This is an old post from my LiveJournal account that I’ve recently cleaned up but didn’t want to completely get rid of everything and I’m glad that I’ve preserved my about half dozen entries or so because this is a very important one. Anti-Semitism (and racism and discrimination in general) is rampant and never seems to go away. Did you look at CNN or any other American news outlet recently? The entire country is going crazy. Up here in Canada it’s not nearly as bad, but we certainly aren’t free from the monster. In the near future I want to continue posting about this topic because I can’t just sit here and do nothing anymore, despite that I’ve never felt so powerless in my life before.
Date originally posted: June 14th 2017 (7:23 p.m.)
Not much to add today, just my roommates driving me crazy for the millionth time. The more this goes on the more I want to live alone. Of course many things need to happen in order for that to happen before I’m able to do that, but I might just get that process started. I think it would do me some good to get away from all of this. Of course there are many advantages to having a roommate or two, the biggest one being that things like rent are far less expensive. When they were all gone a few weeks ago I stayed home alone with my cat just watching TV and it got really lonely after the first week, but it was nice to just unwind after so much tension everywhere. I usually don’t go far or do much, but the two of them bring a lot of drama home and unfortunately I can’t exactly escape. We all share the same apartment.
Otherwise tomorrow it’s my birthday. At last! I was really getting hungry for my cake and other junk food today. I wasn’t sure I wanted one this year because my mind is elsewhere but I ended up deciding to invite some people over and just take the day to relax and regroup. I’m no fan of conventional birthday parties, I much prefer a relaxing day spent in good company and thinking about things than matter than going crazy. I might wanna go to the park and read the Quran or something, that is if the weather holds up for an outdoor adventure. I haven’t checked the weather forecast yet today but most of the time it’s not accurate in this region. Things change way too fast and the best way to determine the weather is to look outside the window.
I finally got back to going on WordPress and Tumblr regularly after not really being there for a while and only posting a few minor things. I changed most of my names (not username, just public name) on my social media to 42375 which is the number I picked for my tattoo, which was my grandpa’s service number during WWII. Honestly it makes me sad to see all the rampant anti-Semitism all over the place, from right here down the street to governments and institutions spreading it around across a good chunk of the Middle East. It’s truly unfortunate that many Muslims are systematically taught to hate Jews despite that the two communities have lived in peace for over a thousand years until just very recently the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Personally, I believe in a two-state solution. Each person and each nation has the right to be itself and to live in peace. Peace, isn’t that what we all want?
After all of these years there’s no way to have peace if you give the whole land to only one side. The other will rise up and cause another conflict because there has been way too much meddling from all sides including the outside for this to ever end peacefully because each person believes that the place is rightfully theirs (I won’t get into that right now) and unless there’s a compromise with each side getting something equal, tensions are only going to rise more and more. You cannot blame the entire Jewish population for what an oppressive regime is doing and you can’t blame the entire Muslim population for what a few radical Palestinians are doing either. Everything about this situation seems to have been tainted by everybody meddling in it without ever bringing about a resolution.
I hate it how Islam is often portrayed as being some anti-Semitic cult because of that ongoing conflict. We are supposed to maintain good relations with Jews (and all others for that matter), not hate them or want them gone from the face of the Earth. Plenty of Muslims perished during the Holocaust too, as well as Polish and Slavic people, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Gypsies, communists and endless others despite that the number of Jews was much greater than any of the other “unwanted minorities.” We also forget the stories of the Muslims who saved Jews during the Holocaust, the most famous stories being the ones of the Albanian Muslims. Muslim-majority Albania was the only European country that had more Jews after the war ended than before it started.
Have we forgotten about all the imams (not to mention countless other individual Muslims) who visited Auschwitz on more than one occasion? The photo below is from a trip in 2013 and there was another one in 2010. Undoubtedly in moments of anger we’ve all wanted to figuratively send someone to Auschwitz, but emotional reactions during a conflict are completely different than the horrors that actually happend there and all the other camps like it. If I can take any lesson from this it’s that we must stop making issues and conflicts all about ourselves and instead focus on humanity, because the world needs a whole lot more of that right now.
