Nothing Shocking About The Nazis

For anyone to still profess shock at the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis is to me incomprehensible and to discover that the ones who are so shocked are seasoned researchers in Nazi- Era history is entirely disappointing. 

A new report by Holocaust scholars catalogs a total of  42,500 Nazi ghettos and concentration camps throughout Europe for the period 1933-1945 in Germany proper and in German controlled territories from France to Russia. The Nazis disseminated their human prey amongst 30,000 slave labor camps, 1,150 Jewish ghettos, 1,000 POW camps, 980 concentration camps, 500 brothels for German soldiers and thousands of other camps for euthanizing the elderly and infirm and for performing forced abortions.

These experts found the figures so staggering that even fellow Holocaust scholars had to make sure they heard it correctly.  Staggering!  Really?

Survivors, and we children of survivors, have been asked if we can ever forgive the German people for the atrocities committed  in the Holocaust. We can forgive those Germans who were remarkably unaware of the mayhem within their midst, but we can never forgive the Nazis and the very many collaborators which this report further testifies to.  We can forgive the German, Hungarian and Polish people of today who disavow any connection to Nazi history, but we cannot abide  any individual who is wistful for the days of Third Reich glory or who dreams of donning an SS uniform.   

The Nazis were very proud of their punctilious record keeping.  There are vast volumes cataloguing the names of prisoners, the numbers tattooed on their forearms and their final destination of death.  Historians who mine through the troves of German Nazi-Era history will continue to discover heretofore unknown data.  Were the Boys from Brazil fictional characters?   Is there anything written by Elie Weisel in his novel Night that seems implausible?  Is Dr. Jan Bastiaans, the Dutch physician who treated Holocaust Survivors with LSD to help them recount the horrors of concentration camp, overdramatizing the effects of such trauma?  Holocaust deniers in positions of government and universities and near daily reports of swastikas defacing synagogues and Jewish cemeteries are reminders that the past is still present. 

History records the government sanctioned systematic murder of 6 million Jews by the Nazis.  The Holocaust has been memorialized the world over in steel, wood, paper clips, the written word, spoken word and Braille.  Do survivors need any of these memorials?  In his book, The Seventh Million, Tom Segev describes Bastiaans findings: “adjustment to normal life could take as long as 30 or 40 years if it happened at all, and it always required great physical and emotional effort.”

My mother is in her 90’s and has suffered every day since May 1944.  For decades now, My brother Yossi and I have heard her first-person accounts of the ghettos and the camps. She is not shocked by the number of camps recently uncovered.  She will in fact tell you that she is not shocked by any evil perpetrated by the Nazis. 

For my mother and countless others, the stories that remain untold are recorded in G-D’s archives and are unknown only to man. 

The Nazis in their attempt at a Final Solution would indeed be shocked by their utter failure 70 years after their failed regime.  Jewish Holocaust survivors and millions of their descendants are leading full and contented lives, and we continue to thrive every day.    


About the Author
David Mandel is Chief Executive Officer of OHEL Children's Home and Family Services in New York