Of all the CiF threads I have written about since joining CiF Watch, I’m afraid that the comments on Yorkshire Post journalist Peter Lazenby’s article of December 21st were for me the most difficult and shocking. Peter Lazenby wrote an appropriately sensitive piece about the theft of the sign from the Auschwitz concentration camp which displayed both empathy for the victims of the Holocaust and an understanding of the real lessons of that part of history.
Many of the comments below the line displayed the exact opposite. Some were even decidedly perverse; I cannot put this down to mere ignorance.
There were those who tried to diminish the scale and meaning of the Holocaust.
21 Dec 2009, 11:08AM
Bad thing to do .
BNP did not nick it.
Maybe Peter Lazenby would like to write about many of the symbols such as colliery wheels and factory gates that got melted down when our means of employment and cultural heritage was destroyed, particulary those that represent genuine hardship suffering and sacrifice of our own people.
Maybe we just suffered too quietly to be noticed.
I would like my cement mixer returned by whoever thieved it with an old heavily ladened pick-up truck , because buyng a new one equates with a lot of food on the table in hard times.
21 Dec 2009, 1:13PM
Personally I say no to Holocaust exceptionalism. I’m against Lazenby on that.
There were lots of comparable genocides, even if none identical. Stalin killed more. The Tutsis also targetted for complete elimination.
No doubt I will be shouted down; that is the tendency of CiF these days
There were those who tried to equate Israeli actions of self-defence with Nazi acts during the Holocaust.
21 Dec 2009, 11:21AM
Peter Lazenby –
“The Holocaust was a terror of such magnitude that it’s repercussions still drive the actions of people not born when the crematoria of Auschwitz and other camps belched forth their obscene fumes”
I agree completely Peter, what the Nazis did was in-human and must never be forgotten or excused in any way, it’s just a pity that the Palestinians have had to suffer for the past 61 years as a result of those ‘repercussions’.
“Just as well they got it back”
It certainly was, a representative of the Israeli authorities, speaking on the day the sign was stolen, was calling the theft ‘an act of war’. I was having visions of Israel invading Poland.
21 Dec 2009, 11:33AM
Hear hear usini and ThePrompter. We’ve failed to learn from this horrific part of history. Reading about Italy’s ”White Christmas” operation was deeply unsettling – the heirs of those who created that hell are going strong.
nusadua: Read the news today at http://www.imemc.org (it’s okay, plenty of Israeli journalists write for it too, including Amira Hass and Gideon Levy) – Israeli Army invades northern Gaza, Army invades Bilin, etc. You can get the weekly list of Israeli killings, injuries, kidnappings of Palestinians from the PHRC there too. I don’t think Palestinians are too taken with the Israeli hell actually. I thought the one thing everyone would have learnt from the horror of the holocaust was that mono-ethnic states never lead to peace and harmony.
21 Dec 2009, 1:24PM
“Isn’t it a shame that Europeans didn’t seem to care about Jews untill it was so obviously too late to help them?”
You are right Locotillo, it was a shame, in the truest sense of the word. Don’t you agree though that it’s good that some of us Europeans have learnt from that appalling mistake and are determined not to repeat it as far as the Palestinians are concerned?
21 Dec 2009, 5:27PM
Sign or no sign does not diminish the horror of what had been done by the Nazi.
From that we msut learn to identify and prevent other holocausts in our time and in the future. Holocaust is holocaust whether it is done with gas, guns, deprivations, diseases or neglect.
There was the usual description of Israel as an apartheid state.
21 Dec 2009, 10:45AM
The preservation of Auschwitz is vital. It is the world’s most powerful remaining symbol of the ultimate outcome of racism.
The apartheid state of Israel is also a powerful symbol of racism as any Palestinian or Arab Israeli will tell you.
There were those who accuse Jews of ‘over-reacting’ and dwelling too much on the Holocaust.
21 Dec 2009, 10:56AM
I think you might just be reading far too much into this. OK, the holocaust was horrible and we should not permit it to happen again. Unfortunately after Cambodia, Rwanda and Kosovo such hopes for people not carrying out acts of genocide seem overly optimistic. However, the people who took the sign may not have had an anti-Semitic orientation, perhaps they were just a bunch of yobs seeking to souvenir something? I think the district police chief?s comments that there seems to be no connection with neo-Nazi groups is worth taking onboard. Perhaps someone might suggest ? god forbid ? that the reaction from Jewish groups over this entire affair is over the top!
21 Dec 2009, 1:17PM
I agree with Aliboy. The genocide in Rwanda was chilling and horribly effective. 800,000 people hacked to death in 2 months yet we don’t hear much from the Rwandans on CIF, they are trying to move on as best they can. I am visiting Cambodia in 2010, another genocide now overlooked, the holocaust was a dreadful stain on our history, one of many, yet we fail to learn from them.
There were those who are unable to differentiate between legitimate and illegitimate criticism.
21 Dec 2009, 1:59PM
I’d like Israel a whole lot better if they stopped shouting “Anti-Semite” at every criticism directed at them. I don’t have a problem with the people, it’s their government that I detest.
And there were those who had things to say about the ‘Holocaust industry’ and ‘propaganda’.
21 Dec 2009, 1:15PM
No respect – that for me is the chilling part. I’m very equivocal about aspects of the Holocaust “industry,” ie the endless stream of films that increasingly retread the history without illuminating further, but the camps stand as a monument to human folly and the depths of depravity plumbed by a terrible regime. Therefore…
… well it’s hardly a holy relic, is it?
in a strange way it is, and I think you are wrong to dismiss this act in the way you have.
