Tom Diaz

Archive for the ‘Holocaust’ Category

Desecrating the Holocaust: Guns and the Right Wing Propaganda Machine–Part Two

In Bushmaster assault rifle, Cultural assassination, Fox News, Guns, Holocaust, Ignorance of History, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION, politics, Running Fire Fight, Semiautomatic assault rifles, Shoah, The Great Stupid, Tired Old Republicans on January 27, 2013 at 9:49 pm
800px-Stroop_Report_-_Warsaw_Ghetto_Uprising_06b

If only these women and children had guns…

It would be hard to find a more ignorant statement—or more accurately, a more ignorant misstatement—of history than this misshapen deposit from the muddled cloaca of low level electrical discharges that pass for the intellect of former New Jersey state trial judge Andrew P. Napolitano:

 The historical reality of the Second Amendment’s protection of the right to keep and bear arms is not that it protects the right to shoot deer. It protects the right to shoot tyrants, and it protects the right to shoot at them effectively, thus, with the same instruments they would use upon us. If the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto had had the firepower and ammunition that the Nazis did, some of Poland might have stayed free and more persons would have survived the Holocaust. (Emphasis added.) Andrew P. Napolitano, “Guns and freedom,” January 10, 2013, FoxNews.comhttp://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/01/10/guns-and-freedom/#ixzz2J6aV0NUe.

454px-Polish_infantry_marching_-2_1939

These Poles actually did have guns…and airplanes…and tanks. The Polish army in 1939

It is hard to see how—even if they were the most well-armed Jews in the world—the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto could have saved even an inch of Poland. By the time Jews of Warsaw were forced into the ghetto in October 1940, Poland’s not inconsiderable army had been defeated and the entire country occupied by the Nazis and Soviet forces (briefly allies)  for over a year!

Napolitano, invested with the magnificent title of “senior judicial analyst” (do ermine-trimmed robes come with that?) is one of Fox News’ “experts” in counter-factual ideological hot air.  He quite clearly, however, has no clue about the actual history of the Holocaust, the actual history of the brutal conquest of Poland in September 1939, nor does he know what actually happened in the Warsaw Ghetto and when it happened.  Nor does he appear to have any idea of the actual firepower of even the most mundane military forces today.  So far as his official biography at Fox News goes, Napolitan has no military service and no experience in armed combat.  In sum, he is a windbag running on fumes when it comes to guns.

napolitano

Andrew P. Napolitano was formerly one of about 300 New Jersey country level trial judges. In spite of his bloviation about the potential use of civilian weapons against military force, he has apparently never spent ten minutes in military service.

Like many Fox News “experts,” Napolitano seems only interested in emitting his pathetically one-dimensional debating points.

Okay, given that, what is so terribly wrong with his ignorant verborrhea, his reckless throwing around of words that are somehow in this dimmest of bulbs vaguely related to the most serious mass murder in history?

  • It fundamentally disrespects the murdered victims of the Holocaust.  Such argumentative misstatements reduce the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust to dehumanized cartoon figures. Disconnected from truth, those victims become merely convenient Jews to be propped up with a sort of faux sympathy on the battlefield of ideology.  This is the intellectual equivalent of the hatefully anti-Semitic and stereotypical cartoon figures published by the odious Nazi propaganda rag Der Sturmer.
  • It vandalizes the real history of the Holocaust, smearing a coarse coating of opaque disinformation over the truth.  That obscurantism makes it much more difficult for people of good faith to understand and to learn from the terrible truths of the Holocaust.
  • It encourages the same sort of widespread armed disorder that existed during the Weimar Republic and out of which the Nazi movement grew.  For all their bleating about Hitler and Stalin, the ignorant, irresponsible and only slightly veiled calls to violence emitted by Napolitano, Glenn Beck and other of his soul mates in the gun lobby are the precise analog of the political thuggery that laid the foundation for the assumption of power by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.  Their reckless talk encourages unbalanced extremists to shoot at local cops and other “faces of government.”

Whom exactly is Andrew Napolitano suggesting that his followers shoot? Another county judge? A police officer? A governor? A senator? A member of the National Command Authority?  Put up or shut up, Andrew.

