Holocaust deniers have been discredited by civilized societies but there is another group that has emerged that I call the Holocaust Comparers.
They are the naïve or misinformed individuals who have yet to grasp the uniqueness of the genocide against the Jews. They see no difference between Hitler’s implementation of his final solution against the Jews and the modern day genocides in: Armenia, Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. Granted one cannot count a particular genocide as being worse than another, because ethnic cleansing is not a numbers game. But there are differences in their nature as delineated by their genocidal intent, methodologies used and results attained by the perpetrators.
To be clear, genocides are nothing new. They have menaced mankind ever since Cain murdered Able. That single act of fratricide managed to eliminate one quarter of the earth’s population with one stroke. Whether or not you believe that Biblical account literally, figuratively or not at all is irrelevant; what is relevant is that the story is told and for good reason.
Stories are told because they tell us about who we are. Real or imagined they voice not only what people have done, but what people are capable of doing as well. Some stories are fables, legends, or history. Unfortunately some are so worrisome that civilized societies felt compelled to enact laws to protect people from their baser qualities. But as Nazi Germany’s wickedness has taught us, some laws are implemented to destroy rather than protect. Nazi Germany, and her all too willing accomplices, not only wanted to kill Jews, it wanted to exterminate the entire Jewish people and its history as well. Nazi Germany’s war against the Jewish civilization is what today is known as, The Holocaust.
Thus far, I have described only the strategic elements, if you will, of the genocidal intent of Nazi Germany. Now I will delineate the series of tactics employed by the Germans in their effort to eliminate the Jews in what they euphemistically labeled The Final Solution.
No other group was slated for extermination based solely on ancestry. According to the draconian regulations as cited in the Nuremberg Laws enacted in 1935 by the Germans, a person was considered a Jew not based on religious beliefs but on lineage. Anyone who had three or four Jewish grandparents was designated a Jew. Atheists, agnostics and those who converted out of Judaism still were considered Jews. There was no means of escaping one’s blood. How ironic that even some Catholic priests and nuns fell within that definition; their days too were numbered along with their arms.
No other group was targeted for extinction no matter where they lived. In other genocides if you managed to flee the border to a neighboring country you might very well have achieved safe haven for you were not pursued. The Jews were not so fortunate, for the long shadow of death followed them into every country the Nazis conquered. And even if a Jew managed to outrun the inexorable pursuit of the hobnail booted SS chasing after them, they had no home to go home to, and tragically they had nowhere else to go. The world had shut their doors and bolted their gates to them and even the Statue of Liberty’s burning torch did not light the way to safe harbor.
No other group was targeted for the total destruction of its history and culture. Jewish stores, synagogues, books, and art, were burned in the streets and its music silenced in the squares. Anything that had a hint of Jewishness was destroyed so as to deny that Jewish culture and history ever existed.
No other group was denied the fact that crimes were committed against it. For other genocides, the killers often boasted about their conquests and exploits but those who feared prosecution hid their crimes only as an afterthought. Not so with the German’s crimes against the Jews. The Nazis tried to hide their crimes from the start. The concentration camps were planned and designed to appear as work camps; their ultimate goal was kept secret from the world. Even when the war was lost the Nazis’ death machines were still at work liquidating Jews. And in their final effort to hide the work of their final solution the Nazis incinerated their victims. And as a final genocidal act the Germans shot and tossed the last of the survivors into mass graves in an attempt to cover their crimes beneath the ashes of their victims.
Yes there were other genocides in other countries and none worse than the other as they are all crimes against humanity. The Talmud teaches, “Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world.” However, the Talmud also teaches, “And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.”
Tragically the world had not learned those lessons in time to have prevented that unique form of attempted genocide: the elimination of the Jews of today, yesterday and tomorrow and what today is remembered as The Holocaust.