Muslim leaders from across the globe paid tribute Holocaust victims this week during a visit to Auschwitz, the former Nazi concentration camp, where they prayed at the Wall of Death for those who were killed by genocide and suffered under violent anti-Semitism.
The imams, who hailed from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bosnia, Palestine, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey and the United States, performed Islamic prayers while facing Mecca as part of a Holocaust awareness visit organized in part by the International Religious Freedom office of the U.S. State Department.
“What can you say? You’re speechless. What you have seen is beyond human imagination,” Imam Mohamed Magid, President of the U.S.-based Islamic Society of North America, told Agence France-Presse.
“Whether in Europe today or in the Muslim world, my call to humanity: End racism for God’s sake, end anti-Semitism for God’s sake, end Islamophobia for God’s sake, end sexism for God’s sake… Enough is enough,” said Magid, who leads the All Dulles Area Muslim Society in Northern Virginia.
Toute personne qui sait quoi que ce soit au sujet de la Seconde Guerre mondiale et les nazis connaît l’histoire de Reinhard Heydrich, mais très peu semblent connaître l’histoire héroïque de son petit frère Heinz. Étonnamment, pas grand-chose n’a jamais été écrit sur lui, malgré son nom de famille célèbre.
Heinz Siegfried Heydrich (né le 29 septembre 1905 et mort le 19 novembre 1944) était le fils de Richard Bruno Heydrich et le frère du SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich. Après la mort de son frère, Heinz Heydrich a aidé les Juifs à échapper à l’Holocauste.
Heinz Heydrich est né à Halle an der Saale, fils du compositeur Richard Bruno Heydrich et à son épouse Elisabeth Anna Maria Amalia Krantz. La famille Heydrich étaient de riches catholiques. Le père, Richard Bruno Heydrich, était un chanteur d’opéra, le fondateur d’un conservatoire de musique à Halle et un nationaliste allemand qui a inculqué des idées patriotiques dans l’esprit de ses trois enfants. Le ménage de Heydrich était très strict et les enfants étaient fréquemment disciplinés. En tant que jeune, Heinz a engagé son frère aîné, Reinhard, dans des duels d’escrime simulés.
Heinz Heydrich était un Obersturmführer (lieutenant), journaliste et éditeur du journal des soldats, Die Panzerfaust. Il était d’abord un fervent admirateur d’Hitler, mais avant les funérailles d’Etat de Reinhard Heydrich à Berlin en juin 1942, Heinz Heydrich avait reçu un grand paquet contenant les fichiers de son frère, sorti du quartier général de la Gestapo, 8 Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse, à Berlin. Heinz s’était enfermé dans sa chambre avec les papiers. Le lendemain matin, sa femme remarqua que son mari s’était assis toute la nuit en brûlant les documents du colis. Heinz, en congé du front, ne pouvait pas s’engager dans une conversation, se souvient sa femme; Il semblait être ailleurs mentalement et comme une pierre. Les fichiers dans le paquet étaient probablement les fichiers personnels de Reinhard Heydrich, dont Heinz Heydrich a compris pour la première fois dans toute son énormité l’extermination systématique des Juifs, la soi-disant Solution finale. Par la suite, Heinz Heydrich a aidé beaucoup de Juifs à échapper en forgeant des documents d’identité et en les imprimant sur les presses Die Panzerfaust.
Lorsque, en novembre 1944, une commission économique dirigée par un procureur de l’État a enquêté sur le personnel de Panzerfaust, Heinz Heydrich a pensé qu’il avait été découvert et s’est suicidé pour protéger sa famille de la Gestapo. En réalité, l’avocat ne savait rien sur les falsifications, et ne cherchait qu’à trouver la raison de la pénurie de fournitures papier. Heinz Heydrich est enterré dans le Soldatenfriedhof (cimetière des soldats) à Riesenburg, selon la Deutsche Dienststelle (WASt).
