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ALEXANDER KIMEL - HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR
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The Verdict
   


ANITSEMITISM, DEMONIZATION & HOLOCAUST

by Alexander Kimel

As a Holocaust survivor I experienced many forms of anti-Semitism. In Poland before the war, I was treated like a third rate citizen. I experienced the horrors of the Nazi regime. I experienced Ukrainian anti-Semitism when escaping from the Ghetto I was stoned by five-year old Ukrainian urchins throwing stones yelling "Jew, Jew". I experienced Russian anti-Semitism when after the liberation I approached a Russian soldiers to thank him and was chased away - "Get away you cursed people!" I experienced Communist anti-Semitism when as an emaciated survivor I was sent to work in the coal mines of Donbas. Recently, I realized that anti-Semitism is just the tip of the iceberg while the culturally induced anti-Jewish bias, is widespread and is the real culprit responsible for the centuries of sufferings of the Jewish people including the Holocaust. My reasoning is as follows:

Anti-Semitism is defined as detesting or hating Jews. It is an active form of prejudice, with a visceral response to Jews. In contrast anti-Jewish bias is a culturally induced, subconscious, negative attitude toward the Jews. The Jews are not perceived as a collection of individuals but as a powerful and evil group. The anti-Jewish bias is caused by the teachings of the New Testament, passion plays, teaching of the Fathers of, Martin Luther, etc.

St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, Father of the Church. Wrote:

The true image of the Hebrew is Judas Iscariot, who sells the Lord for silver. The Jew can never understand the Scriptures and forever will bear the guilt for the death of Jesus.
St. Ambrose of Milan (379-395 A.D.) advocated outright Jewish persecution, teaching the gospel of hate:
The Jews are the most worthless of all men. They are lecherous, greedy, rapacious. They are perfidious murderers of Christ...The Jews are the odious assassins of Christ and for killing God there is expiation possible, no indulgence or pardon. Christian may never cease vengeance, and the Jews must live in servitude forever. God always hated the Jews. It is incumbent upon all Christians to hate the Jews.
Martin Luther wrote:
"First, . . . set fire to their synagogues or schools and . . . bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians."
It is no wonder that Demonization became a pervasive, wide spread and percolated into the literature (Merchant of Venice), and folklore. There are many variations of anti-Jewish bias, such as the Jews control the mass media. All Jews are filthy rich. All Jews are Communists, etc.

PSYCHOLOGICAL ROOTS

The anti-Jewish bias is strong, enduring, wide spread, because of the psychological roots. In the process of upbringing the Christian child is saturated with images and notions of Christ the embodiment of love and goodness, Christ that suffered for the salvation of mankind and on the other hand the Jews the killers of Christ, Judas the traitor and his blood tainted gold. The Jews become the anti-thesis of Christ, the Devils, the symbols and embodiment of killing, treason, inflicted sufferings and soiled gold. Man is a social animal and each child is required to curb his instinctual drives, to adapt to life in the society. Curbing the powerful instinctual drives is not easy and it is convenient for the individual have a scapegoat, to be blamed for his shortcomings, tensions, conflicts and hatred. The Jews through the ages served as a convenient scapegoat.

During adolescence, the child starts the process of separation from his parents, the developing of this own identity, and at this time the instinctual drives started to be felt, especially the sexual drive. The child has to develop his own superego to check his instinctual drives. It is natural for the child to project all his inner tensions and conflicts on the Jews symbolizing the negative part of human nature and humanity.

The importance of religious teachings lies in the fact that it leaves a mark in the tender psyche of the child, before economic and social factors enter the picture. The feeling of ambivalence and animosity toward the Jews makes it easy to target them as scapegoats, when frustration and conflicts arise in the adulthood. An adult from an affluent home will see the Jews as communist bent on world domination. The child from a poor home will see the Jews as financiers, media moguls, shopkeepers, all bent of exploitation.

