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ALEXANDER KIMEL - HOLOCAUST UNDERSTANDING & PREVENTION

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THE WAR AGAINST THE JEWS.

by Alexander Kimel - Holocaust Survivor

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The Germans conducted the war against the Jews with military precision, using an array of weapons like starvation, deliberate cruelty, pervasive terror, dehumanization. Extensive psychological pressure and deception were used to demoralize the victims, to kill their will to live and change them into an amorphous mass, easily pushed into the gas chambers. In the Warsaw Ghetto, for example, volunteers for the "resettlement" were offered 5 kilo of bread and one kilo of sugar, and people were lining up to get into the death trains.

The war against the Jews was very successful. In Poland alone about 98% of the Jewish population was executed. Despite their military might and organizational skills, the Germans needed help from local population. The thorough liquidation of the Jewry, killing of millions of people without resistance and disturbances, required strict secrecy. Secrecy was required to keep the German population uninformed about the insane, criminal activities and it was also imperative not to alert the victims about their impending doom. In addition the Germans required help in identifying, isolating and demoralizing of the Jews.

Secrecy was of the utmost importance, because when in 1939, Hitler started to gas the retarded Germans, he was stopped by the protests of the population and denunciations by the clergy. The Germans constituted Hitler's power base, and there was always a danger that they might raise their voices in defense of their Jewish compatriots.

To keep a tight lid, Heydrich invented a new language of euphemisms: mass murder was called Final Solution, killing - liquidation, people - pieces, pogroms - resettlement, gassing - processing, etc. In addition to maintaining the secrecy, the Germans needed the help of the local population in identifying, isolating and humiliating the Jews. Runaway Jews had to be identified when on Aryan papers, flushed out from the bunkers, or caught in the forests, etc. It is sad, but in the war against the Jews, the German got all the help they needed. Hitler was helped by the conspiracy of silence.

The Christian Churches washed their hands and remained silent, even the Allies joined the conspiracy. The news about the systematic killings filtered out from Poland in the early 1942, and was received with complete indifference. Stalin denied Roosevelt Administration actively tried to stop the flow of the disturbing information, claiming that winning of the war is the first priority.

The Allies gave up a propaganda advantage, a chance to demoralize the German officer corps and the German population itself by not spreading the news. In addition the conspiracy of silence convinced the local collaborators, that killing of Jews was acceptable. Nobody cared.

In most East European countries, where the bulk of the Jewry resided, the German received ample help from the local population. In Poland, the Jews were beaten, blackmailed, robbed, denounced. Peasants caught runaway Jews, bound them like pigs and delivered them to the Gestapo in exchange for a liter of vodka and a kilogram of sugar. Jews hiding in forests were outright killed. The Polish underground Army, passed many death sentences on Polish collaborators, but denunciation of Jews was never punished. Poles rejoiced when the Warsaw Ghetto was burning. "The Jewish bedbugs are finally torched."

In Warsaw there was a saying: "The whole world will throw stones at Hitler's grave, we will send flowers, grateful for removing the Jews from Poland."

In the Ukraine, crematoriums were superfluous, the Ukrainians made sure that no Jew survives. With vengeance, Ukrainians killed Jews hiding in the forests. The Ukrainians were actively involved in all phases of the Holocaust from raiding the ghettos, guarding the transports, operating the gas chambers and were known for their cruelty. Ivan the Terrible, a Ukrainian, cut the women's genitals with a sword, before they were pushed into gas chambers. Torturing people, before their execution, was his greatest pleasure.

In Rumania, the Iron Guard, the local Fascists, hung Jews from butcher hooks and slaughtered them like animals. In Croatia, the Ustashi Fascists, beat to death one hundred thousand people. Transporting Jews to Auschwitz was not necessary. Their barbarism is difficult to imagine. One Ustashi drag around a sack filled with eyes, pulled out from the victims' sockets.

In Slovakia, a nationalistic government headed by a Roman Catholic priest, paid the German for the transporting their Jews to Auschwitz. Even the gentile Bulgars resettled thousands of "foreign" Jews. In Hungary, in the last phases of the war, local Fascist rounded up the Jews to be delivered to Auschwitz.

In France, the Vichy government blamed the Jews for the demise of the French Republic, organized concentration camps, caught and deported thousand of foreign Jews. Even in countries where the general population was sympathetic to the victims like Denmark, or Belgium, the Germans received help from the local Nazis.

It is true, that only a minute part of the population committed crimes against the Jews, but they had the tacit approval and support of the silent majority. In Poland alone, about 97% of the Jewish population was killed. Without the active help from the Poles, without the passive help of the Allies, this would have been impossible.

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