A DIFFERENT VIEW OF THE HOLOCAUST

            Earlier this evening I watched a show on the History Channel about the Holocaust. The focus was on a scrapbook of snapshots taken at Auschwitz which  depicted the Nazi overseers of that death camp not only carrying out their duties but in their leisure time as well. There were few pictures of their victims. But the Germans invariably appeared as if they were just filling another routine job away from the warfront.

             By now the majority of us are at least vaguely familiar with the suffering and degradation and horror of the subjects of the Nazi plan for the “Final Solution”. TV specials, books, Schindler’s List and other movies and the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. have provided access to sickening photographs, diagrams and both written and oral accounts of life and death in those hellholes.

              In one way it is so hard to imagine six million humans being systematically exterminated in this manner. On the other hand, the reputation for German engineering prowess and efficiency preceeded World War II and these talents were fully employed in perpetrating the atrocity. Too, they kept such thorough records of their own criminality that largely documents the number of murders.

               Today is also what used to be widely known as Pearl Harbor Day, the one that “lives in infamy”. Of course fewer and fewer people remain alive who were personal witnesses to that attack and the number of folks old enough to recall the event is dwindling, too.

               That attack led us, within two days, to have declared war on both Japan and Germany and the following three and one half years would see an entire nation mobilized to fight Japan to our west and Germany to our east. Despite our population advantage, our established industrial might and superb civilian and military leadership, our eventual victory was not always readily apparent.

                 Japan had its own extracurricular activities in the Far East but nowhere on the scale of that of the Nazis in Europe. I don’t have figures on the financial cost of operating the concentration camps nor the human and other resources that were applied solely to that effort. But to capture and process and house and feed, even minimally for a brief time, and then kill and dispose of six million bodies had to involve huge numbers of men and women and untold material resources. Even utilizing slave labor to erect minimalist structures was time consuming and required large numbers of German/Nazi overseers.

                I have often wondered what the Germans could have done in the actual war against the Allies had not these personnel and those assets been subtracted from the war effort. As difficult as it was for the Allies to prevail in Europe, would they have been successful if the Germans had concentrated on the war itself rather than service these distractions?

                 Of course Hitler’s breaking of his non-aggression pact with the Soviets  also meant huge parts of his forces were sent to the Russian front with subsequent tremendous numbers of casualties. So it could be argued that both the Russian campaign and the implementation of the Final Solution drained resources that could have been used directly against the Allied forces.

             But simply accept the premise that leaving the Jews and other Holocaust victims to live normally would have freed up financial and human capital that could have been redirected to battle. How much longer, then, would it have taken the Allies to defeat the Nazis? And how many more casualties would have resulted? 500,000? A million? Two million? More? Would we have won the war at all?

                 Victory in Europe allowed us to concentrate fully on Japan so that helped us cut our losses in the Pacific by shortening the war, though the atomic bomb was the eventual deciding factor in that region.

               What this leads me to is that the Holocaust as historical cataclysmic event, if never perpetrated by the Nazis, would have brought about a different history. Those annals may have shown a victory by the Germans or a greatly extended World War II. Either would have entailed considerable addidtional death and destruction among all parties engaged in the theater of war. And if the Germans had won, they would no doubt have fully exercised their murderous tendencies on the heretofore spared Jews, their conquered foes or both plus any other mortal entities they could identify as worthy of their killing skills.

            Thus, in effect, the victims of the Holocaust died not only for their sins of being Jews or homosexuals or any other nature of unworthy misfits, but as a sacrifice that enabled many others to survive. In that miniscule way, the suffering of these victims meant less suffering elsewhere. That does not bring nobility to their victimhood. Any nobility they possess was created from within for those who somehow in some way maintained their human dignity under the most difficult of circumstances.

              The ensuing years have allowed us a window into those death camps through the tales of the survivors. The matter-of -fact manner of their recitations lends an even greater poignancy to their words that is not at all contrived. As a result, the mundane, repetitious existence they describe is all the more horrific for the realization of the lethal actions surrounding them.

                 So the Holocaust victims may or may not have effectively spared others as the Germans diverted resources to their annihilation. That requires no exhibition of gratitude from others in the world at that time. It does demonstrate that the enormity of the Holocaust could have been amplified exponentially had the depraved ungodly evil of the Nazi regime concentrated on its quest for world supremacy, been successful and only then embarked on its nightmarish bloodthirsty experiment in genocide. That scenario is possibly more untenable than the one that took place.

                So our world today exists as it does at least partly because the German desire to slake their bloodthirst was not delayed.

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