The Actual History

1933-may-10-berlin-book-burning

Book burning in 1933. The Nazi regime legally came to power, then won widespread support among ordinary Germans by its brutal imposition of “order” and “progress.” There was no magic moment to “shoot back.”

The German Jews.  As noted in Part I of this three-part series, Napolitano and other commentators are either thoroughly confused about, or entirely ignorant of, what happened in Germany during the Nazi era.  They apparently believe that the Nazis seized power at a discrete moment in a kind of violent coup, a moment at which armed Jews in Germany would have been able to “shoot them effectively” in Napolitano’s inelegant phrasing, if only they had had guns.

Wholly aside from the fact that the imbalances of firepower would have been such that the Jews would have been instantly crushed (see below, “The Jews of  Poland and Eastern Europe”), there was simply was no such moment for armed resistance.  Hitler was legally invited to power.  Jews represented .75% of the German population. Most of the other 99.25% of the German population were down with the Nazi program.  Moreover, it was almost impossible prospectively to believe that the Nazi regime would take the horrific course it did.

Jews were in fact subjected to an increasingly oppressive “cold pogrom” during the years between 1933 and the invasion of Poland.  In January 1933, some 522,000 Jews by religious definition lived in Germany. Over half of these individuals, approximately 304,000 Jews, emigrated during the first six years of the Nazi dictatorship, leaving approximately 214,000 Jews in Germany proper (1937 borders) on the eve of the Second World War. Long before the Nazis began the systematic deportation of German Jews in October 1941 — almost eight years after Hitler came to power — the violent regime was thoroughly installed and enjoyed the support of the German masses. Jews had been effectively erased from the public’s consciousness.  In all, the Germans and their collaborators killed between 160,000 and 180,000 German Jews in the Holocaust, including most of those Jews deported out of Germany. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, “German Jews during the Holocaust, 1939–1945,” http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005469.

The Jews of Poland and Eastern Europe.  Many gun lobby commentators who play the Holocaust card appear to be completely ignorant of the fact that most of the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust were actually from Poland and other East European nations. (There were others of course, from wherever the Nazi tide spread, often given up by conquered governments after their armies were thrashed by the German forces.)

The Jews of Poland did in fact have armed protection.  It was called the Polish Army.  When fully mobilized the Poles could potentially field an armed force of some 2.5 million men in 1939. The Jews of the other parts of Eastern Europe that the Nazis rolled over also had armed protection.  It was called the Red Army.  The Jews of France who were surrendered to the Nazis had armed protection, the French Army, as did the surrendered Jews of the Channel Islands, the British Army.

Polen, Stukas

It would have difficult for the most well-armed Jews in the world to shoot down these Nazi Stuka dive-bombers, shown over Poland.

Contrary to popular opinion in blighted quarters, the Polish Army was not a “push over” for the more powerfully armed Nazi forces when the latter invaded Poland in September 1939:

Publicly, the Nazis liked to give the impression that, in the words of the American Naval Attaché, ‘the Poles’ performance had been pitiable and inspired nothing but contempt in the German Army’, but, as the Germans themselves knew, the reality was rather different. All in all, a French military report on the war was correct when it observed that ‘with equality of material the Polish troops were always superior to the enemy’.

Essentially, however, the Poles fought with great courage and tenacity. Had there been near equality in tanks and planes between them and the Wehrmacht, the story might have been very different. As Zaloga and Madej point out, ‘it should not be forgotten that the Polish Army fought for nearly five weeks against the full weight of the Wehrmacht and later the Red Army, even though it was substantially outnumbered. In contrast, the British, French, Belgian and Dutch armies, which outnumbered the Wehrmacht in men, tanks and aircraft […] held out for only a few weeks more’. The Polish record in Warsaw, Modlin, Hel and Westerplatte was second to none. The Poles managed to inflict considerable casualties on the Germans: 16,000 killed and 32,000 wounded, while they knocked out 674 tanks, 217 of which were destroyed. The small and outdated Air Force, combined with ground defences, also managed to destroy, at a conservative estimate, about 220 Luftwaffe planes. The cavalry, far from indulging in useless deeds of derring-do, were often used effectively. Armed with anti-tank rifles and dismounted, cavalrymen were able to surprise and destroy German armoured units. Williamson, David G. (2012-09-20). Poland Betrayed: The Nazi-Soviet Invasions of 1939 (Campaign Chronicles) Casemate Publishers. Kindle Edition.

