Friday, August 28, 2009

Holocaust: The Overlooked Evil.

(Below) Jewish men are forced to dig their own graves before being executed.
Auschwitz has become the prevailing symbol of the evil perpetrated during the Holocaust, known as one of the darkest periods in history; yet 70% of the Jews murdered during the Holocaust were already dead by the time Auschwitz became fully operational. Not only that, Auschwitz was a labor camp as well as a death camp, and for every commonly known camp such as Auschwitz, Dachau, Buchenwald, etc. there were literally thousands more the general public has never heard of. All together, there are more than 20,000 camps, of which many are solely death camps.

So, why then is Auschwitz the symbol?

This is largely a result of the large number of survivors, mostly Western European Jews, who could go on and tell their story after they were liberated. The greatest number of victims were the Eastern European Jews who, if they were "lucky" enough to survive, were locked behind the Iron Curtain, unable to tell their story.

National Geographic recently aired the special, Hitler's Hidden Holocaust , which reveals the little known part of history and the seldom heard horrific story of the specialized units called “Einsatzgruppen” (a German term, meaning "action-groups") who played a major role in the extermination of Jews (murdered more than 1.5 million Jews point blank) and set the stage for the Nazi death camps.

Before the idea of industrialized mass killing even entered the minds of the Nazis, the Einsatzgruppen, beginning in June of 1941, followed the German army as it advanced deep into Soviet territory and carried out "in your face" mass-murder operations by going directly to the home communities of Jews, and with the help of local civilians and police, dug death pits, gathered all the Jews up, thousands at a time, and killed them, point blank, one bullet at a time.


This, of course, presented a terrible logistics problem for the Nazis: bullets were expensive; it was too public; too personal, and it could get a little messy.

In the late summer of 1941 SS Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler (pictured left standing with Hitler) visited Minsk to witness, per his request, one of the killing operations in progress. Never having seen a man killed before, Himmler freaked out, screaming, "Kill them quickly...kill them quickly!"

This horrifying experience resulted in Himmler ordering a more efficient mode of killing be developed. Thus, the gas chambers were born.

Because of these new revelations and discoveries, some experts say that Auschwitz is the wrong symbol of the Holocaust as it warps our understanding of what really happened. Auschwitz was only the tip of the iceberg.

From the Washington Post article, Extent of Nazi Camps Far Greater Than Realized:

"Shapiro says that the sheer number of camps may end one of the lingering protestations surrounding the Holocaust -- that ordinary people knew nothing of the killing underway in their locales."

In most towns, there was some sort of prison, or holding area or place where people were victimized," Shapiro says. "Think about what this means. For anyone who thinks this took place out of sight of the average person, this shatters that mythology. There was one Auschwitz. There was one Treblinka. But there were 20,000 other camps spread through the rest of Europe."


(Left) Waffen-SS men and young members of the Reich Labor Service look on as a member of Einsatzgruppe D is about to shoot the last Jew left alive at Vinica, Ukraine, as he kneels on the edge of a mass grave.

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