When Words Paint The Truth

Last week we marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps in Poland. And, in typical fashion, the conspiracy theorists/revisionists felt a need to voice their opinion. One of the disturbing aspects of these stories is the number of people who feel this way.

According to a recent Time article, despite overwhelming evidence and an admission and apology from Germany decades ago, revisionists continue to claim that nearly 6 million Jews were not killed by Nazis during the Holocaust. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for one, has called the Holocaust a “myth” and suggested that Germany and other European countries, rather than Palestine, provide land for a Jewish state.

Unlike Ahmadinejad, most revisionists do not deny that Jews were interned in prison camps during World War II; rather, they argue that the number of deaths was greatly exaggerated. Gas chambers are a particular sticking point: Holocaust deniers say they were purely a rumor or, if they indeed existed, were not powerful enough to kill — though evidence and history indicate otherwise. And the photographs of emaciated and dying Jews? Attorney Edgar J. Steele, a revisionist, says, “All those pictures of skinny people and bodies stacked like cord wood were actually of Czechs and Poles and Germans [who] died of typhus, which was rampant in the camps.”

How much hate must you have in your soul to take these bizarre positions?

A U.S. News and World Report article went even further. It states claims that, according to a recent survey, half of the people in the world have never heard of the Holocaust. And in the other half, the ones who have heard of the Holocaust and Hitler ordering the death of 6 million Jews, a third of that group simply did not believe the Holocaust happened. They believe the Holocaust is a lie, a myth or a hoax perpetuated by those with a political or ideological agenda.

Considering that this survey was given to tens of thousands of people in close to a hundred different countries, the level of ignorance of the truth of history is mind-boggling.

I read a book some years ago by Elie Wiesel called, Night. Mr. Wiesel is a survivor of the concentration camps where his parents and one of this siblings were killed. The following is a passage from that book. I am not of the Jewish faith, but it remains, for me, some of the most powerful words I’ve ever read.

Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp which has turned my life into one long night seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I  saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams into dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never. 

What else is there to say?

2 thoughts on “When Words Paint The Truth

  1. uju

    Suppose perhaps the whole idea behind ‘denying’ history could be to grant the human soul some degree of reprieve?
    Because I cannot imagine why the biggest conspiracy theories seek to attack inhumane acts against mankind.

    The quote was really touching. I can only imagine what horrors lay before the author’s eyes that night as he slowly watched hope die 😦

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    1. George Post author

      I understand why we sometimes need to turn away from the atrocities that have defined history. Unfortunately, those atrocities continue, even today, in many parts of the world. But I believe that to suggest these atrocities never happened or to label them as a hoax, as some people have done, disrespects those who have died and those who continue to survive. It also prevents us from having the kind of dialogue and education necessary that will prevent the past from repeating itself and bring attention to what is currently happening in other parts of the world. To paraphrase what others have said more eloquently, the true evil, even more than the act itself, is in ignoring what happened and doing nothing to stop it or prevent it from happening again. As painful as it may be to acknowledge, the truth must be accepted and understood. Anything less is a danger to us all.

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