21 Dec 2009, 1:40PM
The theft of the Arbeit Mach Frei sign which greets those on entry to the Nazi death camp was orchestrated by theives on the make for a profit from Nazi memorabilia collectors or even scrap meta.
There does not appear to be any ulterior Neo-Nazi plot or Holocaust Denial and statemen are blowing the incident out of proportion in orfder to reaffirm political propaganda points.
As was clear when Avner Shalev, director of Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, said the theft “constitutes a true declaration of war”. Well, no it does not. It was a crass act of petty criminality.
Shalev went on “We don’t know the identity of the perpetrators but I assume they are neo-Nazis.” The Krakow police dealing with the case, that is with the facts, think otherwise.
Yet some acts of vandalism are “worse than others despite the fact that Auschwitz is fetishised as a unique symbol of man’s inhumanity to man for a number of reasons
Firstly because Hitler’s Third Reich has become a symbol of undoubted demonic evil in a secular world where evil has lost the religious dimensions it once had.
Mass murder in the name of racism is the ultimate act of ‘political correctness’ and genocide peddled out routinely as a way of justifying NATO actions against the Serbs, Saddam’s Iraq etc etc
Secondly, Auschwitz is part of the propaganda inherent in the worldview of those promoting the geopolitical ambitions of self righteous victim nations as Poland and Israel demonstrate.
Thirdly, the victim mentality and the idea the theft of the Auschwitz sign was part of a conspiracy and “worldwide symbol of the cynicism of Hitler’s executioners and the martyrdom of their victims” ( Kaczynski) is hypocritical.
Not one word of condemnation has been forthcoming from any leader in Israel or Poland with regards Saskashvili’s decision to blow up a second World War memorial to the Soviet War deadThe pretext reads like those Nazis who wanted to turn Synagogues into granaries and so on, the excuse being that destroying it was necessary to make way for a new parliament building in the provincial town of Kutaisi.
It was a historical fact that Soviet troops that actually liberated Auschwitz in 1945. The Second World War was won on the Eastern Front but there has been barely any coverage of this act of vandalism.
The Arbeit Mach Frei sign can be replaced but the he 46m (151ft) concrete and bronze monument to the Soviet war dead, including 30,000 Georgians has been totally razed.
Moreover Saakashvili’s actions killed two people in the process, An eight-year-old girl and her mother were killed by debris hurled from an explosion. But Saakashvili was unrepentent. As Reuters reports,
One part of the monument, a statue of a naked Georgian horseman in front of the main concrete structure, has already been removed. Authorities said it would be relocated within Kutaisi, 236 km (147 miles) west of the capital Tbilisi.
Municipal construction official Jemal Tsuladze told Reuters the bronze sections of the monument, built in 1982, would be kept in storage, but the main structure was too big to move.
“It was a government decision and we are just implementing it,” he said. Kutaisi city officials could not confirm Russian media reports that the main structure – designed by Georgian sculptor Merab Berdzenishvili – would be blown up on 21 December, the birthday of Saakashvili which he shares with Josef Stalin.
Understandably the Russian government is angry.
The Russian Defence Ministry issued a statement saying it was “concerned”, and Duma deputy and former prime minister Sergei Stepashin said it was “sacrilege”. “The […] criminal nature of such evil acts must be raised at all international events,”
History is too important to be left to politicians whose standards are not always that far from the ultimate logical extension of cruelty and psychopathological evil evident in the creation of Aushwitz but also of everyday camp life.
The best witness to Auschwitz was the great Polish writer Tadeusz Borowski who saw in Auschwitz merely an intensified microcosm of the barbarism and cruelty that all humans inglict on one another when they compete pathologically over resources.
This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, and Other Stories banishes the moralising cant prated by politicians.
?The first duty of Auschwitzers is to make clear just what a camp is. ? But let them not forget that the reader will unfailingly ask: But how did it happen that you survived? ? Tell, then, how you bought places in the hospital, easy posts, how you shoved the ?Moslems? [prisoners who had lost the will to live] into the oven, how you bought women, men, what you did in the barracks, unloading the transports ? tell about the daily life of the camp. ? But write that you, you were the ones who did this. That a portion of the sad fame of Auschwitz belongs to you as well.?
Strangely enough, the above comment was not deemed ‘off topic’, but other comments which do not fit in with the GWV were deleted.
21 Dec 2009, 4:13PM
Auschwitz stands as a reminder of the evil engendered by racist politics, no wonder the racists of today would rather it was forgotten
Who is it who attacks Jews today, Lefty?
It’s no longer just the far right. I think you have to put your own house in order first (and I don’t mean you personally, but those in your political camp).
21 Dec 2009, 4:21PM
Now, question for you, do you think Anti-Semitism in POLAND OR CENTRAL EUROPE is more likely to be found in leftists and the abundant muslim population there, or, in the racist far rightist kindred of the BNP?
Anti-semitism in Poland is on both the left and right.
In Europe in general, it’s on the left, right and in the Islamic communities.
I would say that it’s a far bigger problem today from the left/Islamic alliance.
You want to sweep that under the carpet?
I think the last word on this is best left to Gill Seidel, from the book ‘The Holocaust Denial’.
“Just as ‘Jewish Bolshevism’ was seen by the Nazis as part of the international Jewish conspiracy theory whereby Wall Street financed the Russian revolution, in the Israeli debate ‘Zionist racism’ and ‘Zionist Nazism’ invite similar ‘solutions’, transporting the trauma of extermination to the Middle East and to the Diaspora communities.”