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For years the Germans have been technological innovators in camera development; the Japanese and Americans, close competitors.
In the mid-1930s German video buffs used color film as well as black and white. One of my frequently watched DVDs has several historic film clips taken by average citizens and the Nazi Party Propaganda Ministry.
Watching these cinematic glimpses (from 1936 to 1945, the year Germany surrendered to the Allies) provides a doorway of immediacy to place, time, social setting of events and terrors that happened decades ago.
Juxtaposed with midsummer celebrating Berliners, staged political rallies, dance-choreographed art festivals is nightmare footage of Poland’s Warsaw Ghetto: emaciated children begging in streets, lice-ridden corpses littering sidewalks, a mother wandering aimlessly up and down in anguish, clutching her dead child’s limp-rag body.
The Warsaw Ghetto was filmed by the occupying Nazis to show Jews as subhumans to be totally exterminated. To that horrific end six million Jews were murdered (and thousands of Slavs, Gypsies, and 15,000 pink triangle men).
These film excerpts serve as reminder that it’s possible for a civilized nation (one that gave us Bach, Goethe, Mendelssohn) to turn indifferently brutal in its racial policies, global warmongering, and wanton destruction of civilization in the name of misguided fascist ideology.
The Holocaust remains profoundly disturbing. Rightly so. The unfathomable magnitude of evil that occasioned it raises ongoing questions about morality, religion, the very nature of Deity that even today are difficult topics to place in sociological or theological perspective.
How could a just, all-knowing God allow this to happen? Where was He when the cries of Jewish mothers and children screamed from the gas chambers? (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken us”.) I wish I had even a remotely reasonable answer. Few have. [Suggested reading: Laurence Rees “Auschwitz: How Mankind Committed the Ultimate Infamy”.]
I’m also disturbed by a newly released “provocative” documentary: “Forgiving Mengele: Would You Forgive a War Criminal?” It’s about Eva Kor’s decision, 62 years after her release with twin sister Miriam from Auschwitz, to forgive Dr. Joseph “Beppo” Mengele, “the Angel of Death.” Forgive? Is that possible?
The impeccably uniformed, sadistic Nazi SS captain conducted brutal experiments on these twin Jewish sisters — and any twins he could lay his dissecting hands on. He coldly sent countless Jews, deemed unfit for slave labor, up in chimney smoke. (He escaped to South America, where 35 years later in Brazil he died by accidentally drowning.)
What’s disturbing about Eva Kor’s voicing forgiveness to Mengele for her own “personal self healing” (she read her statement at Auschwitz Concentration Camp – a statement many Holocaust survivors find abhorrent) is the question it raises, “What constitutes eligibility – or indeed ineligibility – for forgiveness. If we forgive, does God forgive? And vice versa.
Added to my recent viewing of, reading about, and reflection on the Holocaust is a web site I chanced upon last week – anti-Semitism with a twist. I’m not sure if it’s white supremacist or Al Queida fundamentalist, or both. (Whatever. There are 13 scary mug shots atop its www banner).
The twist? “The Radical Homosexual Movement is Jewish!” claims Kavkacenter.com. “Jews run it from top to bottom. They are pushing the perversion and degeneracy that is spreading, disease, sin and sickness through America like a wildfire.” The Kavas name over 100 Jewish LGBT activists to “prove” their point. (Omitting “radical” Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, atheists, etc.)
It’s the notorious and spurious “Protocols of Zion” updated — the fanning by today’s hate firebrands of crematoria ashes that voraciously once burned nonstop.