Heinz Heydrich a eu cinq enfants. Son plus vieux, Peter Thomas Heydrich (1931-2000), était un célèbre chanteur de cabaret allemand, et a écrit un livre sur son enfance, son père et son oncle. Dans le livre, Peter Heydrich décrit comment, en tant que jeune, il jouissait de la gloire d’être un «prince héritier», le neveu de Reinhard Heydrich. Pendant l’enfance, il pensait à son oncle en tant que sportif prospère et un musicien sensible. A Prague, Peter a observé que son oncle était devenu un «animal haut». Peter a tiré plusieurs privilèges d’être le neveu de Reinhard Heydrich. Même après la guerre, Peter était encore fier de la relation familiale. Mais finalement, Peter Heydrich a dû admettre que Reinhard Heydrich était un homme qui a planifié et exécuté l’Holocauste et d’autres crimes. Peter est mort le 22 novembre 2000, après une longue maladie.
Toutes ces informations ont été traduites de la page Wikipedia en anglais sur Heinz Heydrich. Malheureusement, je n’ai pas pu trouver d’autres informations pertinentes sur lui qui n’ont pas encore été écrites ici. On ne sait combien de Juifs il a sauvé entre 1942 et 1944, mais je peux imaginer que c’était un nombre considérable car la pénurie de papier justifiait une enquête. Cela m’attriste que cet homme n’a jamais reçu la reconnaissance qu’il mérite pour ses actions héroïques face aux atrocités commises par son frère.
Read the English version below.
There’s no doubt that Field Marshal Erwin Rommel is remembered as being one of the greatest commanders of the Second World War, even admired by his enemies during the war (notably the British and the Americans) for his skill and tactic in the battlefield, but there was also a personal side to him that I decided to investigate after seeing an article about a recent controversy involving the German military.
In short, the German Defense Minister wants the names of German military personnel from the Nazi era removed from modern military barracks, with the exception of Rommel because he had a certain degree of involvement in a plot to kill Hitler and paid for it with his life, although it is disputed what his role in it actually was. Like Rommel, I should also note that Hans-Joachim Marseille who also has a barrack named after him was never a member of the Nazi Party nor did he ever participate in war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide during WWII.
In their book The Star of Africa: The Story of Hans Marseille, Colin D. Heaton and Anne-Marie Lewis (ISBN 978-0760343937) actually go as far as stating that Marseille actually had a distain for Nazism in general, and being openly anti-Nazi. The book states the following:
When Marseille first met Hitler in 1942 he did not form a positive impression. After returning to Africa, Eduard Neumman recalled, “After his first visit with Hitler, Marseille returned and said that he thought ‘the Führer was a rather odd sort’.” On the visit, Marseille also said some unflattering things about Hitler and the Nazi Party. Several senior officers, which included Adolf Galland and Nicolaus von Below, overheard his remarks during one of the award ceremonies. Von Below asked Marseille if he would join the Nazi Party and within earshot of others, Marseille responded, “that if he saw a party worth joining, he would consider it, but there would have to plenty of attractive women in it.” The remarks visibly upset Hitler who was left “puzzled” by his behaviour.
Click here to learn more about Hans-Joachim Marseille. The book also goes on to say that Marseille had Jewish friends at school and that when Marseille returned to his unit after overhearing a discussion about what was happening to Jews he asked his friends Franzisket, Clade and Schröer, whether they had heard what was happening to Jews and if perhaps something was underway that they did not know about. Franszisket recalled that he had heard Jews were being relocated to territory gained in the East but no more. Marseille recounted how he had attempted to ask questions about Jews who had vanished from his neighbourhood, including the family doctor that had delivered him at birth. Regardless of his hero status, when he attempted to bring the subject into any conversation with people who approached him, his enquiries were either met with awkward silences, or people changed the subject or even turned away. Franzisket noticed a change in Marseille’s attitude toward his nation’s cause. He never spoke of this with his comrades again.