It is impossible to imagine what greater armed force the Jews of Poland and Eastern Europe could have had than that possessed by the professional armies of Poland, France, and England —not to mention those of the Red Army of the Soviet Union that was rolled back practically to Moscow when Hitler turned on his erstwhile ally in 1941.  Tanks? Aircraft?  What?

Napolitano’s Goofy and Totally Inaccurate Timeline

lossy-page1-641px-German_troops_parade_through_Warsaw,_Poland,_09-1939_-_NARA_-_559369.tif

German troops march through Warsaw in September 1939…more than a year before the city’s Jews were forced into the ghetto. The Nazis had firm control of every aspect of life in Poland by that time.

Germand and Soviet officers shake hand

German and Soviet officers shake hands after conquering Poland in September 1939. Hitler turned on his Russian ally two years later and scooped millions more Jews into his killing machine. The Red Army could not stop the Nazi juggernaut until winter set in. Even then, war would rage on the Eastern front for four more years.

Napolitano’s fact-free reference to the Warsaw Ghetto betrays a pitifully confused understanding of the actual sequence of events.  Poland was already thoroughly defeated and long since occupied by Nazi forces before the Warsaw Ghetto even came into existence.

Napolitano’s fantastic declaration that “some of Poland might have stayed free”  if Jews had guns is absurd.  What planet’s history has this man studied?

800px-Himmler_with_Hitler,_Poland_september_1939

Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler glory in the defeat of Poland, September 1939.

Here’s a recap of what actually happened. (See, http://www.ushmm.org/outreach/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007706.)

  • Defeat of Poland, September 1939.  Millions of Jews lived in eastern Europe. After Germany invaded Poland in 1939, more than two million Polish Jews came under German control. Many millions more were to fall under Nazi control with the invasion of the Soviet Union.
  • October 12, 1940. Warsaw Jews Ordered Into Ghetto.  A year after the defeat of Poland and its army, the Germans announced the establishment of a ghetto in Warsaw. All Jewish residents of Warsaw were ordered into the designated area, which was sealed off from the rest of the city in November 1940. More than 350,000 Jews—about 30 percent of the city’s population—were confined in about 2.4 percent of the city’s total area.
  • July 22, 1942. Warsaw Jews Deported To Treblinka Killing Center. Between July 22 and mid-September 1942 – three years after the defeat of the Polish army and imposition of Nazi control over all of Poland, and one year after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, more than 300,000 people were deported from the Warsaw ghetto: more than 250,000 of them were deported to the Treblinka killing center.
  • April 19, 1943. Jewish Fighters Resist Germans In Warsaw Ghetto. The Germans decide to eliminate the Warsaw ghetto and announce new deportations in April 1943, almost four years after the fall of Poland. The renewal of deportations sparked an armed uprising within the ghetto. Most people in the ghetto refused to report for deportation. Many hid from the Germans in previously prepared bunkers and shelters. Jewish fighters battled the Germans in the streets and from hidden bunkers. The Germans set fire to the ghetto to force the population into the open, reducing the ghetto area to rubble. On May 16, 1943, the battle was over. Thousands had been killed and most of the ghetto population was deported to forced-labor camps. The Warsaw ghetto uprising was the largest and most important Jewish uprising, and the first urban uprising in German-occupied Europe.

In the next part, Fairly Civil explores the well-financed hidden hands behind the foolish prattle that Napolitano and others in the right-wing propaganda machinery spew.

800px-Stroop_Report_-_Warsaw_Ghetto_Uprising_09

Ignorant prattling about the Holocaust dishonors the brave struggle of the Jews who did resist further Nazi deportation to death camps from the Warsaw ghetto…three and half years after the date Napolitano’s goofy timeline would place the uprising.

