The Holocaust Lesson

Commentary by Dr. Gerhard Falk


The Lesson of the Holocaust

Ever since the opening of the European death camps in 1945 attempts have been made to explain the mass murders that took place there. Among these “explanations” have been some popular efforts to attribute all these horrors to the person of Hitler alone. Those who engage in this kind of psychobabble will dismiss the entire Shoah by claiming that it was all caused because “Hitler was crazy.” Such a phrase is of course no explanation because millions of Europeans participated in the persecution and murder of the European Jews. Even if Hitler was “crazy” that does not explain why 500,000 Germans and many others of other nationalities committed daily atrocities in the camps. Furthermore, the word “crazy” is meaningless. It is impossible to psychoanalyze Hitler ex post facto. In addition, a man who believed what almost all of his contemporaries also believed can hardly be called abnormal or “crazy”. Surely, almost anyone among the Austrians of his day (and of our own day) would have agreed with Hitler to the effect that Jews were to be persecuted and murdered. That attitude was so widespread that it was not at all “crazy”.

A second “explanation” commonly used is the “scapegoat” theory. This view holds that Germans were undergoing an economic depression and that therefore someone had to be blamed. The target were the Jews. The trouble with that argument is that the U.S. was also economically depressed in the 1929-1939 era. Yet here Franklin Roosevelt, and not some Nazi, was elected. There were American extremists here at that time. These included communists and Nazis. They did not even come close to election. Even in France, the land of the “Dreyfus Affair”, the depression did not produce a Nazi government. On the contrary. The prime minister of France in the 1930’s was Leon Blum, a Jew.

A third explanation of the Holocaust is the view that Christian anti-Judaism was responsible. This appears partially plausible in the sense that the old “Christ killer” stories and other hateful doctrines make Christianity responsible for laying the ground work for the Holocaust. Nevertheless, the Shoah did not originate in any Christian country other than Germany. Even the Poles, indeed bigots and anti-Jewish hate mongers to this day, did not set up the gas ovens in Auschwitz . The Germans did that. You may want to read my book, The Jew in Christian Theology, which you can find in any library. I show there that Christians are indeed guilty of great injustices and bloodshed with respect to the Jews of Europe. Nevertheless, it is apparent that the Nazi gangsters were able to perpetrate their mass murders precisely because Christianity had declined in Europe.

Then there are those who say that the whole German nation was infected with what the author Daniel Goldhagen calls “eliminationist anti-semitism.” Goldhagen uses this phrase in his 1996 book Hitler’s Willing Executioners. This book seeks to explain the Holocaust by just about ignoring Hitler and attributing the mass killings to the German nation as a whole. Goldhagen argues that if Hitler had never lived then the Holocaust would have occurred anyway because the entire German nation was infected with such hate that the vast majority of Germans wanted to kill Jews and needed no encouragement from Nazis to do so. Goldhagen shows that Germans were by and large happy to slaughter Jews and did so with enjoyment.

When Goldhagen’s book was published it aroused an immense anger among the history establishment in this country because it contradicted the views of older and encrusted dogma. One of these dogmas is the view of Milton Himmelfarb that if there had been no Hitler there would have been no Holocaust. The historian Hilberg, in his Destruction of the European Jews, tries to discover why Hitler succeeded in overcoming the moral scruples of the Germans against mass murder. Goldhagen shows, however, that the Germans had no moral scruples in the first place. Goldhagen then proceeds to dismiss five of the historical establishment's favorite explanations for the holocaust. He shows that the argument that the killers were forced to murder Jews under pain of execution was nonsense. The killers were all volunteers. No one was forced to murder Jews; that they, the killers, were blindly following orders because they were unwavering servants of authority; that peer pressure and conformity made them do it; that they were pursuing careers of self interest and, like petty bureaucrats, gained promotion by killing Jews and, finally, that they were not aware that their individual actions were part of a monstrous mass murder. Goldhagen shows that all of these theories were nonsense. His detractors thereupon held a public meeting at which they denounced Goldhagen ad hominem. Unable to refute his findings, these established Jewish historians called his book worthless, claimed he should never have been allowed to publish it, denounced him personally as a charlatan and proved to the world that their jealous attacks were nothing more than resentment against achievement.

There are those who claim that the Holocaust came about because the Jewish people did not live by the teachings of Torah and were deficient in observing the 613 commandments of the Five Books of Moses. Those who make these claims point to Reform Jews and Conservative Jews and any Jews who did not live a “Torah true” orthodox life. The trouble with that explanation lies in the fact that the vast majority of the victims were in fact orthodox believers. The so called “assimilated Jews” who lived in Warsaw and other large cities had more money than the common “shtetl” Jews and therefore were more often able to escape from Poland and Germany than the poor Jews who were the principal targets of German and Polish murder.

There are yet other theories concerning the Holocaust, some of which blame the Jewish victims themselves. All of these theories can be refuted together with those already listed here. The truth is that we have no explanation for the Holocaust. Yet, we know this.

If the Jews of Europe had not been defenseless they would not have been slaughtered. Today, the Arabs and their European friends seek to mass murder the Israeli population and instigate another Holocaust. This time, however, the Jews of Israel can defend themselves. The Arabs tried to kill the entire Jewish population of Israel in 1948, in 1956, in 1967, in 1973 and now. They are screaming to the heavens that they have the same right to murder Jews as their European friends. They are terribly disappointed that they cannot achieve this in face of Israeli resistance and fighting ability. They too want to make lampshades from the skins of Jewish children. They, the Arabs, want to steal all Jewish property as did their spiritual forebears, the European Holocaust killers. All this is denied them by the Jews of Israel and by the Jews and people of the United States.

Therefore it is our obligation to stand by Israel at all times and prevent another Holocaust as so earnestly desired by the French government, the Belgian hate mongers and of course the Arabs' best friends, the Germans.

We will never be able to explain the Holocaust but we will be able to prevent another holocaust. “Never Again”.

Shalom u’vracha.

Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of numerous publications, including Grandparents:  A New Look at the Supporting Generation (with Dr. Ursula A., Falk, 2002), & Man's Ascent to Reason (2003).

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