Marseille’s friendship with his adopted helper is also used to show his anti-Nazi character. In 1942 Marseille befriended a South African Army prisoner of war, Corporal Mathew Letulu, nicknamed Mathias. Marseille took him as a personal helper rather than allow him to be sent to a prisoner of war camp in Europe. Over time, Marseille and Mathias became inseparable. Marseille was concerned how Mathias would be treated by other units of the Wehrmacht and once remarked “Where I go, Mathias goes.” Marseille secured promises from his senior commander, Neumann, that if anything should happen to him [Marseille] Mathias was to be kept with the unit. Mathias duly remained with JG 27 until the end of the war and attended post-war reunions until his death in 1984.
Now the big controversy is over whether or not Erwin Rommel was really one of the good guys as he is most often portrayed to be in the light of what is referred to as the “Rommel Myth” which has been a huge source of debate within the last decade or so. For basically the last 50 years Rommel has been portrayed by most as not only being a good soldier, but also a man of good character considering he was serving a terrible regime. Many authors describe Rommel as having a reputation of being a chivalrous, humane, and professional officer, and that he earned the respect of both his own troops and his enemies, mainly the British and the Americans.
Rommel is most famous for the Battle of El Alamein, but he had many military successes prior to his loss in North Africa and has often been lauded for his conduct during the war. In Normandy, Rommel withheld Hitler’s Commando Order to execute captured commandos from Army Group B, with his units reporting that they were treating commandos as regular POWs. Many other authors argue that generosity to opponents was a natural trait of the man, like Claus Telp who states that Rommel by nature was chivalrous and not prone to order needless violence, or Robert Forczyk who considers Rommel a true great captain with chivalry. Maurice Remy states that due to the man’s personality and some special circumstances, he was only really confronted with the reality of atrocities in 1944 (although he had heard rumours about massacres while fighting in Africa).
Rommel had described the conduct of the desert war as “War without Hate” in his papers. Historian Martin Kitchen states that the reputation of the Afrika Korps was preserved due to circumstances: the sparsely populated desert areas did not lend themselves to ethnic cleansing; the German forces never reached Egypt and Palestine that had large Jewish populations; and in the urban areas of Tunisia and Tripolitania, the Italian government constrained the German efforts to discriminate against or eliminate Jews who were Italian citizens. Despite this, the North African Jews themselves believed that it was Rommel who prevented the “Final Solution” from being carried out against them when German might dominated North Africa from Egypt to Morocco. According to Curtis and Remy, 120,000 Jews lived in Algeria, 200,000 in Morocco, about 80,000 in Tunisia (when the Germans invaded Tunisia in 1942, this number remained the same), 26,000 in Libya. According to Marshall, he sharply protested the Jewish policies, other immoral activities and was an opponent of the Gestapo. He also refused to comply with Hitler’s order to execute Jewish POWs. (His own Afrika Korps was known among soldiers of Jewish descent as a refuge, safe from racial laws and discrimination). At his 17 June 1944 meeting with Hitler at Margival, he protested against the atrocity committed by the 2nd SS Panzer division Das Reich, which had massacred the citizens of the French town of Oradour-sur-Glane.
Despite being admired for his good conduct with others, Rommel was said to be quite naive when it came to politics. In the beginning he did support a Nazi seizure of power despite that he never joined the Nazi Party or appeared to support their racial policies. He preferred to remain a man of his troops, only being a soldier without much inclination towards a political route though he generally not looked at as being completely apolitical despite his complicated and often bitter relationships with high-ranking Nazis.