Desecrating the Holocaust: Guns and the Right Wing Propaganda Machine–Part One

In Guns, Holocaust, Ignorance of History, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION, politics, Running Fire Fight, Semiautomatic assault rifles, Shoah, The Great Stupid, Tired Old Republicans on January 25, 2013 at 5:56 pm
Kinder begrüßen Heinrich Himmler u. a.

Heinrich Himmler and German children. The idea that the Nazis “seized power” from hapless Germans who could have “shot back” turns history on its head. Nazis and their leaders, like the execrable Himmler, were hailed as national saviors by most “ordinary” Germans.

Yesterday, the Anti-Defamation League ripped into the misguided use of “Nazi and/or Holocaust analogies” in the national debate over gun control. ADL Says Nazi Analogies Have No Place in Gun Control Debate, http://www.adl.org/PresRele/HolNa_52/6472_52.htm. The organization, which this year will celebrate its 100th anniversary of fighting hate and bigotry in America, cited these recent examples:

            •            The Drudge Report, under the headline “White House Threatens ‘Executive Orders’ on Guns,” featured photos of Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin (Jan. 9).

            •            Former Major League pitcher John Rocker wrote on WorldNetDaily.com about what he described as “…the undeniable fact that the Holocaust would never have taken place had the Jewish citizenry of Hitler’s Germany had the right to bear arms and defend themselves with those arms” (Jan. 15).

            •            During an interview on the Fox News Channel, Lars Larson suggested that, “…if the president does it that way, everybody in America will be required to go in and give fingerprints….  It will be ‘your papers, please’ like Nazi Germany” (Jan. 9).

            •            Ohio State Board of Education President Debe Tehrar reportedly posted a photo of Adolf Hitler on Facebook with a variety of anti-Obama, pro-gun slogans and images (Jan. 23).

            •            Sean Hannity, discussing the gun debate, stated that, “We don’t talk a lot about — what were the intentions of our founders and framers? And we have Stalin, um, we have Hitler, we have countries, tyrannical. They talked a lot about that” (Jan. 23).

            •            Judge Andrew Napolitano, senior judicial analyst at Fox News, suggested in a column on Fox News.com that, “If the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto had had the firepower and the ammunition that the Nazis did, some of Poland might have stayed free and more persons would have survived the Holocaust (Jan. 10).

This effusion of appalling ignorance is both disgusting and dangerous.  Disgusting because it desecrates the memory of the six million Jews who were murdered not because they did not have guns, but because the societies in which they lived and died were infected with hatred.  That hatred was founded on the twin pillars of “scientific anti-Semitism” and the twisted ideology of a great national community called the Volksgemeinschaft.  Dangerous because our failure to understand the true history and dynamics of the Shoah (Holocaust) clouds our understanding of the power of rhetoric and passion that divide the world into “us” and them.”

This is the first of three parts by Fairly Civil to rebut this dangerous ignorance.  Part One summarizes the ultimate truth of Nazi power–it was not seized but given by a willing people.  Part Two will discuss the question of whether guns in the hands of any number of Jews would have prevented the Holocaust. Part Three describes the secret right-wing machinery behind much of this toxic ignorance about guns and the Holocaust.

[This part is in large extent based on or extracted from my work-in-progress, Something to Hide — The Lives of a Fake Mexican, Aryan Jews, and Other Chameleons on the Cloak of Empire.]

HITLER AND THE NAZI PARTY DID NOT “SEIZE” POWER

In 1933, when Hitler was lawfully appointed to power in an attempt to solve a parliamentary crisis, there were about 500,000 Jews in Germany.  They represented 0.75% of the total German population, and an even smaller proportion of the total number of Jews in all of Europe. (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Jewish Population of Europe in 1933: Population Data by Country http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005161.)

Most of the other 99.25% of the German population were or soon became enthusiastic about the Nazi program.  Not only would they not have helped an armed Jewish resistance.  They would have — as they later did — either actively aided in the suppression of Jewish resistance or, at best, turned a blind eye to it and the state response.  During the period 1933 to the joint Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939, Jews in Germany lived through a “cold pogrom,” during which they were relentlessly but “legally” divested of civil rights and ultimately of their existence in German society.

