60/7

That is an important combination of digits to remember – a UN resolution in 2005 that established January 27 as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day – the day when the largest of the Nazi concentration camps, Auschwitz-Birkenau, was liberated.

The Holocaust is and will remain the most enduring horror unleashed on humanity because, for a common mind, killing human beings, in the name of ethnic superiority (or prejudice) at this scale is simply beyond thinking realms.

But then, arrival of a Hitler is always a real time possibility.

Human death camps are still alive and kicking in many parts of the world – with the common thread being persecuting those who raise voice against the ruling regimes – in North Korea – in restive countries of Africa – in monarchies and authoritarian nations of Asia and Africa – and elsewhere.

Well, we cannot say with certainty where they exist – but they do exist.

And a day to pay tribute to the worst crime against humanity in the known human history is a day to cement your resolve to be in solidarity with the countless lives that are still compromised every passing day.

Because the day comes to remind us the of devil prowling among us – someone who could be in any of us!

Because the days comes to take us, in this generation who have not seen those images, or from a different geographic territory, on a revisit to the visuals of the concentration camps and a visit through the Holocaust literature – a must for every human life!

Hitler and his Nazi Germany had killed many millions in a span of few years only and Hitler’s success in unleashing his killing machinery tells how such maniacs manipulate even democracy in the name of democracy and national pride – because Hitler was the product of a democratic transition process in Germany. And Germany was in Europe – the birthplace of democracies.

So, the dangers are very real – in a world inundated with democracies, autocracies, monarchies and absurdities – the broken down nations with tribal warlords, civil wars and terror groups – in a world infested with war theatres in almost every continent.

The Holocaust has been a regular in human conscience – right from the day the Second World War ended. But it is imperative for us to be more organized in remembering and revisiting the darkest chapter in our history – to feel that chill down our spines – to become numb – if we have to remain alert to dissuade any Hitler to walk again.

And the UN General Assembly Resolution 60/7 exactly does that – with the Holocaust Remembrance Day – or the Holocaust Memorial Day.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

ELIZABETH KOLBERT’S ‘THE LAST TRIAL’ IS A MUST READ

I watched the 1978 Holocaust mini-series again today.

I read and reread and watch and re-watch the Holocaust literature, documentaries and movies, whenever I get time. Yes, watching those images is excruciatingly painful, but is a must (and should be must for every adult).

And it coincided with a brilliant article on the Holocaust I chanced upon while doing some random scrolling down of my Facebook feed.

Obviously, it had to be brilliant, extensive, in-depth and engaging like a one-sit reading, as it was a The New Yorker piece.

‘The Last Trial: A Great-grandmother, Auschwitz and the Arc of Justice’, an article spread over 6000 words, written by Elizabeth Kolbert, a staff writer with The New Yorker, traces the German legal process on the Holocaust through notable criminal trials, her discovery of messages by her great-grandmother from Berlin to her grandfather in the United States and her decision to join Stolpersteine, a public art project by German artist Gunter Demnig to memorialize the Holocaust victims.

A Stolpersteine has details of a Holocaust victim on a brass plaque fixed on a concrete block. It is fixed at the last known address of a person before he/she was deported to a death camp and the project has spread well beyond Germany to other European countries with generations perished in the Nazi gas chambers.

Through these events, Elizabeth Kolbert weaves an engaging analysis of the German attitude on trying Nazi war criminals legally.

She begins with Oskar Groning, a former SS member, known as ‘the bookkeeper of Auschwitz’, who doubled up as a guard. Now 94, Groning is set to face trial in April for ‘being an accessory to murder of 300,000 people’ and explores the changing German attitude on Nazi atrocities, from a generation that took little interest in prosecuting those responsible for running the extermination camps and instead found legal ways to safeguard them, to the generation now that has put Oskar Groning on trial, after decades of settled public life.

Hundreds of thousands were involved in running some 300 concentration camps of Adolf Hitler, camps that did overtime to double as extermination camps, to achieve the ‘Final Solution’, of annihilating Jews. And just a handful of them were seriously tried for their crimes, the crimes for which there cannot be any forgiveness.

This article a must-read for everyone who cares for what happened in Germany and German occupied territories seven decades ago and what followed after it.