Some authors cite, among other cases, Rommel’s naive reactions to what happened in Poland while being there: he paid a visit to his wife’s uncle, famous Polish priest and patriotic leader Edmund Roszczynialski, who was murdered days after, which was never found out by Rommel who, at his wife’s urgings, kept writing letter after letter to Himmler’s adjutants asking them to keep track and take care of their relative. Knopp and Mosier agree that he was naive politically, citing his request for a Jewish Gauleiter in 1943. Despite this, Peter Lieb finds it hard to believe that a man of Rommel’s position could have known nothing about atrocities, although Lieb accepts that locally he was separated from places these atrocities happened, while Der Spiegel comments that Rommel was simply in denial about what happened around him. Alaric Searle points out that it was the early diplomatic successes and bloodless expansion that blinded Rommel to the true nature of his beloved Fuhrer, whom he kept naively supporting. Scheck believes that it might be forever unclear whether Rommel recognized the unprecedent depraved character of the regime. When Rommel learned about the atrocities SS Division Leibstandarte committed in Italy in September 1943, he allegedly forbade his son to join the Waffen-SS.
During recent years, historians’ opinions on Rommel have become more diversified, with some aspects of his image being the target of revisionism more frequently than the others. According to the prominent German historian Hans-Ulrich Wehler, the modern consensus agrees with post-war sources that Rommel treated the Allied captives decently, and he personally thinks that the movie Rommel does not overstate his conscience. Also according to Wehler, scholars in England and the US still show a lot of admiration towards Rommel the military commander. Some authors, notably Wolfgang Proske, see Rommel as a criminal whose memorials should be removed, although these represent the unorthodox minority (which is admitted by Proske). Perry and Massari note that the majority of historians continue to describe Rommel as a brilliant, chivalrous commander.
Historian Claus Telp remarks that, “For all his craftiness, Rommel was chivalrous by nature and not prone to order or condone acts of needless violence. He treated prisoners of war with consideration. On one occasion, he was forced to order the shooting of a French lieutenant-colonel for refusing to obey his captors.” Historian Raffael Scheck says, “Although there is no evidence incriminating Rommel himself, his unit did fight in areas where German massacres of black French prisoners of war were extremely common in June 1940.” Rommel, no matter how hard the situation was, made a deliberate effort at always spending some time with soldiers and patients, his own and POWs alike, which contributed greatly to his reputation of not only being a great commander but also “a decent chap” among the troops.
The political scientist and historian Randall Hansen suggests that Rommel chose his whole command style for the purpose of spreading meritocracy and egalitarianism, as well as Nazi ideals he shared with Hitler due to their common non-aristocratic background. His egalitarianism extended to people of other races: in replying to white South African officers’ demands that the black POWs should be housed in separated compounds, he refused, commenting that the black soldiers wore the same uniforms and had fought alongside the whites, and thus were their equals. On the other hand, Watson comments that, regarding the Afrika Korps, any Nazi indoctrination was minimised, allowing Rommel the freedom to reinvent his army in his own style.
An obvious example of how politically naive Rommel was how in 1943, he surprised Hitler by proposing that a Jew should be made into a Gauleiter to prove to the world that Germany was innocent of accusations that Rommel had heard from the enemy’s propaganda regarding the mistreatment of Jews. To which Hitler responded:
Dear Rommel, you understand nothing about my thinking at all.
Messenger argues that Rommel’s attitude towards Hitler changed only after the Allied invasion of Normandy, when Rommel came to realise that the war could not be won, while Maurice Remy suggests that Rommel never truly broke away from the relationship with Hitler, but praises him for “always had the courage to oppose him whenever his conscience required so.” The historian Peter Lieb states that it was not clear whether the threat of defeat was the only reason he wanted to switch sides. The relationship seemed to go downhill much after a conversation in July 1943, in which Hitler told Rommel that if they did not win the war, the Germans could rot. Rommel even began to think that it was lucky that his Afrika Korps was now safe as POWs and could escape Hitler’s Wagnerian ending. Die Welt comments that Hitler chose Rommel as his favourite because he was apolitical, and that the combination of his military expertise and circumstances allowed Rommel to remain clean.