DEMONIZATION AND THE HOLOCAUST

HITLER AND DEMONIZATION :
I believe that Demonization of the Jews is the main factor that brought about the tragedy of the Holocaust and made the Holocaust so devastating. My reasoning is as follows:

Hitler believed, to his last hour, that the Jews were powerful enemies of the German people, bent on destroying the nation. Hitler never had personal conflicts with Jews. The only Jew, Hitler had contact with was his mother's physician Dr. Bloch. The relationship was good because in 1938, Dr. Bloch received Hitler's personal permission to emigrate from Vienna.

According to the Mein Kampf, Hitler was infected in Vienna with the bacillus of "anti-Semitism" that bears the trademark of abstract Demonization, and perception of Jews as being supernaturally powerful and wicked, responsible for the ills of the society even syphilis. The Holocaust has proven that the demonized Jews were weak, defenseless without power and without friends. But reality was not strong enough to overcome the prejudices of Hitler.

DESTRUCTIVENESS OF THE HOLOCAUST

The Jews in Europe were dispersed among many nations. A large percentage of Jews were assimilated, spoke the language of the land, and were difficult to differentiate from the host people. To succeed in his ghastly plans, Hitler needed the following conditions:

1. Secrecy: Complete secrecy was needed to keep the German aware of the criminal activities of the state and to keep the future victims aware of their coming doom.

2. Silence of the Churches was needed to retain the allegiance of the German people.

3. Cooperation from the Bystander nations was needed to identify the Jews, isolate them, starve them and for help in the mop up operation.

Because of the prevailing anti-Jewish bias Hitler got all the help he needed. The churches and the Vatican were the only institutions that had enough power to either stops the carnage or at least mount rescue operations. Unfortunately, the majority of the churches remained silent while the killing was going on. In countries where the clergy responded to the violence as in France, Denmark or Italy the people reacted positively and this is reflected in the survival rate of the Jews.

The Allies remained indifferent and aloof. England was afraid that Hitler will flood them with Jewish refugees. The US turned away boat with refugees although the immigration quotas remained unfilled. When signs in the US proclaimed - "Jews and Dogs not Welcomed." Rescuing of Jews was not politically feasible because it would arose a negative public reaction at home and abroad. Identifying the Allies with the Jewish cause run against the grain of most Allied leaders, like Roosevelt or Stalin.

Even before Hitler gained power, the Nazis started an extensive propaganda campaign against the Jews, led by the "Volkische Beobachter" and "The Sturmer". Jews with crooked noses and hands dripping with blood sucked the vital energy from the German people. Similar poisonous propaganda was dispensed in other Eastern European country, where it fell on fertile soil.

Saving Jews, during the Holocaust was difficult because of the prevailing negative attitudes of the majority, which enabled a small fraction of active anti-Semites an open cooperation with the Germans.

In Eastern Poland, the Ukrainian partisans killed many Jews, while at the same they saved Jewish doctors and pharmacists, because they needed them. Saving Jews was possible. The Germans did not control effectively the countryside, and Germans entered reluctantly into the dense forests. Savings Jews required the political will but unfortunately the Demonization of the Jews made such a consensus impossible.

CONCLUSIONS

There is a fundamental difference between anti-Semitism and Demonization. Anti-Semitism is an active, intensive, conscious form of prejudices while the anti-Jewish bias in a culturally induced negative attitude toward the Jews. The Jews are not perceived as individuals but as a powerful, evil, and competitive group. It is the demonized Jews, the Jewish communist and the Jewish capitalist that Hitler saw in each Jewish tailor, artisan, small shopkeeper, or in each innocent Jewish baby burnt in Auschwitz.

I believe that Demonization is hurting not only the Jews but also the general society. The western civilization rests on three pillars: law and order taken from the Romans, the quest for knowledge and beauty inherited from the Greeks, and quest for social justice and ethics contributed by Judaism. Unfortunately, anti-Semitism corroded one pillar and the whole structure is tilting. Modern societies are saturated with violence - obscene, irrational, senseless violence because of weak morality. and ethics. Anti-Semitism and Demonization undermined the ethical teaching of Christianity making a mockery of Christ's teaching of love and acceptance. The 2000 years of Jewish persecutions: the Inquisition, the expulsions, the pogroms, undermined the Ten Commandments, the basic foundation of any civilization, and lead to the Holocaust.


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kimel@systec.com