Every single Jew- man, woman, and child in mainland Europe in the late 1930’s and the first half of the 1940’s was sentenced to death simply by virtue of being Jewish. Nevertheless, the Jews faithfully adhered to their religious dictate where at all possible – choose life.
Former U.S. national security advisor under Donald Trump- Lieutenant General Michael Flynn with his abysmal knowledge of the Holocaust has deeply insulted the memory of those martyrs and offended the multitudes who hold their memories dear- whether Jewish or not.
His claim of Jewish non-resistance being highlighted by parents willingly handing over their children to the Nazis in order to save themselves is a monstrous historical fabrication of immense proportions as is his assertion that neither the transports nor the concentration camps were guarded. In fact, his statements are clearly represented by the first three letters of his rank!
Desperate families tried everything they could to send their children away from the waves of horror that would soon engulf them all. A small minority succeeded such as in the case of the Kindertransport. Many others hid their children with Christian families or in monasteries.
Despite the best parental efforts to protect their children among the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust approximately 1.5 million were Jewish children.
There are countless accounts of Jewish mothers arriving in Auschwitz and other death camps (heavily guarded by the Nazis and their henchmen) who valiantly refused to be separated from their children. In many cases both were shot and killed at once. Why waste bullets? With the same economies of scale in mind rather than wasting gas children were often tossed in the air for fun by the Nazis only to land on outstretched bayonets or alternatively they were used for target practice like clay pigeons or thrown alive into the flames of the crematoria.
Why were the parents not there to protect their children from such a cruel and gruesome fate? Because they were already dead!
Despite it all Jews improbably mounted the first and some of the most significant resistance against the Nazi oppressors in European battle arena during World War II.
Aside from cultural and religious resistance Jewish underground armed resistance movements sprouted up in over 100 ghettos between 1941 and 1943. There were Jewish uprisings in death camps Treblinka and Sobibor ultimately forcing the closure of both. In Auschwitz more than 500 Jews died battling guards and in subsequent reprisals after Jewish women smuggled explosives to members of the Sonderkommando (Jewish laborers dealing with the dead bodies in and around the gas chambers and crematoria under threat of death) who blew up a crematorium.
Perhaps the most legendary instance of Jewish resistance was the Warsaw ghetto uprising when a band of a few hundred Jewish youths armed with but a few pistols, hand grenades and Molotov cocktails held at bay over 2500 heavily armed crack Nazi troops who had entered the ghetto on the eve of Passover in April 1943 to clear it of its remaining Jews once and for all. Against all odds those remnants of a once vast Jewish community fought on inflicting serious casualties for a month until Nazi flamethrowers burned the ghetto to the ground.
Those heroes fought for their community, their faith, their families and yes- for the children; for the generations to come. They fought their bold battle so that Jewish children would be born, become adults and have children of their own. They fought valiantly so that the unbroken chain of Jewish heritage and memory would continue despite the evil intent to obliterate it completely from the face of the earth.
Having and nurturing our children aside from being a biblical command is the very essence of what our faith stands for and throughout our history parents have sacrificed themselves for their children on multiple levels. To suggest otherwise is a disgraceful distortion of an unimaginable reality.
Finally let us return briefly to the Warsaw ghetto. On the 22nd of July 1942 the Jewish Council- of which Adam Czerniakow was head- was ordered to provide lists of Jews and their locations to the Nazis at the rate of 6000 per day for “resettlement.” Mr. Czerniakow knew full well that this was a euphemism for death upon arrival in the gas chambers of the newly operational Treblinka extermination camp where 900,000 Jews would perish in a year. Failure to provide the data would result in the execution of 100 hostages including council members and Mr. Czerniakow’s wife. He nevertheless pleaded for exemptions for the children of Janusz Korczack’s orphanage and those children in many other orphanages scattered around the ghetto. Upon failing to obtain this reprieve he returned to his office and committed suicide. His note to his wife read, “They demand of me to kill the children of my own nation with my own hands. I have nothing to do but die.”
Yes, we revere our children, and those haunting last words reverberate through the years to scythe the Flynn falsehoods into smithereens.
It’s slippery slope from ‘the Jews did this to themselves’ to complete Holocaust denial which is surely the most virulent form of antisemitism that can be conjured out of the ethos of damning falsehoods.
A decorated officer having given distinguished service to his nation in defense of the oppressed is tarnishing his own rank in belittling the oppressed.
You see, unlike you lieutenant general, the Jews had no arms, no training, no allies, no food, no water and finally- no chance.