There is also, especially in Germany, an increasing tendency to portray Rommel as someone who cannot be explained in concrete details yet. However, these modern authors, while respecting the man and his mythical aura, are not afraid to show his questionable traits, or point out the horrible (including the possible) consequences of his “politically extremely naive” actions that perhaps would not be fitting of a role model, and allow living witnesses who might portray Rommel in a negative light to speak in documentaries about him, to the extent some, like General Storbeck, consider excessive and unbalanced (Storbeck states that there are many other witnesses who will provide the opposite views, and also questions the use of an extremely ill Manfred Rommel to achieve a portrayal filmmakers want).
Historian Cornelia Hecht remarks “It is really hard to know who the man behind the myth was,” noting that in numerous letters he wrote to his wife during their almost 30-year marriage, he commented little on political issues as well as his personal life as a husband and a father. Butler states that Rommel’s idealistic character led to grave misjudgements because he refused to let anything compromise it, and also that although he had a sense of strategy that developed greatly during the war, he lacked a philosophy of war.
In conclusion, Maurice Remy concludes that, unwillingly and probably without ever realising, Rommel was part of a murderous regime, although he never actually grasped the core of National Socialism. Peter Lieb sees Rommel as a person who could not be put into a single drawer, although problematic by modern moral standards, and suggests people to personally decide for themselves whether Rommel should remain a role model or not. Modern historians who agree with the image of the apolitical, chivalrous genius also have different opinions regarding details. Smith and Bierman opine that Rommel might be considered an honourable man in his limited way but in a deeply dishonourable cause, and that he played the game of war with no more hatred for his opponent than a rugby team captain might feel for his opposite number.
“Did you hear what Churchill said on the radio Leopold?” Eleonora asked for what seemed like the millionth time. “He said that we can have a brief period of rejoicing now that Germany has surrendered!”
As much as I would have liked to rejoice, I was still far too tired to feel anything other than precisely being tired. Eleonora had also neglected to mention the fact that Churchill also said that there was still a long and hard road ahead. The Japanese continued to fight and the journey across the Pacific would be a long one.
“Honestly I don’t know how we can rejoice when there’s nothing left of the entire continent.” I grumbled. Eleonora had learned to breathe again, but I had not. I still smelled the smoke, I still tasted the grime and I even still wore my stripes.
“Life in America will be so amazing,” Eleonora continued on. She too was still wearing her stripes but the smile on her face seemed to distort them. I didn’t really see them anymore. I knew they were there, but I couldn’t see them. “Although the vessel will be arriving in New York I really want to go to Boston. Some of the Americans in the port were talking about what life is like there and I really want to go.”
I had no choice but to admire her for her big dreams. They hadn’t taken them from her, despite everything, she still had a good heart. But the big question was, how would she make a life for herself all alone in a foreign country at just fifteen? We had nothing except the clothes on our backs and our souls, if we had any left.
“And what if the boat sinks on its way to New York like the Titanic?” I mused as both Eleonora and I sat on the deck in the open air waiting for the vessel to depart.
“Leopold,” Eleonora grumbled herself, “the Nazis couldn’t kill us, do you think the ocean will?” It wasn’t like her to be annoyed, and especially not with me, but I could not bring myself to share her hope for the future. “I know it’s hard,” she put her hand on mine, “but we’re free now. You can close your eyes and rest easy at night now knowing that our British and Russian friends and allies will stand up for justice for us.”
The boat kept on filling up with other passengers, many also wearing stripes just like us. I said nothing for a while as I looked up at the fluffy white clouds in the sky. My entire family had gone up in smoke, literally. My home had been completely destroyed. Rubble was the only thing left of my house that had been taken over by some Germans after we were forced out. The entire street had been leveled too. There was nothing left.
