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Mr and Mrs Lili Wedding


"Die Juden sind unser Unglück!"

I've just finished reading Saul Friedländer's The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews 1939-1945. Interspersed with contemporaneous journal entries, it traces - in detail and in chronological order - exactly what happened during those darkest years. It's something to do with being here in Europe and travelling to those places; I'm trying to fill the big gaps in my knowledge.

Large parts of the book are difficult reading. Virulent (and it would seem, quite mindless) anti-Semitism from the top brass found a natural home amongst traditional Christian anti-Semitism and the long standing the-Jews-are-outsiders-living-among-us-and-hoarding-all-the-money-style anti-Semitism that was liberally peppered all over the continent. The fascist regime encouraged, no demanded, lawlessness and vigilantism, which saw many truly gruesome grassroots massacres. And the Wehrmacht, under the collective spell of Nazi propaganda, seem to have lost all respect whatsoever for human life.

This attempted summary is a bit pointless, as everyone knows the story. So I thought I'd paste an except from the book, and this particular passage has stuck with me:

In early July 1942 Henry Montor, the president of the United Palestine Appeal in the United States, asked Lichtheim [the delegate of the Jewish Agency in Geneva] to send him a 1,500-word article reviewing “the position of Jews in Europe.” “I feel at present quite unable to write a ‘report’,” Lichtheim answered Montor on August 13, “a survey, something cool and clear and reasonable… So I wrote not a survey but something more personal—an article, if you like—or an essay, not of 1,500 words but of 4,000 giving more of my own feelings than of the ‘facts.’” The letter concluded with “all good wishes for the New Year to you and the happier Jews of ‘God’s own country’”. Lichtheim titled his essay “What is Happening to the Jews of Europe”:

“A letter has reached me from the United States, asking me to ‘review the position of Jews in Europe.’ This I cannot do because the Jews are today no more in a ‘position’ than the water of a rapid rushing down into some canyon, or the dust of the desert lifted by a tornado and blown in all the directions.

“I cannot even tell you how many Jews there are at present in this or that town, in this or that country, because at the very moment of writing thousands of them are fleeing hither and thither, from Belgium and Holland to France (hoping to escape to Switzerland), from Germany—because deportation to Poland was imminent—to France and Belgium, where the same orders for deportation have just been issued. Trapped mice running in circles. They are fleeing from Slovakia to Hungary, from Croatia to Italy. At the same time, thousands are being shifted under Nazi supervision to forced labor camps in the country further east, while other thousands just arrived from Germany or Austria are thrown into the ghettos of Riga or Lublin.”

As Lichtheim was writing his “essay,” information was reaching Allied and neutral countries from increasingly reliable sources about what was really happening to European Jews… And yet, even without indications about the extermination, Lichtheim’s letter conveyed his anguish in sentences that, decades later, can sear the reader’s mind: “I am bursting with facts,” he went on, “but I cannot tell them in an article of a few thousand words. I would have to write for years and years… That means I really cannot tell you what has happened and is happening to five million persecuted Jews in Hitler’s Europe. Nobody will ever tell the story – a story of five million personal tragedies every one of which would fill a volume.”




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Anonymous tbi Says:

They just lost respect to jew life T_T


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