1941 Bundesarchiv_Bild_Berlin,_Reichstagssitzung,_Rede_Adolf_Hitler

Nazis like these salute-throwing devotees were hard to find after the defeat of their empire.

When the defeated Germans crawled out of their holes in May 1945, it was hard to find anyone who would admit to having been a Nazi or even a Nazi enthusiast. It was equally difficult to find Germans who would concede that they had known about the savagery committed around them and in their name. This national amnesia was not merely a conscious dodge to escape righteous vengeance. For some years after their defeat, Germans “concentrated on the suffering they had endured rather than the suffering they had caused: they viewed themselves not as responsible for National Socialism and the war, but primarily as their victims.” [Jane Caplan, Nazi Germany.]

For many among the victorious but war-weary Allies, the pasty-faced psychopath Adolph Hitler and the violent actions of his cadre of Nazi thugs were explanation enough. These villains certainly were essential to the self-confidence of Western scholars. How else could one explain the rapid descent of a country that had contributed so much to high culture into the corrupt barbarity of the Nazi empire?

In this exculpatory narrative, the maniacal, charismatic Hitler and the extraordinarily efficient Nazi bureaucracy had “seized” power. Then, using a combination of terror and hypnotic propaganda, the Nazis forced “ordinary” good Germans to follow orders. Quite unfortunately, these orders resulted in horrific consequences for everyone but the “good,” if astonishingly clueless, Germans. Hitler became a comic book villain given to absurd postures, a beady-eyed genius with a ridiculous mustache and a grating, high-volume style of public speaking. The good German burghers and the rank and file German proletariat had no choice but to follow this mesmerizing cartoon figure over the cliff and into the putrid abyss that was the Third Reich.

The excuse of the most sophisticated Germans, the politicians and the industrialists, was that they thought they could control and moderate Hitler, but ended up instead being consumed by the evil genie once he was out of the bottle.

Nazi salute

Inconvenient photographs of “ordinary” Germans enthusiastically embracing the Nazi program are part of the proof of the isolation of German Jews, who represented less than one percent of the population.

This tidy narrative of “ordinary” Germans as victims ignored — if nothing else — the inconvenient photographs and films of tens of thousands of ordinary Germans massed along parade routes, weeping with joy upon catching a glimpse of Hitler.  More thousands stuffed themselves like sausages into meeting halls, enthusiastically throwing the raised arm Nazi salute. Yet more thousands packed huge public squares at Nazi events, howling like pubescent teenagers at a modern-day rock concert.

This evidence graphically demonstrates that masses of ordinary Germans supported the Nazi program. More salient were the testimonies of victims of the Nazi scourge about the behavior of their good German neighbors toward them. These included death camp survivors, refugees, and the few who went to ground and hid out within the empire. Even more light was cast by the meticulous records kept by the Nazi edifice itself. Base motives of greed and self-interest were exposed by business records, personal correspondence, diaries, and volumes of other self-incriminating scribbling penned by millions of “good Germans.”

Hitler Youth

Hitler Youth

As later scholars have pointed out–and the Nazi leadership was well aware–”consent and coercion often went hand in hand.”  Novelist and essayist Aldous Huxley observed in 1936 that “the propagandist is a man who canalises an already existing stream. In a land where there is no water, he digs in vain.” Thus, to the extent that Nazi propaganda succeeded in shaping German society, it depended in no small degree “on the prevailing opinions and prejudices of the German public.” [Quotes from David Welch, “Nazi Propaganda and the Volksgemeinschaft: Constructing a People’s Community,” Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 39 (2), 213-238.]

Hitler himself shrank under close examination. The early explanation posited a well-ordered Nazi bureaucracy that obediently carried out the Fuehrer’s detailed orders. The Nazi machinery was supposed to have been a pyramid of unprecedented efficiency. The all-knowing and all-powerful Hitler perched at the top, an eagle dictating the minutiae of Nazi policy and practice, conscious of every German sparrow’s tiniest move. In fact, later researchers discovered a much more chaotic regime in which—albeit both revered and feared—Hitler appears “not so much as the director or enforcer of policy, but as the charismatic condition of its possibility, as the source of unpredictable, imprecise, and ‘utopian’ pronouncements that his minions outbade one another to convert into policy. This practice  of ‘working towards the Fuerhrer’ … imposed no rational limits on what might be imagined as appropriate and feasible.” [Jane Caplan, Nazi Germany.]