“Are you sure you don’t want to go to Palestine?” I asked Eleonora after an extended moment of silence.
“You’re not a Jew.” She replied emotionlessly. Eleonora was an Italian Jew but I was only a Pole. Palestine didn’t have much to offer me. There was nothing left of my own country either, or much of any country in Europe for that matter. “But you are.” I added dryly.
“I can’t leave you behind Leopold! You risked your life for me. You gave me your extra rations, you even took a beating from the SS for me in the factory. And you expect me to run off you and never think about you again? I have nobody else. You have nobody else. Who are we if we don’t have each other?”
Tears rolled down my cheeks for the first time since liberation. When the Russians opened those gates I was right there and collapsed into the arms of the first Red Army soldier I saw. I didn’t understand a single word of what the disheveled man told me but no words were necessary in a moment like that. I then grabbed Eleonora by the hand and we walked out. Just like that we were free. Just like that we’d also been deported almost two years earlier too.
“Are you alright my son?” An older man asked me as he passed me by on the vessel. “Here, have some chocolate,” he went on as he handed me a bar, “it makes anybody happier!”
“Thank you,” I said as I took the chocolate bar and split it with Eleonora.
“It’s true that chocolate makes anybody happier,” she sad joyfully, “I mean, as long as it’s not milk chocolate when you’re lactose intolerant.”
We both began laughing. How long had it been since I laughed? Since the war began? Six years? More than that? Eleonora and I both ate the delicious chocolate and licked our fingers afterwards. I also hadn’t seen any in years, and out on the streets it was a luxury very few people could have with the food shortages and the destruction left in the wake of all the bombings. A fortunate few had gotten rich off the black market but I’d already given up all of my remaining golden teeth that the Nazis had missed to buy Eleonora and I tickets to New York.
“You still have thirty seconds to change your mind about Palestine.” I said blankly as the last few passengers boarded the vessel.
“Look, Leopold, if you hate me that much we can part ways when we get to America.” Eleonora replied, equally blankly.
“What makes you think that I hate you?” I chuckled with chocolate still in my mouth, “I just want you to have a good life. You don’t owe me anything. I did what I did because I wanted to.”
She scooted over to me and laid her head on my shoulder as the boat horn sounded announcing the departure. People waved at those still on land and everyone except me had a smile on their faces that stretched from ear to ear.
“I could’ve missed out on the camp but that also means that I would’ve had to miss out on you,” Eleonora spoke softly through the cheers echoing all over the vessel, “and I wouldn’t wanna miss you for the world.”
Let’s get political again, sort of. It’s not new for the internet to be flooded with posts and articles comparing Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler (and you can bet that even more will follow soon enough), all the way down to how the two of them saluted the cheering crowd as I’ve found below and just a quick Google search of Hitler salute will give you an equal amount of Trump pictures:
Anyway, in one article there was a mention of Rudolf Höss, the Kommandant of Auschwitz. I found this interesting for several reasons; the first being that Trump’s highly controversial (and currently banned) executive order was passed on International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27th 2017), which also happens to be the day that Auschwitz was liberated by Soviet troops. While I don’t believe that Trump is Hitler 2.0 his racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic and nationalistic policies did send me on one epic rant about two weeks ago and hundreds of nasty Tweets.
I want to take a moment to comment on that since at one point I seemed to imply that Trump might as well create Auschwitz 2.0 if he can’t purge the unwanted immigrants from his country but I want to make it clear that I do not believe such a thing. There are mechanisms in place to prevent this type of genocide from happening in America no matter what the circumstances, but World War III could still start tomorrow! Such posts are also increasing in my news feed and while I do my best to believe that politicians aren’t stupid enough to repeat the disaster my grandparents survived, the cold hard truth is that even a small conflict can quickly get out of control and have large-scale catastrophic impacts. I sure hope that the world is overreacting on most issues, but I honestly do not know of a single person that doesn’t experience some degree of anxiety regarding these uncertain times.