Thanks Elizabeth Kolbert.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

HOLOCAUST MUST BE MADE AN IMPORTANT ELEMENT OF ‘EXPOSURE TO HISTORY’ FOR EVERYONE IN EVERY SOCIETY

70th International Holocaust Remembrance Day

January 27 is the International Holocaust Remembrance Day – observed each year to commemorate the victims of the concentration camps – to remind us of the horror that had been made a way of life for millions in some 300 concentration camps in Germany or in German occupied territories.

Some 7 million of these many millions were killed in these forced labour camps that also doubled as death factories, the so-called extermination camps – employing death as a tool to intimidate, to propagate, to indoctrinate, to manipulate humans into soulless creatures and to kill – randomly, systematically, methodically.

In these death camps, fellow human lives were made objects of derision, subjects of sadistic pleasures, trophies of ‘shoot at will’ shootouts and raw material for German industries. Including children, they were mere subjects for dangerous scientific experiments.

The Germans of Nazi Germany mastered their ways to quench their thirst and lust for human blood my bringing mass murder machines and technology – gas chambers coupled with electric crematoria to these camps.

The highly organized machinery to exact the ‘cleansing’ as forced by Adolf Hitler and his band had set targets to kill ‘minimum this many’ on a day.

In these camps, the human subjects, were pushed to such extremes that they had forgotten what a human life was, what life they had lived some years ago – to accept a lowly life subservient to the whims of the masters of the so-called superior race who lorded over them in the camps – to follow a life where they did not have relations, no sons, no daughters, no wives, no husbands – to live a life without expressing hunger (starving to death was strictly practiced, even children were not spared), love, pain and suffering – to become fearful animals living always in the shadow of death – to the extent that death became the only liberator.

The methodical process in these camps began with the basics – by wiping out names replacing them with numbers and thus eliminating existences – and went to the satanic levels of corrupting human minds where a brother would kill a brother for a loaf of bread or a piece of cloth.

On January 27, 1945, the largest of these, Auschwitz II – Birkenau, was liberated by the Allied Forces.

Estimates say some four millions lives were annihilated at Auschwitz.

Today is the 70th anniversary when the killing machinery at Auschwitz was finally shut – but with multitudes who were still dying.

The scale of human debasement and the loss of human lives in these camps are so beyond human history and are so shocking that even the 700th anniversary would need us to react in the same way as we react today, as humanity reacted when it came to know the reality of these barbed-wire camps, as the Allied Forces set on liberating them – piled up human carcasses, in mounds of thousands, charred corpses, starved, skeletal survivors who had gone beyond such thoughts that if they were sleeping in a room full of dead or if they were having no clothes on their bodies.

They were just bones, frail bones, irrespective of the age-group. The flesh was the first thing that Hitler’s soldiers chopped from inmates’ bodies to stuff their platters.

What happened then, in these concentration camps – must never be forgotten – because it is important for us to remain ‘us’, the human-beings – the first and the foremost principle of being a human – to see others as ‘as equal human beings as we are’.

It is important for humanity to revisit these images – again and again – randomly and regularly.

It is important that generations to come have access to these images to know how devil human thinking can become and what it takes when it gets to that.

Holocaust literature, Holocaust documentaries, Holocaust TV shows, Holocaust movies and Holocaust related events like this must be made important elements of ‘exposure to history’ for everyone in every society.

There are documents. There are enactments. And in good numbers.

But the most important are the tales of survivors, the books by them and the books on them, and the images of the camps, still and moving. In case of images, we need to rely mostly on visuals shot by the Allied Forces.

Though marred by geopolitical compulsions, some of the real footage of the concentration camps as the Allied Forced were liberating one after the other, have found their way into the public domain.

But the larger part of the thousands of hours of footage is still lying in archives. It is needed to be taken out and put in public domain.

And there is some positive news on this. An important project that was shelved after some months into making in 1945 on ‘factual survey of the concentration camps’, the most direct and detailed one, has seen some restoration and release of some of its footage after 70 years with the documentary ‘Night Will Fall’.

The documentary, with so-far unseen footage, including of Auschwitz, reflects on the efforts to shoot and record the concentration camps by the British government with the movie project ‘German Concentration Camps Factual Survey’ that was never completed though some related footage was available with ‘Memory of the Camps’ and some other productions.

Holocaust Collage Image courtesy: Collage prepared from images sourced from online resources

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/