerning the deaths of the Jews in Europe. They kept strictly to the rule that all the nations adopted, not to reprimand another nation in times of peace, however shameful the deeds committed inside that nation.
Neither did the Pope, the highest priest in a religion derived from Judaism, raise his voice publicly in the name of his religion. He did not speak out in unambiguous terms concerning the unbelievably evil deeds or name them or seek to differentiate the senseless slaughter of unarmed people from the horrors of war, the horrors of hostilities that at least have the meaning which enmity lends them. Everybody counted the four million Jews among the victims of war and spoke of them as one and the same – and this even though the number of deaths was so disproportionately high for a single people. They did not see that, in fact, the Jews were the victims of a man’s madness, a madness that also commanded silence.