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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Holocaust of whom?

When my husband's aunt and uncle cleaned out their house in order to move to smaller quarters, they sent us some videos. That's how we came into possession of "for the LIVING," the story of the United States Holocaust Museum.

I've just wasted time trying to google it, and all I could find was this reference (no separate link):

For the Living [videorecording]. Alexandria, Va.: PBS Video, 1993. (Video Collection)
Documentary covering the Museum's planning, construction, dedication, and opening. Narrated by Ed Asner.
I watched it, not because I'm "into" the Holocaust scene, but because about half the juniors and seniors in Bnai Akiva Bnai Binyamin Yeshiva High School, where I teach, are off to Poland on the "Holocaust Heritage Tour," and I was looking for something for a lesson for those remaining here.

Personally, in principle I don't really like all these memorials, like the Washington one and Yad VaShem. They leech enormous amounts of money which should go to promoting the continuation of Jewish Life by giving free Jewish education to all Jews, rather than memorializing the Jewish past, as if strong vibrant Jewish life should be just a museum exhibit.

I have a major problem complaint about Yad VaShem because of its use of the word "perished" rather than the more accurate "murdered."

The film I just saw had me twitching from the very beginning when they mentioned "11 million victims." Yes, that was a bad sign. It meant that the Nazi Holocaust was to be portrayed as something "universal," not particularly Jewish.

Within the first few minutes a survivor told of how his father managed to hide a small bottle of wine, to celebrate the untimely Bar Mitzvah of the same survivor. However, the "J-word" was only mentioned 13 minutes into the film. Another hint of the non-Jewish emphasis was the fact that Carter was the US President when the museum was approved, and we all know how anti-Semitic he actually is. He considers the Arabs to be victimized by Israel.

It's terribly galling to see the obviously Jewish victims, while their religious identity is "fudged."

At least the film mentions the terrible tragedy of the St. Louis, the ship filled with Jews who had been fleeing the Nazis but was turned away by the United States, and its passengers were sent off to be murdered in Nazi Germany. Also, there are some excellent things on the memorial's site, such as this:

THE HOLOCAUST

During World War II, Nazi Germany and its collaborators murdered approximately six million Jews. The Holocaust is the name used to refer to this systematic, bureaucratic, and state-sponsored campaign of persecution and murder. Beginning with racially discriminatory laws in Germany, the Nazi campaign expanded to the mass murder of all European Jews
During the era of the Holocaust, the Nazis also targeted other groups because of their perceived "racial inferiority": Roma (Gypsies), people with disabilities, and some of the Slavic peoples (Poles, Russians, and others). Other groups were persecuted on political and behavioral grounds, among them Communists, Socialists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and homosexuals.

See maps
"Holocaust" is a word of Greek origin meaning "sacrifice by fire." The Nazis came to power in Germany in January 1933. The Nazis frequently used euphemistic language to disguise the true nature of their crimes. According to this vocabulary, Germans were considered "racially superior" and the Jews, and others deemed "inferior," were "life unworthy of life."
In 1933, the Jewish population of Europe stood at over nine million. Most European Jews lived in countries that Nazi Germany (the Third Reich) would occupy or influence during World War II. The Nazis established concentration camps to imprison Jews, other people targeted on ethnic or “racial” grounds, and political opponents. Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, beginning World War II. Over the next two years, German forces conquered most of Europe.

"Never say never," so I won't claim that I'll "never" go to that museum or return to Yad VaShem. But just a word to the wise, don't forget that the message, or lesson, these institutions project isn't the entire story, and it's not the truely Jewish one either. As taught in Pirkei Avot, Ethics of the Fathers,
Who is wise? One who learns from every man.

5 comments:

Lena Adler (no web page) said...

Would you be good enough at Shiloh Musings 'to whom it may concern'
if you would be kind enough to send me a copy of my response of several minutes ago to Batya's article entitled "Holocaust of Whom" dated 3/14/07. Thank you very much. I had no chance to make a copy for myself of the Preview.

Ben-Yehudah said...

B"H I emphatically agree with you! Of course, we can "never forget," but what are we doing to prevent one of the on-going holocausts? You know, intermarriage, both in N. America AND NOW in Israel?? Just think of what could have been done with half of the money used to build the DC memorial.

But, nooooooooo! Those same patrons deny the importance of this. HaShem yishmor!

Batya said...

Lena, I have no idea of what you're referring to, sorry.

ben-yehuda, It really bothers me that people have no trouble giving to memorials for dead Jews, but they won't do anything for our survival.

benning said...

Ahhh, Political Correctness taken to it's silliest extreme!

There far too many who would complain that their own people were not mentioned as "victims" of the "deaths" at the camps. Thus, we cannot offend them, can we?

Stupidity has no limits, it seems.

Batya said...

dangerous to be stupid, foolish