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My Thoughts on the Holocaust
“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering
and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never
the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
Elle Wiesel, Holocaust Survivor.
The International Holocaust Memorial Day on the 27th January got me thinking again about this terrible, wicked and unimaginable event that took place during the Second World War. Actually, so huge are the events, crimes, planning and atrocities surrounding the murder of the six million Jews by the Nazis that I found my mind, in trying to grapple with them, going all over the place. I therefore understand then why places like Yad Vashem will continue for years to come to unravel the evil seeds, that once having taken root in the minds of the Nazis, blossomed into a crime of such huge and demonic proportions.
In the end I thought of my father, Guy Usher Hedding, whose birthday is on the 27th January. He volunteered to fight in the Second World War. There was no draft in South Africa at the time and yet he felt urged upon in his heart to sign up, join the 8th Army and go to war against the Nazi war machine. He fought in North Africa at Tobruk and El Alamein and then through Italy. He was in many respects oblivious to the evils that were being perpetrated by the Nazis against the Jewish people, as were most people, but he did know that their agenda for global domination was evil and had to be resisted and risked his life for it. He took hold of the big picture and in his small way made a vital contribution in overthrowing one of the most brutal regimes known to humankind and thereby helped to bring the Holocaust to an end.
The scope and extent of the Holocaust was not really grasped for some years until after the Second World War. It became apparent as more and more death camps, killing fields and documents were discovered and this continues to be the case. Some believe that because of the newly found burial sites in Russia that probably more than six million Jews were murdered by Hitler’s thugs, in this case by the Einsatzgruppen. This military wing of the SS operated as killing units that murdered Jews after the German army had swept through Poland and parts of Russia. They viciously gunned down men, women and children with a hatred and coldness that is quite honestly unimaginable. The big question then is, what brought young German men to a place that they could act with such brutality, day after day, and seemingly without a conscience? How could their minds be so corrupted and convinced that what they were doing was right? It is actually these questions that have to be answered if we are to stem the current rising tide of antisemitism and avoid another catastrophe like this.
I believe that we should consider the following;
Hitler believed that it was the Jews that caused the defeat of Germany in the First World War. He was of course wrong as when America finally entered the war the stalemate on the Western Front changed and the German Commanders knew that Germany was overwhelmed and doomed and thus surrendered. Nevertheless, Hitler allowed his mind to be infested with the false notion that the Jews had sold Germany out and had caused its defeat.
After gaining the attention of influential people by means of his rantings in the beer halls of Munich he began a movement to return Germany to greatness but, as he persistently taught, the Jews being the great obstacle to the fulfillment of this dream. They had to be neutralized and this is why their extermination was at the very heart of his agenda and he was prepared to do anything to achieve it. We see this in his final statement in the closing days of World War Two that he wrote just before he shot himself in the bunker in Berlin. In this last testament, as it were, he wrote that the thing that he was most proud of was the fact that he had confronted world Jewry. A legacy he said that the world would one day come to appreciate.This is amazing in that it wasn’t his great military victories that he was proud of but rather the fact that he had on an industrial scale exterminated Jewish men, women and children.
Hitler and his thugs went through three stages in their journey to reach the end goal of the final solution to the Jewish problem as he saw it.
1. The need to discredit the Jews
In every speech Hitler maligned the Jews and re-enforced this in his book Mein Kampf (My Struggle) that he wrote in 1925. When he came to power in 1933 he thereafter passed the Nuremberg Laws on the 15th September in 1935 that essentially singled the Jews out to be the reason, as he put it, for Germany’s misfortune. They were thus stripped of their German citizenship and marked literally as traitors to the country by insisting that they wear a yellow Star of David on their clothing. They were consequently publicly humiliated and their influence and place in society had to be limited and was. To totally discredit the Jewish community he insisted that every family in Germany should read his book and he cunningly advanced his narrative against the Jews by using radio and the printed press.
In particular he mobilized young people into joining military type militias (Brown Shirts) and camps whereby he filled their young minds with hatred for the Jews. He knew that in just a few years these same teenagers would become the soldiers of the Third Reich and so they had to be thoroughly brain washed in order to believe in the Nazi cause and carry out, without question, its murderous dictates and they did!
2. The need to delegitimize the Jews
Once Hitler had successfully discredited the Jews he could move to the next stage of his war against them. That is, to delegitimize them meaning that they had no right to live in Germany or anywhere else where Germany had sovereign control. They were “illegal beings” which had to be removed from the pure Aryan peoples. His propaganda machine presented the Jews then as rats and blood sucking animals that were gnawing at the very lives of Germans. The Jews were then bugs or pests and so their Synagogues, institutions and businesses could be burned down and they were on Kristallnacht in November of 1938. Being delegitimized they could now also be rounded up, removed from society without protest and placed in concentration camps. This stage of delegitimization was indeed the road to the third and final stage:
3. The need for extermination
Once the task of rounding up the Jews of Europe began, with the onset of World War Two and Hitler’s Blitzkrieg victories, Hitler then moved to implement what would be called the “Final Solution”. The question he thus put to his senior leadership and commanders was, what should be done with the vermin Jews who were now pouring into concentration camps in Germany and Poland? The answer always was, extermination; and so on the 20th January in 1942, at a villa on the Lake Wannsee near Berlin, a group of top Nazis led by Reinhard Heydrich gathered for lunch. They ate Caviar and drank Champagne and laid the plans for the extermination of the Jews on an unprecedented and industrial scale. In fact, if they had gotten their way they would have exterminated 11 million Jews, for this was the figure they agreed upon at this diabolical meeting.
This then is the threefold process that Hitler moved through in his war against the Jews and it is the process that antisemites everywhere still implement today. That is, discredit the Jews, delegitimize the Jews and then exterminate the Jews. The BDS movement has done this for years as their leadership have unashamedly admitted that their end goal is the destruction of the Jewish State. The Palestinian Authority has brain washed its children with school text books that call for the destruction of Israel and at summer camps where they teach their children to hate Jews and murder them. We’ve all seen videos of Palestinian teenagers singing songs calling for the liberation of all of Palestine and then, when individually being interviewed, stating that their highest goal in life is to die killing Jews! These young minds have been infected with the same process that Hitler and his thugs implemented and thus their consciences have been seared and so they go to their deaths as terrorists singing, “From the river to the sea Palestine will be free.” The same is true in those territories controlled by Hamas and Hezbollah and the leaders of Iran. Also, in the colleges and universities of the west, this threefold plan has been implemented and so today one sees young American college and university students violently protesting on the streets while wearing T Shirts that state, “6 million were not enough.”
The truth is, we certainly remember but we better learn and act as well. When we hear of Jews being discredited it’s time to stand up and speak out. Once they are delegitimized the struggle becomes more intense, urgent and dangerous. Elie Wiesel knew this because he experienced it and of course, Yad Vashem is a stark reminder of what happens when people remain silent and do nothing. Its message and warning is more urgent than ever because antisemitism is rising all over the world and even the COVID-19 pandemic is being manipulated to discredit the Jews. Writing in January 29th edition of the Jerusalem Post, Michael Freund states, “Jews, Zionists, and Israel are accused of having created, spread, financed and used the virus to expand their global domination, impose a New World Order, but also as a means for profit.” It’s time to act!
As for my father, what made him volunteer to go to war against the tyranny of Nazism? It was his conscience that had not been seared and that taught him to discern between good and evil. The Bible tells us that in fact the natural law of God has been written on our hearts enabling us all to discern good and evil (Romans 2:14-15). He obeyed his heart and went to war against the antisemites. He is of blessed remembrance.