It eventually became clear to historians that, as Ian Kershaw observed, “To call Hitler evil may well be both true and morally satisfying.  But it explains nothing.” [Ian Kershaw, Hitler 1936-45: Nemesis (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2000), p. xvii.] And the more that was explained, the more there was that needed to be explained.  Historical research, Jane Caplan wrote, “modulated the popular images of Nazi Germany as a nation of either disciplined fanatics or powerless and terrorized victims.” [Jane Caplan, Nazi Germany.] In Peter Fritzsche’s sardonic words, “National Socialism did not succeed through seduction or paralysis or hypnosis.“[Peter Fritzsche,Life and Death in the Third Reich.]  The Nazis succeeded because most Germans wanted them to succeed.

THE SATANIC BARGAIN

Jewsih man 426px-Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-R99993,_Jude_mit_Stern_in_Berlin

German Jews suffered a “cold pogrom,” the gradual erasure of their civil rights, dignity as human beings, and place in German society. Their treatment was accepted by the other 99 percent of the German population as part of a grand bargain for social order and “national pride.”

Why?  Most historian trace the proximate roots of the rise of Naziism to the humiliating defeat of Germany in World War I, and the even more humiliating Treaty of Versailles that followed.  The toxic idea of redemption by “taking our country back” arose among the German right wing parties.  The goal was “restoration” of a mythically romantic national Aryan community, the Volksgemeinschaft, based on race. The Nazi distillation of who was in and was out of this community is embodied in what became the national slogan, “Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Führer” (One People, One Reich, One Führer).

The Nazis did not invent the idea of the Volksgemeinschaft. “On the contrary, the Nazis were credited with finally putting into place the national solidarity that Germans had long yearned for.” [Peter Fritzsche, Life and Death in the Third Reich.] However, the Nazis taught the most aggressive form of “self love” and “other hate” known to history. People stood in relation to the Volksgemeinschaft in only one of two ways—“people’s comrades” inside the community, and “people’s enemies” outside the community. It was either/or. There was no middle ground. Race, which the Nazis regarded as a matter of modern science, was the most important determinant of where one stood in the community. Where one stood determined one’s fate.

418px-Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-2008-1016-508,_Hamburg,_Trauung_Theo_Osterkamp,_Fel_Gudrun_Pagge

The “Heil Hitler” salute infested every aspect of German society.

Hitler was installed in office in January 1933. Skillfully blending brute force with formulaic actions designed to project the appearance of legality and rule of law, Hitler and the Nazi party set about eliminating political opposition and implementing the dream of the Volksgemeinschaft. By 1936, Hitler’s power was solidly established. Political opposition from Communists and Social Democrats had been crushed, many opponents murdered or imprisoned. Ordinary Germans, along with their social and religious institutions and all but a few of the leaders of these institutions, willingly bought into a satanic bargain—the Nazi’s savage repression of Jews, other non-Aryan minorities, and “social misfits” was a small price to pay for the rebirth of national pride and social order.

”Internal opposition had been crushed. The doubters had been largely won over by the scale of an internal rebuilding and external reassertion of strength which, almost beyond imagination, had restored much of the lost national pride and sense of humiliation left behind after the First World War. Authoritarianism was seen by most as a blessing; repression of those politically out of step, disliked ethnic minorities, or social misfits approved of as a small price for what appeared to be a national rebirth. While the adulation of Hitler among the masses had grown ever stronger, and opposition had been crushed and rendered inconsequential, powerful forces in the army, the landed aristocracy, industry, and high ranks of civil service had thrown their weight behind the regime. Whatever its negative aspects, it was seen to offer them much in advancing their own interests.” Ian Kershaw, Hitler 1936-45: Nemesis (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2000), p. xv.

In the next part: What if only?  What if  the murdered Jews of Europe had only had guns?

Goosestep

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 498 other followers

%d bloggers like this: