Forgetting the evil

“I ask nothing of the Jews
except that they should disappear.”
– Hans Frank, Nazi governor of Poland

Last week I apologized to a Jewish friend for again forgetting the evil, the third year in a row I promised myself I would not forget. I am exactly what evil wants, what evil needs to succeed; wondering if Edmund Burke might have described me when he said, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” By ignoring, by standing on the sidelines, by not remembering, are we not condoning evil?

In 1982, Congress acknowledged the Holocaust with the “Days of Remembrance;” this year observed on April 11. Have you heard of this? How much attention does it get? Will the anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death garner the same brief attention?

What is there to remember? Only that the Nazis controlled territory that is now 35 separate European countries, those countries once home to nearly 8 million Jews, the slaughter successfully eliminating 6 million.

6 million Jews? Come on. Are we really supposed to believe that? Do we even know if it really happened? Some people suggest it was nothing more than war propaganda, like the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Further, Iranian leader, Ahmadinejad, claims the Holocaust was a “myth,” created by the Europeans to legitimize stealing Islamic lands for the Jews.

Was it real? Was it the evil I was taught? Abraham Malik described the police coming to his home saying, “They started banging (on) houses . . . One baby started to cry . . . The other baby started crying. So the mother urinated in her hand and gave the baby a drink to keep (her) quiet. (When the police had gone), I told the mothers to come out. And one baby was dead; . . . from fear the mother had choked her own baby.”

Eliminating the Jews with guns was inefficient, time consuming and wasted needed ammunition. The Nazis created a superior “final solution” for disposing of the Jews, hydrogen cyanide gas chambers. These were a tremendous advance, the pride of Nazi efficiency, some camps “processing” up to 10,000 Jews a day, only slowing long enough for other Jewish prisoners to pull gold-filled teeth from the corpses on the way to the incinerators.

The smoke bellowed overhead day and night, the unimaginable stench drifting over neighboring towns making it impossible to not know what was happening. But the world did not want to know. The world did not want to believe. The world remained silent. And the extermination continued.

Perhaps the “lucky” Jews, if one can pervert the definition of lucky, were those who believed they were being “relocated in the east,” arriving at the death camps with their luggage. Hastily, they were ordered to disrobe and enter the “delousing” showers; twenty minutes later dead and dumped into incinerators.

Others were not so “lucky.” In the Soviet Union near the city of Kiev, over 33,000 Jews arrived for their “relocation in the east;” the notice said, “Failure to appear is punishable by death.”

A truck driver watched as the Nazis ordered the Jews to undress and enter a ravine that was about 150 yards long and 15 yards deep. They were forced to lie down on top of the Jews who had already been shot, neatly stacked layers of death. A Nazi marksman walked across the bodies, stepping from one to the next, shooting each one in the head as he passed by.

The “unluckiest” Jews, the children, held a special fascination for Dr. Josef Mengele, who had the children call him “Onkel Mengele.” But he saw them as nothing more than research animals, there for experimentation.

Survivor Vera Alexander remembers “Onkel” taking twins Guido and Ina away. When they finally returned, she heard their death screams, the twins surgically turned into Siamese twins, their backs sewn together. The screams continued day and night until they died, after which Mengele dissected them, just as he would any other lab animal.

To the Jews of the world, I apologize for forgetting. We must forever remember.

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