Diminishing the ultimate evil
by Kelvin Wade
Addressing the Wehrmact and Schutzstaffel (SS) troops in the summer of 1941, Adolf Hitler told his minions, “Close your eyes to pity! Act brutally!” And they obliged.
In camps like Dachu, Buchenwald, Bergen-Belsen and others, Jews and other prisoners were starved and worked to death. In hellish camps like Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor and others, the SS murdered millions of Jews by gassing and burning them. More than a million of the victims were children.
The Nazis murdered two-thirds of the Jews in all of Europe.
Adolf Hitler’s Nazis also targeted and killed the physically and mentally disabled, Gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, communists, Christian Poles, Slavs, homosexuals and others they branded deviants. There were hundreds of African-German children who were forcibly sterilized so as not to contaminate the Aryan race.
And of course, this doesn’t include the millions of soldiers and civilians of other countries killed in warfare by the Nazis from nations all over the globe.
The cruelty was beyond comprehension. In his book, “Sonderkommando Auschwitz” Shlomo Venezia, one of the Jewish operators of the crematoriums, describes working the ovens as his own mother and cousin were cremated. On one occasion he found a live baby trying to suckle his dead mother’s breast until a German guard emptied his pistol into the infant.
I’m reading a chilling but excellent book, “Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account” by Dr. Miklos Nyisli, a Jewish doctor forced to work with Dr. Josef Mengele. The author recounts seeing the inside of the gas chambers after hundreds of Jews were gassed. He expected the bodies to be scattered all around the room but they were piled to the ceiling. He explained that since the gas came out at floor level first, people scrambled to get higher and away from it. The strongest would be on top. The bottom would be women, children, the elderly and infirm. There was blood oozing from their orifices, excrement everywhere and claw marks as they fought to climb atop each other in an involuntary spasm to escape the gas.
Nyisli was forced to do autopsies on twin children. He’d assumed they’d died of disease. He was aghast when he realized that the children he was routinely working on were being killed by chloroform injections to their hearts.
Meanwhile, some of the conspirators in Operation Valkyrie, the plot to kill Hitler, were strangled and hanged with piano wire from meat hooks and their deaths filmed for Nazi Party officials to later watch.
According to testimony at the Doctor’s Trial in Nuremburg, Nazi doctors conducted such “medical” experiments as injecting dye into victims’ eyes to try to change their color, placed people in ice water for five hours and stitched two people together hoping to create conjoined twins.
They subjected prisoners to drinking nothing but seawater, castrated and amputated limbs without anesthesia, infected prisoners with malaria, typhus and tetanus and exposed them to mustard gas, phosphorous and pressure chambers.
Gold teeth were stolen from the living and the dead as the Nazis looted everything of value. In Buchenwald, preserved tattooed human flesh was recovered. The often-mentioned lampshade made of human flesh is probably urban legend but who can put it past the Nazis?
Even today at Auschwitz, there is a room containing seven tons of human hair shaved from the bodies of prisoners. Hair was shipped to German factories for use in clothing, bombs and other products.
My point? This past week Hank Williams Jr. made a joke comparing President Obama to Hitler. Conservative firebrand Ann Coulter likened the Occupy Wall Street protestors to Nazis. We’ve seen signs at Tea Party rallies comparing President Obama to Adolf Hitler. And we saw the previous President compared to Hitler as well. All too often we reach for Hitler, Nazis, Brownshirts and other references to make our points.
No U.S. President of any political party or any American administration should be compared to Adolf Hitler, the SS or Nazis. No matter how much you disagree with a politician, it doesn’t make him or her Hitler. And that’s no Nazi army on Wall Street.
To make these comparisons is a profound insult to the victims and a display of massive ignorance of what Nazi Germany did. It trivializes the Holocaust. We need to remember just what the Nazi regime did in detail in order to ensure we give it the weighty consideration it deserves. Surely, we can make our points without going to such horribly ludicrous depths.