I’ve calmed down considerably since my previous rant, but my opinion on the issue hasn’t changed. Not wanting immigrants is one thing, but getting rid of your green card holders (permanent residents) and separating families is taking it to a whole other level. The last I’ve heard though, the green card thing was dropped, but I don’t know about the rest. I’m just as confused as everybody else. As others have put it on social media, je suis sick of this shit.
So much for writing about what I originally came here to write… I don’t know where I’m going with this post anymore. I originally wanted to respond to a political rant I saw elsewhere on the internet that mentioned Rudolf Höss, which mentioned his repentance, but I’ve gone way off-topic. What I was getting at is that I was honestly surprised that he would actually ever have a shred of remorse considering the way he’s always been portrayed in films about Auschwitz. In another twist to this story though, I began a reading challenge with a group of friends and one of the topics is a book written by a criminal and my friend who organized the group recommended Death Dealer written by none other than Rudolf himself. He ends his autobiography with the following words:
May the public continue to see in me the bloodthirsty beast, the cruel sadist, the murderer of millions – for the majority of people would not be able to imagine the Commander of Auschwitz in any other way. The broad mass of people will never understand that he also had a heart, that he wasn’t evil.
Aside from being one of the most chilling books I’ve ever read, his autobiography frustrated me deeply exactly because of the way he ended it. He wrote just before that paragraph that he was shown kindness in prison and broke him, and that he chose to deliberately omit the sections of his book that would portray him having a heart. The reason that frustrated me is that now I’m extremely curious to know who “Rudolf with a heart” actually was but he deliberately took that part to his grave. I know that the world isn’t black and white, but Death Dealer left out the shades of grey in between. I would give the book 4 out of 5 stars and I recommend anyone reading this to read it too.
A Catholic priest named Manfred Deselaers also wrote a book based on Rudolf’s autobiography exploring the issue of evil from a theological point of view. Even as a Muslim, I found it very enlightening and well-written. Whether you are Catholic, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or something else, the concept of evil is something that touches all of us. That is also a book I would recommend. A third one that I’ve read (during my stint in the hospital I’ve had a lot of time to indulge in books) was Kolbe and the Kommandant written by Ladislaus Kluz in which Rudolf further elaborates on his repentance shortly before his execution:
My conscience is forcing me to make also the following assertion: In the isolation prison I have reached the bitter understanding of the terrible crimes I have committed against humanity. As a Kommandant of the extermination camp at Auschwitz, I have realized my part in the monstrous genocide plans of the Third Reich. By this means I caused humanity and mankind the greatest harm, and I brought unspeakable suffering particularly to the Polish nation. For my responsibility, I am now paying with my life. Oh, that God would forgive me my deeds! People of Poland, I beg you to forgive me! Just now in the Polish prisons have I recognized what humanity really is. In spite of everything that happened I have been treated humanely, which I had never expected, and this has made me feel deeply ashamed. Would to God…that the fact of disclosing and confirming those monstrous crimes against mankind and humanity may prevent for all future ages even the premises leading to such horrible events.
Naturally some people will never accept his plea for forgiveness, but I thought it was pretty powerful and even more so since I never would’ve expected something like that from someone like him. Honestly, it restores my faith in humanity in these tumultuous times to read something like that. If only we only opened our hearts more to the people that around us and their needs, and to focus more on being guided by warmth and by humanity, as Rudolf put it in his final letter to his eldest son. If the greatest mass murderer in history can come to understand this, why can’t we?
I will ask again, have we learned nothing from history? Why do our societies still thrive on hatred and bigotry? Why do we still elect officials that promote these ideologies? Many of my American friends tell me, “oh you’re Canadian you don’t understand American’s history,” and while that may be true to some degree, it doesn’t change the fact that this isn’t an American problem, it’s a humanity problem.
So what’s the point of this post? Have humanity. It’s free.